3 Best Single DIN Android Auto Head Units Review15 min read

3 Best Single DIN Android Auto Head Units Review15 min read

28/04/2020 0 By Vasyl Tsyktor

Many new cars have infotainment systems that support Android Auto and Apple CarPlay even though they offer their own built-in navigation, media player, and hands-free system. Those 1-5-years-old vehicles with low trim levels mostly have simple infotainment systems easily replaceable with high-end third-party multimedia solutions that are compatible with car-focused software from Google or Apple. 

If you have an outdated car with an old-fashioned USB receiver, does it mean you can’t get Google Maps, Google Play Music, and voice commands? In fact, you have two options: place a car phone mount or buy a 1-DIN head unit that supports Android Auto. When it comes to older cars, this may become a problem since the market is oversaturated with 2-DIN multimedia systems while there few high-quality 1-din models manufactured by popular reliable brands. However, we prepared our best Android Auto 1-din head units review you should consider.

Sony XAV-AX8000

Sony XAV-AX8000

⭐⭐⭐⭐

≈$500

Pioneer AVH 3500NEX front view

Pioneer AVH-3500NEX

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

≈$550

Alpine ILX-F259

Alpine ILX-F259

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

≈$600

Pioneer AVH-3500NEX – Best Compact Android Auto DVD receiver

Price: ≈$550

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pioneer’s NEX series stands for Networked Entertainment eXperience. According to the vendor, the main characteristic of this line of receivers is that they’re built with a connection to smartphones in mind. When it comes to Pioneer AVH-3500NEX, you should perceive this compatibility by design literally since it requires wired USB connection along with Bluetooth to run Android Auto. Although, this is the issue of all of the head units compared in this review have.

Display

Pioneer AVH-3500NEX has a 7” WVGA display with the aspect ratio of 16:9. This clear resistive touchscreen has a resolution of 800 x 480 px. It also can memorize the angle you’ve set during the last use, thus eliminating the need for manually place the display in a convenient position. Instead, the motorized display will automatically adjust to your preferred angle in the relevance of your car instrument panel.

The AVH-3500NEX display also has wide customization options that enable you to choose between 13 different backgrounds, 5 display colors, and 112 key colors. In addition, you can easily configure its brightness or even completely turn the display off. It also provides home screen shortcuts customization which allows you to configure the home screen in the way to quickly access the most frequently used features. Furthermore, you can hide the display with a press of a button to free more space in your car. As a result, Pioneer AVH-3500NEX will look like an ordinary 1-DIN receiver.

Media Playback

When it comes to music formats, one of the main benefits of Pioneer AVH-3500NEX is that it supports FLAC files with a bitrate of 192kHz which allows you to enjoy high-quality audio in your car taking into account the capabilities of your speakers, subwoofer, etc. Via the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) Bluetooth auto-connection, you can both stream music and hands-free calls without the need for using cables. It’s worth mentioning that voice sound quality is quite high without annoying noises. Many simple 1-DIN receivers, however, also support hands-free calls and Bluetooth music streaming.

Pioneer AVH-3500NEX has a 13-band customizable graphic equalizer that allows you to configure audio quality according to your listening preferences. This head unit traditionally has a built-in AUX input which, however, seems worthless since you can connect your smartphone wirelessly for MP3 music streaming or via USB for listening to FLAC tracks. Supported audio formats are MP3, AAC, and WMA.

An exclusive feature of AVH-3500NEX is DVD compatibility. The device has a receiver that enables you to watch MPEG-4, AVI, and WMV video files using DVD-R and DVD-RW. Although, I hardly can imagine the situation when you may need to watch a movie in your car. Hope, it’s not while driving. This also applies to an image viewer in Pioneer AVH-3500NEX that allows you to watch slideshows of images in the JPEG format.

Integration

Pioneer AVH-3500NEX is fully compatible with Android Auto via USB. It also means that you can control the app with voice commands using Google Assistant. With Android Auto, you get hands-free control over music streaming apps like YouTube Music or Google Play Music and Google Maps navigation. Nevertheless, the head unit can run Pandora and Spotify via Bluetooth. You can switch between internet radio stations and skip tracks using the Pioneer’s touchscreen. So if you prefer Pandora or Spotify over any other music streaming or online radio app, you have no need for connecting your smartphone to AVH-3500NEX via USB. 

