Hands-on With Boss Audio's Latest CarPlay Receiver (With Exclusive Deal for MacRumors Readers)

by

A couple of months ago, Boss Audio debuted its latest aftermarket CarPlay receiver, the BVCP9685A, offering a relatively low-cost way to add wired CarPlay (and Android Auto) to your existing vehicle.

The BVCP9685A is a double DIN unit with a 6.75-inch capacitive screen and a vertical strip of capacitive touch controls along the left side. With an external microphone and support for steering wheel controls and backup camera input when paired with proper auxiliary wiring, the BVCP9685A can integrate with much of the existing technology in your vehicle.


Boss Audio sent me a demo unit of the BVCP9685A to test out, and I've come away pretty impressed with its ability to deliver ‌CarPlay‌ functionality at a budget price point, which is currently even lower with an exclusive 5 percent discount code for MacRumors readers.


The BVCP9685A demo unit I received is a relatively self-contained package, hooked up to a standard AC power plug and a small external speaker. That makes it easy to test out the unit without needing to install it in a vehicle, which can be a bit tricky depending on your level of experience and the types of connections you need to make.


On the flip side, the demo unit doesn't give you the full experience, so this is more of a hands-on look than a complete review as I haven't been able to test its sound quality with a full car speaker setup, integration with steering wheel controls and rear camera, and some other features.

Overview

Boss's BVCP9685A offers a relatively clean look dominated by the large screen, although it does have a bit of a bottom bezel where there is some Boss branding and the model number. A strip to the left of the screen offers persistent access to capacitive mute, volume, Siri, and home buttons. The buttons are a little on the small side in a tradeoff with maximizing the size of the main screen.


The 6.75-inch, 800x480 screen is bright and fairly crisp, although it doesn't quite match the higher resolutions seen on some other more expensive systems. The touch buttons along the left side can be set to just about any color of the rainbow or allowed to cycle through a range of colors automatically, and separate color and brightness options can be set for day and night modes.


The main interface of the BVCP9685A consists of a set of tiles that offer access to the system's functions like radio, ‌CarPlay‌, Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free calling, rear camera, and media player functions over Bluetooth, USB or an RCA AV connection on the rear of the unit. Small tiles also offer access to settings and an equalizer.

The overall look certainly isn't as polished as some infotainment systems, but if you're a ‌CarPlay‌ user you'll likely be spending much of your time in there anyway.

The radio app offers a large display of the current station and a couple of sets of forward and backward buttons to help navigate between stations on the dial and via presets. Other options let you switch between AM and FM, stereo and mono, local and distant station optimization, and more.


It's fairly easy to operate, although some of the options aren't necessarily intuitive such as the way tapping the option icons toggles indicators elsewhere on the display rather than simply changing a label on the icon itself. Tuning buttons also aren't explicitly labeled, although you'll quickly learn how they work once you start using them.


Playing media from an external device such as via Bluetooth is a similar affair, although I think the look of the media player screen is a bit better than the radio screen, with full track, artist, and album information as well as clear play/pause, track skip, and shuffle buttons along the bottom.

CarPlay

‌CarPlay‌ and Android Auto require a wired connection on the BVCP9685A, which many users prefer considering they want to charge their phones while in the car, but for those who prefer wireless ‌CarPlay‌ that's starting to become more widely available in aftermarket units, you'll need to look elsewhere.


The BVCP9685A includes a pair of USB ports on short cables, one for ‌CarPlay‌/Android Auto and one limited to charging and media playback, so you'll need to make sure you connect your Lightning cable to the right one. Once you're up and running with ‌CarPlay‌, you'll find the usual experience with access to the default Apple apps, compatible third-party apps, and a dedicated Boss icon to take you out of ‌CarPlay‌ and back to the Boss system.


The screen is definitely smaller than some built-in infotainment systems that can go up to 8 inches or more, but within the limitations of the double DIN size standard, Boss has done a pretty good job of maximizing screen space. A few competitors have pushed their screen sizes to 7 inches by using skinny hardware buttons along the bottom of the unit, but Boss gets pretty close to that size while keeping buttons along the left where they're closest to the driver.

Overall, the ‌CarPlay‌ interface looks good on the BVCP9685A, with Maps being where you would most likely notice the difference compared to systems with larger screens, due to the mapping field of view and the various informational overlays. ‌CarPlay‌ is relatively responsive on the BVCP9685A, accurately registering taps and swipes.


In addition to the Boss icon on the ‌CarPlay‌ home screen, you can also use the main capacitive home/back button in the lower left corner of the BVCP9685A to jump out of ‌CarPlay‌ and over to the Boss system. That button can take you back into ‌CarPlay‌, but only if it's the immediately previous screen you were on. If you switch over to the Boss system and then fiddle with radio settings, for example, you'll need to get back to the Boss home screen and then tap the ‌CarPlay‌ tile there to return to ‌CarPlay‌.

Wrap-up

As an entry-level ‌CarPlay‌ receiver, the Boss BVCP9685A looks like a solid way to bring your iPhone to the dashboard in your existing vehicle. It doesn't include features seen on more (in some cases much more) expensive models like SiriusXM tuner support, a wireless microphone, a DVD/CD drive, or built-in navigation, but if what you primarily need is ‌CarPlay‌ you may not be interested in many of those missing features.

The BVCP9685A is currently priced at $239.99 on Amazon, but the exclusive MacRumors discount available through this link knocks $12.00 off of that through May 22. Boss is also currently offering a $35.00 on-page or in-cart coupon that is stackable with the MacRumors discount, bringing the final price down to just $192.99.

