Intellidash Pro review: The easiest way to add wireless CarPlay to your ride

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Wireless CarPlay is clearly superior to needing to plug your phone in each and every time you enter the car, but most auto manufacturers have been slow on the uptake. This is where aftermarket solutions like the Intellidash Pro come into play.

Car and Driver's Intellidash Pro
Car and Driver's Intellidash Pro with wireless CarPlay


Intellidash Pro, the wireless version of the basic Intellidash+ unit we've already reviewed, delivers an easy-to-install CarPlay experience with no electrical work necessary.

Parts and ports

In the box, you get the Intellidash Pro, a suction-cupped articulating arm mount, an adhesive glass disc, a USB-C to USB-C cable, a hook and loop cable tie, the power adapters, and five adhesive cable clips.

Car and Driver's new Intellidash Pro boasts a substantial seven-inch display with a bit of a matte finish, which helps reduce glare while driving. It has built-in microphones and speakers, though you probably won't want to use the latter.

Glass disc to create a smooth mounting surface
Glass disc to create a smooth mounting surface


The mount is wildly adjustable and allows you to mount your display in several different positions. It can connect to your windshield on the inside or you could affix the glass disc to your dash and mount the display there.

We prefer the windshield option, which is a bit easier to hide the cables.

Mounting the Intellidash Pro to the windshield
Mounting the Intellidash Pro to the windshield


Down the left side of the unit are all of the port offerings. There is a 3.5mm auxiliary audio input, an auxiliary audio output, a USB-C port, and a USB-A port to be used exclusively with thumb drives.

There is a rather large power unit that occupies the car's power socket so you can't use it for any other charging, which is a downside.

Wireless CarPlay for the win

We've been steadfast CarPlay users for years. It's simply the best way to use your iPhone in your car. Apple has routinely added new features to CarPlay, which roll out to everyone as the software is running on your iPhone, rather than your car.

As long as your car supports CarPlay, you'll get any new interface changes, app updates, map improvements, and much more. This year we saw several new features.

CarPlay started as a wired affair, but soon Apple released a wireless spec. It's been years, and many new vehicles still only support the wired incarnation, to the dismay of users.

Running CarPlay wirelessly
Running CarPlay wirelessly


Most aftermarket solutions are full head unit replacements that require a substantial amount of know-how or a professional installer to retrofit. It's a complicated and often expensive proposition that turns away many users.

After living with wireless CarPlay for years, however, it would be hard to ever go back.

To set up wireless CarPlay with the Intellidash Pro, you merely connect your iPhone via a USB-C to Lightning cable. It will then automatically discover and request to pair with the new display. Then you can disconnect the Lightning cable and use it wirelessly from then on. Effortless.

When running wirelessly, it runs over Wi-Fi and will also show your battery status on the CarPlay interface. Otherwise, it is the same experience as running it wired.

You notice a slight delay in audio as it is being transmitted from your phone, but it isn't problematic.

There's an excellent option to pair with your wireless CarPlay these days too -- a MagSafe compatible wireless charging mount. We recently crash tested several models that can either conveniently hold your iPhone or hold and charge it at the same time.

This is our preferred scenario where we can hop in the car, mount our iPhone via MagSafe where it can also charge, and CarPlay runs wirelessly in the background. With the Intellidash Pro, this is the experience we get.

Is it really wire-free?

It may seem almost a contradiction, as Intellidash Pro gives you wireless CarPlay, but at the same time, it can add one or two additional cables to your vehicle. It gives us pause on whether or not that is a step in the right direction.

What it comes down to is your setup. If you place this on your dash, leaving all the wires dangling, it's going to frustrate you and foster a bad experience.

If you take the included tools to route your cables properly, this is a wonderful solution for many people.

Connect to your car via aux or FM transmitter
Connect to your car via aux or FM transmitter


We carefully routed our power cable under the plastic edge of our dash and, where we couldn't, tucked the cable neatly into the bundled small clips. With the cords out of the way, they stay out of mind.

Intellidash Pro can also broadcast to your vehicle's radio with a built-in FM transmitter. That lets you ditch the aux cable leaving you with only one wire -- the power cable -- to run your Intellidash Pro.

For the added convenience of wireless CarPlay, we're sold.

Extraneous features

Aside from CarPlay, there are a few other features worth noting, if briefly.




Intellidash Pro has Bluetooth so that even if you're not using CarPlay -- or have a secondary device -- it can still route its audio and calls through the unit.

A thumb drive can be inserted into the side where music can be played back. And sure, it also supports Android Auto if that's your bag.

Should you buy the Intellidash Pro?

After using the Intellidash Pro for a length of time, our only real complaint is how it interfaces with your car. It makes your native display nearly useless, with ours relegated to a very large touch screen control for the AC and not much else.

We also started using the FM transmitter, which felt like a blast from the past. Everyone used to have these to hook up their iPods to their car wirelessly but then and now, they had issues.

When you drive a significant distance, your radio broadcast channels change, as some new stations crop up while others fade out of range. So we'd choose an empty station only to have it transition to a radio show after driving a while.

If you just drive locally, an FM transmitter is probably the way to go.

To make things easier, we just switched to the aux cable, but that meant we needed to have one more wire running around our car which just looks messy. Even when we try to hide it as best we can.

The best solution would be to have a wireless CarPlay adapter for our vehicle, but this is the second-best option.

Wireless CarPlay is wonderful
Wireless CarPlay is wonderful


Wireless CarPlay is a far better experience for the user, and the Intellidash Pro delivers that. You simply sit down in your car, turn it on, and the Intellidash Pro springs to life, automatically connecting to your iPhone without it ever leaving your pocket.

