We’re at a weird time for in-car technology. In-dash units have gotten better, but they still don’t always have the latest features. That’s a problem solved by aftermarket units, like the Intellidash Pro.
It’s also a transition period, where many cars on the road don’t have the luxury of an in-dash infotainment unit. Sure, you can resort to using your smartphone mounted on your dash, and for many, that’s enough.
That has its own problems though, as the screen is smaller and it lets you do things that you really shouldn’t do when driving.
Even newer cars could benefit from this aftermarket unit. Automakers have been slow to integrate Android Auto and CarPlay, often going with one or the other, or opting for the wired version only. This unit needs no installation, just some wires that need to be plugged in.
Let’s see if that promise of a hassle-free experience lives up to reality.
So, what’s it all about?
Once you open the box, you’ll find the main unit, which is a 7-inch touchscreen with an IPS panel. You also get a suction-tipped, extendable mount, and an adhesive-backed glass disc to make your dashboard suction-friendly. You can always use your windshield though if you prefer.
Car and Driver add all the cables you’ll need, including a 12V power adapter, a USB-C to USB-C cable, and an AUX cable. You also get a hook-and-loop cable tie and five adhesive-backed cable clips.
The left edge of the unit has all the ports: 3.5mm AUX output, a 3.5mm AUX input, a USB-C port to connect your phone to, and a USB-A port that’s for thumb drives only.
The Intellidash Pro does have internal speakers and microphones, but you’re better off either using Bluetooth or the AUX cable to connect it to your car’s audio. That gives you better quality audio than the internal, which is great for your streaming audio.
It also has the option to set up an FM transmitter to get audio to your car. We only recommend this if you have no other options, as it doesn’t provide as high quality as the other options.
Setup was a breeze, with one wire to the 12V socket being the only one we needed. Our car has Bluetooth, so we used that to connect the Intellidash Pro to our car’s audio, and it worked well.
So, is it any good?
Okay, while this unit does support both CarPlay and Android Auto, CarPlay is the option most people will be picking this up for.
Once paired to the unit, wireless CarPlay automatically connects via Wi-Fi, then to your car’s audio via however you connected it. It’s really how in-dash units should work, with them picking up your phone without any user interaction needed.
Seriously. Take notes legacy automakers, you should all be installing the ability to do wireless CarPlay in all of your vehicles going forward. Wired is fine, I guess, but that still needs the user to find a cable to plug into.
On the Android side of things, you have two options. You can use a USB-C cable to connect, or if your phone is running Android 11 or newer, you can use Bluetooth. Wireless Android Auto is great, but being able to keep your phone charged wins out for me, so I used the USB-C cable.
It worked flawlessly with my Pixel 4a, but I know from experience that isn’t always the situation with every Android. It’s hard to build anything to work with every Android handset in existence, so your mileage may vary here.
The Intellidash Pro (and presumably the wired-only Intellidash) does have one major issue that detracts from the overall experience. The unit doesn’t appear to have any internal memory to store settings.
Yes, most of the stuff is handled by your smartphone; but things like the brightness of the unit’s screen or the FM transmitter to aren’t kept on reboot. That means every time you turn your engine off, you have to redo any settings the next time.
For a $400 device, it’s a major own goal to not store these small settings changes.
So, should you buy the Intellidash Pro?
It’s equally good for Android users, bringing your favorite navigation apps onto your dash. If you’ve got an older car without navigation, or a newer one with whatever junk your car manufacturer used, that’s all the incentive you need.
The bonus here is that you don’t have to take your car apart to install an aftermarket unit. Those are all substantially more expensive than the Intellidash Pro, and that’s before paying for installation.
Even the Alpine iLX-407 is $500, and that was released in 2017. Crutchfield’s cheapest for both wireless Android Auto and CarPlay is the Jensen CAR710W at $440; that’s before installation and car-specific adapters.
The only annoyance I have with the unit is the lack of onboard memory. Having to redo settings every time you start the car isn’t fun. If a future version fixes that, I’d have no issues recommending this to anyone.
Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more. A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.