Motorola MA1 wireless car adapter review – Your ticket to a premium Android Auto experience
This should come as no surpise but we’re pretty keen on technology here at Stuff. And not just everyday tech like smartphones or laptops. New cars tend to pack quite a lot of tech in them these days. That’s usually in the form of big touchscreens for the infotainment system, Lithium batteries in the case of EVs, or a companion app that allows you to remotely control a few functions. Unfortunately for us (and any other tech enthusiast with a vehicle), most car manufacturers tend to see the infotainment system as an afterthought and aren’t willing to spend the cash to make a decent user experience.
Thankfully, there are already solutions to that problem. Apple’s Carplay and Google’s Android Auto are extensions of their respective ecosystems, designed to compliment your travels. They work by connecting a smartphone to a compatible vehicle and will use the infotainment screen to grant access to navigation, media playback, and communication through apps you’ve already set up and are familiar with.
Android Auto has come a long way since its debut in 2015 as a standalone app. Now, its integrated into the Android OS and most vehicle manufacturers support it in their mid-range vehicles and up. And if you have a slightly pricier car that already comes with Wi-Fi capabilities, its been possible to ditch the required USB cable since 2018 when Android Auto wireless rolled out.
If you don’t have a brand new whip and don’t want to have to fiddle with USB cables, its possible to have the wireless Android Auto experience, you’ll just need a little help from something like the Motorola MA1.
Android Auto untethered
This wireless adapter means you can say goodbye to your smartphone being tethered to your car’s USB port while using Android Auto. There’s not much to say about the MA1’s physical attributes, it looks a bit like a tadpole… or a USB-A compatible pebble with a pairing button on the side. It also comes with a double-sided sticker so you can keep it from dangling like Tarzan when you make sharp turns.
The Motorola MA1’s simple design matches the simple setup. Plug it into the Android Auto-enabled USB port in your car, press the link button, pair it with your smartphone, and Android Auto should show up as an option on your screen like it does when you connect your phone directly with a cable.
The Android Auto experience remains the same but now you can DJ from the back seat. It’s also worth pointing out that this little guy itsn’t a miracle worker. It’s not going to make your non-Android Auto compatible vehicle suddenly compatible. Your vehicle will have to support Android Auto already. To check if yours does, here’s a handy list.
Another important thing to note with the Motorola MA1 is that, like vehicles that already support Android Auto wireless, it establishes a Wi-Fi connection with your smartphone through which Android Auto operates. Think about it, you’re going to need more than just Bluetooth to run an infotainment system from your phone.
Motorola MA1 verdict
The only question left to answer is how much you value not having to plug your smartphone in everytime you climb into your car. If you travel a lot, especially in places that aren’t familiar, or if you can’t go anywhere without your favourite podcast or audiobook playing, you’ll probably get more value out of the MA1 than someone who only uses Android Auto when they remember it exists.
Is the convenience worth R1,900? Only you know what that kind of money is worth to you. It might seem like a silly way to avoid a cable but its certainly a lot less than the price of a new car that supports it out of the box.