Best CarPlay Stereo – iLX-007 or AppRadio 4 – video post

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So who makes the best CarPlay stereo?  Alpine or Pioneer?

Update 5/10/15 – Be sure to check out my post on the Pioneer AVH-X4100NEX.  This model is new for 2015 and is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

Well, this past Saturday I spent a few hours comparing these two models side by side.  I made a video for everyone interested in seeing and understanding the key differences between these two models.  I even connected two iPhones and played the same IASCA demo album for true side by side comparison.

Upon my initial comparison, I HAD to have had a setting off on the head unit.  We turn our board off every night and most of these stereos will default to some pretty yucky audio settings (like having bass boost defaulted On or preset EQ set to “Powerful”).

I make it a habit to check all audio settings before demonstrating equipment or doing these types of listening tests.  However I think in my excitement to check out the iLX-007, I had to have missed something on the AppRadio 4 because during that initial listening test, there really was no comparison.  The iLX-007 sounded clean and clear and the Pioneer sounded muddy.  Well, that’s what Bass Boost or a “Powerful” EQ setting will do.

So for this extensive comparison, I was extremely thorough in checking my settings and and also used an IASCA album for the audio comparison.

 

The difference is so minute it’s hard to even describe.  They’re incredibly similar in sound quality.

During a blind listening test, I think my average customer would find it extremely difficult to pinpoint the difference and then decide which one sounded better.

My co-worker Joe couldn’t tell the difference at all.  My husband John and I could barely hear a difference and what we did hear was an ever so slight difference in detail with Alpine having the edge.

Alpine CarPlay vs Pioneer CarPlay

Alpine CarPlay “now playing” vs Pioneer CarPlay “now playing”

I cannot stress how slight this difference was.  In fact, I do not think sound quality should be a factor in choosing between these two models.  It was that slight.  Consider function, screen size, flexibility and ease of use instead.

Screen size does make a difference when using navigation.  Check out how Apple Maps displays differently on the Alpine CarPlay stereo vs the Pioneer CarPlay.  This is where you can appreciate the larger screen size in Alpine.

Side by Side Alpine iLX-007 Pioneer AppRadio 4

Side by Side Alpine iLX-007 Pioneer AppRadio 4

Contacts are also displayed differently.  I think it’s actually easier to see in the Pioneer AppRadio 4 CarPlay mode due the sharper contrast between white and black vs white and gray in the Alpine CarPlay iLX-007.

Contacts Screen CarPlay Alpine Pioneer

Contacts Screen CarPlay Alpine Pioneer

Same idea in the keypad area of the phone.

Phone KeyPad Alpine CarPlay vs Pioneer CarPlay

Phone KeyPad Alpine CarPlay vs Pioneer CarPlay

And the winner is?

I want to know what the readers think.  A lot of people have been following my posts on these two models lately, so I’m interested in everyone’s feedback.  Since the sound quality is so similar between these two, based on the video and information I’ve posted on this blog, which model do you all prefer?

Personally, and if we’re strictly talking about CarPlay here, I like the Alpine better.  That Siri button makes the iLX-007 the easier to use CarPlay stereo, especially while driving.

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55 comments for “Best CarPlay Stereo – iLX-007 or AppRadio 4 – video post

  1. tradikal
    April 19, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    If you are retrofitting your car it should be noted the Pioneer is a standard Double height DIN unit and the Alpine requires a 4″ depth. I could not fit an Alpine into my 10 year old Maserati. The Alpine fit with a new fibreglass console module. For some reason I have to install a new windshield mounted antenna. The sound is awesome. Carplay feels “unfinished” like all the reviews say. But long suffering fanboys have to have faith it will be updated and more apps will follow, right? The whole concept of using your phone for voice control, navigation, apps, contacts, calls etc is obviously the future. Hopefully wi-fi connectivety to my Alpine is indeed a future upgrade as, yes, theres no music without plugging in the phone and fiddling with it before taking off.

    • April 20, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      Huh, if anything I would think the Alpine would be easier to retrofit because it’s standard double din height/width, but shallower in depth, interesting.

