Carluex Pro Review: Turning CarPlay Wired Into Full Android

Carluex Pro home screen 25 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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The wireless adapter market for Android Auto and CarPlay has skyrocketed lately, mainly as more solutions reached the market, thanks to third-party developers or renowned companies.
AAWireless pioneered this new product category, allowing users to convert Android Auto wired to wireless. Motorola launched a similar device called MA1, and Google highlighted its capabilities at I/O last year. Since then, the number of adapters converting the wired version of Android Auto to a wireless experience has increased quickly, with the market now including plenty of choices, many of which come from generic Chinese brands.

Carlinkit is the most famous choice in the CarPlay world, offering a very convenient solution to switch from wired to wireless.

A company called Carluex comes with an upgraded and very intriguing concept. Its device, called Carluex Pro, converts CarPlay wired to wireless Android Auto and CarPlay, so you can use either system without a cord. However, its most advanced capability is the support for full Android, so you can convert your car's support for CarPlay wired into a complete Android infotainment system.

What Carluex Pro does

Before anything, let me detail this device's purpose.

AAWireless and Motorola MA1 convert Android Auto wired to Android Auto wireless. Carlinkit converts CarPlay wired to CarPlay wireless.

Carluex Pro converts CarPlay wired to CarPlay wireless, Android Auto wireless, and full Android. The device offers an all-in-one package that lets the user choose their destination, so if you want the full experience, you can activate the Android support and enjoy Google's operating system without any app restrictions.

The app support is the main difference between CarPlay/Android Auto and full Android. CarPlay and Android Auto are limited to car-optimized apps, whereas the full version of Android has no such restrictions. You can install any app from the Google Play Store, including Netflix and YouTube.

Carluex Pro
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

Design, look, and feel

Carluex Pro feels like a premium device, though I'm not necessarily a big fan of the glossy finish. I don't like a glossy finish on anything in my car, as these surfaces are very prone to scratches and look awful after a while.

Carluex Pro's build quality is really good, and you don't typically expect such attention to detail from a Chinese brand. Its small form factor is complemented by a circular LED light that turns on when the device powers on.

It sports an integrated USB-C port to connect to the car, and the box includes cables for both USB-C and USB-A connectors. The device also sports a built-in SIM slot to use without turning your smartphone into a hotspot for Internet access.

The back of the device sports four air vents for cooling, but the adapter tends to get very hot, especially when running a video streaming app. Installing it on a car air vent to let the climate control system blow cold air into it could help prevent overheating.

My car sports a CarPlay USB port in the lower part of the dashboard, so installing the adapter into the air vent is nearly impossible. I installed the device in one of my cup holders, but as I'll detail later, the excessive heat rapidly became a problem.

Carluex Pro
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution


Considering the device runs the full version of Android, the most important thing most people are searching for is whether Carluex installed a new operating system or an outdated release.

Oddly, Carluex Pro seems to ship with different versions of Android. My review unit ran Android 13, but others claim their devices shipped with Android 12. Both versions are fine for a smooth experience in the car, as all apps support the two releases.

Carluex Pro offers 64GB of storage space to download songs or videos. The storage capacity isn't satisfying, but you're good to go if you don't want to store your entire music library on the device. The device packs 4GB of RAM, which needs a hefty hardware upgrade for a smooth experience.

4GB of RAM is enough for typical tasks like running Waze and listening to music, but everything more demanding puts the adapter to serious work. Watching a video on Netflix takes up to one minute to load (though it also depends on the speed of your Internet connection), and browsing the web sometimes feels painfully slow.

I watched live TV in Google Chrome, and while Carluex Pro can handle the process, it needs at least 30 seconds to start playing the streaming.

Every time you throw a more demanding task at it, the adapter feels very hot, which is why I said that installing it on an air vent could help. On more than one occasion, the overheating caused the device to crash. Everything returned to normal after a couple of minutes, though.

