The Best Wireless Adapters for CarPlay and Android Auto in 2022

There’s almost nothing to love about the interface for your infotainment center created by the car manufacturers. Detroit probably spent millions to perfect those on-screen buttons and almost all of them whiffed it, big time. Even trying to hang up a phone without hitting the wrong button using a car manufacturer’s screen design is an exercise in hair-pulling frustration.

But the interface of your phone, transposed to your dashboard screen? Now that is nice. So, if you’re like me, when you finally got a vehicle that supported CarPlay (for Apple iPhones) and/or Android Auto, you fell in love with it.

The downside is that in most vehicles, to use CarPlay and Android Auto you have to physically plug in your phone every time. That means charging the phone when you may not want to. It means more wear and tear on the power port. If you’re limping along with an older iPhone, you probably know the Lightning port is not up to that much stress. I was at a point where it was entirely hit or miss if my phone would connect, no matter how much I changed lighting cables.

Then I found out about wireless CarPlay dongles/adapters. They plug into the smart adapter port of your car (usually a USB-A port, but USB-C on some newer models). Whatever smartphone plugs into it will display on the screen. The dongle is a go-between, connecting your smartphone to the dash using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. So you can get in the car and start rolling, no need to plug in.

This is a tech product type that’s flooding the market. Many look suspiciously similar, so there’s probably only a handful of actual product developers licensing the designs. Do a search on Amazon and you’ll find a plethora of “brand names” you’ve never heard before like Drimfly, Zeteade, Teeran, Vrriis, Binize, Loadkey, and more. Some brands perhaps you have seen in ads on TikTok or Instagram, like CarlinKit or Pairr. There are quite a few adapters who don’t even sell via Amazon, sticking instead to direct sales; they typically ship from overseas and will take days, if not weeks, to reach you.

We contacted a number of vendors and in the end five of them sent us 7 devices to try. A few vendors we decided not to work with, as they prefer to send their products only to “influencers” that would build positive-buzz online videos around their products.

The experience with each device we tested is similar. What they all share is that once you have your phone connected, you’ll appreciate the ease of re-accessing it. But you will notice a slight lag from hitting a button on the screen to fully engaging it (for example, when pausing a song), compared to when you used the direct wired connection. That’s the price you pay for this kind of wireless convenience. And another warning: Once you have it working, don’t mess with the settings. Read on to see why.


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