Tesla owners need this $150 Android-powered CarPlay hack

Android tablet running CarPlay in a Tesla
Android tablet running CarPlay in a Tesla (Image credit: u/euge_lee)

What you need to know

  • Someone wanted to add CarPlay support to their Tesla Model 3 and used an Android tablet to do it.
  • An Amazon Fire 8 Plus was used as a replacement for Tesla's big screen.
  • The whole thing cost around $150.

Elon Musk's Tesla might make some of the most popular electric cars in the world but it still refuses to add a basic feature that owners have been crying out for in recent years. Tesla refuses to add CarPlay support, leaving some to take matters into their own hands. Like using an Android tablet as a workaround, for example.

Yes, you read that right — someone used an Android-powered tablet to get Apple CarPlay to work in their Tesla Model 3.

That someone was Reddit user euge_lee and they shared photos of the finished project for the world to see. They also shared information on how this all came about, with the Amazon Fire 8 Plus tablet powering the entire thing. At just $59, the tablet is no iPad Pro competitor but as an inexpensive way to get CarPlay into an EV, it works surprisingly well.

Alongside that tablet a CarLinkIt dongle was required — $58 for the wireless version direct from China, apparently — while a magnetic mount was also on the shopping list. An OTG USB cable, wireless charger, and Lightning cable rounded out the build.

Set up sounds like it was easier than you might think and there are more details over on Reddit, too. The short version is that the Android tablet connects to the Model 3 via Bluetooth, with an iPhone connected to that tablet wirelessly thanks to the dongle. That connection handles CarPlay data, the interface, and audio.

Tesla Carplay Android Hack Angled

Tesla Carplay Android Hack Angled (Image credit: u/euge_lee)

So, with all the work done and everything up and running, how did the project turn out? For less than $150 all-in, not bad at all!

I love it. I especially like the "floating screen" look in how I have it mounted. The CarPlay works very well, no hiccups or issues so far. All the apps I listed above work as expected and the UI is excellent. I posted a couple years ago about my JL Audio subwoofer installation and this CarPlay upgrade has re-kindled my love for in car entertainment once again.

Apple recently unveiled iOS 16 and a refreshed CarPlay experience while saying that 80% of car buyers won't consider a new vehicle if it doesn't support the feature. Tesla fans clearly device that the lack of CarPlay is a trade-off they're willing to make. But some aren't happy to just live without one of the best iPhone features offered to drivers and want to take matters into their own hands.

Even if it means buying an Android tablet to do it.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.