Samsung and Android Auto: A Duo That Pushes Users to iPhones and CarPlay Too Often

Galaxy S24 and Android Auto 15 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Samsung
Android Auto CoolwalkAndroid Auto CoolwalkAndroid Auto CoolwalkAndroid Auto CoolwalkAndroid Auto CoolwalkAndroid Auto CoolwalkAndroid Auto CoolwalkAndroid Auto CoolwalkWaze on CarPlayWaze on CarPlayWaze on CarPlayWaze on CarPlayWaze on CarPlayWaze on CarPlay
Samsung was the second-biggest name in the smartphone business in 2023, behind rival Apple. The two companies commanded a 20% market share each, with 229.1 million and 225.5 million units sold during the entire year, respectively.
However, Samsung dominates the Android OEM world. It's by far the number one company that makes Android phones, well ahead of third-placed overall Xiaomi. The Chinese brand shipped "only" 146.1 million units last year, securing a market share of 13%.

These numbers show that Samsung is also popular in the Android Auto ecosystem. Many users who run Android Auto daily own a Samsung phone, and the number of customers buying high-end phones has also increased significantly in the last few years.

However, as I've said on multiple occasions, spending over $1,000 on a high-end Android phone does not guarantee a flawless experience on Android Auto, as flagships are prone to the same problems as everybody else.

The latest-generation Galaxy S models are living proof.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Many of our readers posted comments to my Android Auto stories, complaining that the app doesn't work correctly with Samsung's phones.

The issues have varied, but the most common problem was the broken connection between the phone and the head unit.

It all started with the Galaxy S22 series when Samsung's high-end phone models no longer connected to the car via cable or wirelessly. The issue impacted all models in the lineup, including the top-of-the-range Ultra (disclaimer: I use a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra to run Android Auto, but I never encountered a connection problem; if I did, it happened only sporadically, and I typically fixed it with generic workarounds, such as clearing the Android Auto cache and data).

The problems continued with the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S24, and the same behavior was reported in almost every case.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Users couldn't find a workaround, and the generic fixes, like the one I mentioned earlier, didn't improve the experience. For some users, Android Auto is still broken, despite reporting the issues many months ago, and both Google and Samsung promised to look into them. No full fix has been discovered until now.

The number of users struggling with Android Auto on a Samsung phone is shocking. This thread on Google's forum, where users report connection problems with a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, has over 1,150 upvotes. A similar thread, where users discuss Android Auto connection struggles, received more than 650 upvotes.

On Samsung's forum, a thread in which users complain about Android Auto not working with a cable or wirelessly on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra spans 14 pages. Overall, there are approximately 2,000 complaints only on three links, so you can imagine how widespread the Android Auto connection problems have become for Samsung users.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Google and Samsung rarely offered helpful information, and their replies often came down to acknowledging ongoing investigations. Many users are still confused, and unsurprisingly, some are already pondering a switch to iPhone and CarPlay when the time comes for a device upgrade.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that paying over $1,000 on a premium Android device and not being able to use it behind the wheel is a frustrating experience. Some users who repeatedly asked for a fix claimed their next purchase would be an iPhone, mainly because running CarPlay is often considered a more stable and reliable experience.

This demonstrates that Android Auto and CarPlay have become an incentive to choose a specific phone model and brand, as users no longer want to disconnect when they start driving. It also shows that Android Auto and CarPlay are now must-have systems in most cars on the road, and users need them to work.

Apple seems to be the company benefitting from all these struggles in the Android Auto world, as many users struggling with a Google phone in their car drool over the promised stability and reliability in the CarPlay world. However, the iPhone 15 launch and the switch from Lightning to USB-C caused confusion in the Apple ecosystem, as users discovered that not all cables they have around the house work in their cars.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
This is an experience that Android Auto users have already become familiar with, but in Apple's case, fixing CarPlay with an iPhone 15 involves finding the right cable, and that's all.

Meanwhile, Samsung and Android Auto remain a match that doesn't seem made in heaven, and users' daily struggles make them consider switching to iPhone and CarPlay in the long term. Samsung and Google still have enough time to fix everything, but the lack of transparency and communication between the parent company and the users requiring assistance is what's causing more frustration.

What's your experience with Android Auto and a Samsung phone? Let me know in the comment box after the jump, and if you discovered a way to fix Android Auto with a recent-generation Galaxy S, please share it with our readers.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
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.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories