Aftermarket Tesla-Style CarPlay vs. Factory Infotainment Systems: What's the Difference?

Aftermarket Tesla-Style CarPlay vs. Factory Infotainment Systems: What's the Difference?

Car infotainment systems have come a long way from basic radios and cassette players. Today's in-dash systems offer a range of features, from navigation and music streaming to hands-free calling and voice assistants. But with two main options vying for your attention - Tesla-style CarPlay systems and traditional factory-installed infotainment systems - choosing the right one can be tricky. Let's delve into the key differences to help you navigate this technological crossroads when it comes to aftermarket carplay vs factory infotainment systems.

Defining the Contenders

What is Tesla-Style CarPlay?

Tesla-style CarPlay systems are aftermarket in-dash units inspired by the intuitive design and functionality found in Tesla vehicles. These standalone systems offer a dedicated touchscreen interface, often larger than factory displays, and prioritize seamless smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. This aftermarket carplay vs factory infotainment system debate has been a hot topic for car enthusiasts.

What are Traditional Infotainment Systems?

Traditional infotainment systems come pre-installed in most new cars from the manufacturer. They typically offer basic navigation, audio control, and hands-free calling functionalities. While some offer app integration, the options and user interface may be limited compared to Tesla-style CarPlay systems. Choosing between aftermarket carplay vs factory infotainment systems can be tough!

Key Differences Between Tesla-Style CarPlay and Traditional Infotainment Systems

Screen Size and User Interface:

✓ Tesla-style CarPlay

Boasts larger, high-resolution touchscreens with a sleek, modern design. The user interface is often customizable and app-centric, making the aftermarket carplay vs factory decision a matter of preference for some drivers.

✓ Traditional Infotainment Systems

Screens tend to be smaller with a focus on physical buttons and knobs. Interfaces may be less intuitive and more menu-driven, which can be a drawback compared to the user-friendly interfaces of aftermarket carplay systems.

Connectivity and Integration:

✓ Tesla-style CarPlay

Seamlessly integrates with your smartphone through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, unlocking a vast array of apps and features, making aftermarket carplay a clear winner for smartphone users.

✓ Traditional Infotainment Systems

Connectivity options may be limited to Bluetooth or USB for basic music playback and phone calls. App integration, if available, might be restricted to the manufacturer's approved selection, offering less versatility compared to aftermarket carplay systems.

Customization and Personalization:

✓ Tesla-style CarPlay

Allows for extensive customization of the home screen layout, app placement, and even background themes, letting you tailor the system to your preferences for a truly personalized driving experience. This is a major advantage of aftermarket carplay systems over factory-installed units.

✓Traditional Infotainment Systems

Customization options are typically limited, if available at all. You're stuck with the manufacturer's interface, which can feel restrictive compared to the personalization options offered by aftermarket carplay systems.

Software Updates and Features:

✓ Tesla-Style CarPlay

Software updates are often readily available through the connected smartphone, ensuring access to the latest features and bug fixes. This keeps your aftermarket carplay system up-to-date with the newest technology.

✓ Traditional Infotainment Systems

Updates may be infrequent or require dealer visits, potentially leaving you with outdated software and features compared to what aftermarket carplay systems can offer.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Tesla-Style Carplay

✓ Advanced Technology

Larger screens, intuitive interfaces, and app integration provide a superior user experience.

✓ Superior Features

Access to a wider range of navigation, entertainment, and communication features through your smartphone apps.

✓ Customization Options

Tailor the system to your preferences for a personalized driving experience.

Disadvantages of Tesla-Style Carplay

Compatibility Issues

Ensure your car model is compatible with the chosen Tesla-style CarPlay system before investing in one.


Aftermarket installation can be more expensive than a factory-installed system.

Advantages of Traditional Infotainment Systems

✓ Reliability

Factory-installed systems are designed specifically for your car model, potentially offering higher reliability.

✓ Simplicity

Less complex user interface may be easier to navigate for those less comfortable with technology.

