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Intellidash+ review

Got an old car with low-tech features? Then Intellidash+ might be for you

Intellidash+ showing Apple CarPlay on a car dashboard
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Our Verdict

Intellidash+ is a great way to access modern car features without having to buy a brand new car or organise an expensive retrofit. But cars with Android Auto and CarPlay built in won’t get any benefit from this secondary display.

For

  • Minimal installation required
  • No different from using Android Auto or CarPlay on cars with built-in software
  • Versatile design and connectivity to suit your needs
  • Small enough to not distract you from the road

Against

  • Poor speaker quality
  • Can struggle with existing in-car Bluetooth
Intellidash+ review: Specs

Display: 7-inch touchscreen
Ports: USB A, microSD, 3.5mm Aux
Audio: Wired, FM, Bluetooth, or speakers
Design: Suction cup

If your car is too old to have proper smartphone support, then you’re the kind of person the Intellidash+ is aimed at. The 7-inch touch-enabled display gives you access to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in cars that don’t natively support support them.

As you will see from our full Intellidash+ review, adding one of these screens is a great way to add some modern automotive features to your older car without having to mess around with your vehicle's existing hardware or software.

Intellidash+ review: Price and availability

The Intellidash+ is available at Amazon and select electronics retailers for $349. A wireless version, the Intellidash Pro, is available for $399.

Intellidash+ review: Design and features

The Intellidash+ is a pretty simple device. It’s a small portable display (6.5 inches x 8.5 inches x 4.5 inches), complete with a seven-inch touchscreen, that you put in your car and plug your phone into. This is all so you can access either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in a car that doesn’t support it.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The display itself features a USB-A port to connect your phone, a 3.5mm auxilary jack, a small set of built-in speakers, and a microSD card so you can play media when your phone isn’t plugged in. Unfortunately, there’s no built-in battery, and the Intellidash+ has to be plugged into the 12V cigarette-lighter socket at all times.

Intellidash+ review: Setup

As it's a pretty simple device, the Intellidash+ is not particularly difficult to set up. The hardest part of the whole process is finding the best way to keep it steady in your car. For most people, that will be to use the telescopic arm included in the box, which can attach to either your windscreen or your dashboard with a suction cup. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I found it a little tricky to find a place to stick the suction cup in my Nissan Leaf. The suction cup could get a pretty solid hold onto glass, but not my dashboard. That’s likely down to a combination of the suction cup not being particularly strong and the texturing on my (and so many other cars') dash. 

Fortunately, there is a solution in the box: a 2.75-inch glass disc with 3M adhesive on one side. The adhesive had no issues sticking to my dash and the suction cup grabbed on just as strongly as it did with the windscreen. Because the disc is slightly larger than the suction cup, you don’t need to worry about positioning it perfectly.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Just be warned that the glue is very strong and you need to position the glass disc right the first time. The glass disc can come off, but it won’t be nearly as effective when you reattach it.

It’s also easy to unclip the screen from the mount, letting you hide it in the glove box when you park in public. You just have to remember to pull the display upwards to detach it.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That is literally all the setup you need to do. Once the Intellidash+ is plugged into your cigarette lighter and your phone is plugged in, it’ll automatically load up whatever car system your phone comes preinstalled with. 

You could take the time to set up the date and time on the screen itself, though that isn’t really necessary. It seems to reset every time I switch my engine off anyway, so there isn’t really much point.

Intellidash+ review: Performance

The main thing to say about the Intellidash+ is that it does actually work. While the display has no built-in battery and will turn on only when your engine is supplying it with power, it functioned no differently from the infotainment system already built into my car.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I plugged my phone in and Android Auto immediately started loading. It’s not quite as fast to load as my Leaf’s infotainment system, but we’re talking only an extra couple of seconds. That’s not exactly a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

The Intellidash+ also offers exactly what it promises, with the exact same Android Auto or CarPlay interface you get on any other car. As soon as your software loads up, you’ll be met with all the same apps and icons you’d see if you plugged your phone into any compatible car.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That essentially means you get a driving-friendly interface for your phone and all the compatible apps installed on it. The Intellidash+ registers any standard CarPlay or Android Auto device from your phone too, preventing you from using any apps that either system deems "distracting" — like Netflix or some other visual-centric software.

The touchscreen was fairly responsive as well. It wasn’t quite as immediate as the one on my smartphone (a OnePlus 7 Pro), but it was actually much more painless than the one built into my Leaf’s center console. I have to really prod the Leaf’s touchscreen to get anything done, often more than once, whereas the Intellidash+’s display responded to the lightest of taps without issue.

However, because the Intellidash+ isn’t built straight into your car and is designed for older cars that lack hi-tech features, there are a few quirks to be aware of. Or, at least there are if you plan on using it in a modern car.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One example of this is Bluetooth audio. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get audio from my phone to disconnect from the Intellidash+ and broadcast directly to my car. My speakers either played nothing, or the audio came out through the Intellidash’s own meager speakers. 

They are not good speakers, either, coming out very tinny and with absolutely no bass. While sound is not the point of this device, it’s disappointing to find it offers audio quality akin to a dirt-cheap Bluetooth speaker

Thankfully the Intellidash+ has other ways of connecting to your car’s speakers. The simplest way is using a 3.5mm AUX cable and plugging that straight into the car, whether that’s through a dedicated AUX input port  or using one of the old-school 3.5mm-to-cassette adapters.

Failing that, or if you’d rather avoid yet another cable cluttering the cockpit, the Intellidash+ does have a built-in FM transmitter with a huge range of frequencies to choose from. Not only did it work perfectly, but the quality of the transmission was indistinguishable from a Bluetooth connection.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Intellidash+ isn’t compatible with your car’s in-built media and voice controls, although since the screen has no actual connection to your car that shouldn’t be surprising. Your choices for controlling what happens on the screen are limited to tapping at the screen or the more sensible option of talking to Google Assistant or Siri.

If you have a modern car, such as a Tesla, that doesn’t support Android Auto or CarPlay, then these compatibility issues are  worth bearing in mind before you drop $350 for the Intellidash+.

Intellidash+ review: Verdict

If you have a modern car, the Intellidash+ isn’t going to be the kind of device for you, simply because your car likely has all this stuff built in. If you do have an older model without those kinds of features, then the Intellidash+ is a great way to add them without having to buy a new car.

Of course the Intellidash isn’t perfect, particularly in terms of audio and the relative weakness of the suction cup on the mount. That said, there are pretty simple workarounds, and the designers have given you everything you need to make it work in your own vehicle. 

The only question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to spend $350 on the Intellidash+or you’d rather save that money by continuing to use your phone.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.