Apple CarPlay is a feature that has been in some factory head units for some time as well as in some third-party wired units. The Alpine iLX-107 is among the first third-party car stereos to integrate wireless CarPlay, and it’s amazing! Apple CarPlay allows users to access certain functions of their iPhone and keeps their eyes off their phone. Read on for the full review of the Alpine iLX-107 car stereo with wireless Apple CarPlay and find out why it’s a Techaeris Top Pick for 2017.
Before we continue, it is recommended that you have your Alpine iLX-107 installed by a professional. You could install this on your own, but we did not. Alpine had ours professionally installed by Soundz Plus in Warrenville, IL. You could get this installed by Best Buy and other big box locations, but I’d recommend finding a shop like Soundz Plus. Check online reviews when locating a shop as using a professional whose business is built around car stereos usually means they’ll do a far better install job. The guys at Soundz Plus were excellent and the install took about an hour.
The Alpine iLX-107 has the following features and specifications:
- 50 Watts x 4
- 3 Pre-Outs (2V)
- Works with Apple CarPlay® over Wireless
- 7″ VGA display with capacitive touchscreen
- Compatible with Alpine TuneIt App for iPhone®
- 9-band parametric EQ
- 6-channel time correction set by Alpine TuneIt App
- Accessory Control Ready (KAC-001 Required)
- Keep factory controls with iDatalink® Maestro® Module
- Steering wheel remote control ready
- 1 camera (composite) input
- CEA-2006 Power Rating: 18W x 4
- Max Power Output: 50W x 4
What’s In The Box
- Connectors and wiring
- Install kit (if ordered)
- Manuals and Documentation
The Alpine iLX-107 is pretty straightforward in its design language with just two buttons and the rest being the screen. The only two buttons are for bringing up Siri and exiting into the main Alpine menu. Otherwise, there are no other buttons on this head unit. I do really wish Alpine would have opted for a physical volume knob here as I prefer them over capacitive control. I feel it’s far easier to adjust volume while driving with a physical knob as I can find it by feel.
The 7″ VGA display is one of the best I’ve seen on a car stereo. Glare is almost non-existent and the screen can be seen even with direct sunlight hitting it. Many car stereos suffer from poor viewing angles and poor bright light performance but not so here. Not only does the display perform well in viewing but it’s also responsive.
Many other car stereos have a hard time with touch input and there’s very noticeable lag. With the iLX-107 there’s very little lag. Yes, there is still some, but compared to some of my old units, the Alpine is pretty amazing.
The whole unit is solid, well-made and feels very premium. Overall, the design is pretty simple, just a giant screen with two small buttons, but it’s sleek and looks clean once installed.
We’re going to touch on sound briefly as there are many factors that could affect the experience. My Alpine iLX-107 was installed in my 2000 Honda Accord Coupe with factory speakers. No extra amplifiers, equalizers, or speakers were installed.
Coming from a Honda factory stereo I knew full well that the iLX-107 was going to deliver far better sound than my stock stereo. If you’re not into sound tech, stereos have built-in amplifiers that help amplify the sound delivered to your speakers. Unless you get the premium stereo system from your car manufacturer, most stock amps are pretty dismal at least in cars the age of mine.
My Honda stock stereo really struggled to deliver any sort of volume or decent sound. Even with the volume cranked to full I always felt it was more like 30% volume. Even the installers told me I would hear a significant improvement in volume and clarity just by installing the iLX-107.
That was an understatement. The Alpine iLX-107 brought my factory Honda speakers to life in an instant. Some really great sound is reproduced here and the volume is miles better than what the stock head unit was pushing. You can tweak the EQ within the settings screen to smooth out any edges you want to and there are some presets as well.
Overall, this head unit will enhance your existing car speakers but will also likely sound even better with some nice aftermarket speakers installed with it.
Ease of Use
The iLX-107 is not unlike any other car stereo. It’s pretty self-explanatory with menus to adjust EQ and balance, as well as to adjust the screen and also tweak basic settings of the radio. The volume controls are small capacitive touch buttons near the bottom bezel, and I wish Alpine would have made a knob for this. It’s a small gripe but a gripe nonetheless. I think a physical knob is much easier to manipulate while keeping your eyes on the road.
