Pioneer AVH-3300NEX First Look, Apple CarPlay in a Single DIN

Jason Loomis
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CarPlay and Android Auto

CarPlay and Android Auto are slowly becoming the standard for in-vehicle infotainment systems. Although you will see other systems from a variety of brands on the market, you can’t ignore the vast majority of vehicles shipping with either or both CarPlay and Android Auto. Now that CarPlay and Android Auto are more mainstream and more accessible to the general consumer, it is only a matter of time before customers demand more from their aftermarket stereo systems.

Pioneer has answered the call for more, with the release of a single DIN touchscreen receiver with CarPlay and Android Auto. The AVH-3300NEX (also known as the Pioneer NEX series) offers a complete integration with the iPhone and the car. Integration means that the NEX lineup will seamlessly integrate with the car and the iPhone using communication protocols. It also means that CarPlay and Android Auto are available as an option in vehicles that previously may not have been CarPlay and Android Auto ready.

In this first look review, I will look at the Apple CarPlay functionality on the NEX AVH-3300NEX.

Does it integrate well with the car?

How easy is the touchscreen?

How does it handle Siri?

How well does it handle phone calls?

How well does it handle music?

The Screen

The 7-inch standard touchscreen features a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 480 x 480. Everything about the screen is crisp and high quality. It’s bright and colorful with excellent visibility even in direct sunlight. There are no white bars in the center, nor is there any noticeable strain on the eyes.

The unit is equipped with smartphone mirroring via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, as well as built-in Bluetooth.

The controls are easy to use although each button feels a bit stiff. There is no tactile response to the press, which can be frustrating at times. The source button can serve different purposes depending on whether you’re using the HD radio or CD. You can either choose from one of the three presets, select a frequency manually, or browse through the frequency spectrum. You can do the same with the music input button. Speakers A and B (front and back) can also be selected individually or both at the same time. Source settings can be assigned to each button.

Once you’ve switched over to CarPlay, the screen views have changed. There are only two. An upper section with large icons, showing the play/pause, skip and bookmark controls. The lower section is the traditional CarPlay interface showing all the default apps and a volume slider.

Security

Safety, and Integration.

Now that your car stereo is going to become an extension of your iPhone, you want to discover whether it is capable of integrating itself with your car’s security system and Bluetooth connection.

Apple CarPlay is compatible with controls. If you already have factory installed steering wheel and radio controls that are compatible with the iPhone, you’re set.

However if you do not have it, you can purchase it from several car manufacturers that are compatible with Apple CarPlay or aftermarket control modules that you can add on to enhance your car stereo’s control capabilities.

You can also have a Pioneer head unit that’s compatible with your car’s security system.

In addition to that, the AVH-3300Nex has a Bluetooth Hands-free Calling and Audio Streaming. If your car stereo doesn’t have it, add it using a Bluetooth accessory aftermarket. If it already has Bluetooth, it’s also possible that your car’s security system incorporates with it.

Watch the video below and see how the Pioneer AVH-3300Nex changes the look and feel of your car’s dashboard.

So what else should you know?

A Pioneer is a car owned by a radio. All of Avh-3300nex's on-board software is for radio-related tasks. To add some spice, you can add Audiosetup App to enable Siri and voice control. Other features that are not related to audio playback are handled by your iPhone using Apple CarPlay. The presence of these extra apps indicates that the car's software has been a bit slighted.

For over-the-air radio, the Avh-3300nex has a very stripped-down interface that copies the audio up front, like an old 1980 Honda had, to the radio's display. Some listeners prefer the old school look, because it just looks more laid-back.

For audio playback, the car uses the AVIC-U280 informer companion, which is a Pioneer multimedia system that features a 6.8-inch touchscreen. The entire unit displays a superb quality of video, with clear graphics and excellent contrast, even in bright sunlight. It has a wide housing that looks like a big tablet and soft keys as well as buttons with text.

The screen is built in its top half and is surrounded by five controls at the bottom. The screen is easy to use and quick to respond. While it does not have the same tight integration with Apple CarPlay as the Kenwood DPX100, the AVIC-U280 is still an excellent way to access your phone.