Furthermore, you can mirror your mobile device display on the AVH-3500NEX touchscreen using WebLink. This enables you to surf the Internet right in your car, but don’t do this while driving. The head unit also has a back-up camera input which greatly expands your stock trim level. Moreover, it will overlay the backup camera image with your car trajectory when in reverse like some modern in-car infotainment systems do.

Pros and Cons

Advantages:

  • Convenient touchscreen you can close to access in-car ventilation controls
  • The last angle memory feature
  • Pandora and Spotify wireless control
  • DVD receiver
  • FLAC files support
  • WebLink compatibility

Disadvantages:

  • To run Android Auto on Pioneer AVH-3500NEX, you have to connect your smartphone via USB.
  • Lack of brightness
  • Pioneer AVH-3500NEX sometimes experiences noncritical lags.


Sony XAV-AX8000 – Best Price single DIN Android Auto head unit

Price: ≈$500

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sony created its XAV-AX8000 as a high-end Android Auto compatible media receiver that works with a single DIN space. Unlike Pioneer AVH-3500NEX, the Sony XAV-AX8000 display can’t be closed and hidden inside your car instrument panel. Although, it has a three-way adjustable mount with a few available positions which, however, are totally enough to place the head unit just like you need it. While installing, you can configure the device tilt, height, and depth which makes it easy to install XAV-AX8000 in your car.

Display

Sony XAV-AX8000 has a large 8.95 inch anti-glare LCD touchscreen with impressive brightness settings making any icons and information clear to see even in sunny weather. It’s incredible to use and its touchscreen is highly responsive with no lags noticed. To configure the display background, you can choose between 5 preset wallpapers without the capability to upload your own wallpaper image. Although, this hardly is a significant disadvantage.

The resistive display has a resolution of 800 x 480 px and 16:9 screen aspect ratio. Its size is an advantage and disadvantage at the same time. You will be impressed with how great everything looks on such a huge screen. Track titles, navigation, and images are all clear to see. On the other side, Sony’s display looks like a TV on the wall of the small apartment for a single person: luxurious but it takes too much space. One of the best features of XAV-AX8000 is Sony Quick Wake Up that launches the system in a couple of seconds.

Media Playback

Unfortunately, you can’t playback music from your smartphone through USB in comparison with simple single DIN receivers and USB flesh where it typically works like that. Although, this downside comes insignificant since you can use Android Auto instead. To run the app on Sony XAV-AX8000, you have to pair devices via USB. Fortunately, Sony provides both long and short cables along with this Android Auto compatible head unit.

XAV-AX8000 has a 10-band graphic equalizer and extra bass feature that adds low-end power to sound quality. The system allows you to connect 4 in-car speakers with a power of 55 W. When it comes to supported audio formats, Sony can playback AAC, MP3, WMA, M4A, and even FLAC files. The head unit also supports MPEG-4, AVC, WMV, FLV, MKV, and XviD video files. Due to A2DP, you can wirelessly stream high-quality audio via Bluetooth

Integration

Sony XAV-AX8000 has a built-in voice control system that will allow you to manage music streaming, phone calls, and navigation in a hand-free mode. The voice command button in the lower right of the display will automatically connect you to Android Auto. Equipped with the Bluetooth module, the head unit also enables hands-free calling and wireless music streaming without the need for connecting cables via USB or AUX. To pair your smartphone and Sony’s in-car infotainment system, you need to swipe left and pick the Settings option and select Bluetooth. Then choose Bluetooth connection and click Pairing.

You also have the option to connect your mobile device to XAV-AX8000 via the USB port located on the back of the head unit which may feel uncomfortable to plug the cable in. On the other such port placement allowed engineers to free more space on the front side for physical buttons. This single DIN Android Auto head unit is rear camera ready, but you have to purchase it separately. It also provides parking control and line adjust features. If your car has a multi-function steering with audio playback controls, you can connect a control harness, which comes with Sony XAV-AX8000, to get all available music listening experience.

