Smartphone Box Brings High-End Features to Low-Cost Cars

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Magellan is best known for its navigation systems, but the tech company’s latest gadget will provide access to connected-car features like Bluetooth and music streaming to cheaper vehicles.

Smartphone Box Brings High-End Features to Low-Cost Cars

Called the Smartphone Box, this computerized component connects to a low-cost in-car display, one that likely doesn’t have premium features baked in. “[It’s] an infotainment system in a little box,” said Mark A. Perini, associate vice president of marketing at Magellan.

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This system gives a driver access to high-end functions like hands-free calling or turn-by-turn directions by tapping into the power of their smartphone, and it does all of this with a lower up-front cost, though at this point pricing has not been announced. However, the company says it will be competitive with other head-unit retrofits. In short, it should be significantly less than what OEMs often charge for navigation systems, which can cost thousands of dollars.

This technology can be used to bring extra features to a vehicle or even bolster the capabilities of the technology that’s already there by adding more memory and processing power. For easy packaging the Smartphone Box is little bigger than a man’s wallet and is designed to be quickly and easily installed in a glove compartment where it’s out of the way.

The Smartphone Box gets hardwired to the screen but it can interact with handsets via Bluetooth. This “makes it very compatible with iOS, Android and Windows,” said Perini. Of course it can also play music through USB or off an SD card. It even supports other connectivity technologies like MySpin, WebLink and MirrorLink, giving the driver the ability to access third-party apps and content.

This technology is a perfect solution for low-cost vehicles and emerging markets where price sensitivity is critical, though Magellan plans to make the Smartphone Box available in all regions of the world. Ideally it would be offered as a dealer-installed upgrade.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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