- Source: Motorola
Motorola MA1Simple and effective
The Motorola MA1 adds wireless Android Auto to your car in just a few seconds with as little fuss as possible. Designed in collaboration with Google, it works surprisingly well on a wide range of vehicles but lacks advanced configuration options.Pros
- Easy to set up
- Reliable connection
- Broad vehicle compatibility
- Non-removable cable
- No companion app
- No configuration options
AAWirelessVersatile and flexible
AAWireless is an affordable way to add wireless Android Auto capabilities to just about any vehicle, with a versatile app that lets you tweak it to your heart's content and a removable cable for optimal placement in your car. It's a game-changer for folks who rely on Android Auto on short drives around town.Pros
- Easy to set up
- Very configurable
- Detachable USB-C cable
- Must be disconnected if you need to charge your phone
- May require tweaking app settings to work with some vehicles
If you regularly rely on your smartphone to provide music and navigation in your car, then there’s little doubt that Android Auto is the best way to go about this. Rather than docking your phone somewhere on your dashboard, you can tuck it away safely and rely on a more readable and intuitive interface directly on your car’s infotainment screen.
Sadly, the biggest obstacle to fully enjoying Android Auto in most vehicles is that you have to plug your phone in every time you get into your car, which can be too much of a hassle on short trips. Wireless Android Auto is a thing, but it’s only available on higher-end vehicles and trims since it requires that your car be equipped with Wi-Fi and not just Bluetooth.
Thankfully, you don’t need to rush out and buy a new car if you want the best Android Auto experience. Instead, some enterprising accessory makers have produced adapters to bring Android Auto to your smartphone wirelessly. The best among these are the Motorola MA1 and the AAWireless. Both do an admirable job, which makes it hard to choose between them. Fortunately, we’ve used both in our own vehicles, so here’s an in-depth look at how they compare.
Price, availability, and specs
The Motorola MA1 was the first Android Auto adapter to appear on the market from a well-known brand, and it was an overnight hit. For the first few months, the adapter was regularly sold out, and it didn’t help that it was also available exclusively in the US. It’s recently had a European release but remains unavailable in most other countries, including Canada and Australia. The MA1 is sold exclusively via Amazon for $90.
AAWireless is made by a Dutch company of the same name. It got its start on Indiegogo in 2020 and came to Amazon last summer, where it now sells for $80. European customers can also buy it directly from the AAWireless online store. Like the MA1, it’s only available in the US and Europe.
That’s not to say you can’t use either adapter outside those countries; you’ll just have to engage in some cross-border shopping to get your hands on one. Both use standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections that work just about everywhere. The limited availability is likely more about getting the necessary regulatory approval from each country’s equivalent of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Motorola MA1 AAWireless Power Source USB USB-C What's Included N/A USB-A to USB-C Cable Brand Motorola Sound AAWireless Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Dimensions 3.06 x 1.22 x 0.12" (with cable) 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.47"
Wireless adapters like these should be as discrete as possible since the point is to tuck them away somewhere convenient in your vehicle and forget about them. Once configured and operating, a good wireless Android Auto adapter should stay out of the way, invisibly linking your phone up every time you get into your car.
The Motorola MA1 and AAWireless are about the same size, coming in at around two inches on each side and half an inch thick. The MA1’s glossy finish, prominent Motorola logo, and rounded edges make it slightly more appealing than the more utilitarian look of AAWireless, but that won’t matter if you’re planning to hide it somewhere.
The most significant design difference between the two is the fixed cable on the MA1 versus a standard USB-C port on the AAWireless.
The MA1 provides a three-inch USB-A cable that can’t be removed, while the AAWireless includes a six-inch USB-C to USB-A cable. How much this matters will depend on your specific car model and where its USB ports are located, but there’s no doubt the AAWireless adapter is far more versatile.
Compatibility and connectivity
The Motorola MA1 and AAWireless are effectively just wireless bridges into Android Auto. This means the first thing you’ll need is a car that supports Android Auto in the first place. Neither of the devices will add Android Auto to a vehicle that doesn’t already have it; they just turn a wired connection into a wireless one.
It should go without saying that your phone also needs to support wireless Android Auto, which means any phone with Android 11 or later and 5GHz Wi-Fi. However, note that Google Pixel and Samsung devices can use Android Auto wirelessly with Android 10, and the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, and Note 8 support it on Android 9.
This should cover nearly every Android phone sold in the past few years, but you’ll want to double-check these requirements if you have an older phone. For example, Android Auto over USB only requires Android 8, but just because you’re using Android Auto over USB doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do so wirelessly.
Beyond that, the only thing you’ll need to connect either adapter is an available USB port in your car. As mentioned earlier, the Motorola MA1 comes with a fixed three-inch USB-A connector, which should be fine for most vehicles, but you can add an extension or a USB-C adapter if your car requires it. The AAWireless dongle makes this even easier, as you can connect it to your vehicle with a standard USB-A or USB-C cable.
Software and features
The Motorola MA1 offers a very straightforward setup procedure, as there’s no additional app to download. If you’re not already using wired Android Auto, you’ll have to set that up first. But once your phone is paired with your car over a wired connection, you only need to unplug your phone, plug in the MA1, and pair it up over Bluetooth by pressing the button on the side. After that, Android Auto sees your phone via the MA1, and you’re good to go.
