Unless you’re driving a luxury SUV or a top-tier sedan, the built-in dash unit is probably quite limited. I’m talking about the available controls, connectivity options, and the display/touchscreen. So, should you sell the car and buy a new one? Of course, not! You can just invest in the best flip out car stereo, and that will do the trick! The problem is – there are hundreds of different devices out there.
How do you ensure compatibility? How do you find the perfect stereo with the right features? I’ve got your back! You don’t have to do any tedious research, because I already did most of the picking. All that’s left to do is go over my list and see which one of the five top-quality head units fits you best. Let’s get to it!
Best Flip Out Car Stereo Review
1. ATOTO – Best Flip Out Touchscreen Car Stereo
Alright, #1 on the list is an all-around solid stereo by Atoto. This brand might not ring a bell for the average US driver, but they will definitely appreciate its pros. First of all, it boasts a dual-Bluetooth design that’s pretty handy and kinda hard to find in this price range. Speaking of that, this flip out head unit/receiver is available at a reasonable price. It’s not particularly cheap but should fit your budget.
Besides, it comes packed with a pretty big ISP touchscreen (8”, to be exact). The quality is, indeed, pretty impressive: you can stare at the display for hours, and it won’t make your eyes hurt. I also want to mention the really generous package. Along with the actual car stereo, you’ll also get lots of cables, mounting brackets + screws, and even an antenna. On the downside, the floating screen isn’t adjustable once you install it.
- Dual-Bluetooth design for multiple connections
- Eight-inch, HD (720P), IPS display screen
- A generous package with lots of extras
- Limited adjustment options
Atoto did a wonderful job with the flip out stereo unit. It’s got a bigger-than-average screen, HD graphics, and supports multi connections through BT. It arrives with a long list of extras, too. Sadly, there isn’t much “fine-tuning” you can do with the screen once it’s mounted into the dash.
2. Pioneer – Best Flip Out Car Stereo With Navigation
It’s safe to say that Pioneer is a top-three brand when it comes to audio equipment. But what about this stereo system? Is it a worthy pick? Yes, it most certainly is. Most importantly, it works flawlessly with all the popular mobile apps/standards like Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. Sirius and Pandora are also supported, which makes AVH an even more attractive pick.
What I personally like about this device is the user interface. It’s really fast, intuitive, and a joy to navigate. Last, but not least, the sound output is quite impressive. While stereo units don’t have a huge impact on the audio quality, they still play a role in shaping it. Wait – does that mean Pioneer is a perfect aftermarket car stereo? Well, not quite: it’s rather expensive and should only be considered if you’ve got an extra buck to spare.
- Full CarPlay/Android Auto, Pandora + SiriusXM support
- Intuitive, quick-to-respond, and customizable UI
- Excellent audio quality: clean and detailed
- Quite expensive (but worth it)
Car owners in the market for a premium flip out stereo might find Pioneer to be right up their alley. Thanks to the powerful software, the UI is swift and easy to use. The audio quality is also great, and the system works with a wide range of platforms/interfaces. The price tag is steep, though.
3. BOSS AUDIO – Best Car Stereo With Flip Out Screen
This next brand needs no introductions either. And I want to say right from the start that Boss Audio is the most durable and reliable option on today’s list. The engineers put a lot of effort into making BV99 a brick-strong unit. As for the package, it includes a tiny, yet very useful RC. It’s got all the buttons and knobs for controlling the stereo system (including the CD/DVD player). Instructions and mounting hardware are a part of the picture as well.
The first thing that you’ll probably notice as soon as you turn the device on is the illumination system. That’s right: the Boss Audio stereo has illuminated controls and knobs; plus, you can scroll between different colors. Overall, this flip out receiver is a sure pick. There is one big downside, however. The company doesn’t cover the return shipping cost, which is a bit strange for a manufacturer of this magnitude.
- Premium-quality engineering/materials: built to last
- Comes packed with a handy remote control
- Illuminated volume knob + controls
- Return shipping cost not covered
With Boss Audio, you’ll get top-quality engineering, a fancy illumination system, and a remote controller in the package. The 7-inch display, Bluetooth support, and lightweight design make it an even better deal. Do keep in mind, however, that you’ll have to pay the shipping costs if it fails.
4. Power Acoustik – Best Single Din Car Stereo Flip Out
If you’re a bit nervous about the whole replacement/installation routine, Power Acoustik might be what you’re looking for. It takes almost no effort to mount into the dashboard and get connected. Plus, you’ll get all the necessary bolts, nuts, and brackets for that. More good news: thanks to the company’s clever pricing strategy, PTID is one of the least expensive options on the market. That makes it an attractive pick for a long list of drivers.
