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Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: great, but fragile aftermarket solution

Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: a big display for CarPlay

Atoto S8 Pro

2.5 / 5

The Atoto S8 Pro is an aftermarket infotainment system with wireless CarPlay, GPS tracking, and a pile of other features in a design with a serious weak point.

Sometimes, products come to the market built to do a single, specific thing well. The Atoto S8 Pro is decidedly not that product, but it is an excellent Wireless CarPlay receiver you'll need to take extra care with when installing.

My personal use case only needs CarPlay, but I've tested the other aspects of the Atoto S8 Pro for the review. There's a fully operational Android skin running on this unit, and that includes a YouTube app, native music app, and apps in the Google Play Store.

Atoto seems to have gone all out on features, and more will be released in future updates. My biggest complaint so far is the archaic nature of updating the firmware, which resulted in the destruction of my initial review unit.

I installed the unit in my 2016 Honda HR-V with an additional dash kit. It fits the dash well, even with the very large touch display.

Atoto S8 Pro Wireless Carplay receiver review: Design

The Atoto S8 Pro is a double-din unit with a large 10-inch display. There's not much to the unit itself since most of the device is hidden inside the dash.

A close up image of the Messages icon on the Atoto S8 Pro display
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: The big bright display has enough resolution that CarPlay icons look crisp

Unlike other car stereos with displays, the display isn't integrated with the actual head unit. Instead, it is mounted via a mounting block attached to a periscoping neck so the monitor is floating in front of the dash.

The display is large but not too big for our vehicle. Some cars may have issues with the protruding monitor as it could overlap controls, vents, or other items. Be sure to check measurements and compatibility before buying.

A close up shot of the buttons on the Atoto S8 Pro
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: physical buttons are a must for safety

Some CarPlay units, factory or aftermarket, attempt to eschew physical controls altogether, but thankfully the Atoto S8 Pro does not. The presence of physical buttons for volume, mute, home, and track skipping makes it easy to control media without looking.

Atoto S8 Pro Wireless Carplay receiver review: Installation

Installing the Atoto S8 Pro wasn't much different than any other car stereo. However, you'll want to get it professionally installed or help from a friend if you're unfamiliar with the process.

The Atoto S8 Pro with cables, scissors, tape, and miscellaneous electronic items on a wooden surface.
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: wiring up the connection kit ahead of installation

After getting the wires attached to the harness, I noticed there was a bundle still disconnected in the dash. This appeared to be for the steering wheel, which Atoto does have wires for, but I ignored them for the initial installation as those wires weren't labeled and would be a lengthy job.

The dash kit and everything attached without issue (purchased separately). Note that the display has different angle and height settings that should be set before screwing in everything.

In order to test the latest features, I had to install a firmware update. To install that update, I needed a FAT32 SD card with an installation file, which goes into a slot behind the dash.

The Atoto S8 Pro on the dash of a car with cables out and tools around for installation.
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: Installation was straightforward

I didn't realize this until after the device was installed. The dash kit I ordered obscured the SD card slot, so I had to pull the unit back out to insert a card for the update.

However, things went terribly wrong.

A single failure point

There are a few things to note about the Atoto S8 Pro. It has a periscoping monitor attached via a few screws and a ribbon cable — all obscured after installation.

Reaching behind the unit and blindly unscrewing different screws wasn't ideal. Also, my dash can't be removed while the monitor is installed, so it was necessary to do this in this order.

I believed I unscrewed the necessary mounting screws for the monitor's bracket, but I had left one crucial screw in, hidden behind the monitor. When I went to pull the monitor out, the unit came free from the bracket, and I ripped the ribbon cable from the mounting plate.

A detached ribbon cable next to a mounting plate
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: the ribbon was attached to the mounting plate with glue


After contacting Atoto, they sent me another unit to complete the review. I carefully installed the unit and ensured there was a gap for accessing the SD card even with the monitor on.

I'll admit this was my mistake, but one anyone could make. It should not be that easy to accidentally rip the monitor free from its mounting bracket.

Three screws are visible behind the Atoto S8 Pro monitor
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: All three of these screws needed to be removed

The screws that disconnect the monitor from the mounting bracket are too easily accessible while the monitor is mounted. Plus, the screws are right next to the ones you actually have to remove, adding to the confusion.

If you can install the Atoto S8 Pro without mishap, it is an excellent CarPlay unit. However, I have to ding the overall score for how easy it is to damage inadvertently.

Screws visible behind the Atoto S8 Pro monitor for adjusting height and angle
Remove the right screw to adjust angle, left screw to adjust height, both to destroy the unit

Atoto S8 Pro Wireless Carplay receiver review: Features

The Atoto S8 Pro has a 12nm ARM Cortex Octa-Core processor to keep things running smoothly on the 10-inch 1280 by 720 display. It is an LCD with a QLED backlight for improved color.

There are two Bluetooth radios, one 5.0 for device connection and 4.1 for tethering internet only. A dedicated SIM slot enables paid internet and GPS access, but that's not needed if you're relying on CarPlay.

Behind the monitor an SD card slot and USB-A port are visible
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: SD card slot and USB-A for media or updates

Add media like video and music files via an SD card slot or USB-A port. Internet tethering also works over the USB-A port.

I was also able to test the Atoto backup camera, which is required since my Honda's backup camera won't work with an aftermarket unit. It has a unique feature where it tries to build a top-down view while backing up, which can come in handy in tight squeezes.

Like other infotainment systems, the Atoto S8 Pro runs on Android. Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto both appear via a Car Link app.

