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Old 10th July 2019, 14:24   #1
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Default The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Why an Android HU?
A lot of car owners are now considering an Android Head Unit for their cars, mainly due to the features that an Android OS brings along with it and more importantly the pricing is very attractive.

+Price
+Perfect Fit and Finish (for car specific models)
+Choice of configuration
+Huge display size options for some cars
+Feather(Capactive) Touch
+Unmatched Features
↪CANBUS
↪WiFi
↪4G/LTE Connectivity (Optional)
↪Android Auto and Apple Carplay support (Optional)
↪A-GPS Navigation
↪OBD diagnostics(Optional)
↪Tyre Pressure Monitoring System(Optional)
↪USB Dashcam support(Optional)
↪DAB+ support (for applicable countries,Optional)
↪Steering Controls support
↪Support for manufacturer's parking camera and sensors.
and the list goes on...

-Reliability
-Generally, poor out of the box audio output
-No known brands
-Generally, poor FM reception
-Cheap and low spec HUs' are known to lag and completely hang.
-Cheap HUs' also have very poor displays, with pathetic brightness and contrast levels.




Where to buy an Android HU?
Almost all Android HU are manufactured in China. Some brands in India re-brand these head units and sell it with a limited 6 months to 12 months warranty. So we have two choices, either to buy locally or to import directly from China.

Buying locally:
+Quickest and easiest way to get an Android HU in India.
+Generally, comes with at least a repair warranty.
+No customs duties

-Choices are very limited when it comes to specifications.
-For some cars, only generic head units are available.
-Pricey when compared to similar models in available in China, but with duties in mind, it more or less comes to the same amount.

If you have a popular car, chances are you might get a decent HU locally. Though there are many brands like MyTVS, Woodman etc., I would personally recommend HyperSonic. Not that they have excellent quality products or anything, just that they have a good range of products, and support wise, they are a bit better than the other brands. A lot of shops sell HyperSonic HUs' for a premium, so I recommend you directly contact Prince from HyperSonic, his contact number is +919667052595. They respond on WhatsApp too. The prices they quote can be negotiated by a few thousands and if you are not from Delhi-NCR region, they charge an additional 9%, in the name of tax. (Note: Not Sponsored. Just sharing from my personal experience)

Importing from China:
+Price
+Number of choices
+Availability of car specific HUs.

-No warranty. Though they mention 6 months or 12 months warranty, it is just not feasible as you have to ship the unit back and wait for another unit, for which again, we would have to pay duties.
-Shipping time
-Customs Duty

When importing from China, it is very important to choose the right product. All the products look exactly the same, but the specifications and the quality of the product varies a lot. It is very important to know what you are buying. Recommended sites to purchase from: AliExpress, Banggood, etc.

Points to consider while choosing an Android HU

  • I highly recommend getting a HU with good specifications. We generally do not change our car's HU every few years like our mobile phones, so it is better we get the top of the line HU available for a hassle free experience.
  • It is better to get model specific HUs' if available as the fit and finish is OE and does not look out of place at all. Also, these head units support CANBUS, thus giving us all the necessary information.
  • Try to avoid units which come with a custom dashboard frame as in a few months/years time, the clips in these frames break and causes rattling noises. A lot of customers who had initially opted for these units are now regretting as the frame cannot be bought separately.
  • If you cannot find a model specific HU for your car(highly unlikely), then consider a generic HU. People with very low budget also have to consider a generic HU as the model specific HUs' are a bit more expensive than generic ones.

Display - Size and Type


Type of display:
  • There are LCD and LED displays available. Though the color accuracy and saturation levels are better with the LED display, I would any day prefer a LCD unit as some LED units are know to have burn in issues after prolonged use.
  • The LCD displays on the other hand, though might looked a bit washed out, serves the purpose of a HU perfectly.
  • An IPS LCD display would be my recommendation as viewing angles are very important for a car HU and an IPS panel makes a lot of difference.

Size of the display:
  • Though this depends on your car's provision, most HUs' are 7"-8.x".
  • There are some generic HUs' that are 10"+ in size and in my honest opinion, looks out of place in most cars.
  • For some models there is an availability of Tesla style vertical displays. These units replace the controls for the A/C and other functions and integrate these controls inside the HU itself. Again, I would not recommend as I would not want to replace OEM controls with a Chinese HU. But that is just my personal opinion.
  • Again, my recommendation would be to go for a HU which fits snug in our existing HU area.

The Internals


The Processor
  • The general options are Dual Core/Quad Core/Octa Core.
  • Quad Core and Octa Core, are okay in my opinion, DC processors are very laggy. Only god knows what exact processor is used, but each manufacturer seems to use a different processor. As far as the internals go, only after getting the unit, CPU-Z can be used to confirm the exact internals.

