CarPlay Wireless vs. Wired Connection - CarPlay Audio Quality?

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by Coffee50, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. Coffee50 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2015
    Hey all,

    For those who have used both wireless & the plug in you notice a significant sound difference?

    I briefly spoke to a rep about wireless CarPlay at a car audio shop...and he said he always tells customers audio will be much better with a wired connection.

    In theory, that makes perfect sense, but for those who use wireless & previously plugged in, or who use both, is there a big difference?

    Obviously, I could save a few hundred bucks if I went with a wired aftermarket unit, but I initially was looking into wireless.

    Thanks for your insight!
  2. twistedpixel8 macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2017
    I imagine it’s to do with bitrate. Wires can carry more data so I reckon it will be reasonably compressed, considering the amount of data that has to be sent along for the display alone.

    I haven’t used wireless CarPlay but I reckon that will be the case.

    Also from what I’ve read: wireless CarPlay is pretty flaky, specially on BMW systems.
  3. burnthefires macrumors member

    May 26, 2017
    Wireless CarPlay uses Wi-Fi connection not Bluetooth (ok, BT also but it's just for setup not media) and can transmit as much as lossless audio from your phone.
  4. 4k78 macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2016
    Is there a list of just wireless CarPlay vehicles? The Apple site just has the list for CarPlay (wired and wireless) car models.
  5. burnthefires macrumors member

    May 26, 2017
    I believe for now it's just BMW and VW in their new 2020 European Passat (also the new Skoda Superb which is based on Passat) so there would be hardly any list. There are also some aftermarket head-units from Kenwood and JVC.

    But to be honest wireless CarPlay is a huge compromise. Comfort? Definitely, no need to plug in your phone on short trips. But on longer ones you need to charge your device since it's consuming a lot of power with Wi-Fi, BT, Cellular data, GPS and e.g. CPU hungry Google Maps all running at the same time.
    And it causes issues: a) Place your phone on a wireless charger right? Well, after about two hours (depending on the weather ofc) it will overheat and switch itself into cool down mode. Also even during those 2 hours there would be a lot of CPU throttling - apps lagging, music dropouts etc.;
    b) You can just plug it in. It still gets hot as hell, but at least doesn't go into the cool down mode. Wait, did they say wireless CarPlay?

    Of course this might be just my case (not really, you can read about it online), because BMW put the wireless charger inside the armrest without any airflow/cooling, maybe it's better when outside.
  6. bransoj macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2013
    Bar one of the iOS13 public beta versions my phone never gets hot whilst plugged in for CarPlay and that includes when using Apple Maps which to be honest is most of the time its plugged in. In fact it can be navigating, playing music and charging via CarPlay and still be fine.
  7. burnthefires macrumors member

    May 26, 2017
    By plugged in you mean wired CarPlay or wireless CP and charging via USB? My iPhone 8 is quite cool with wired connection too, wireless connection is the issue.
  8. dwfaust macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2011
    I prefer wireless for convenience, reduced clutter, etc... whatever additional quality I would gain with a wired connection would be lost, given typical ambient road noise in my Mazda MX-5 hardtop.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 1, 2019 ---
    Alpine also makes a good wireless after-market head unit, the ILX-107... might have been the first after market wireless head unit.
  9. bransoj macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2013
    Wired CarPlay. I would think there is a fair bit more going off in the phone doing it wirelessly so it will get pretty warm.
  10. Coffee50 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2015
    Thanks for all the help everyone! So I ended up getting an aftermarket unit, Pioneer 4500. I'm going to get it installed in a few days, so I'm pretty stoked to try it out.

    Fortunately, it offers wireless & wire capabilities. My next question was actually going to be about the battery drain & phone temperature. I would primarily use it for Apple Music & Apple maps....

    This is brand new for me, as I've never used CarPlay before, but for those who have wired / wireless options, does it automatically turn off wireless when plugged in? (Thinking if I'm going on a longer trip & want to charge or if I have a passenger who plugs in their phone...)

    Also when streaming Apple Music, is it required to have any albums or playlist I want to listen to downloaded on the phone?

    Anyone have any experience with the Pioneer 4500 (or 4400....which apparently is very similar). I was thinking of going for the Alpine, but I received a deal with the pioneer.

    Sorry for the "newbie questions", just want to try and understand & use this as much during the return window as possible, in case I decide that wireless isn't worth it & downgrade to a wired only unit.
  11. dwfaust macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2011
    I have no experience with the Pioneer unit... but on my Alpine, plugging in the phone switches to wired mode... and when I unplug my phone, it instantly switches to wireless.

    I don't use Apple Music - I use Spotify primarily... and CarPlay will stream music from your phone - so assuming you have a good cellular connection, and sufficient data capabilities, there would be no issue steaming the music... if you are going into an area where there is poor cellular coverage, or have tight data limits, you might want to download the data to your phone.

    Also, understand that CarPlay is just an extension of your phone. The car unit is basically an alternative screen for your phone... so everything that happens is essentially done on your phone, and then just displayed on the car screen, subject to Apple's limitations. Prior to iOS 13, if you (or a passenger) changes something on your phone causing the display on your phone to change, your car display also changes... iOS 13 fixes that, and allows your phone to be used while connected and it doesn't alter the car display.
  12. Coffee50 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2015
    Thank you! OK, my understanding is bit more clear. Streaming music is basically the equivalent of it I were streaming music while on a walk or at a mall, doesn't require a download, just a data connection.

    And good to hear that plugging in switches off wireless, I assume its probably similar on a Pioneer unit. And anything IOS 13 brings will be new to me anyway, lol.
  13. 4k78 macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2016
    Thanks. Mainly curious. Rented a loaded Nissan Maxima last month on vacation and used CarPlay for the first time. Loved it.

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12 July 30, 2019