So, you’re probably wondering why we’re talking about this when practically almost everyone is using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Well, there are many older cars that don’t have the capability and tech that allows for that. But what about replacing the car’s headunit with an aftermarket one that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto? That’s just too costly for some folks, and if it’s a car that isn’t too hot, I think it wouldn’t be all that worth the hundreds of dollars.
For those that want Bluetooth capability to stream/play music, podcasts, phone calls, etc. while on a budget or just don’t feel like spending hundreds of dollars on a headunit, the Anker ROAV SmartCharge F0 might be worth checking out. Coming in at under $20, the ROAV SmartCharge provides full Bluetooth compatibility and doubles as a charging port for your phone and your passenger’s. I personally got the SmartCharge F0 for the Bluetooth compatibility to use in my car. As a college student with an older car, I opted for this after using a cassette converter as smartphones began eliminating audio ports. Also, if you’re wondering how the ROAV SmartCharge works, it is essentially an FM transmitter that emits FM radio waves for your vehicle’s radio to receive. So essentially, you would connect your phone to the SmartCharge via Bluetooth then connect your car radio to the SmartCharge via an FM frequency. It receives power via a standard cigarette socket.
Having used the SmartCharge F0 for a few years now, I think it made a good run for the money as I was mostly interested in playing my music wirelessly. I’ve never had a problem with the device itself; it basically did what was advertised and did it well. Sound produced was mostly clear, but was quieter than usual as with a cassette converter or normal radio. The only thing I disliked was that it did not have a dedicated power on/off button; on the F0, the call button has to be pressed and held for a few seconds before it turns off. The newer, updated and improved version, which you can find here, has a dedicated power button, Bluetooth 5.0, Type-C charging port, and noise cancellation which is quite an upgrade from the F0 that I’ve been using. For the average consumer that is looking for a slight and simple upgrade with Bluetooth for an older car, this does the job well. Pairing with your phone can sometimes take a while but otherwise it turns on at the start of the car.
If you’re just looking to have Bluetooth capability added to your car without spending hundreds of dollars, the SmartCharge is worth taking a look at. There also is another model that has a dedicated app and can even locate your car in case you’ve forgotten where it’s parked.
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