  2. Shawn
    February 4, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Hey Annie,

    Any idea what improvements have been made to the AVH-4100NEX versus the 4000NEX and when its release is expected? Also, any word on whether Alpine might be updating their model anytime soon? Not having SiriusXM or HD Radio is the only downer for me re: the Alpine HU, but I would be unhappy if I bought an iLX-007 only to find a new model was released a few months later with these features. Thanks.

    • February 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Hi Shawn,
      Nothing new from Alpine – my guess is we probably won’t see a new CarPlay model from them until possibly Fall or Winter next year. Their big focus seems to really be on the OEM style head units for the truck customers, that is what dominated their CES booth. CarPlay was literally the last thing on their display kind of tucked away in a corner, I was surprised they didn’t expand on the CarPlay line up. At the time of CES they had no plans for anything new in the works.

      As far as AVH-4100NEX vs AVH-4000NEX, the only difference or improvement I’m aware of is the addition of Android Auto. Pioneer says March 2015 which usually means the product ships from Pioneer the last week of the month, so I would expect stores to receive it some time in April 2015.

  3. Chadwick
    January 5, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Annie,
    Really enjoyed the posts and your replies to comments. Have you had any luck in getting Steering Wheel Controls (for me a VW Eos, using the PAC RP4 combo) to trigger Siri for voice commands? The PAC unit is programmable, I just don’t know what function to program it to so that I get that response. By default, the “phone” button answers calls, but doesn’t do anything for voice commands.

    • January 5, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Hi Chadwick,
      Thanks, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog! I have not tried an RP4 kit yet with an iLX-007. Alpine says their SWC connection does support Voice Command or Siri, however I do not see that as an option in the programming instructions on the RP4. I would give Pac Audio a call and see what they say, their consumer tech support is pretty decent 866-931-8021. Let me know how you make out, they’re may be a software update coming for the RP4 to add Voice Control for Alpine.

  4. Brad
    January 4, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Hi Annie – if you are on a call and then connect to the alpine through the lightning cable, does the call transfer over to carplay using phone app? I had read that the unit will sit on the home screen and play the audio of an app if it was active prior to plugging the iPhone in.

    • January 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      Hi Brad,
      Haven’t tried that, but I don’t see why the call wouldn’t pick up on the stereo at that point. I haven’t experienced the stereo sitting on the home screen if you dock the phone while playing something. However, if you have say Pandora Radio playing and connect your phone, then select “Now Playing” on the CarPlay menu you will hear/see whatever was last playing on your phone.

  5. Barry
    December 31, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Can u have an ipod connected full time say mounted in the glove compartment (the only time it is removed is to update the music) and use the HDMI input for my Galaxy Note 3 ?

    • December 31, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Barry,
      Yes – you can use USB 1 for the iPod and you’ll need the Pioneer CD-AH200 and the Samsung Tip adapter. That will give you App Radio Mode and also HDMI access through your phone and a dedicated iPod source as well.

  6. December 26, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Hey,

    I have a question in regards to the Maps between both the Alpine and Pioneer. When you load the Maps, I noticed the Alpine has an extra button on the top black bar (beside the zoom out/in) for moving around the map. Pioneer’s does not. Is this because Pioneer’s headunit accepts scrolling and Alpine’s version of CarPlay decided to use buttons?

    [img]http://www.carstereochick.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/IMG_3908.jpg[/img]

    Can you just use your fingers in Pioneer’s unit to move around the map?

    • December 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      Hi Phil,
      Great question! And something I totally missed. You are correct, on the Alpine, you cannot scroll, you have to use the up/down/left/right icon to adjust map position whereas on the Pioneer you can drag on screen to re-position the map. Good eye! Thanks for the question.

  7. BKBiii
    December 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Great site and terrific reviews.
    Leaning towards the AR4 but very hard to decide as I can’t find anyone in the Boston area that has either of these installed in their shops yet. I plan to use Carplay primarily but be able to switch to simple radio and back quickly. Screen brightness and ability to dim(brighten) is a concern as my car is a convertible and the AR4 appears to have glare problems. Rear visibility also is a problem with my car so it would be great to have a head unit that will switch to a rear camera view automatically when in reverse. I read you haven’t hooked up a back-up camera to either unit, but do you know how the other Pioneer Carplay NEX units work with rear cameras versus the Alpine? Do they switch back to Carplay automatically, etc?

