Honda's $112 Wireless Android Auto Upgrade Makes No Sense, Will Still Sell Like Hotcakes

Android Auto in Honda cars 15 photos
Photo: Smail Honda
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Say what you want about Android Auto, but the wireless connection is a significant upgrade over its wired sibling.
I've been using the wireless version for several years and can't imagine returning to a cable, especially for short trips when I don't need to charge my phone.

However, the biggest benefit is the lack of cables on the dashboard. If you've been following the Android Auto news for over a few weeks, you probably know that cables are often responsible for more than 50% of the disconnection issues.

Finding the right cable to run Android Auto isn't easy, and even Google offers detailed guidance to help users pick a cord that wouldn't suffer from random disconnects. It doesn't mean picking a recommended cable will help you avoid connection problems, but the likelihood of hitting one is much lower.

When Honda announced a wireless Android Auto and CarPlay update, customers were super-excited with the prospect of ditching cables. The update is aimed at 2018-2022 Accord models, and the carmaker says some 631K vehicles are eligible for the switch from wired to wireless.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
The update can be installed only at a Honda dealership. And the most important part is that it won't be free. Honda will charge Accord owners $112 for the update, plus labor costs. The final price could start at $150, depending on your Honda dealership.

Honda's wireless Android Auto update doesn't make sense from a cost perspective. And yet, people will love it, and many Accord owners will rush to dealerships to install it.

Moving from wired to wireless in the Android Auto world has become a lot more convenient lately, thanks to devices like AAWireless and Motorola MA1. AAWireless invented this product category, but the MA1 helped expand it, providing customers with more choices.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Wireless Android Auto adapters connect to the vehicle using the USB port powering the Android Auto connection. They pair with the smartphone via Bluetooth. The adapter receives the signal wirelessly from the mobile device and forwards it to the infotainment system via the direct USB connection. As a result, Android Auto runs wirelessly, with the smartphone connecting to the infotainment system without a cable through the adapter.

The approach is convenient and straightforward, allowing users to run Android Auto automatically without a cable if the adapter is plugged into the USB port permanently. It shuts down when you turn off the engine and loads automatically when you start the car. Android Auto can take up to 15 or 20 seconds to load, as the adapter needs to power on, fire up its software, receive a signal from both ends, and then establish the connection with the mobile device.

Wireless Android Auto adapters have become increasingly popular lately, all for a good reason. They are cheap, easy to use, and non-intrusive, so you can connect them to your vehicle and forget they're there.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
They are the reason paying $112 plus labor costs doesn't make sense for an Accord owner.

The cheapest wireless Android Auto adapter costs approximately $30 if you don't mind using a device from a generic Chinese brand. Motorola's MA1 was recently discounted to $60 thanks to a major price cut, while AAWireless can be had for $75. A new-generation AAWireless model with CarPlay support is also coming, but pricing details are unavailable.

Installing Honda's wireless Android Auto update will cost $112 plus labor charges at the dealership. Installing a wireless Android Auto adapter costs significantly less than $100 with no labor charges. Getting an adapter is substantially cheaper, and depending on the selected model, it can be even three times more affordable.

However, I'm confident many Accord owners will rush to the dealership to install the update. A first-party solution is often the preferred solution, especially because it should guarantee improved stability and reliability. It's not a secret that some wireless Android Auto adapters, including Motorola's MA1, suffer from long-term reliability problems, so installing Honda's update could help avoid them.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
With Honda's update, you keep the USB port available, as the connection between the infotainment system and the mobile device won't require an extra device.

While Honda can hardly justify the price, the wireless Android Auto and CarPlay update is a Godsend for many customers. The carmaker is unlikely to share specifics on how many people will pay for the update from wired to wireless, but it'd be interesting to find out if this effort was successful. Many people are fine with cables, so out of the 631K eligible vehicles, some drivers will refuse the update because they don't need it. Of those interested in Android Auto wireless, some could refuse to pay that much for an update and stick with a more affordable adapter.

Meanwhile, you don't have to wait for Honda to make the update available at your local dealership. The wireless Android Auto adapters are already live, most offered with next-day delivery.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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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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