A view of the apps available on the Atoto S8 Pro. Google apps are intermixed with car-related apps.
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: Full Android is running beneath CarPlay

Rather than being a simple CarPlay launcher, Atoto opens up the system for more Android features. There are a handful of preinstalled apps like YouTube, plus the Google Play Store.

You'll need an internet connection to take advantage of the apps, so either tether your iPhone internet or insert a SIM card. The same goes for GPS features like Speed Compensated Volume Control, which raises volume at speeds over 50mph based on GPS positioning.

YouTube works fine, but you certainly shouldn't be using it unless the car is in park. I wish that the video stopped automatically when the car was in motion, but that's a setting that is off by default and is user-toggled.

This is an AppleInsider review, so I won't dwell on the Android side of the unit. The following options exist but are totally optional and do not affect CarPlay.


Well, I say available, but after updating the Atoto S8, the TrackHU app didn't appear. But here's what the app does if you're able to get it installed and working.

The Atoto S8 Pro next to an Android smartphone showing the TrackHU app
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: TrackHU is an optional car tracking app

TrackHU is a car tracking service that connects over GPS via an installed SIM card. It is able to refresh the vehicle's location every 15 seconds.

There are pros and cons to this system. It's accurate and helps keep an eye on your vehicle, especially in the event that it is stolen.

However, if the S8 Pro is turned off, there's no GPS tracking.

Since I couldn't get the app working, I stuck with my preferred tracking method: an AirTag. I have one stuck in an obscure location on the vehicle, and it'll work whether the car is on or not.

ChatGPT in cars with Drivechat

If you're the kind of person who would find ChatGPT in cars useful, then Atoto has a solution with DriveChat. Version 1.5 is available now, and there are plans to introduce more advanced systems later.

The short video, which humorously transcribes Elon Musk as "Ellen Musk," doesn't really say what is possible with DriveChat, and Atoto's website isn't much help either. It seems the goal is to have the chatbot provide answers to travel inquiries, but it isn't clear if it can act on information and open apps like Siri.

I'm not sold on the idea, but it's there if you want it. Thankfully, it's very optional.

My luck isn't on my side for the Atoto S8. The DriveChat app appeared after I installed the necessary update, but it opens to a blank screen so something is broken for now.

Since I didn't get to try the feature, it won't affect my review score. Atoto assures me that DriveChat 2.0 will be ready for prime time, so if you're interested in trying the feature, that's the update to watch out for.

Using the Atoto S8 Pro Wireless Carplay receiver

Once you're in your car and your iPhone has paired with the Atoto S8 Pro, it's just CarPlay all the way down. If you've used CarPlay in the past, there's nothing surprising here.

CarPlay with Apple Maps open to Apple Park on the Atoto monitor
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: an excellent CarPlay experience

However, there are some tricks to getting everything going, especially if you share your vehicle. Wireless CarPlay relies on a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and it is very clingy with this unit.

If your partner was previously connected to CarPlay and you want to connect, you'll have to have them toggle Wi-Fi off while tapping your device name in the Atoto Phone app's Bluetooth menu. Yes, that's as convoluted as it sounds.

After getting the correct device to connect, you select the device link app. It says it should automatically launch when the device connects, but that hasn't been the case in my experience.

CarPlay showing Apple Music in full screen mode with 'Chosen to Deserve' playing
Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver review: the large touch display works great with CarPlay

If you open the device link app too soon, you'll see a connection loading screen. This connection process can take several seconds at times.

Once connected, it's smooth sailing from there. CarPlay runs as it should, and the touch screen is responsive to taps.

One notable problem with the unit is the lack of automatic brightness adjustment. If you want the display to be dimmer or brighter, you exit CarPlay back to Android, tap a sun icon at the top of the display to cycle between four presets, then go back to CarPlay.

I'll also note that the audio mixing is rather opinionated with the Atoto unit. You'll want to spend some time in the Android equalizer app to make sure you've got the right sound.

Wireless CarPlay and much more

I've owned vehicles with built-in CarPlay and used aftermarket solutions before. The Atoto S8 Pro has been one of the more stable units I've owned.

There is a mile of special features included in the Atoto S8 Pro. If those interest you, then you'll likely be happy with this unit.

I love the large, responsive display, but I'm certain there are more price-friendly options for those looking for units without the bells and whistles. However, if you do get the Atoto S8 Pro, you'll have a working unit with few complaints — if you don't break it.

Atoto S8 Pro Wireless Carplay receiver review — pros

  • Big vibrant display
  • Responsive and accepts multi-touch gestures
  • Physical buttons keep controls simple
  • Multiple angles and height levels available
  • Entire Android device available outside of CarPlay with more features coming

Atoto S8 Pro Wireless Carplay receiver review — cons

  • Easily damaged
  • Non-intuitive pairing method at setup
  • Features like DriveGPT and TrackHU are missing despite being in the product description, even after an update
  • No over the air updates
  • Access to included SD card slot for firmware updates not possible without disassembly for some dash configurations
  • Display brightness isn't automatic and only available by exiting CarPlay

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

The Atoto S8 Pro sets out to do everything a user might want to accomplish from the driver's seat and then some. The single failure point drops the score significantly.

It's a good unit with a great display that serves up near-flawless Wireless CarPlay, but there are likely lower-priced models available if your only goal is access to Wireless CarPlay.

Where to buy the Atoto S8 Pro Wireless CarPlay receiver

Atoto sells the S8 Pro on Amazon for $479, but there's a $45 coupon available. Also, use code 6MT8VXDO for an additional 5% off.

Check out the full Atoto S8 series to find the perfect unit for your vehicle.