    • December 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Hi,
      Thank you! Glad you are enjoying the site and reviews. Actually we just installed an AR4 yesterday with a reverse camera, works nicely. They will all work the same way, once in reverse the image will switch over and then revert back when in gear. Glare is definitely a concern in convertibles, you could always do the AVH-4000NEX. Either the AR4, NEX models or the Alpine feature regular FM/AM radio and you basically tap the home button on either model to switch back and forth pretty easily between CarPlay or FM/AM Radio.

      • Mario Inacio
        April 21, 2015 at 8:02 pm

        Good evening,

        I read your reply and was trying to figure out if the FM/AM radio keeps playing when switching to carplay, or if it shuts off.
        Thanks!

      • April 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        Hi Mario,
        Yeah they will all continue to play unless you go ahead and select another source when you’re on the CarPlay menu. But if you select FM/AM and then go into CarPlay and pull up Maps the FM/AM continues to play.

  8. Jeremy
    December 13, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Great website!

    I’m concerned about the beeps when adjusting volume etc. Can this be disabled on the AR4?

    Are there any options for a CarPlay unit with a physical knob for volume controls? I change volume a lot depending on songs/people talking in the car or turning down for traffic lights and so I am worried I’ll be mashing the volume buttons constantly and it’ll be beeping a lot.

    That is the reason I have swapped to the Pioneer AVH 7550. I love being able to adjust the volume quickly and easily.

    • December 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Jeremy,
      Glad you enjoy the website, thanks! So yes, you can disable the beeps in the menu pretty easily. Nothing yet on the market that I”m aware of that has a volume knob that is CarPlay compatible. As far as I know, at the moment the only compatible CarPlay radios are the AR4, iLX-007, AVH-4000NEX, AVIC-5000NEX, AVIC-6000NEX, AVIC-7000NEX and AVIC-8000NEX and none of these feature a volume knob.

  9. Carlton
    December 4, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Has anyone had any luck with ASWC-1 Steering Wheel Interface? I cannot get it to communicate with the ILX-007 I went through all of the auto and manual programming and got a solid green light which is supposed to indicate it is programmed properly. It still does not respond to any input form the factory steering wheel. The car is a 2008 Mazda MX5 and the interface worked properly with a Pioneer DEH-80PRS.

  10. Gene
    December 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    great review
    have you hooked up rear camera to the pioneer
    looking at a 2015 forester, the back up camera is small
    perhaps the wiring harness allows for connection to the stock camera
    thanks

    • December 3, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Hi Gene, thanks, glad you enjoyed it. I have not yet hooked up a reverse camera to the Pioneer or the Alpine. We have done this for customers with factory reverse cameras where we take it off of the OEM screen and wire it up the new larger touch screen. You have to find and decipher the video wires as you will not find a plain old yellow video cable anywhere in the car. If you plan on doing this yourself, you may want to buy a vehicle wire schematic from All Data which will help you identify the wires you need (we use On Demand, but it’s a monthly subscription for all vehicles). Once you identify them, you need to take a video cable and cut and splice it into the OEM wiring. If you’re having it professionally installed, the installer should be able to do it. We charge another hour labor to do so at our shop.

  11. cutienoua
    November 23, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I waited so long to replace my JVC double din with this unit. Love the design ,but no BT and no wifi mode is a no go.
    I’ve got the ICS-X7HD and a solid mount for the iphone 6 plus and I’ll wait one more year !maybe alpine will realise the mistake of not including BT. with the ICS-X7HD I can have 2 phones connected at the same time :iphone and the droid maxx from work!

  12. Alex Shepherd
    November 19, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Very useful video, Annie – thank you for setting these up side-by-side and performing various interactions with the units.

    Ever since the first 3″-4″ LCD single-DIN units hit the market – with their supermarket-DVD-player interfaces (operated by a tiny stylus) – I have dreamed that someone would make a simple touchscreen stereo for the car. The software needed to catch up with the simple potential of the hardware. Looks like the Alpine gets closest to that ideal design for me. The menus and limited possibilities have the look and feel of an Apple product.

    I realise that without an iPhone to hand, the Alpine is quite useless – no ability to play a few mp3s off a USB drive when the car is lent to someone who has a dumbphone, for example.

