Mini-Review: CarlinKit 5.0 Wireless CarPlay Adapter

tl;dr: This adapter is solid, and if you have a wired CarPlay car that you want to make wireless, you’ll be happy with this.

I’ve been thinking about trying a wireless CarPlay adapter for years and finally decided to give it a shot after having some Bluetooth issues with my car and my iPhone 15. On Accidental Tech Podcast Casey mentioned on multiple occasions his go-to recommendation was CarlinKit’s, and despite the fact that Casey is always the one getting roasted by the other two hosts for his tolerance for janky computer setups (by now a years-old inside joke after it was revealed Casey was using bad memory in his iMac for weeks that was causing daily kernel panics), I gave it a go.

Wireless CarPlay adapters never seem to be made by brands whose name you’ve heard of. That, combined with the fact that being wireless surely would add latency, always kept me skeptical. Some adapters also seemed to require you to join a Wi-Fi network the device broadcast before you could connect, which I always suspected would be flaky since I usually am next to my house when I’m getting in the car, so I worried the phone wouldn’t switch networks.


The CarlinKit uses a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; I never had to visit my phone’s Wi-Fi settings to set this up; I just paired the device using iOS’s wireless CarPlay setup, and once it was configured, CarPlay was on my screen. The Wi-Fi connection negotiation seems to happen over Bluetooth, which is exactly how I prefer for it to work.

CarPlay Experience

Using CarPlay wirelessly feels… fine! When I’m using the controls I don’t see any screen latency whatsoever.

Audio is a bit more delayed than with wired CarPlay. When you hit play/pause/skip, expect it to take 2–3 seconds for the audio to change. It’s similar to AirPlay in that regard. It’s a little annoying, but less so than I expected it to be.

Connection Speed

my car's infotainment screen displaying the CarlinKit's connection interface, showing that you can choose from a list of connected Bluetooth phones

The amount of time I need to wait before my phone’s CarPlay interface is on my car’s screen varies wildly.

Sometimes, if I unlock the car before getting in, the CarPlay interface is ready right after I start the car (which is faster than even wired CarPlay). In other cases, I’m waiting a little bit for the phone to establish a connection to the device, during which time the device presents a screen indicating that it’s awaiting connection.

Multiple Devices?

The CarlinKit allows you to pair more than one phone to it, and if you do, you can choose phones from a list when you start the car. This is handy if you and a partner use the car and both have your phones paired, and then both of you get into the car at once.

I personally have not tried this yet as I don’t share the car, but it looks straightforward. Also, I’m not sure how this experience compares to a car with wireless CarPlay as a factory feature.

Verdict: 👍️

Perhaps the best praise I can give this is that now that it’s there, I don’t think about the adapter. It just feels like my car is factory equipped with wireless CarPlay, and that’s exactly how using an adapter like this should feel. Video isn’t flaky or laggy or otherwise lower quality. It just works.

Having wireless CarPlay is a huge quality of life improvement in my car, perfect for when I’m running errands and I’m jumping in and out of the car a lot.

It’s also not an irreversible commitment; I can still use wired CarPlay if I’m going to be driving for a longer trip and want to charge my phone too.

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