Carlinkit 2.0 Wireless CarPlay review

A couple of months ago I bought a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander. This has a top spec multimedia unit in every respect except it does not have wireless CarPlay. Ironically, lower spec models without the fancy satnav come with wireless CarPlay. But I digress.

I am already quite used to wireless CarPlay having installed a very nice Kenwood wireless CarPlay aftermarket unit in my 2011 Mazda. Love it. But an aftermarket head unit is not an option for the vast majority of modern cars, including the Santa Fe. Plugging an iPhone in every time is just annoying once you are used to wireless CarPlay, and for the Santa Fe, you end up with this annoying USB cable sticking up, forcing you to open the cover where the CarPlay port is located, looping over to where the vertical wireless charger is located, as in the picture below:

(you can display the Santa Fe satnav alongside CarPlay in the 10.8 inch screen, I just have the compass showing so you don’t see where I live).

Anyway, I looked around to see if I can find a wifi dongle that would trick the Hyundai into thinking an iPhone was connected to it. There are a few options, CarPlay2Air was probably the first, then Carlinkit, then JoyeAuto. No doubt there are others. I bought the second generation CarlinKit 2.0, which is a bit smaller and quicker to pair than the first gen, for USD$99 on sale, about AUD$139. It also has a disconnectable cable, which for my set up was also important.

.

Set up is easy, you plug it into your car’s CarPlay USB port, and it will take over the multimedia screen. It will ask to pair an iPhone via Bluetooth, and once paired, switch to wifi. You just need a bit of patience for it to connect. Thereafter, it will first try to connect to whichever iPhone was last used, or if it isn’t in range, the nearest iPhone previously connected.
In comparison to the Kenwood wireless carplay aftermarket unit in my old Mazda, the CarLinkit takes a bit longer to pair off with the iPhone after engine start. The Kenwood takes about 20 seconds, the CarLinkit about 30 secs. So start up, back out of the garage, drive a full block and the Carlinkit will hook up while the Kenwood does it in half a block. A fair compromise for the greatly added convenience of wireless CarPlay. It also takes a few seconds longer if another iPhone was previously linked.
For those wondering the carlinkit 2.0 will pair up with at least five iPhones. I don’t know if it will do more as that is how many are in the family. It is quite reliable, mostly. Occasionally, like about three times in the last month over multiple journeys totalling 5000km it needs unplugging and plugging back in to solve a glitch. The old turn it off and on again trick.
The only other thing I did was change the cable to a short cable with a right angle connector so it will tuck neatly into the well where the wireless charger is located, all neat and out of sight.

Overall the CarLinkit 2.0 is well worth the money IMHO for anyone with a CarPlay head unit that does not have wireless CarPlay. If you are worried about compatibility, the CarLinkit store has a comprehensive list of compatible vehicles.

And it makes everything look better too

1 Like

I have a BMW so am quite used to wireless.I thought there has been discussion of more and more cars adopting wireless, especially if iPhones move to being portless.

I bought exactly the same car (SantaFe Highlander) in January and was also pondering whether a wireless CarPlay adaptor would be a good solution too. A question - have you found any issues with lag using the Wireless CarPlay adaptor compared to the wired solution? I read that some people found that wireless CarPlay tended to be slow to respond. There are also rumours on some Hyundai forums that the wireless CarPlay feature might be added to the Harman sound system in future.

Also, note that there is a menu item in the Hyundai settings that allows CarPlay to appear as a full screen app if you want it.

I have not noticed any lag issues TBH, but I am not sure how you would notice, wifi doesn’t lag like Bluetooth. I tend to voice command rather than key entry though. The lag compared with wired is at start up. It’s pretty quick wired, about 30 seconds before CarPlay appears in the screen via wireless.
I reckon it is worth it: a lot of the time forum stuff is wishes. You would need wifi for it to be a simple software fix, and I suspect the reason the satnav Harmon Kardon head unit doesn’t have wireless CarPlay is it doesn’t already have a wifi chip. The lower spec head unit without sat nav must have a wifi chip. It is more likely the 2022 Highlander model will have it built in. It might be possible that Hyundai pull a Mazda and retrofit the chip in a dongle inside the dashboard I suppose. Their software might be quicker too.

I was honestly not aware you could set CarPlay up right across the screen. Great tip.

Did you go for the grey/black or camel upholstery?

How do you go about switching inputs on the fly?
eg two people get in the car with iPhones and it connects to Person A, but you want Person B?

We upgraded to a Pioneer headunit with CarPlay a little while back before wireless CarPlay was really a thing. Given we’ve already done the hard work of fitting a standard double DIN unit I do have the option to just replacing the headunit which would probably be the better option… But at ~$850 the option for a ~$129 adaptor is pretty damn attractive.

