Sony is the company’s first aftermarket receiver that actually works with Apple CarPlay. Priced competitively at $499, XAV-AX100 features a 6.4-inch resistive touch display that rivals larger capacitive touch screens in quality. Sony has also integrated CarPlay in better ways than other aftermarket receivers available so far. In this article, we are going to talk about Sony Xav-ax100 Carplay Receiver Pairs-Review. Let’s begin!
Sony XAV-AX100 is in my opinion the most tasteful aftermarket CarPlay receiver on the market. It uses a physical knob to control the volume, its non-CarPlay UI looks similar to iOS. And Sony does not even force a brand app icon on the CarPlay Home screen.
Having a physical volume knob is a win for ergonomics. Rotating the knob to adjust the volume is much easier when driving versus feeling for notches on flat buttons that feel similar to seek buttons. XAV-AX100’s volume knob also doubles as a physical button. That activates Siri when held down as an alternative to CarPlay’s virtual Home button.
Press the volume knob just once and a slide over window flies in on top of CarPlay with options to change the sound source from CarPlay, the AM/FM tuner, or no sound. This lets you manually set the audio source even if audio is playing from the connected iPhone.
Another option here lets you choose between one of two bass enhancement audio profiles, set the audio equalization, or turn the display off without affecting audio playback.
XAV-AX100 also features dedicated hardware buttons for skipping (click) or seeking (click and hold) tracks. That can be found below the volume knob, and a button labeled HOME switches. Between CarPlay and the stock Sony user interface. You can also hold this button down anytime to power XAV-AX100 on or off during use.
You won’t see CarPlay UI when controlling the tuner or using a connected backup camera. And there is a full settings menu that lets you customize the Sony home screen wallpaper and much more.
Sony’s stock UI does not feel like using a totally different product from another era like other CarPlay receivers. The iconography and style all look like a mix between iOS and modern Android (XAV-AX100 also works with Google’s Android Auto) which is not a common in-car infotainment system UI.
Even the volume level UI is as unobtrusive as you could imagine with a minimal black and white slider popover at the top of the display (CarPlay does not include its own volume level indicator).
Sony’s integration with CarPlay is top-notch, especially for an aftermarket receiver. Such as pressing the phone icon from Sony’s home screen will launch the CarPlay Phone application when you connect with the CarPlay. Sony’s now playing icon will just like launch Apple’s Now Playing app when the last played audio source comes from the connected iPhone.
You can clearly tell which modes are CarPlay and which screens are part of the Sony experience. But the difference flows well and is not visually offensive like interfaces on competing aftermarket receivers.
My favorite subtle difference is that Sony does not include a brand app icon on the CarPlay Home screen for switching between modes. That function is instead mapped solely to the buttoned labeled HOME. It is a small thing, but it makes the whole experience feel better integrated to me. Especially when the Sony UI looks as modern as it does.
Other CarPlay receivers have brand app icons that we can’t remove without rearranging to a second Home screen. And hardware buttons usually match the functionality.
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My only real issue with Sony XAV-AX100 is its screen size and type. XAV-AX100 features a 6.4-inch display. But you can find 7-inch and larger displays that are more legible at a distance.
XAV-AX100 is also resistive touch which is the less preferred option compared to capacitive touch screens. Resistive touch screens are generally less responsive. Feel flimsy under your finger, easily dirty, and also perform poorly in bright lighting. Sony used a very good version of resistive touch. However, as you could almost be convinced it’s capacitive … almost.
XAV-AX100 feels super responsive to the touch, the receiver itself is very speedy which helps, and the color is very rich (if not a bit too saturated). It does become smudgy over time. But regular cleaning prevents fingerprints from making XAV-AX100 illegible in sunlight.
With that said, I would gladly pay a couple of hundred dollars more for a larger capacitive touch version. Along with the same hardware buttons and software design.
There is also the issue of wireless CarPlay. XAV-AX100 is a wired CarPlay receiver so you need to connect your iPhone over Lightning each time you get in the car. Alpine’s upcoming iLX-107 aftermarket receiver will include wireless CarPlay and a 7-inch capacitive touch screen for $899 when it hits the market sometime this month.
Sony made a decision to create a budget-friendly aftermarket receiver for its first CarPlay option. But I’m personally hoping for a larger, capacitive touch version with wireless CarPlay for the next version. Alpine’s version is priced almost twice as much. But $900 is still competitive for the specifications compared to other solutions on the market today.
For now, Sony XAV-AX100 is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a tasteful aftermarket receiver with CarPlay support at a reasonable price. Sony XAV-AX100 is available on.
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