    The Pioneer gives you many other options – probably too many settings for me – those menus remind me of an Android phone, and the beep is a typical car stereo beep. You have the option to play music off pretty much anything – with Bluetooth streaming. The AppRadio mode strikes me as something that will come and go with updates in the future – but will quite likely go, in the end, leaving the CarPlay mode and fairly solid basic functions. It seems better value than the Alpine in that you get all these basic functions (iPod connectivity etc), as well as AppRadio, as well as CarPlay.

    So I’ll be choosing the Alpine – it’s closer to the simple product that I envisaged when I tried to use an iPhone in the car many years ago (remember the TomTom Carkit?!)

    I have one simple question that applies to both units – in CarPlay mode, is it possible to browse artists and albums on the touchscreen in a fast and fluid fashion?

    Traditionally, browsing a few hundred artists/couple of thousand songs has been almost impossible with iPod/iPhone-connected headunits, due to limitations of data transfer speed and display lines. Returning to the artist list, for example, would cause a slow re-loading of the entire list. For the factory-fitted stereo of my FIAT 500 (2010 model), that would take over 20 minutes, and the instrument panel (no stereo display) could only display one line at a time, with no display possible on a connected iPod/iPhone.

    Even double-DIN touchscreens (JVC, Sony, and no-name Chinese versions) have proved very difficult to use accurately in a car. It is too easy to get the wrong artist, then wait another five minutes for the artist list to display again.

    I suspect that Siri will prove less useful than it first seems, since Siri requires a live Internet connection, and that will not be available on most trips in the countryside (which is exactly the kind of driving where you want to select your own music!)

    I live in New Zealand so it will be difficult to get one of these units any time soon, but NZPost offers a service where an item can be sent to a U.S. address, then forwarded on to NZ (providing customs charges/taxes are paid) which make these units pretty pricey in real terms – about ten times the cost of a basic CD/MP3 tuner.

    So, thanks again for showing how they work – and if it is possible to do a little music browsing (in CarPlay mode for me, and maybe in AppRadio mode with an Android device for other people?) then that would be fabulous.

    Kind regards,
    -Alex (written entirely on an iPhone!)

    • November 19, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Alex,
      Holy crap that’s a long comment written entirely on an iPhone. You deserve a prize of something for that! Excellent question on the browsing.

      Surprisingly, they do browse differently, so much so that I would like to make another video to demonstrate (if time allows). I don’t keep a lot of music on my iPhone so it has not been an issue for me. I switched settings to use the cloud and show all music and tried it with both models.

      With the Pioneer, you can just flick REALLY fast to scroll down a HUGE list of artists, albums etc. With Alpine, it’s one page at a time. Both models do have alphabet search though so you can quickly jump to any letter of the alphabet.

      I find this surprising because Apple essentially designed the iLX-007 with Alpine (what my rep told me today) so I would think the browsing would be something they would have scrutinized. I think they want people to use the Siri button. However, I didn’t realize you had to have live internet for Siri to work. I guess I’m just in an area with good coverage so I never noticed!

      • Rowan Pope
        November 27, 2014 at 5:56 am

        Wow, the lack of inertial scrolling is a big potential issue for me. Video would be handy. Very strange if, as you say, Apple had a big part in the development of this unit. Still leaning toward Alpine though.

  13. Anthony
    November 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Annie. It will be great to hear what the Alpine rep says. I am sure he will be tight-lipped if such a feature exists and is yet to be announced by Apple. :)

    Hi Julien, and thank you so much for listing all the control interfaces for the TT (great choice BTW ;) I do also have a Bose setup and I will be replacing the factory installed RNS-E with either the pioneer or alpine next month. It seems like a step backwards but I just don’t use the SD ports, Sat Nav (I use my phone with google/apple maps) or the CD/DVD player. I just use the MMI connected to my phone (running Spotify/Podcasts/iTunes) via a lightning dock in the ashtray (using an overpriced specdock). I used to have a BT dongle plugged into the MMI but it made sense to keep the phone charged, and with the CarPlay headunits now coming out, I am already set, just the wait for the Alpine to release over here! :)

    It sounds like this PAC SWI-CP5 is the way to go then, and hope soon they will be able to bring functionality to the voice button and allow us to trigger Siri this way, as it should do really! :)

    Keep us posted on your install and how well it goes.