✓ No Smartphone Connection Required

Functions independently without relying on a smartphone connection.

Disadvantages of Traditional Infotainment Systems

• Outdated Technology

Screens may be smaller and lack the resolution of Tesla-style CarPlay systems.

• Limited App Compatibility

May offer limited app integration or outdated versions compared to smartphone apps.

• Fewer Updates

Software updates may be infrequent, leaving you with outdated features.

Choosing the Right System for Your Needs

Considerations for Tesla-Style CarPlay

• Tech Savvy

If you prioritize advanced features, customization options, and a smartphone-centric experience, Tesla-style CarPlay might be the perfect fit.

• Vehicle Compatibility

Ensure your car model is compatible with the chosen system and consider

• Professional Installation

While some aftermarket carplay systems are designed for self-installation, consulting a professional installer can ensure a seamless integration and avoid potential complications. This is an important factor to consider in the aftermarket carplay vs factory debate, especially for complex systems.

Considerations for Traditional Infotainment Systems

• Budget

Factory-installed systems are typically included in the car's base price or offered as an upgrade package. Aftermarket carplay systems require an upfront investment for the unit itself and potentially installation fees. Consider your budget when navigating the aftermarket carplay vs factory decision.

• Feature Needs

Evaluate your priorities. If basic navigation, audio control, and hands-free calling suffice, a traditional system might be adequate. However, if you crave a feature-rich experience with extensive customization and smartphone connectivity, then aftermarket carplay becomes a more compelling option.

The Future of Car Infotainment Systems

✓ Trends and Innovations

We might see a convergence of Tesla-style and traditional systems, offering the best of both worlds: larger, customizable screens seamlessly integrated with advanced voice assistants and AI-powered features. Additionally, new entrants in the market could disrupt the landscape, offering innovative solutions that prioritize safety, connectivity, and a truly personalized driving experience.

✓ The Role of AI and Automation

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are poised to play a significant role in the evolution of car infotainment systems. Imagine voice assistants that learn your preferences and proactively suggest navigation routes, music playlists, or even nearby restaurants based on your schedule and location. Furthermore, integration with autonomous driving technologies could transform car infotainment into a hub for entertainment, work, or relaxation during commutes.


1. Can I upgrade my traditional system to a Tesla-style CarPlay system?

In many cases, yes! The possibility depends on your car model and the availability of compatible aftermarket Tesla-style CarPlay systems. Always consult a reputable car audio specialist to confirm compatibility and discuss installation options. This is an important step to consider before diving into the aftermarket carplay vs factory debate.

2. Are Tesla-style CarPlay systems more expensive than traditional ones?

Generally, yes. Aftermarket Tesla-style CarPlay systems incur the cost of the unit itself and potentially professional installation fees. Traditional systems are typically included in the car's base price or offered as an upgrade package.

3. Which system is better for older cars?

Tesla-style CarPlay systems can breathe new life into older cars by providing a modern infotainment experience. However, ensure compatibility before purchasing. For very old cars, a traditional system replacement might be a simpler option, depending on availability and technical feasibility.

4. How do I know if my device is compatible with these systems?

Consult the user manuals or websites of the specific Tesla-style CarPlay system you're considering. Most manufacturers provide detailed compatibility information, including car models and smartphone operating systems.


Choosing between Tesla-style CarPlay and traditional infotainment systems depends on your individual needs and preferences. Consider your tech-savviness, budget, and desired features. Whichever system you choose, the future of car infotainment promises an exciting journey towards a more connected, personalized, and potentially autonomous driving experience.

We invite you to share your thoughts! Have you experienced Tesla-style CarPlay systems? Do you prefer the simplicity of traditional systems? Leave a comment in the section below and be part of the conversation!

Looking for more ways to enhance your car's technology? Explore our website for articles on the latest car gadgets, driving apps, and upcoming trends in the automotive technology industry. Stay informed and inspired to transform your car into a rolling hub of comfort, convenience, and connectivity!