In this video, I check out the Exploter ApplePie Plus 2.0 Apple CarPlay AI Box. You can buy this AI Box currently on sale for $179.91 directly from Exploter 👉🏻 https://bit.ly/applepieplusv2.
This is an updated version of their existing ApplePie Plus and features a faster Qualcomm 665/6125 8-core CPU, updated Android 13 operating system, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, SIM and TF media card support and it also has HDMI output too.
In the box, you get the ApplePie Plus 2.0 AI Box itself. There is a long USB A to C cable to power the AI Box from a vehicle’s CarPlay USB port, and there’s also a USB C adapter for more modern vehicles. There is also a SIM card removal tool and a mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter comes in the box too.
Features & Design
Looking over the AI box, it has a similar formfactor to a previous dongle that I’ve tested on this channel, with a round, puck-like casing with a transparent top half that exposes a light-blue plastic swirl design inside. On top, you’ll find the Exploter logo and around the sides of the adapter there is a USB-C power port on one end, and on the opposite side, there is the micro-HDMI port to attach to an external HDMI display. Underneath the USB-C port, there is a card tray which has slots for a nano mobile SIM card, for localised Internet, and there is also a slot for a TF memory card, to expand on its 40GB of usable internal storage.
Boot-Up & Main Menu
I plugged this adapter into the CarPlay port of my VW Golf7, that’s running a retro-fitted stock MIB2.5 media unit, and initially, the device didn’t want to turn on whilst using the supplied USB cable. After changing this cable to another, it then decided to power up. So not a good first start for this adapter, and should you encounter the same in your vehicle – always try a different cable first.
Boot-up time took 26 seconds to get into the main menu interface, and during this boot-up you are reminded that the platform is now built on the newer Android 13 operating system, via its relatively quick boot sequence.
Once in the main menu, you are presented with what now looks like a rather dated looking user interface, with a side dock consisting of the time, Wi-Fi and SIM status icons, the last two used apps, a shortcut to invoke the Google assistant and a button that displays an app overview screen. Swiping on the homescreen will bring in all the preinstalled apps, and there’s also the usual floating button menu that displays over any running app when touch input is detected. This menu gives you the ability to go back within running apps, invoke the Google assistant, enter split-screen mode and browse and close any currently running apps, as well as exit the app back to the main home screen.
The home screen features three main widget panels in the middle which allows you to quickly access maps, currently playing localised media or Bluetooth audio, and shortcuts to your favourite contacts. Across the bottom there are shortcuts that you can customise to quickly launch your most favourite installed apps.
Android Apps & Gaming
Theres a library of pre-installed apps to get you started, from the Google suite of apps, to Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max. The latter app seemed to want to download their latest version, which I couldn’t download. Luckily though, you can also sideload apps onto this adapter from any APK mirror site, should you be unable to download any apps from the Google Play store.
You can download your favorite apps from the Google Play store onto this adapter. Be it your favourite media or streaming app, to the latest mobile games. Firing up test games Crossy Road and Subway Surfers, it’s performance mirrors similar adapters running the same Qualcomm6125 chipset with its Adreno 610 GPU, in that its capable with 2D and some lightweight 3D games and you can pair a Bluetooth remote or game controller for better interaction with certain games and apps that support them.
HDMI External Display Output
The HDMI output port allows you to pair this adapter to an external display in the car, or even a TV or monitor. Audio plays out on both devices with a little delay between the two devices feeds. Playback in YouTube and Netflix did suffer in my tests in the car, with a noticeable delay in audio and video, however over HDMI this wasn’t the case and audio sync on the HDMI display was just fine too, which is very odd.
Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto use the preinstalled Zlink5 app. Settings such as HD and Android split screen modes have been cut on this newer version of the app, with background, floating navigation and driver position options continue to remain. Speed of pairing into each platform was in the middle of the pack of AI Boxes that I’ve tested, with specs near identical to their ApplePie Ultra AI Box. With that, I found Android Auto did suffer in terms of lag and noticeable delay, so I wouldn’t recommend this box for Android users, wireless CarPlay did operate much better, but if you want better overall performance in this area you’re better off getting a dedicated wireless adapter instead – its 180 mbps max data rate limits this adapter’s overall wireless performance.
The ApplePie Plus 2.0 currently retails for $179.90 on sale directly from Exploter, and i’ll leave my direct link to this adapter so you can learn more about it and buy yourself one.
For its price, this AI Box from Exploter covers all the basics you’ll want, at a price that just comes in around double the cost of a standard wireless adapter. You’ll get the addition of an Android OS platform and the ability to run apps like video streaming apps YouTube and Netflix on it. Its user interface isn’t the best looking out there, but it does the job, and if you can look past the floating button navigation it can fire up apps a second or two behind the fastest and more expensive adapters that I’ve tested.
I did face a few let downs though in my tests with the ApplePie Plus 2.0. Other than the faulty power cable at the start, I also encountered missing audio in all of my test games, where my usual work around wasn’t able to fix it. Its GPU also didn’t benchmark as well as other Adreno 610 AI Boxes, and this showed in games with a little more lag and stuttering in 3D games. YouTube and Netflix streaming also had some additoinal delay to them. Android Auto was a little disappointing, which is likely due to this adapters rather lower max data rate specs. So in short, I personally think your experience and money will be much better elsewhere than with this AI Box.
The good news is that Exploter are also starting to sell their ApplePie Rocket, which I hope to review in the future, as it features a faster Qualcomm 6490 chipset, 5G LTE support, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and Wi-Fi6E support, but all this costs double the pruice of the Plus 2.0, so it all comes down to your own personal use and what you want to do with your AI Box.
0:00 – Brief overview
0:29 – Unboxing
0:51 – Features & Design
1:58 – Boot-up & Main Menu
3:17 – HBO Max side-loading
3:43 – Gaming & BT remote/pad
4:06 – HDMI external screen output
4:33 – Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
5:21 – My impressions
6:47 – Exploter ApplePie Rocket tease