Internal Memory (ROM)
  • The general options are 8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB.
  • Personally, I would recommend you at least buy a 32GB ROM HU. Though 16GB might seem sufficient, with just a few applications installed and overtime as they get updated, you will not have sufficient internal memory, which causes lags and reboots. The internal memory is something that you cannot expand later, so better you buy a HU with 32+GB of on-board storage.

Random Access Memory (RAM)
  • The general options are 1GB/2GB/3GB/4GB.
  • 1GB/2GB RAM models are the ones that are mostly available in the local market. These units tend to crash often and units with 4GB of RAM are snappy and fluid from my persronal experience.
DSP
  • This has been a very controversial aspect when it comes to Android HUs'. Some say it makes no difference and it is just a waste of money. From my experience, it absolutely does make a difference. Yes, I agree one can tinker with the sound output using V4A(Viper4Android), but that requires root and honestly, I would not want to root my car's HU with a one touch root. My car's Android HU with DSP made a world of a difference. The audio output was better than the stock HU which was supposedly tuned by Arkamys.
Miscellaneous Points

  • You would want to check if the unit has 2 USB slots as a lot of accessories use the USB slots of the HU.
  • Check if the unit has full video output.
  • Buy only from reputed and responsive sellers.
  • Check the compatibility of steering wheel controls, factory camera/sensors and most importantly, ask for the right CANBUS reader.

Recommended Accessories


FM Signal Booster
  • This is a must buy accessory. Without the booster, the HU's FM reception is very poor.

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System:
  • There are two types of sensors available: Internal and External sensors.
  • The internal sensors are to be placed directly on the inside of the wheel and thus requires re-fitting of the tyres. Though this would conceal the sensors, it takes a lot of time and effort to install these. Also, these sensors have batteries inside them which are generally not user replaceable. Also, once fitted the wheels need to be balanced, and hence, a wheel alignment is also required.
  • I would recommend the external sensors as its just plug and play. Also, the batteries are user replaceable. The sensors are secured with a spanner and cannot be easily removed. Thus, no issues of theft or sensors getting loose. Only downside is, every time air is topped up, you need the spanner to remove the sensors. I use nitrogen, thus this is not a big deal for me.
  • Both these sensors come with a USB module, to be plugged to the Android HU and works like a charm. Must buy accessory in my opinion.

Android Auto/Apple CarPlay dongle:
  • There are two choices if you want Android Auto. You can either install an app called Headunit Reloaded or use a dongle. The app supports Wireless AA(experimental).
  • If you want to use Apple CarPlay, you would have to buy the dongle.
  • You have to install an app called the AutoKit on the HU when using the dongle, but no additional app is required on the phone.
  • I prefer the dongle as the connection is stable and it also charges the phone.

Bluetooth OBD Reader
  • Can be used to read error codes.
  • Torque Pro application can be installed in the HU and a custom dashboard can be set.
  • Cheap and very useful accessory.

USB Dashcam
  • USB dashcams are super affordable and can be directly connected to the HU.
  • The data can be stored locally in the internal memory of the HU or can be stored externally. Some devices support upto 1TB external hard disks.

Points to note
  • Most Chinese sellers undervalue the product to help reduce the customs duty. But they put pathetic values like $15 or $20. Customs evaluation for these products are mostly around $100-$150. So be prepared to pay an additional $60-$80 as duties.
  • If the seller is using any kind of postal service to ship the product, the chances of not being charged customs duty is better.
  • If the seller ships via DHL/FedEx/BlueDart, a handling and advancement fees of INR 500 is charged.
  • Shipping takes anywhere from 4 days to 40 days, so be patient.
  • In addition to these expenses, you would have to shell out INR 1000 - INR 3000 for installation, unless you want to go the DIY route.
  • If the CANBUS reader shows flipped doors in the HU, you can change the CANBUS settings in the factory settings. The default password for factory settings is 126 for most HUs'.