By contrast, AAWireless requires first installing a companion app from the Play Store. This will walk you through a similar setup procedure of connecting your phone, swapping that connection for the AAWireless, and pairing it over Bluetooth.
In both cases, Bluetooth is only used for the initial pairing since it’s far too slow to handle the communications necessary to keep Android Auto updated on your dashboard. Once paired, your phone will switch to using a 5GHz Wi-Fi connection to communicate with the adapter.
The need to use the companion app with AAWireless may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it gives an edge over the MA1, as it guides you through the process more efficiently while offering a wealth of extra configuration options you won’t get with the MA1. This includes specific settings to solve compatibility issues with certain vehicles. For instance, a GM Fix for situations where Android Auto may hang up on startup or fail to connect with some GM vehicles that use the newer MyLink Gen 2 and Gen 3 head units; another example is a VAG Crash Fix for older Volkswagen models where Android Auto tends to crash when used wirelessly with Android Auto.
The AAWireless app also offers several options for customizing your experience to fit your car, such as tweaking DPI values to match your display, using a different Bluetooth device for media or navigation instructions, and disabling auto-connect for cars that always keep their USB ports powered on.
Since it lacks an app, the MA1 has none of these options. However, it has the advantage of being developed in closer collaboration with Google, which promises broader compatibility with more vehicles out of the box, although there are still some brands that are specifically known to be incompatible, such as Mitsubishi.
AAWireless is also smoother at handling multiple phones and switching between them, which is useful if two or more family members drive the same vehicle and everyone wants to use Android Auto. You can pair multiple phones with the MA1, but things get awkward if more than one paired phone is in the car at the same time, as there’s no way to control which one it connects to.
In our testing with a 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum and a Google Pixel 6, the AAWireless performed flawlessly, delivering a seamless experience, replacing the standard infotainment system. The connection was near-instantaneous, with Android Auto up and ready to go as soon as the Nissan head unit got past its startup logo and privacy disclaimers. In fact, it came up noticeably faster than the built-in wireless Apple CarPlay does with an iPhone. Furthermore, since it uses Wi-Fi, there was enough range to put the adapter in any compatible USB port; if desired, we could have hidden it in the center console.
Motorola's MA1 performed nearly as well on a 2018 Honda CR-V, which one of our editors used for about a year and a half. It was not as quick on the draw as AAWireless, taking 15–45 seconds to fully boot up and connect to Android Auto on the head unit. However, once connected, performance was equal to using a cable and far more convenient. As mentioned earlier, juggling multiple paired phones is also more of a hassle, and sometimes even pairing up a new phone requires disabling Bluetooth if one that's already been paired is in range.
The best part of both of these adapters is that you can leave your phone in your pocket, hop in your car, and start driving with the whole Android Auto experience. The effortlessness makes a huge difference, ensuring you’ll always have Google Maps, Messages, and your other favorite apps at your fingertips. However, this comes at a cost to your phone’s battery life.
Since maintaining a persistent 5GHz Wi-Fi connection to send data to your in-car display takes a fair amount of power, you may want to plug it in for longer road trips (which is easier if your vehicle supports wireless charging).
Keep in mind that some phones will heat up quite a bit while using Android Auto, so it might not be a good idea to add charging heat. To be clear, this isn’t specific to the MA1 or AAWireless — it’s the result of using Android Auto wirelessly and will be an issue even if your car has wireless Android Auto built-in.
Which is right for you?
While the Motorola MA1 and AAWireless will both get the job done, the AAWireless has some advantages that make it a much better choice for most folks. Those advantages can all be summed up in one word: versatility.
While the MA1 is a simple adapter that will work well for most people, the AAWireless offers more flexibility in its hardware design and software. The detachable cable provides more ways to connect it to your vehicle, especially if your USB ports are awkwardly placed. Plus, if something goes wrong with the cable, you can swap it out for a new one.
The companion app for AAWireless also ensures that you’ll be able to fine-tune it to your specific needs and easily support multiple phones. There are a lot of different vehicles and infotainment systems out there, and each has its idiosyncrasies. The AAWireless app already has settings to address some of these, and the company can easily push out app and firmware updates to add features or address future compatibility problems as they’re discovered. All this ensures that AAWireless is more likely to work with your car the way you want it to.
Simple and effective
AAWireless is a versatile and affordable way to add wireless Android Auto capabilities to just about any vehicle, with a wealth of configuration options and upgradeable software to help ensure it works with your car the way you want it to.
By comparison, the MA1 offers little over the AAWireless other than a slightly higher price tag. While it should work fine with most cars, the lack of configuration options means there won't be much you can do if you run into some peculiarity with your vehicle. The lack of an app also means there's no obvious way to deliver firmware updates to the MA1. And while it can technically be paired with more than one phone, it's really at its best as an accessory for one.
Versatile and flexible
Motorola's MA1 was designed in close collaboration with Google to help ensure broad compatibility with most cars. Still, it offers only a few configuration options to tailor the experience to your vehicle.