How Do I Connect My Smartphone To My Car?



How can I connect my phone to my car? This is a question I get several times every day. The answer is pretty simple. You can either replace your radio, or you can integrate into the existing factory radio. The integration options vary depending on the year/make/model of your vehicle.

REPLACING THE RADIO

If you replace your radio then you can connect several different ways. You can connect with an auxiliary cable or usb cable. You can also connect wirelessly with the right bluetooth capable radio. For example, the Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X998 offers all three connection options. If you go with the radio option you will also need to decide whether you want a Single DIN or Double DIN. Single or Double refer to the size of the radio you want to install.

You will need to purchase three parts for most cars when replacing the radio. They are:


1. Dash Kit- Fills the void around the new radio left by the factory radio.

2. Wiring Harness- This is where it gets tricky. You will want to consult with a professional audio installation business before purchasing your harness to make sure you are buying the right one. And I recommend calling a store that actually does installation versus relying on any online retailers. They usually don't have any actual hands on experience. And there are so many different levels of factory audio systems that it will be easy for you to buy the wrong one.

WARNING!!! Do not skip buying a harness just to save the money. You will cause yourself more problems down the road than it is worth. You will not be able to re-install your factory radio later when you change cars if you don't buy a harness!

3. Antenna Adapter- Your factory radio antenna may not plug directly into the new radio.The purpose of the harness is to make it so that whoever you have perform the installation does not have to cut into your factory wiring. The new harness makes it so they can just plug into the existing audio harness, thus making it possible to re-install the factory radio at a later date should you choose to sell the car and keep the new radio you bought.

I recommend using Metra Online, Pac-Audio, and Scosche for researching your radio installation parts.

FACTORY AUDIO INTEGRATION vs FM MODULATION 

If you choose to keep your car looking factory or O.E.M., then you can usually integrate into the existing radio. There is a company called USA SPEC that makes modules that will plug directly into the rear of your existing radio.

Their product consists of a brain with two female RCA inputs and an input for their proprietary iPod cable. So you can either connect an iPod/iPad/iPhone or use the female RCA inputs to connect an auxiliary cable and plug in any device with a headset jack. The USA SPEC option generally costs a little more but will give you the best sound quality outside of a radio because you are plugging directly into your existing radio.

The other type of factory integration is called FM modulation. Their are a handful of fm mod pieces out there, with my favorite being the iSimple Tranzit. This method involves interrupting your fm signal with a switch, and then playing your music over the preset radio station. These fm mod pieces will allow you to connect any iTunes related device or any device with a headset jack.

Now a lot of people hear about this and say 'Oh I've had that before and it sucks'. At which point I inform them that what they had before was wireless fm modulation. Something they plugged into their cigarette lighter that wirelessly transmitted music from the vehicles antenna. Those sound terrible and skip between stations. The solution I am speaking of involves a hardwired connection to one unused station. So no need to worry about music stopping or skipping and switching of radio stations.