This is the way CarPlay is meant to be, and shame on the automakers for dragging their feet in bringing this to vehicles natively.

This year feels like the first year we've seen broad wireless CarPlay adoption, but there are far too many existing vehicles on the roads that need a solution as well. As long as you don't mind the second screen in your car, this gives you that wireless experience without needing to replace your car's entire head unit.

Pros
  • Brings wireless CarPlay to almost any vehicle
  • Large adjustable 7-inch display
  • Multiple mounting options
  • Cables tie and clips included
  • Easy setup
  • Auxiliary cable, FM transmitter, or built-in speaker options for audio output
  • USB-C port to connect phone
Cons
Built-in speakers sound awfulMics may not be as good as your vehiclesMakes your car's display nearly unnecessaryFM transmitters are fickle when driving long distance

Rating: 4 out of 5

Where to buy

You can find the new Car and Driver Intellidash Pro on Amazon for $399.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    If your car already has CarPlay and you just want the convenience of wireless CarPlay then Carplay2air is a great solution. Works flawlessly in my VW. By the time I have the car started, seatbelt on and ready to back out, CarPlay is up and running. And my iPhone is still in my pocket.
    edited October 2021 mobirdGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    That cable management is bad. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    mobirdmobird Posts: 749member
    I agree with the carplay2air.com solution if your car already has Carplay. Supports multiple users, very robust, no wires, and it receives updates by the Developer. Go to carplay2air.com to check if your vehicle is supported and to see if they are running any promotions, I think they run on average $99.00 USD. Very good value to enhance Carplay.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 14
    cjcoopscjcoops Posts: 108member
    loopless said:
    If your car already has CarPlay and you just want the convenience of wireless CarPlay then Carplay2air is a great solution. Works flawlessly in my VW. By the time I have the car started, seatbelt on and ready to back out, CarPlay is up and running. And my iPhone is still in my pocket.
    Yup.
    And it has a USB out port so you can connect a Qi charging pad to it. Just check if your car is supported- And it’s about a third of the price of this intellidash screen thing…

    edited October 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 14
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 573member, editor
    That cable management is bad. 
    I don’t have them routed well in my pics because, well, a hidden wire doesn’t look like much. I ended up having this sitting right on my dash and I routed the cables around the edge of the plastic and tuck them underneath. You don’t see the cable at all. 
    gregoriusmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 14
    That cable management is bad. 
    I don’t have them routed well in my pics because, well, a hidden wire doesn’t look like much. I ended up having this sitting right on my dash and I routed the cables around the edge of the plastic and tuck them underneath. You don’t see the cable at all. 
    It’s not your cable management. I just wonder why the cables come out the side like that at all. If they came out the back, it seems everything would look better. 
    longpathwatto_cobraentropys
  • Reply 7 of 14
    I have a car made in Japan in 2003 for the 2004 model year that does not have CarPlay have any kind but it does have a fairly decent Bose audio system from the factory and a satnav that was farmed out to a 3rd party for foreign (non-JDM) markets. That third party has only ever released one map update since the car was made, so I’d been looking for a way to add CarPlay into the pop up sat nav binnacle for a while. If this device would fit in there, and allow me to route the wiring internally, it might be a better solution than what some tuners have done of installing a tablet such as an iPad mini in that same space (a conversion I am also considering).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 14
    smsmsmsm Posts: 12member
    Not a smart device. Not able to keep time in sync. Mine needs to be reset manually all the time.
  • Reply 9 of 14
    Apple should just make a CarPlay app for iPads and allow folks to mount those in their cars.   The new iPad Mini would work perfectly in that application.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    ...
    Most aftermarket solutions are full head unit replacements that require a substantial amount of know-how or a professional installer to retrofit. It's a complicated and often expensive proposition that turns away many users.
    ...


    Read on AppleInsider

    That was not my personal experience:
    I replaced the OEM head unit in my Honda Accord with an upgraded head unit from Crutchfield.  I've never tried anything like that before (except adding a rear speaker to my '66 Tempest when I was young and could tackle anything!).

    But, Crutchfield made it pretty straight forward:   They provided very detailed, model specific instructions -- all the way down to the location of every clip holding the dash facade on and how to best release them.    They also provided a conversion wiring harness that let me simply plug the Accord's wiring harness into the JVC unit.

    All in all, it took a couple hours of careful, cautious work (with more experience & bravado I could have done it in less than an hour). 

    But, that was a few years ago and with a very popular auto (Honda Accord).  I can't say whether that same level of support still exists and whether it exists for all makes & models.
  • Reply 11 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    longpath said:
    I have a car made in Japan in 2003 for the 2004 model year that does not have CarPlay have any kind but it does have a fairly decent Bose audio system from the factory and a satnav that was farmed out to a 3rd party for foreign (non-JDM) markets. That third party has only ever released one map update since the car was made, so I’d been looking for a way to add CarPlay into the pop up sat nav binnacle for a while. If this device would fit in there, and allow me to route the wiring internally, it might be a better solution than what some tuners have done of installing a tablet such as an iPad mini in that same space (a conversion I am also considering).

    See my previous post about aftermarket units from Crutchfield.
  • Reply 12 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    emoeller said:
    Apple should just make a CarPlay app for iPads and allow folks to mount those in their cars.   The new iPad Mini would work perfectly in that application.

    Why not simply install an iPad Mini with 5G?
  • Reply 13 of 14
    Why in the heck would I wanna add another superfluous display in the car that I would have to mount and deal with more wires and pay $400 for the privilege of doing so- lol no thanks
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