Along with that, you can choose between six different configurations (with Bluetooth Certified, an antenna, wire harness, and more). Unfortunately, some customers report issues with quality control and assurance. I’m talking about late deliveries, not-very-safe packaging, and even missing parts. On the bright side, a built-in Card Reader, extra outputs, and extended Bluetooth support make up for that.
- Straightforward installation (can be done in 30 min)
- Lots of different configurations to choose from
- A great pick if you’re on a limited budget
- Minor problems with QA/QC
Power Acoustic might not be the fanciest flip out car stereo unit out there, but it is one of the cheapest ones. Drivers on a budget looking for an affordable device will also like the simple installation process and wide range of different styles/packages. Quality control could be better, of course.
5. Jensen – Best Single Din Flip Out Bluetooth Car Stereo
Is this the best single-din flip-out receiver for your car, or should you just skip it? Well, let’s check the facts. Jensen features one of the most full-fledged and user-friendly radio systems with 30 presets for quick switching. And, it works with a long list of vehicles, both old-gen and brand-new. Add swift, charge-free delivery across the country, and you’ll see why CDR17 is a worthy pick for you.
It looks pretty cool, has a lovely user interface, and supports both USB and Bluetooth. And what about the cons, one might ask? This most significant downside has to do with the build quality. The fuses, electronic components, and the actual stereo aren’t particularly durable or long-lasting. Most devices serve for up to a decade, but there’s still a minor percentage of defective units.
- Full-fledged AM/FM tuner packed with 30 presets
- Easily compatible with a wide range of vehicles
- Fast delivery across the US (charge-free)
- Durability can be an issue
The CDR17 flip-out stereo by Jensen is a keeper in more than one way. It fits a big line-up of modern and older-generation cars, includes a top-notch radio system, and takes very little time to arrive at the customer’s doorstep. Unfortunately, it’s not the most reliable head unit out there.
How to Find the Best Flip Out Head Unit: A Detailed Manual
We all want to get the best bang for our buck when investing in aftermarket car electronics. That’s why it’s so important to know in advance what you’re looking for and what sets a premium device from an average-at-best unit. For a car stereo, the first things to check are the size of the screen, the UI, and the built-in voice control options. Let’s talk about it all in more detail:
- Touchscreen Size. A screen that’s too small or low in quality will give you lots of headaches. For stereos, anything that’s smaller than six inches shouldn’t really be considered. The “golden middle” is 7”, while expensive receivers come packed with 8- and even 10-inch touchscreens. Also, the display should be HD (1280 x 720, AKA 720P). Remember: the higher the resolution, the better for your eyes.
- User Interface/Easy Navigation. There’s nothing worse than a car stereo that takes forever to respond to your commands. This depends on two things: the hardware and the software that runs the system. I’m happy to say that you won’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to get a fast, responsive head unit. As for navigation, look for a UI with big, hard-to-miss icons, quick menus, and frequent free updates.
- Voice Controls. Back in the day, voice controls used to be pretty slow and not at all reliable. These days, they’re super easy to use and bring a lot of value to the car stereo. If the head unit is compatible with Siri or Google’s Assistant, that means you get to use your own voice to interact with the system (play/control music, answer and make calls, and more).
What is the Average Lifespan of a Flip-out Car Stereo Unit?
This technology – built-in stereo receivers – has been around for quite a while, which gave the engineers enough time to perfect it, making it durable and lasting. So, how long should you expect the new in-dash unit to go on for? Well, the average life cycle is 5-6 years, which is pretty decent. According to statistics, people start thinking about replacing the factory head unit after 4-5 years.
On the other hand, there are lots of drivers that prefer to stick with the stock stereo and don’t want to spend money on aftermarket receivers. If that sounds like you, start looking for a flip-out system that can serve for up to a decade. While you probably won’t be able to find a brand that guarantees ten years of service, there are still many devices that work for that long.
However, they do get hit, kicked, and dropped to the floor a lot. If you have limited space in the dashboard, best believe you’ll be “nagging” that stereo more than you’d like to admit. Just make a habit of regularly checking on the mounting gear and the bolts/screws and making sure they’re nice and secure.
How Large Can a Flip out Car Stereo System be?
With head units slash stereos, you always have a choice between three different sizes. These include single-DIN, double-DIN, and 1.5-DIN systems. The 1.5 units aren’t at all popular, and mostly, you’ll see the single- and double-DIN designs. And of these two, single-DIN car stereos are leading the market. One of the main reasons – they’re installed in the vast majority of modern-day vehicles and serve as factory systems.
And remember: single-DINs are always seven inches wide and two inches tall – that’s an international standard. This way, you can be sure that the device will fit your dash easily. In contrast, double-DINs are four-inches-tall (the width is the same) and aren’t as universal in terms of design/fitment. Why would you even consider them, then? Well, they have more built-in features, and the touchscreens are larger.
