Last updated: August 10, 2021

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The Bluetooth car radio is the all-rounder among car radios. As with a classic car radio, it offers you the possibility to listen to the radio. In addition, you can connect one or more devices to the car radio via Bluetooth. Bluetooth car radios have many different features and additional functions, so you can also make phone calls or use a navigation system with a Bluetooth car radio.

In our Bluetooth car radio test 2021 we have collected the most important information about Bluetooth car radios for you. We have looked at various car radios and explained the most important criteria for your purchase. With this article, we want to give you the opportunity to choose the best radio for you.




Summary

  • In contrast to classic car radios, Bluetooth car radios offer you the option of connecting your car radio to another device, such as your mobile phone.
  • When buying a Bluetooth car radio, you should pay attention to the Bluetooth profile of the device, as well as other functions such as the radio function or the hands-free system.
  • There are a number of Bluetooth car radios that offer you various additional functions. These include: USB connections, navigation programmes or remote control.

The Best Bluetooth Car Radio in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for Bluetooth car radios

When buying a Bluetooth car radio, you should of course consider the same criteria as when buying a classic car radio. In addition, you should pay special attention to other criteria.

In summary, these are:

In the following paragraphs we will explain what these criteria are.

Bluetooth profiles

Bluetooth allows you to exchange data and information between two devices. But did you know that there are different types of Bluetooth profiles?

In this table, we explain the four main profiles:

Bluetooth profile Description
A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) This Bluetooth profile allows the transmission of sounds, be it music or voice.
HSP (Headset Profile) This profile also offers the transmission of voice, but also of basic phone functions. As the name suggests, it requires the use of headsets.
HFP (Handsfree Profile) Not all Bluetooth car radios have this profile, but it is becoming more common. With HFP, you can not only listen to music but also make phone calls (without headsets).
AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) This profile allows you to control your Bluetooth car radio with your voice, so you can pause your music or play the next song depending on your mood.

Other profiles such as PBAP (Phone Book Access Profile) and OPP (Object Push Profile) even allow you to access the phone book of your mobile phone or exchange important appointments.

So check the Bluetooth profile of the radio before you buy it. If you mainly want to play music from your mobile phone, A2DP or HSP will suffice. Do you want to make phone calls? Then HFP or AVRCP are best. And if you want to do more with your car radio, PBAP and OPP are ideal profiles.

Radio function

When buying a car radio, consider its radio function. Of course, all car radios allow you to listen to the radio, but some only allow you to listen to FM waves.

Bluetooth car radios with DAB or DAB+ allow you to receive more, because DAB stands for "Digital Audio Broadcasting". Simply put, with a DAB or DAB+ car radio you can also cover digital stations.

DAB+ is simply an enhanced function of DAB: it gives you better sound quality and additional information, such as weather data.

Handsfree

For your choice, consider whether you'd prefer to buy your Bluetooth car radio with or without a hands-free kit. We have listed the advantages and disadvantages of the hands-free system for you:

Advantages
  • Unhindered phone calls: Both hands remain on the steering wheel at all times
  • No need to tie the mobile phone to the car radio
Disadvantages
  • Expensive (headsets would be a cheaper option)
  • Poor acoustics because the microphone is not close to the mouth.

Basically, we would still recommend that you get a Bluetooth car radio with a hands-free system. That way you'll never be distracted.

Additional functions

Some Bluetooth car radios offer other functions that could also influence your purchase decision. Here we have listed the most important ones for you:

  • Reading or replying to short messages through voice recognition
  • Simultaneous connection of several devices
  • Remote control (as an object or through apps)
  • Access to navigation programmes
  • Additional USB or HDMI connections

Now you can use these four buying criteria to decide on the best Bluetooth car radio.

Just think about what you need it for and which features are especially important to you.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a Bluetooth car radio

In the following part, we will answer all your questions about Bluetooth car radios. Afterwards, you will certainly know the main things about Bluetooth car radios.

What is special about a Bluetooth car radio and what advantages does it offer?

What distinguishes Bluetooth car radios from classic car radios is that they have Bluetooth. As already mentioned in this article, Bluetooth offers you the possibility to listen to more than just radio via FM waves.

bluetooth Autoradio-1

By connecting your mobile phone, Bluetooth car radios offer you a new driving experience. (Image source: Erik Mclean / Unsplash)

For your convenience, we have listed the main advantages of a Bluetooth car radio:

  • You can connect your car radio to one or more devices at the same time.
  • You can usually listen to both radio and digital stations, or even internet podcasts.
  • If the model of your device offers it: You can make phone calls or schedule appointments.

In addition to these points, your Bluetooth car radio may also have a navigation system or a remote control. These additional functions make driving much easier.

Firstly, you don't need to acquire additional, expensive devices for your car. Secondly, all you have to do is concentrate on the steering wheel: Your radio does the rest!

What are the alternatives to a Bluetooth car radio?

Is a Bluetooth car radio too expensive or too complicated to install in your car? In the following table, we present two alternatives to a Bluetooth car radio.

