Sony Launches New CarPlay Media Receiver, Bad News for Android Auto Fans

Sony's new media receiver only supports CarPlay 6 photos
Photo: Sony/autoevolution edits
Sony XAV-AX3700Sony XAV-AX3700Sony XAV-AX3700Sony XAV-AX3700Sony XAV-AX3700
There are multiple ways to get CarPlay and Android Auto in a car that shipped without such capabilities (especially if it's older), and the most common is installing an aftermarket media receiver.
You'll be amazed by the plethora of options if you've never explored this market.

Companies like Sony, Pioneer, and Kenwood launch a myriad of media receivers, some starting at approximately $200, while the premium models go as high as $1,000.

The wide range of choices means you can find the right media receiver not only for your budget but also for your car. With different sizes and installation methods, media receivers can be used in any car, regardless of their dashboard design.

Sony has long been a leader in this market, and the company's latest model lands as a more affordable alternative to its premium receives.

Enter the XAV-AX3700.

Sony XAV\-AX3700
Photo: Sony
The new media receiver sports a single-DIN rear chassis, with Sony explaining that it specifically picked this design to allow the installation in "vehicles that may have obstructions behind the radio mount area." Theoretically, this guarantees extra space under the radio for cables, though it also depends on your dashboard design.

The first thing most people are interested in is the size of the touchscreen panel. The XAV-AX3700 ships with a 6.95-inch anti-glare touchscreen with Sony's familiar user interface, though I doubt many people would stick with the standard software. CarPlay is also available so that most users will plug in their iPhones for instant access to Google Maps, Apple Music, and phone calls.

Sony doesn't provide details on CarPlay support, so it's unclear if it's wired or wireless, but I believe you'll need a cable to plug in your smartphone. Finding a media receiver with wireless CarPlay is nearly impossible at this price point, and I'm certain Sony would have advertised the wireless connection if it was available.

Sony XAV\-AX3700
Photo: Sony
Unfortunately, the new media receiver comes with bad news for Android Auto users. If you're a Google user and want a more affordable Sony receiver with Android Auto support, the XAV-AX3700 won't be it. The device only offers CarPlay integration, as Sony decided to go all-in on Apple's system. It's a questionable choice, especially as most media receivers typically support both platforms.

Sony's new product comes with USB-C integration, delivering 5V 3.0A speeds for charging your smartphone. It integrates 3 pre-out connectivity options, allowing you to create a custom audio system with support for a 4-channel amplifier. It also sports a rear camera input, so if your vehicle has a parking camera, you can connect it to the XAV-AX3700 to see real-time images on the screen when going in reverse.

The device also sports several extra features, including sound customization support with a built-in DSP, LDAC integration, and FLAC compatibility. You can play files up to 24-bit depth and sampling frequency at 384 kHz.

Sony XAV\-AX3700
Photo: Sony
If you're a big fan of buttons, and I'm certain most of us are, despite the skyrocketing adoption of touchscreens, the XAV-AX3700 includes physical keys for volume, source, sound settings, and voice control. It's easier to launch these features, especially when you learn where they are, so you can press the buttons without even looking at the screen.

Sony has also equipped the device with a feature typically available on more expensive siblings. The Quick Wake Up integration allows the media receiver to boot immediately after turning on the engine. If you previously used a third-party media receiver, you probably know that getting it up and running takes a considerable amount of time – the worst I've seen is 30 seconds, so I had to wait half a minute to get CarPlay on the screen, launch Google Maps, and set up a destination; in all, I was ready to drive in over one minute after turning on the engine.

Sony's Quick Wake Up feature promises a boot time of less than 8 seconds, so you should be ready to hit the road much faster.

Sony XAV\-AX3700
Photo: Sony
Sony has tried to make the XAV-AX3700 a well-balanced mid-range offering, but I believe the lack of Android Auto support could be a major drawback, eventually preventing many buyers from getting the media receiver. On the other hand, I'm certain Sony knows its audience, and considering the device specifically targets the American and Canadian markets, where CarPlay dominates the experience behind the wheel, leaving Android Auto behind could make sense.

Sony says the XAV-AX3700 will hit the shelves in June. It will carry a price tag of $399 in the United States and $540 CA in Canada. It's unclear if the company is also planning to launch the media receiver in other markets in Europe, but for now, the lack of Android Auto makes it a better choice in the United States (Android dominates several European markets, so the adoption of Android Auto is also higher in these countries).
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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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