Pros and Cons

Advantages:

  • FLAC files support
  • WebLink compatibility
  • The lowest price in our review
  • Large display

Disadvantages:

  • To run Android Auto on Sony XAV-AX8000, you have to connect your smartphone via USB.
  • Unclosable display
  • Few preset wallpapers
  • Uncomfortable USB output placement


Alpine ILX-F259 – Best Customizable Android Auto head unit with 1-DIN chassis

  • Alpine iLX F259 Android Auto
  • Alpine iLX F259 rear camera
  • Alpine iLX F259 adjustments

Price: ≈$600

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alpine ILX-F259 is the most expensive Android Auto single DIN head unit in our comparison. It provides all necessary features including hands-free calls, wireless music streaming, and navigation. Like the Sony’s product, ILX-F259 mount implies the display permanent remaining on your vehicle instrument panel without an option to close and hide it inside. On the other hand, its design with rounded edges resembles modern built-in infotainment systems which makes it look natural in any car interior.

Display

Alpine ILX-F259 has a 9-inch WVGA display with a resolution of 800 x 480 px. It has a widely customizable user interface (UI) having three different dashboards based on widgets. You can move required widgets by tapping and holding a widget icon and moving it within the UI. For example, you can set fast access to Android Auto by dragging and dropping a corresponding widget on the homescreen. You can set up to 3 home screens with a set of widgets you prefer to see on each of them – just like you configure your smartphone home screens.

Furthermore, you have no need to be content with a few predefined backgrounds to choose from. Instead, you can upload any picture on your mobile device and set it as a background image. The system will also allow you to crop it to make it perfectly fit the aspect ratio of 16:0. Alpine ILX-F259 has a three-way adjustable mount that enables you to configure the height, tilt, and depth to make the device well fit your car instrument panel and comfortable view angle. It’s worth mentioning that the touchscreen is extremely responsive with no lags noticed.

Media Playback

As all of the above mentioned best 1-Din Android Auto head units, Alpine ILX-F259 enables wireless music streaming via Bluetooth. It supports MP3, WMA, AAC, and FLAC audio files as well as AVI and MPEG-4 video files. The device has 6-channel preamp outputs including 4-volt front outputs, 1 rear output, and 1 subwoofer output. The 5-band graphic equalizer with the time correction feature along with low- and high-pass filters enables you to customize your music listening experience according to your preferences.

Equalizer preset audio styles allow you to quickly choose between predefined options including flat, pop, rock, classical, jazz, electronic, hip hop, easy listening, country, and news, thus avoiding time-consuming adjustments. In addition, ILX-F259 provides wide settings for audio source balance. Using a graphical slider, you can easily configure which car speaker should sound louder which is much more comfortable than increasing and decreasing volume numbers for each separate speaker.

Integration

To run Android Auto on Alpine ILX-F259, you have to both connect a USB cable and pair the head unit with your smartphone via Bluetooth. Using Google Assistant, you can control music streaming, phone calls, text messages, and navigation via voice commands. Android Auto in Alpine ILX-F259 also provides you with access to such compatible apps as Waze, Google Maps, Spotify, YouTube Music, and Google Play Music. Alpine’s device offers hands-free calls and audio streaming via Bluetooth without the need for launching Android Auto.

Like Sony and Pioneer, Alpine has a rear camera. Although, it allows connecting multiple cameras through a special KCX-C2600B selector which you have to buy separately. Unfortunately, the head unit doesn’t overlay the image with the car trajectory projection. Like the above-mentioned best single DIN Android Auto head units, Alpine ILX-F259 is compatible with the SiriusXM satellite radio. Though, it requires a SiriusXM subscription and SXV300 Connect Vehicle Tuner Kit which is worthless because you will have Android Auto with Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and other online radio apps.

Pros and Cons

Advantages:

  • You can find offers on Amazon for $500 from the official retailer
  • Multiple cameras support
  • Convenient design
  • Wide customization options
  • FLAC files support
  • Large display

Disadvantages:

  • Incompatible with WebLink
  • To run Android Auto on Pioneer AVH-3500NEX, you have to connect your smartphone via USB.
  • Unclosable display