  14. Terry
    November 17, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Annie, could you also ask the Alpine rep about the auto screen dimmer setting? It says that it sets the screen and button brightness relative to the ambient light in the car. I looked at the face of the unit and didn’t notice any type of sensor on it. Turning on my headlights doesn’t produce any noticeable difference in screen brightness either (not sure if there was dimmer headlight connection wire since I had it professionally installed.)

    • November 18, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Hey Terry, I will check on both for you. I forget, what car do you have this installed in? Not every car has an illumination or dimmer connection in the factory stereo harness.

    • November 19, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Hey Terry,
      According to my rep, the screen has a photo sensor built into the whole screen. I did look at the installation guide and there is no dimmer wire, so it should be making auto adjustments based on ambient lighting as the manual suggests rather than being tied into the headlight or dimmer wire in the car. You do have to turn the dimmer feature on in the settings menu – I did notice the default setting is off. If it’s still too bright you can go in there and manually adjust it.

  15. Julien
    November 17, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Hi Anthony, what a surprise I have the same car (a 2010 Audi TT, with Bose). I live in France so the release date for the Alpine is the same as yours (December 2014 for Europe).

    I have already extensively searched about some compatible radio replacement and steering wheel control interfaces, and my answers so far are:

    – Forget the interfaces from Connects2 if you have a Bose amp
    – Forget the excellent programmable iDatalink Maestro SW/RR interfaces from ADS, as they are not compatible with our car
    – Forget also the excellent programmable Axxess ASWC-1 steering wheel control interface for the same reason
    – PAC SWI-RC (steering wheel control) and C2R-AUDI (radio replacement interface) are the two interfaces I first selected
    – PAC RP4-AD11 as proposed by Annie is an excellent choice as it combines the two previous interfaces from PAC in only one interface box, so I then planned to use this one instead.
    – But I think I will go for the new PAC SWI-CP5 steering wheel control interface (with a PAC C2R-AUDI besides), which is updatable through USB and programmable with the iPhone.

    Why? I think we can’t program the “classic” SWI-RC in a way for the vocal button on our steering wheel to trigger Siri instead of the Mute command. But I think the SWI-CP5 can be programmed to trigger Siri right from the SW ;-)
    To be confirmed through, as nobody tested this yet.

    • Ryan
      October 2, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      I have a 2009 Audi TT Convertible, with a Pioneer AVIC-8000NEX. For the steering wheel, I’m using a PAC-Audio SWI-CP5, and just about everything works fine. Using Carplay (iPhone 6 Plus), the VOICE button does activate Siri.

      Only thing that does NOT seem to work is the MODE button, but I’m okay with that. If you need pics, vids etc, let me know.

      • October 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm

        Thanks for the info Ryan – I appreciate it!

  16. Anthony
    November 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Great write up Annie.

    Here in the UK we still have a wait until December before the Alpine is available, so there is some time to still jostle between the Alpine and Pioneer. I’m currently swinging towards the Alpine, due to the screen size and hope for the elusive Wi-Fi ready feature – It would be good to clear that up with Alpine, if that is at all possible? As it isn’t right for them to be dangling the carrot with such a feature, even if it is hush-hush. :)

    The difference between the two in terms of contrast worries me also. The CarPlay software should be identical, so that has to be a brightness issue making it grey like that. I hope a firmware update fixes this or perhaps its a faulty unit?

    Question: How would either of these head units handle being connected up to the functions on the steering wheel? I have a 2011 Audi TT with volume up/down, select station/track up/down, mode and voice command. Would it be possible for the wheel buttons to work with either the Alpine or Pioneer out of the box or would it need a specialist expert and an army of cables to make these buttons less redundant once the head unit has been replaced with the factory one?

    Do you think this is something I could tackle myself? The lack of connections on the Alpine worries me that it has less of a chance of connecting up to the functions of the steering wheel.

    Any answer on this area would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks! :)

    • November 16, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Hi Anthony,
      Yes I plan on asking my Alpine rep about the wifi thing, he’ll be visiting my shop this Wednesday. Definitely does not appear to be brightness issue (I fiddled with the brightness/contrast adjustments and it remained Gray). It appears to be a distinct difference between models between the Gray and Black background. Both units support steering wheel integration, you will need a special interface to do so. Here in the US I like to use the PAC Audio RP4-AD11 which integrates with steering wheel controls, retained accessory power and stock amplifier if present, but may be a different application in the UK models, but you will definitely want to find a similar part that is appropriate for your vehicle to make the installation process smooth.