Carluex Pro can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi (connecting to a hotspot you can create on your smartphone) or with the integrated SIM card. If you live in a city without a spotty data connection, the experience should be as seamless as possible. If you drive in a rural area with signal problems, you'll likely encounter interruptions, especially when streaming content).

Carluex Pro works with any car that sports built-in wired CarPlay support. It supports all models produced between 2016 and 2023, with one exception. BMW models are not compatible, and there's no way to get around this limitation.

Carluex Pro
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution


If you're trying to figure out what you can do with Carluex Pro in your car, imagine that you have a full Android tablet instead of your current infotainment system.

The adapter opens the door to the complete Android experience, so you can do anything from running Google Maps and Waze to playing games and watching videos.

The device has a dedicated launcher on top of the default Android skin, so you can create widgets and pin apps to the home screen for one-tap access. Thanks to widget integration, you can create shortcuts for music apps (with integrated playback controls) and weather software to quickly see the forecast (this is a massive upgrade over the Android Auto Coolwalk experience, where the weather card is only available on portrait screens).

The default launcher also includes a speedometer to show your current speed when driving with the home screen on the infotainment display.

You can create folders to organize your apps and load the app drawer where all software installed on the device is available.

Like a typical Android device, Carluex Pro is fully customizable, so you can choose a different skin, pick a different layout, and change the color. I found myself spending quite a lot of time in the settings screen, so if you get bored waiting to charge the battery of your EV, Carluex Pro will certainly keep you busy.

Considering you can run the full Android experience, you get access to the entire collection of apps available on the Google Play Store, including Netflix and YouTube.

Carluex Pro
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Now let's talk a bit about the YouTube integration.

If you've been using Android Auto and CarPlay for over a day, you probably know that YouTube is not allowed on these two platforms. The reason is simple: watching a video could become very distracting. So, instead of allowing the application when the vehicle is parked, Google and Apple decided to ban YouTube completely in the car.

Carluex Pro provides easy access to YouTube content, though it comes with one major shortcoming: the video does not stop when the car starts moving. The video keeps playing even when you drive, and we all know how dangerous this can be. Carluex Pro needs additional controls to pause the video when the vehicle starts moving, as YouTube and Netflix should only be allowed when the car is parked. Otherwise, it's a major distraction source and can have serious consequences if the driver stares at the screen for too long.

Watching live TV in the browser or through a dedicated app feels great on the car's screen, especially when waiting to pick up the kids from school. My significant other is always late whenever I pick her up from work, so with Carluex Pro, I could easily load the news channel and watch live TV until she was ready. However, the playback doesn't stop when you're ready to go, as the content continues playing even when you start driving.

Similar restrictions must also be activated for games. Like a full Android device, Carluex Pro allows users to play games published on the Google Play Store. Depending on your car's screen, the experience can feel quite fun, though many vehicles come with cheap displays with terrible response times, so your touch input might not be spot-on every time.

The media playback works via streaming apps or with content stored on the device. The 64GB of storage might seem limited, but if you want to listen to your tunes or let your kid watch some cartoons while charging the battery, you can do this without an Internet connection. The loading times are faster because no data connection is involved, and everything feels more responsive.

The built-in music app comes with an equalizer, and I didn't feel like I was downgrading my audio experience. When I ordered my car, I specifically ordered a premium audio system because I enjoy listening to high-quality music while driving. Carluex Pro did not produce any drop in audio quality, whether I used the built-in media app or YouTube Music.

Carluex Pro also supports MirrorLink and Chromecast support, so you can stream content to the device right from your phone.

The navigation experience is as smooth as you'd expect in Google Maps and Waze. The location information is typically accurate thanks to the built-in GPS support, though I encountered some problems with the data connection, especially in remote areas. However, Google Maps and Waze work like on Android Auto and CarPlay over 90 percent of the time.