That's a fantastic price for a ‌CarPlay‌ aftermarket head unit, but do keep in mind when budgeting that depending on your install situation, you may need to pick up some extra equipment like wiring harnesses and perhaps pay for professional installation if you're not comfortable with cracking open your dashboard yourself.

Note: Boss provided MacRumors with a loaner demo unit of the BVCP9685A for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Related Roundup: CarPlay

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
18 months ago
$192.99 is a heck of a deal for a CarPlay receiver
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago
I looked into the Boss CP head unit not too long ago.

I would purchase it today for an old truck of mine, but I really hate not having a volume knob.

A strip to the left of the screen offers persistent access to capacitive mute, volume, Siri, and home buttons. The buttons are a little on the small side in a tradeoff with maximizing the size of the main screen.

They are not mechanical/physical buttons? That sucks too.....

The price tag is tempting, but I really hate the touch screen buttons for a head unit.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago
No physical buttons = no go but now I’m about to drop $300 on a unit I didn’t think I’d want :(
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago

For this price, I think I’d be stupid to pass it up.

Now to look up the required parts to fit this on Crutchfield...

They don't seem to have it. I think they usually lag a bit.
[doublepost=1558188173][/doublepost]

No physical buttons = no go but now I’m about to drop $300 on a unit I didn’t think I’d want :(

More like $1200 for a proper one.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago

I remember when Boss Audio first came onto the scene. They were the welfare brand in car audio. Their amps were always rated for outrageous outputs. We used to joke and say that they'd only output their ratings ILS (if lightning strikes). Lol. Has that changed?

While I never used a Boss Audio head unit nor amp, I own this Boss Audio sub ('https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0014L8TVG/ref=ppx_od_dt_b_asin_title_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1'). I am extremely impressed with it considering how much it cost.

6 years ago, I was trying to find a decent shallow subwoofer to fit a custom 10" sub enclosure that I made to fit behind the passenger side seat of my MR2, but there was hardly any that were shallow enough, or they were really expensive.

The Boss Audio sub was really cheap, and had next-day shipping at the time, so I decided to give it a try, and go with something else if it didn't perform well enough.

It end up exceeding my expectations, so much so that it is still in my MR2 6 years later. It punches pretty well, so much that it could make a passenger's back feel like it is getting a very violent massage. I usually the subs down when there is a passenger with me.

I should mention that I am not an audiophile, and the MR2 cab is kind of small with two firewalls in the front and rear, so it doesn't take much to fill the space with sound.

My phone's going to be plugged in whether the Car Play connection requires it or not. :p

I understand this, but I wouldn't mind having wireless CP. You can still charge your phone if you need to even with wireless CP, but having it wireless, give the user the option of whether to plug in or not.

I'm hoping I can keep using the controls on the steering wheel with it, though; plus have the backup camera auto-engage when I shift into reverse, as is currently the case.

This is probably not an issue with the many different adapters out there.

You can use Crutchfield.com to see what you need for your car. I have purchased from them a few times, and while they are not always the cheapest, they are very helpful with planning the job. Sometimes I find some decent deals on there though.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago

Some people may complain about the "wired" requirement, but given that I'm generally running Waze when I'm driving and that constant GPS connection chews through the battery like crazy - that doesn't seem like a big deal. My phone's going to be plugged in whether the Car Play connection requires it or not. :p

I was right there with you, until I got the iPhone X and a car cradle with built in Qi charger. Now, I want wireless :/
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of 3rd party widgets at launch, iOS users around the...

iPhone 12 Lineup Rumored to Be Named 'iPhone 12 mini,' 'iPhone 12,' 'iPhone 12 Pro,' and 'iPhone 12 Pro Max'

Monday September 21, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
Leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared the alleged naming for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup on Twitter. The tweet proposes that the upcoming iPhone 12 models will be titled "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max." The names likely correspond to the three expected sizes of iPhone 12, with the 5.4-inch model being the iPhone 12 mini, the 6.7-inch model ...

Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

Friday September 18, 2020 1:19 pm PDT by
Today's the official launch date for the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which Apple announced on Tuesday. We picked up a couple of the new models and thought we'd give them a quick look for MacRumors readers thinking of ordering a new watch. Apple Watch Series 6 & Apple Watch SE Hands-On! When it comes to design, both the $399 Series 6 and the $279 SE look just like...

iOS 14 Picture in Picture No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website in Safari [Without Premium]

Friday September 18, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. When Picture in Picture was working with YouTube The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

AirPods Studio Rumored to Come With U1 Chip, Ultra-Wideband Said to Be Vital to Future Apple Ecosystem

Sunday September 20, 2020 6:17 am PDT by
Proven leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared a range of information about the ultra-wideband U1 chip in Apple's upcoming AirTags item trackers and AirPods Studio headphones. The first of a series of tweets shared today simply stated that AirPods Studio will contain an ultra-wideband U1 chip. It seems likely that the U1 chip would be used in AirPods Studio to track the location of...

Kuo: Apple to Accelerate Adoption of Mini-LED Displays in iPad and Mac Notebook Lineups

Sunday September 20, 2020 10:00 pm PDT by
Increased competition among Apple's suppliers for mini-LED display chips will accelerate the company's adoption of the advanced technology in its iPad and MacBook lineups, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. Kuo says that while Epistar had been predicted to be the exclusive supplier of mini-LED chips for Apple products in 2021, Sanan Optoelectronics...

Top Stories: Apple Event Recap, Apple Watch Series 6, Redesigned iPad Air, and More

Saturday September 19, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
This week's news was obviously dominated by Apple's media event and the launch of iOS 14, but there was a lot to digest, so check out our summary below for the high-level view of the past week. With the exception of the massively redesigned iPad Air, all of the new hardware introduced this week is starting to appear on store shelves and on customers' doorsteps, while all of the new software...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...