    • November 19, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      My rep was unsure of what the wifi feature will be. He couldn’t think of what it would be used for since you can already do that with the phone (you can make the phone a wifi hot spot). He also explained to me the iLX-007 is essentially a stereo designed by Apple with Alpine and whatever this wifi feature is it’s something Apple is doing and will introduce at a later date.

  17. Andrew
    November 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for the detailed write-up, Annie, as well as your offline advice. Very few sites are providing this much Carplay coverage.

    I’m personally going to wait until we start seeing Carplay version 2.0 when there’s more competition out there, particularly Alpine’s offering if they include bluetooth. That’s really the only crucial feature I see missing for me.

    I know it’s not a huge deal to you, but I’ve been trying to get used to plugging in my phone on my existing setup and decided I can’t do without bluetooth for those short trips.

    With that said, Chris might be right that they integrate it in a future firmware update, as we don’t know too much about the wifi ready feature.

    Thanks again!

  18. Justin
    November 13, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I’m also starting to think about the AVH NEX4000. Does anybody know if it’s plug-n-play if I’ve already got an AR2 installed with steering wheel controls and a bypass?

    What I don’t like about the 4000 is the resistive screen and the overall design. It’s not as sleek as the AR4 or iLX.

    • November 13, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      Hey Justin, I would suggest you cross reference the wire harness parts on Pioneer’s parts website. Search the wire harness for your model and search the wire harness for the AVH-4000NEX. If they’re the same model, you’re golden.

  19. Stephen
    November 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Great review Annie!
    I really like the design of the AR4, but like others have mentioned, the screen size may be an issue, though personal preference. I do like the buttons up the side of the screen vs the bottom as well. From the video, It looks like the contrast and saturation on the pioneer screen is a bit better than and alpine. Overall I think the AR4 has a better feature set and is a better value than the Alpine.

    I’m honestly starting to lean towards the AVH-4000NEX. From a value standpoint, the extra features (SD Card, Motorized tilt, HD Radio, CD, Removable face, larger screen) might be worth it. The trade off is a little more money, resistive vs capacitive screen, and lack of built in GPS on the AVH-4000NEX like the Alpine.

    • November 13, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Hi Stephen, I would have to agree with you on the contrast/saturation. Adjusting the dimmer on the Alpine didn’t seem to make a difference. I agree the AVH-4000NEX is still an excellent option and great value. I think the screen is not as bright or eye catching as the AR4, but I’m still not too sure how I feel about capacitive touch screens in cars. I have a hard time seeing my iPad in my Honda Element.

  20. Chris
    November 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I’m leaning toward the Alpine at this point, mostly because of the larger screen and the physical siri button. I’m also secretly hoping the cryptic “CarPlay wifi ready” feature on the Alpine means it will support carplay without requiring a wired connection to the iPhone at some point down the road via a software update. (This is a feature Apple supposedly has in development, according to the rumor mill.)

  21. November 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    @Justin
    I am getting the AR4 over the Alpine, because it is cheaper as of now ($465 on Amazon) compared to $599 Alpine.
    The screen size was the deal breaker for me, but if you ever compared the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus thats the difference you may find in screen size. AR4 6.2” vs ILX007 7” that is a .8” difference. iPhone 6 4.7” vs iPhone 6 Plus 5.5” also a .8” difference. Personally I like the AR4 because it has more features such as bluetooth and customizing feature is great too.

  22. Peter
    November 11, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    The grey/black difference probably has to do with the default brightness settings on each unit. When I turn the brightness up on my Pioneer AVH4000NEX, the darker areas start to look grey like that. At default, they’re black.

    • November 13, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      That’s interesting because it doesn’t seem to effect the Alpine, they’re still grey even with brightness/dimmer adjustments.

  23. Julien
    November 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Annie! Thank your for this interesting comparison. My thoughts:

    Like Justin, I am really disappointed by the smaller screen on the Pioneer. If it had a 7″ screen with touch controls on the bottom, I would have definitely gone for it. Event for $100 more.