The startup time takes anywhere between a few seconds and 20 seconds. Carluex Pro needs some time to load the full Android experience, so you won't see the home screen immediately after turning on the engine. The process involves several steps. First, the car must power the USB port and run its integrated operating system with built-in CarPlay support. Then, the adapter must load Android and establish the connection with the mobile device. Once all these steps are complete, it can load the home screen and let you launch apps.

Carluex Pro
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

The bottom line

Carluex Pro significantly upgrades your infotainment experience if you're not satisfied with the app limitations on CarPlay.

More specifically, it offers one-tap access to the entire app ecosystem on Android, letting you watch YouTube videos and Netflix shows, install games, and listen to your favorite music without the need for Internet access.

In addition, it does everything available on Android Auto and CarPlay, including running navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze and playing music from Spotify and YouTube Music. If you want to stick with phone projection systems, you can dump the full version of Android and stick with Android Auto and CarPlay wireless.

The biggest shortcoming appears to be heat dissipation. I tested the device during hot summer days, and on several occasions (while I was watching a live video), it got so warm that it eventually crashed. It also becomes slow randomly, possibly as the 4GB of RAM struggles to handle everything you throw at it.

My biggest problem with Carluex Pro is that it allows watching a video when the car is in motion. You can do this in the YouTube app, Netflix, or the browser by loading a streaming link. While watching a video while waiting in the parking lot is perfectly fine, you'd better not let the video play when you start driving. The whole thing can be a fatal source of distraction, and no matter what you think, you'd still end up extremely tempted to look at the screen when the video is playing.

Otherwise, there's nothing to complain about Carluex Pro. Maybe the price is too high, as it costs $329, but given it's a small Android box, the cost is probably justified. The experience is as straightforward as it can be. You plug the adapter into the USB port of your car, and that's it. If you have a Google account, you can sign in for easy access to the Google Play Store and the other apps you might be using.

Carluex Pro
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Now that I dissected this brilliant device let's answer some of the questions that potential buyers who want to upgrade their infotainment experience might have.

Is this device compatible with my car?

Carluex Pro works with 99 percent of the cars on the market as long as they have wired CarPlay. It doesn't support BMW models.

Your car must have a USB port to connect your iPhone to the head unit. You the device into the USB port, with Android loading automatically on the infotainment screen.

How can I use Android Auto and CarPlay wirelessly?

Once Android runs on your screen, you can tap the CarPlay and Android Auto icons to launch the phone projection systems.

You'll go through the same configuration process as in the native versions of Android Auto and CarPlay, and when you're done, you'll see the familiar interface on the screen.

How long does an adapter take to launch?

The initial launch is a bit slower and can take up to 30 seconds. Once you finalize the configuration process, the device should be up and running in about 5 seconds.

Considering it's an Android box, the device needs a few seconds to load the operating system after you turn on the engine.

How can I watch YouTube and Netflix in my car?

The answer is pretty simple.

Once you set up the device, you have full access to the Android app ecosystem. Netflix and YouTube are pre-installed, so you can tap the icons to launch them.

You'll need a data connection or Internet access to load content in these apps. Netflix also requires an account, while on YouTube, you can watch the content with or without an account.

Additional media apps are available on the Google Play Store, and you can install them like on any other Android device.

Does an adapter require any modifications in my car?

None. You just plug the adapter into the USB port of your car (the one where you typically connect your iPhone to run CarPlay), and the magic begins.

You won't have to mess with the wiring, as the connection takes place via USB. CarLuex Pro replaces CarPlay with Android, Android Auto, or CarPlay wireless.

Do I have to disconnect the adapter when I turn off the engine?

That's up to you. I always left the device in my car, as I wanted a straightforward experience when I started the engine.

However, you can also unplug the adapter and take it home if you believe it could catch the attention of burglars. If your CarPlay port is located where the device can hardly be observed, you can safely leave it there for more convenient use.
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Editor's note: Review based on a sample purchased by autoevolution.

About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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