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Old 10th July 2019, 14:58   #2
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

This is very helpful. Which HU have you installed, and in which car? Pictures would help!
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Old 10th July 2019, 20:56   #3
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Interesting thread. I have been thinking of changing the OEM head unit of my S Cross to an android head unit. In my extensive of watching YouTube, the maximum amount of reviews are for the Hypersonic head unit that you have mentioned. I am curious to know, since most of them come with many band equalisers, how is the sound quality compared to the Pioneers/Kenwood head units?
If you installed the same, please share pictures and your experiences.
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Old 10th July 2019, 23:51   #4
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Always wanted an android HU for my car but the lack of quality Android HU availability in India and lack of installation knowledge among installers made me to move to a Pioneer one...

hopefully we start seeing better/quality Android HUs in India soon
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Old 11th July 2019, 00:39   #5
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by suneet_ag View Post
This is very helpful. Which HU have you installed, and in which car? Pictures would help!
I have installed a 4GB RAM/32GM ROM LCD IPS HU with DSP, which I imported from China in my Renault Captur. Will update my ownership thread (My experience with one of the most hated, least selling cars in India : The Renault Captur) with a post about the HU with all relevant details, very soon. Thank You.

Quote:
Originally Posted by simpleman View Post
Interesting thread. I have been thinking of changing the OEM head unit of my S Cross to an android head unit. In my extensive of watching YouTube, the maximum amount of reviews are for the Hypersonic head unit that you have mentioned. I am curious to know, since most of them come with many band equalisers, how is the sound quality compared to the Pioneers/Kenwood head units?
If you installed the same, please share pictures and your experiences.
I imported my unit from China, and if you can, I would recommend you too to import from China as you get better quality products than Hypersonic there. Few of my friends have Hypersonic installed in their cars, the audio output is just okay, definitely not comparable to the Pioneers/Kenwoods'. If you get an unit with the DSP chip, it is almost as good as the Pioneers. I am not sure, but have not yet come across a Hypersonic HU with the DSP chip yet.

The problem is, as far as I know, without opening up the casing of the HU, there is no sure way of checking wether the DSP chip is present or not. Link to the DSP chip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanasu View Post
Always wanted an android HU for my car but the lack of quality Android HU availability in India and lack of installation knowledge among installers made me to move to a Pioneer one...

hopefully we start seeing better/quality Android HUs in India soon
I agree the quality of Android HUs' sold here locally are just so-so, but about installation, there should be no issues at all when you have it professionally installed. In fact, BHPian graaja had installed his HU by himself. Link to his wonderful thread (Android Head-Unit in my VW Polo GT TSI).

P.S: I am keenly following your thread (ICE upgrade gone completely wrong - A frustrating experience! Need help). I really hope you are able to sort things out soon. Thank You.
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Old 11th July 2019, 01:16   #6
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Interesting thread, subscribing!

What HUs would you recommend for older & out of production cars, like the Zen Estilo & Aria? They will need some sort of dashboard frame isn't it?
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Old 11th July 2019, 11:29   #7
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Before and after pics of the HU upgrade in my Honda City. The android HU is from a company called Seicane and I bought it directly from aliexpress. The best part is that the wiring was a direct plug-n-play and the steering controls work like a factory unit itself. Also, the screen dims itself when the headlights are turned on.
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Old 12th July 2019, 09:23   #8
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Dont want to be a contrarian, but I will go ahead and be one anyway because of my experiences. My suggestion would be stick with locally available Sony or Pioneer units (the cheapest ones) which support CarPlay or Android. All the major needs would be addressed by these two software layers and believe me, they are more than enough. In fact, the features have become distractions by themselves for a sterile cockpit (carpit?).
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Old 12th July 2019, 10:27   #9
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Out of curiosity, does having an android HU make a big difference?

My head unit has bluetooth and display for the reverse camera. More than sufficient for my songs. For navigation my phone has a phone stand whose location I change with respect to sunlight and night time driving

With regard to upgrading the speakers and other related components, does an android HU make any difference or is more of a luxury?

No offence to android HU Owners, Im trying to understand any hidden benefits that I have overlooked
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Old 12th July 2019, 13:05   #10
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

I have installed Sony XAV100,
fits my Nissan Terrano well.

Has all the essential functions like Google maps, calls, external mic, music apps, etc.
(Do note, that I need to plug in my smartphone for everything to work)

Devices with triple the functionalities and no plug-in requirements with half the price were available on Aliexpress, but In the end, you won't be using those unnecessary gimmicks, but just want a stable & Solid device.

Sony and others (pioneer, jbl...) does just that.

How can I forget the physical button and dials, the most important part of the car head unit, in my opinion. Touch screens are big distractions & difficult to operate while on the move, not advisable.

P.S. I would have loved if it came with obd2 connector reader.
right now, it is synced to my smartphone only via torque pro app.
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Old 12th July 2019, 15:05   #11
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shashwat B View Post
Out of curiosity, does having an android HU make a big difference?

My head unit has bluetooth and display for the reverse camera. More than sufficient for my songs. For navigation my phone has a phone stand whose location I change with respect to sunlight and night time driving

With regard to upgrading the speakers and other related components, does an android HU make any difference or is more of a luxury?