    I am also disappointed by a few things on the Alpine:
    1- Lack of Bluetooth. What a shame! So with the ILX we must plug the phone for any ride, even the shortest one? I currently plug my iPhone to an Apple cable in the glove box, but I don’t want to do that sort of thing while driving just a few minutes to get some bread… If I buy this Alpine I’ll definitely hack my ashtray to put a more convenient 3D-printed slot-in dock in it, where I only have to slide the phone in. I’ve already designed a prototype: http://bit.ly/iPhone6AudiTTdock

    2- No dedicated GPS antenna. Pioneer explains on their web site: “GPS antenna to ensure accurate positioning whilst the phone is inside the car. (External GPS Antenna included).” Please Annie, ask Pioneer if this GPS antenna is helpful only for MirrorLink with Android, or if it also benefits CarPlay. That’s a big question mark. If CarPlay does not make any use of it, no worry for iPhone users.

    3- Not a big problem, but I wonder if I could be annoyed after some time by the louder click sounds of the Alpine interface (they remind me of the Xbox for the Home button too, and a telephone keypad for everything else :-\ )
    The high-pitch, shorter sound on the Pioneer is more subtle and less irritating IMHO. Do you know if the interface sounds can be disabled or even changed?

    But even with all those complaints, I still prefer the Alpine ILX-007 for its consistent Apple-feeling interface even outside CarPlay (for the Home screen, the settings and the radio mode), its dedicated physical button for Siri and above all, its larger screen size, especially with Maps.

    One more thing: is one of these units more sluggish than the other in CarPlay? (launching apps, scrolling lists, zooming maps…)

    • November 13, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Hi Julien,
      Yes the Xbox sounds can be disabled, however they do not increase as volume increases which I found odd. So if you have the volume up to a decent level, you may not even notice them, but you can turn the sounds off. Pioneer tech said they’ll call me next week. They are sending an email off to the engineers in Japan to ask about if the GPS antenna also helps with CarPlay. They said it’s mainly for Waze, but they would inquire and let me know.

      I would say these units are equally responsive. Although I am prone to having cold fingers which don’t always illicit a response from either model, so from that point of view I like having the hard Siri button to assist.

      And cool 3D printed mount by the way :)

    • November 19, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Hi Julien, Pioneer got back to me and confirmed the GPS antenna is in fact taking over when connected with CarPlay. So that’s cool! I assumed it would be an AppRadio Mode only feature since that’s how it’s always been utilized before, but their engineers in Japan confirmed it does also work with CarPlay too.

  24. Paul
    November 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Why does the Alpine show a grey background on some screens while the Pioneer is showing black for the same screen?

    Is that a setting on the Alpine which can be changed?

    • November 13, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Hi Paul,
      It does not appear to be a setting, they’re are virtually no display adjustments in this model other than turning the dimmer on/off and then adjusting brightness, but that certainly didn’t change the grey background.

  25. Justin
    November 11, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Thanks for the video comparison! My AppRadio 2’s screen is slowly dying so I’ve had a close eye on the AR4 and iLX for a while. I was a little swayed by your initial impressions that the Alpine sounded better. After your side-by-side tests revealed nearly identical sound quality, it makes it much harder to decide. The best part in my situation is that I can simply remove my AR2 and install the AR4 without rewirng a thing. That’s a huge bonus! The only thing that bugs me is the 6.2″ screen. I’d say that the Pioneer wins in every way except screen size. While that’s only one feature, it’s a big one! I’m extremely disappointed that Pioneer decided to release the AR4 with a smaller screen – so much so that I may try to wait for the AR5 – maybe Pioneer will fix that mistake.

    That being said, I may decide to install a rear monitor at some point and that makes the AR4 my only choice if I was to buy now. It’s obviously more versatile, but that darn 6.2″ screen! In a real world situation, I wonder if it’s more difficult to see directions when using GPS on the 6.2 vs. the 7″. I tend to turn off voice guidance so an easy-to-read-quickly screen is a must. Is the smaller screen really that big of a deal for navigation? I could use any input regarding that…

    Oh, and how would you rate the SQ of the old AR2/AR3 vs the AR4?

    • November 13, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Hey Justin – Sound quality? Does not even compare to AR2/AR3. Totally different ball game here and it’s about time. You will notice a big difference in sound quality from your AR2.

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