Alternative Description
Classic car radio You could go for a classic car radio. Most classic car radios will not allow you to connect your mobile phone. A few have USB ports. So if you want to listen to music from your phone, you can simply connect it to your car radio with a cable - or just listen to the radio or CDs. Classic car radios are usually cheaper than Bluetooth car radios.
Classic car radio with FN transmitter Maybe a classic car radio isn't enough after all. Then you can pair it with an FN transmitter. The transmitter receives music signals from devices with headphone sockets within a short range (a few metres). For example, you can receive the music signals from your mobile phone or navigation device and play them on your car radio.

If you want to use your car radio mainly for listening to the radio, a classic car radio might be enough. But do you plan to do more than listen to the radio? Then we would recommend buying a Bluetooth car radio - or at least an FN transmitter.

Who are car radios with Bluetooth suitable for?

They are suitable, for example, if you drive frequently: they allow you to keep your hands on the steering wheel for the most part and thus reduce your risk of accidents.
Bluetooth car radios are ideal for people who want to play music from their mobile phone.

In addition, most car radios allow you to make phone calls or answer short messages from your car.

Do you enjoy listening to music or podcasts? But you also want to be able to make phone calls in your car, or even have a navigation system in your car radio? Then Bluetooth car radios are just the thing for you.

How much does a Bluetooth car radio cost?

The price range of Bluetooth car radios is wide. Some car radios cost up to 250 euros, when others are only 50 euros. What is the reason?

The price of your car radio is mostly influenced by the brand and features of your device. For example, a Bluetooth car radio with a hands-free kit will be more expensive than a car radio without a hands-free kit.

bluetooth Autoradio-2

Bluetooth car radios vary in price and features. So there is definitely the right car radio for you. (Image source: Sam Epodoi / Unsplash )

We want to make your buying decision as easy as possible. For this reason, we have divided Bluetooth car radios into different price ranges for you in the table below:

Price Description
Under 50 Euro These Bluetooth car radios usually have few or no features. However, they allow you to play music from your mobile phone.
Between 50 and 130 euros Most Bluetooth car radios are in this price range. The devices are of good quality and usually offer you several additional functions. We would recommend that you buy a device in this category.
Over 130 euros There are Bluetooth car radios that are worth up to 300 euros. The quality is certainly very good and they have all kinds of features. We wouldn't necessarily recommend buying from this category unless high quality is extremely important to you and you also spend a lot of time in the car.

Hopefully we have been able to guide you in your buying decision with this table. Keep in mind that you should not only look at the price, but also at your needs and the features offered by the device. Do you never use a navigation device? Then you should buy the cheaper version without a navigation system!

The more features, the more expensive.

Finally, you may be asking yourself whether Bluetooth car radios are more expensive than classic car radios? As a rule, they are, because they have the Bluetooth function - that is, at least one more feature.

Keep in mind that there are also very expensive classic car radios. If you want to buy an FM transmitter in addition to your classic car radio, it might be worth buying a Bluetooth car radio right away.

What does BT mean on a car radio?

"BT" stands for Bluetooth. Is BT written on your car radio or on the manual? Then you can be sure that this is a Bluetooth car radio.

How do I connect my Bluetooth car radio to my mobile phone?

It's very easy. Here are the few steps:

  1. Activate Bluetooth on your mobile phone: First you need to switch on the Bluetooth on your mobile phone. Only then can you connect it to the radio.
  2. Search for an available device: Search your mobile phone to see if you can find your car radio as an available Bluetooth device. You may also see your mobile phone as an available device on your car radio. If you don't find an available device, make sure the Bluetooth settings of your phone and car stereo are correct.
  3. Connect: And now we've come to the last step! Tap on "connected" or "pairing" - the choice of words may change a bit depending on the device. Depending on the car radio, you may also have to enter a code on your device to successfully complete the pairing.

Here we go: Now you can enjoy your music.

How do I install a Bluetooth car radio?

When installing a car radio, you always need to consider the specifics of your car. All brands don't have the same wiring or connector layout.

Basically, you should proceed as follows:

  1. Insert the mounting frame: This step is important. We don't want anyone to steal our car stereo... So make sure you bend the metal tabs of the frame well enough, and that the frame is firmly in place.
  2. Plug in the connectors: In this step you want to connect the connectors of your car to the new radio. This should go without much difficulty.
  3. Push the cables into the compartment: The third step is to carefully slide the cable into the compartment. Then you can also slide the car radio into the compartment. It is better to do it only halfway at first.
    If the car radio has a control panel, you can also insert it in this step.
  4. Testing: Before you put the complete car radio in the compartment, you should carry out a small test. So switch on your radio. Does everything work properly? You can now install the complete car radio!
    If there is a problem, go back to steps two and three; perhaps something was connected incorrectly.
  5. Fit the cover or frame: Finally, you need to attach the cover to your radio.

And you're done with the installation!

Can I retrofit my car radio with Bluetooth?

Bluetooth can only be retrofitted to a car radio if the radio has an audio connection.

If your car radio has such a connection, you can get yourself a Bluetooth adapter. Just like an FM transmitter, the Bluetooth adapter receives the signal from the mobile phone. The music is then transmitted and played on the radio.

Image source: Grytsku/ 123rf.com

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