We’ll get more into CarPlay in the next section but it’s safe to say that CarPlay’s ease of use is great. Overall there’s really nothing major in terms of operation here. It’s a car stereo and most newer stereos are touchscreen, so it’s easy to operate. Just like other car stereos, the menus can get to be a bit much, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Using wireless CarPlay will require a quick setup and for you to have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on. All that I had to do was find the iLX-107 in my Bluetooth settings and connect. Once Bluetooth was connected my iPhone asked if I wanted to use wireless CarPlay with my Alpine iLX-107. Tapping “Enable wireless CarPlay” pairs your phone and head unit and you’re done with the pairing process.
Once you’re paired with the head unit, your phone will connect (every time) as soon as you have the car started and the unit boots up. The unit takes about 5-10 seconds to boot up fully so it’s not a long wait.
The CarPlay interface looks like a giant iPhone screen complete with the iconic rounded icons. The clock is displayed at the bottom left along with your LTE signal and phone battery. Above that, you’ll find the previous apps you’ve used. Below the battery is the CarPlay home button which will take you back to your apps screen when you’re inside of an app. The Alpine Main Menu icon will bring you back to the radio menu where you can make your radio adjustments. Currently, the apps selection for CarPlay isn’t huge, but the essentials are there.
Here are some of the currently supported apps:
- Apple Podcasts
- Apple Audiobooks
- iHeart Radio
- At Bat
- Apple Music
- CBS Radio
- Google Play Music
- Slacker Radio
- NPR One
- Radio Disney
- Amazon Music
- Apple Maps
Apps like Apple Maps will bring up the navigation on your screen, so you’re basically adding a NAV system to your car as well. Of course, the phone and iMessage apps both work, and I found them extremely useful. I love being able to push the Siri button and ask it to call or text my wife. Siri will ask you to recite the text you want to send and then read it back to you at which time you can choose to send or modify the text.
Siri will also read incoming texts to you so you never have to look at your phone. I have to say, I am not much of a Siri user on my iPhone, but I found it to be invaluable when used through the Alpine iLX-107.
I am an Apple Music user so I tested this unit with Apple Music and the interface mirrors that of the app. Everything is right at your fingertips and the album art is even included giving your screen a nice finished look.
It is important to note, while you can use compatible apps with CarPlay, they will be limited to an extent (depending on the app), so you aren’t distracted. For example, the iMessage app will not show you text, it will only read the text back to you.
Overall, CarPlay on the Alpine iLX-107 runs just flawlessly, and it was a real pleasure to use. Potential buyers of the iLX-107 should know if you buy into this unit you’ll only be getting the radio and CarPlay. There is no option for satellite radio or anything else, this unit is built for those seeking a third-party wireless CarPlay solution.
For the most part, we’ve covered performance in the other sections but we’ll briefly summarize them here. The display of the Alpine iLX-107 is hands down one of the best I’ve seen. Viewing angles are amazing and you can actually see this screen in direct sunlight. Touchscreen performance is really good here, there is just a slight bit of lag when scrolling or swiping but nothing terrible. Installing the iLX-107 will enhance your stock speakers by miles.
Overall, the Alpine iLX-107 is a solid performer in all categories and, I will reiterate, a professional install is going to make sure you see that performance.
The Alpine iLX-107 is listed on Alpine’s website at $900USD but as of this review, you can get it on Amazon for $695USD. The suggested retail price of $900USD is pretty steep but this is an Alpine after all and it stands up to Alpine’s build quality, performance, and sound. It’s also the first and only car stereo with wireless Apple CarPlay. As I already mentioned, I think $900USD is a bit steep but the Amazon price is really a great deal! Some may be turned off with no option for satellite radio.
The Alpine iLX-107 isn’t for everyone. This stereo was built for those who don’t want to buy a new car with wireless Apple CarPlay built-in but would rather enhance their existing vehicle. While there are plenty of other head units with WIRED CarPlay capabilities, the ability to go wireless is totally worth it. I’d recommend this unit to anyone who really wants wireless Apple CarPlay in their vehicle right now. There may be more options coming in the future, but Alpine has really done an amazing job with a first product here.
*A review unit of the Alpine iLX-107 was installed into our vehicle for the purposes of this review.
- Wireless CarPlay works great!
- Enhances your stock speakers
- Easy to Use
- Performs well, touch input spot on
- Can see screen in bright sunlight
- Pricey at $900USD
- Professional install recommended adds to the cost
- Physical volume knob would have been preferable
- No satellite radio support