No offence to android HU Owners, Im trying to understand any hidden benefits that I have overlooked
I will list out 2 benefits that I got compared to regular audio systems on my other cars:

1. These are available to be custom fit to your specific car. Hence look more like a factory fit rather than an after market fitment. The steering mounted controls work as it would in the factory setup. The physical buttons light up when the headlights are switched on. Best of all, no cutting of wires. The wiring harness is a direct fit to the factory setup.

2. OBD2. The head unit can be paired with an OBD2 adapter. This can be used with the Torque pro app.


PS: My first comments are for custom audio systems that are available for a specific car and not for the generic 2 din head units.

Cheers
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Old 12th July 2019, 15:18   #12
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by speedmunster View Post
I will list out 2 benefits that I got compared to regular audio systems on my other cars:


Cheers
I will add a few more

1. You can add apps for music streaming, auto maintenance and many other stuff

2. You can add camera setups for 1 or w cam - dash cam or 360Degrees viewing camera setups (Obviously addon's ) without having to have separate screens

3. You can add a TPMS system that displays directly on the Audio head unit screen

4. You can add a steering controls if your car does not come with it by default

Last edited by sreedotk : 12th July 2019 at 15:20.
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Old 12th July 2019, 15:34   #13
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A few months back I was desperate for an android head unit and couldn't find a single din model that would fit my 2000 Qualis. I luckily found a pioneer unit that would use the phone as display and Audio capabilities. This gave all the benefits of a smart ICE device at a budget cost. This is the first picture below while the actual one I wanted (second pic) was pretty expensive.
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Old 13th July 2019, 02:17   #14
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsdbsd View Post
Dont want to be a contrarian, but I will go ahead and be one anyway because of my experiences. My suggestion would be stick with locally available Sony or Pioneer units (the cheapest ones) which support CarPlay or Android. All the major needs would be addressed by these two software layers and believe me, they are more than enough. In fact, the features have become distractions by themselves for a sterile cockpit (carpit?).
I agree, but none of the Sony/Pioneer units support CANBUS decoding. A lot of cars have the vehicle information displayed in the HU and as of now only an Android HU can replace these units. Do read my recent post (My experience with one of the most hated, least selling cars in India : The Renault Captur) on my thread about my experience with an Android HU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shashwat B View Post
Out of curiosity, does having an android HU make a big difference?

My head unit has bluetooth and display for the reverse camera. More than sufficient for my songs. For navigation my phone has a phone stand whose location I change with respect to sunlight and night time driving

With regard to upgrading the speakers and other related components, does an android HU make any difference or is more of a luxury?

No offence to android HU Owners, Im trying to understand any hidden benefits that I have overlooked
It is just a feature rich HU with a lot of bells and whistles. No difference when it comes to upgrading speakers and other components.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitish.arnold View Post
I have installed Sony XAV100,
fits my Nissan Terrano well.

Has all the essential functions like Google maps, calls, external mic, music apps, etc.
(Do note, that I need to plug in my smartphone for everything to work)

Devices with triple the functionalities and no plug-in requirements with half the price were available on Aliexpress, but In the end, you won't be using those unnecessary gimmicks, but just want a stable & Solid device.

Sony and others (pioneer, jbl...) does just that.

How can I forget the physical button and dials, the most important part of the car head unit, in my opinion. Touch screens are big distractions & difficult to operate while on the move, not advisable.

P.S. I would have loved if it came with obd2 connector reader.
right now, it is synced to my smartphone only via torque pro app.
Wether you like it or not, all modern cars are now coming with touch screen HUs', that too massive ones. Though I love the tactile feel of physical buttons and dials, I feel they would become a thing of the past very soon. Also, there are a lot of Android HUs' with physical buttons and dials if that is very important to you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by diyguy View Post
A few months back I was desperate for an android head unit and couldn't find a single din model that would fit my 2000 Qualis. I luckily found a pioneer unit that would use the phone as display and Audio capabilities. This gave all the benefits of a smart ICE device at a budget cost. This is the first picture below while the actual one I wanted (second pic) was pretty expensive.
There are a lot of single din Android HUs. Refer link
But, I have no clue why they make these units look like they are from the 90's.
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Old 14th July 2019, 07:47   #15
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Default Re: The Android Head-Unit buying guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by MadrasTurbo View Post
Why an Android HU?
A lot of car owners are now considering an Android Head Unit for their cars, mainly due to the features that an Android OS brings along with it and more importantly the pricing is very attractive.
Great Thread! I just posted my experience of upgrading my Honda City to a 10.1 inch 4G LTE Support Android based Unit called Foxfire.
Report Published here >
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