At startup the CarLinkit menu first shows a screen saying it is connecting to the head unit (on the head unit’s touch screen). Only a couple of seconds.
Once connected to the head unit it then looks for an iPhone. A list of all synced iPhones pops up. We have five iPhones on our list, four fit on the screen at a time, you can scroll up and down the list.
The last iPhone connected via carplay is the first, default iPhone the CarLinkit will try to connect to, and it will already be on top of the list, but you can just select one of the other iPhones on the list by touching its name, at which it becomes the first iPhone on the list . And off you go!
If you are already connected to an iPhone and want to select to another, there is probably a menu guided way, but to be frank the easiest is just unplug the CarLinkit and plug it back in, and pick the preferred iPhone off the startup menu.

I might have to get one of these and give it a go.

The only concern for you would be to ensure the CarLinkit is compatible with your aftermarket pioneer head unit. Probably is, as Pioneer is listed as such, but a good habit to check none the less for others.

At the time my car wasn’t listed, as it was a new model. I gambled it would work as previous models of Santa Fe did, and I was OK.

I’ve ordered one, although after buying it I’ve realised it was from a reseller rather than direct (that’s what I get for clicking the first link in Google :stuck_out_tongue: ). I would rather buy from the OEM where possible, even if it’s a couple of bucks more. That said, I’ve seen it from a bunch of different sellers, including a local VW aftermarket parts seller, with various re-branding… so is it being cloned? Or just similar products?

The mob I ordered from at least appear to be selling the genuine article… hopefully. I suppose I can only wait and see at this point. It was listed at US$109 (but they had one of those ‘spin the wheel for a discount’ things on the side. Opening a new incognito tab and trying a few times saw the maximum discount of 20% come up so it was only US$88 with free shipping. So a little under AU$115, not too bad really.

edit: Who is the OEM? Is everyone a reseller of the same rebranded hardware?
I got mine from https://carlinkitcarplay.com/

How are you going with your U2W @Entropy ??

Mine arrived and has been installed, connected up very easily and quickly and while it’s wonderful when it works, it seems to randomly (ready constantly) disconnect. It feels like the unit itself is rebooting every few minutes, reconnecting, working for a bit then restarting again.

It’s bloody nice for the few minutes it works, but frustrating that I can’t drive to the kids drop off at school without it disconnecting multiple times. It’s running the latest firmware and has the same issue with both my wife and I’s iPhones.

I’ve not updated the firmware and on checking it says it’s running the latest. Support are amazingly vague (English not being a strong point here in either the manual or the support people). They want me to upload a log file, but reality doesn’t match the manual and it’s proving difficult.

There is an option to roll back to an older version (and the USB update method provides a different version again). I’m tempted to try each out and see what happens if I can’t get joy with support.

This lives in my Wifes car (the only one with CarPlay) and she’s already over it and asked me to unplug it and go back to the good old cable.

Digging around there seems to be lots of similar experiences and 1 or 2 star reviews on Amazon for the same product.

My wife has a problem occasionally with connecting after startup. Not that often though. I don’t at all, but that may be because I hardly drive these days and there is no CarPlay on the bus! Mrs Entropy just pulls out the usb plug and plugs it straight back in again.
Once connected it tends to stay connected though.
So I can’t say we are having the same issues. We haven’t updated the firmware or anything like that.
Do you ever have similar issues with wired carplay? It might be the USB port, or the cable.

The only bit I find annoying is how long it takes to connect at start up, particularly with a different driver with a different iPhone compared to the last drive. The software tries to connect to the last iPhone used for some time before switching to the nearest one. It would have to be at least 10-15 seconds longer than the wireless CarPlay Kenwood unit in the same circumstances.

I accept that this will not be as good as a head unit designed for wireless CarPlay, but I would struggle to accept the problems you are having.

Overall still happy with it as it is better than having to pull the phone out and connect.

Great to hear it’s working perfectly for you! What firmware version are you on?
(when connected go to a browser on your phone to 192.168.50.2)
I’m on 2021.06.06.1355

Connection speed is pretty good for us, a little lag when switching things, but pretty good overall (when it works). This taste of the wireless CarPlay life is almost enough to get me to upgrade the whole headunit again :wink:

As for wired, zero issues. Always works, never drops out. Never has connection issues. With this unit plugged in. Even using the the U2W in wired passsthrough mode (which feels like it’s still doing wireless… but while charging) it’s still funky. My wife tells me shes had the headunit completely freeze up with this plugged in too.

Removing the U2W and just using the same lightning cable and it’s all working like it should again.

I might try swapping out the USB-C cable and see if that helps (another suggested fix in my reading around the internet).

I use the CarPlay2Air ones, and they work well. Can recommend converting wired to wireless CarPlay, as you keep your phone in your pocket/ bag, and it just connects.

For connection issues, just unplug and replug the unit, and switch bluetooth on and off on the phone - fixes it.