Sony Electronics has unveiled two infotainment systems in South Africa, effectively making it the cheapest way to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto locally.

The in-car Bluetooth media receivers are available in two models, the AX5550D and AX3500; and both feature a 6.95-inch capacitive touchscreen display. However, only the high-end model, AX5550D supports CarPlay and Android Auto, while the AX3500 supports WebLink Cast to mirror both Android and iOS.

As with any other infotainment system, it allows users to access their smartphone content safely while driving, such as messaging, music, navigation, etc.

I asked for a list of cars it will be compatible with and Sony SA tells Wired to the Web that the receivers are available for “all modern cars” and there should be no problems during installation – done by professionals.

“We want South African drivers to enjoy uncompromised, smooth and simple control with every journey. Using our latest in-car media displays, they can gain intuitive control over their music, communications and so much more. The AX5550D and AX3500 enable road users to navigate, communicate and play music without ever having to take their hands off the wheel, for a much safer driving experience,” says Shuichi Mugitani, Head of Marketing, Sony Middle East and Africa.

Model AX5550D
The AX5550D has a 6.95-inch flush mount capacitive touchscreen with a flat, bezel-less display that elegantly matches car interiors. A single-DIN rear chassis allows for space-saving installation.

Drivers can connect compatible Apple and Android smartphones via CarPlay, Android Auto to get directions, stream music, make phone calls or and send and receive messages via Android Auto and CarPlay, which also supports third-party navigation apps – i.e. Google Maps. This feature works with a cable connection.

WebLink Cast compatibility allows drivers to mirror Android and iOS devices and the two USB ports allow you to connect additional storage devices. This is pretty nifty, it can mirror YouTube, Netflix etc to entertain the family on the road, assuming the driver pays attention to the road.

Given that it’s a Sony product, is also has an Extra Bass feature for better sound quality.

Sony says the display is rear-view camera ready, so shifting the vehicle into reverse, or tapping the “Rear Camera” icon on the home screen will show the rear camera feed on the screen, with customisable guidelines to help reverse safely.

Model AX3500 
The AX3500 has a 6.95-inch anti-glare touchscreen display offers the convenience of lighter touch operation and improved visibility while a single-DIN rear chassis ensures a space-saving installation.

WebLink Cast lets users mirror compatible Android and iOS smartphones to access their favourite apps in a safer way. As mentioned above, you can also have YouTube and Netflix in your car, if you wanted to. Sony says its ergonomically designed key terminal gives instant access to the receiver’s basic operations, such as source selections and sound adjustments while minimising distractions.

It is also equipped with the Extra Bass feature for better sound quality. The AX3500 also allows drivers to reverse with ease from the receiver’s rear-view camera compatibility, with adjustable parking guidelines.

Availability and price
Both receivers are currently available through retail stores across the country.
AX5550D – R7999
AX3500 – R6899