I’m talking about 10 inches and more. If you’re 100% confident that a double-DIN stereo will easily fit your car, it could be the more preferable choice. As I just mentioned, the average lifespan is pretty solid, so you might want to spend a bit extra but enjoy a higher-quality unit.
What are the Biggest Advantages of a Flip-Out Stereo?
The #1 reason to invest in an aftermarket stereo unit is usability. Versatility is also a big pro. A premium-quality stereo is like a combination of several devices with fast, easy controls and a high-definition touchscreen for swift navigation. If you’re tired of the restrictive built-in radio, lack of voice controls, and low-quality maps in the factory head unit, you’ll definitely love what a third-party flip-out stereo brings to the table.
Bluetooth support, Car Play, and Android Auto, along with remote phone controls are at the heart of a solid stereo. Think of it as an advanced infotainment system that frees your hands and mind. With it, you’ll get to keep hands-on contact to a minimum, which means more safety on the road and a smoother, easier workflow (say, when you’re answering calls while on the road).
Alright, so, by now, we’ve learned about different car stereo sizes, the average life cycle, and the biggest pros. We also discussed some of the most important factors like the size of the display, the UI, and voice-controlled commands. But that’s not it yet! There are still some things that I want you to keep in mind, like ease of installation, pricing, digital and wireless interfaces, and, of course, the feature set.
Every time you buy an aftermarket device, you can either have a mechanic install it (for a hefty check) or try to handle it manually. I’m here to say that even if you don’t know the first thing about using a screwdriver or connecting wires, it is very well possible to replace the factory in-dash unit on your own. You do, however, have to make sure it’s 100% compatible with your vehicle. This is especially true for older-generation cars.
Next, look for a car stereo that’s got a minimum set of wires. The hardest part about the whole installation process is usually removing the stock receiver. So, take your time with it, and check a YouTube video or two for guidance. Some folks are a bit intimidated by the flip-out design, but there’s nothing hard about it. You just place the stereo into the dashboard, get it connected, and control it through the touchscreen.
#2: Pricing + the Package
Thanks to a heated competition on the market, in-dash stereo units aren’t nearly as expensive as they used to be. For example, you can buy a decent-quality system for as cheap as $130-140. While it won’t be the fanciest gadget out there, it will, most definitely, include an HD screen, a decent UI with fast enough software, and even wireless support. Moving up the ladder into the $150-200 category, you can expect more inputs and outputs.
I’m talking about two USBs instead of one, a subwoofer output, and stuff like that. A car stereo that costs $300+ will boast extended connectivity options, more customization features, and overall higher build quality. Finally, receivers in the $450-600 range are on top of the food chain. For this kind of money, drivers will get impeccable audio quality, a bigger screen, a lightning-fast interface, and maybe even a warranty.
#3: Connectivity Options
As I just said, if you want the stereo to support all your favorite connectivity technologies, you’ll have to pay extra for that. Now, the best thing about these devices – they’ll have full USB and Bluetooth support no matter the price tag. However, CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t always a part of the deal, and it is highly recommended to find a stereo with full integration of these mobile apps.
That way, it will only take a second to pair up your Smartphone with the in-dash unit and enjoy all of its perks. SiriusXM and Pandora support would also be right up the alley, but, honestly, these interfaces aren’t as important as the Apple and Android systems. For most people, Bluetooth, and phone integration is all they care about. If you’re just like that, there’s little reason in paying for something you won’t even use.
#4: Extra Features
That doesn’t apply to every single feature, of course. Say, a touchscreen is always better than a display that’s controlled via buttons. Next, voice controls, the push-to-talk system, and a built-in microphone will be appreciated by the average car driver as well. The same goes for a full-fledged EQ (most of us like to play around with different presets) and a responsive user interface.
On the other hand, multi-color illumination and a CD/DVD player won’t be as frequently used (or as important). Yes, ultimately, it’s all about finding a car stereo that has all of your favorite features and is available at an attractive price. Oh, and if you’ve got a rearview camera, make sure there’s an input for it on the receiver!
A sleek touchscreen, enhanced voice controls, lots of different interfaces, and easy phone integration – that’s what you’ll get with a decent-quality flip out car stereo. On top of that, these devices can play CDs and DVDs, easily connect to the backup camera, and shape the sound via EQ. True, some units are pretty expensive, but, as we learned today, there are plenty of excellent car stereos available for cheap.
For example, the Power Acoustik in-dash receiver is quite affordable and takes little effort to install. Jensen, in turn, boasts extended compatibility and speedy deliveries. Boss Audio features a brick-strong body, while Pioneer has a lightning-fast UI and CarPlay + Android Auto support. Finally, fans of big screens will like what Atoto has to offer. What’s your favorite stereo? Share in the comments!