Pioneer – AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX

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Pioneer now has two double din head units that are CarPlay compatible and feature AppRadio Mode.  Both are very similarly priced and have very similar features….So what’s the difference?

App Radio 4 SPH-DA120
Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120

I decided to make a helpful feature comparison chart to really see what the main differences are between Pioneer’s new AppRadio 4 and their AVH-4000NEX.  Scroll to the bottom of the post to check out the chart.

Pioneer AVH-4000NEX

Here is a summary of the main differences between AppRadio 4 and AVH-4000NEX:

Screen differences – AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX

  • Capacitive vs Resistive
  • 6.2″ vs 7″
  • Fixed screen vs motorized and detachable

Capacitive vs Resistive

The Pioneer AppRadio 4 features a capacitive 6.2″ touch screen while the AVH-4000NEX features a 7″ resistive touch screen.

Capacitive is technically supposed to be brighter and more responsive, especially to lighter touches.  Although the AppRadio 4 features a capacitive touch screen, which would imply it’s just as sensitive and responsive as your new iPhone, I doubt Pioneer is using the same type of quality capacitive touch screen as what’s in your iPhone.

When comparing Pioneer’s AVIC-7000NEX to it’s capacitive sister, the AVIC-8000NEX, most of my customers and staff did not find the capacitive version to be that much more responsive to warrant the additional cost.  Additionally, both myself and consumers have been concerned about glare issues in practical applications.

Take a look at two examples of capacitive touch screens installed in vehicles below.

Alpine iLX-007 installed in dash
Check out the glare reflecting off this capacitive touch screen from Alpine, the iLX-007.

I had recently had a customer exchange his Kenwood DNN991HD (capacitive touch screen) for a Pioneer AVIC-7000NEX.  He was thoroughly annoyed at the glare he encountered and the difficulty he experienced just trying to see the screen.

Kenwood connected to iDatalink Maestro RR in Jeep
Dome light reflecting off Kenwood’s DNN991HD capacitive touch screen in a Jeep Wrangler.

Aside from the style of screen and size, the Pioneer AVH-4000NEX has a motorized screen so you can adjust the angle and how it sits in your dash.  Additionally, it also features the added security benefit of a detachable face.

Feature differences – AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX

When comparing the AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX, it quickly becomes apparent the AVH-4000NEX has a few more features over the AppRadio 4 including the following:

  • CD/DVD Drive
  • SD Card
  • HD Radio
  • SiriusXM Ready (requires SXV200)
  • Navigation Ready (requires AVIC-U260)
  • Dual Zone

Dual zone is a pretty cool feature largely for parents.  It allows you to load a DVD in the front player and have the audio and video of that DVD fed to a rear monitor.  Kids can stay entertained while they listen and watch using headphones while Mom and Dad can listen to another source on their front two speakers.  Pretty cool, right?


Based on features alone, the AVH-4000NEX seems to be a better value.  What do you think?  Take a look at the feature comparison chart below and feel free to weigh in with your own comments and thoughts on the topic.

AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX feature comparison chart

Pioneer AppRadio 4
Pioneer AVH-4000NEX
Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120
Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120
AppRadio4 vs AVH-4000NEX
Pioneer AVH-4000NEX
Screen Size6.2"7"
Type of Touch ScreenCapacitiveResistive
Anti Glare Screen CoatingNoYes
Adjustable AngleNoYes
ResolutionWVGA (800 x 480)WVGA (800 x 480)
Customizable5 Display Colors, 112-Key Colors, 13-Background, Splash Screen5 Display Colors, 112-Key Colors, 13-Background, Splash Screen
Detachable Face for SecurityNoYes
Audio Section
RCA Preouts3 pre outs (4V)3 pre outs (4V)
EQ13 Band13 Band
CrossoverYes - HPF & LPF
Adjustable from 50 Hz- 200 Hz
Slope adjustment -6 dB/oct to -18 dB/oct.
Yes - HPF & LPF
Adjustable from 50 Hz- 200 Hz
Slope adjustment -6 dB/oct to -18 dB/oct.
Time AlignmentYesYes
Source & Expansion Options
Navigation ReadyNoYes - Requires AVIC-U260
SD CardNoYes
USBDual Rear USB PortsDual Rear USB Ports
Rear Aux inYesYes
Satellite RadioNo - N/AYes - Requires SXV200
Dual ZoneNoYes - Awesome feature for parents.
Allows audio and video of a DVD from front source to be routed to rear monitor. Kids can listen on headphones while parents can listen to another source on front speakers.
HDMI inputYesYes
CD/DVDNo - MechlessYes
HD RadioNoYes
AM/FM Tuner with RDSYesYes
Steering Wheel Control ReadyYesYes
Reverse Camera InputYesYes
Phone App Integration
CarPlay CompatibleYes - iPhone 5 & upYes - iPhone 5 & up
AppRadio Mode for iPhone 4/4sYes - Requires CD-IU201SYes - Requires CD-IU201S
AppRadio Mode for iPhone 5 & upYes - Requires CD-IH202, Apple Lightning to Digital AV Adapter & Apple Lightning to USB CableYes - Requires CD-IH202, Apple Lightning to Digital AV Adapter & Apple Lightning to USB Cable
AppRadio Mode for AndroidYes - Requires CD-AH200, compatible with select Android Devices.Yes - Requires CD-AH200, compatible with select Android Devices.

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  1. Hey! Great review and thanks for all of your demos and advice! Well respected and great points!!!
    My partner and I are both Apple users.
    I was leaning towards getting the 4000NEX with its compatability but am now tossing up with the Alpine ICS-X8 for its awesome features, and figured Siri Eyes Free is much the same. I love the look of the alpine but am wondering if you have any idea if Alpine might be releasing a firmware upgrade to provide CarPlay in models like the ICS?

    • Hi Chuke,
      I doubt Alpine has any plans for software updates to add CarPlay (like Pioneer has done). In fact, the ICS-X8 is a carryover model which means they probably made too many and will continue to carry it over until they run out. I don’t think it’s one of Alpine’s top sellers.

      It would have been if Mirrorlink ever took off, but Mirrorlink has been a total flop due to poor support from phone manufacturers. Mirrorlink and CarPlay are two COMPLETELY different things. Mirrorlink is really for Android devices and most of them (if you use a Samsung phone which in my experience is most Android users) requires the use of the Samsung Drivelink app which totally sucks and crashes before it ever really opens up. If you were a Samsung user looking at this stereo, I’d say wait for Android Auto to come out. But since you’re an iPhone person stick to CarPlay compatible options.

      The ICS-X8 is an overpriced head unit. In the US this stereo costs MORE than the iLX-007 or AVH-4000NEX and has less to offer. I don’t know how pricing is in Europe. Just understand the ICS-X8 will not ever display or allow you to control Apple Maps or any other popular apps (other than Aha or Pandora). I hope that helps!

  2. Thank you for this review. I have been looking at both of these and i can’t decide on which one to get. I really like the look of the screen on the app radio with the rounded corners and glass face but I wish it had dual zone, an sd card slot and a DVD player like the 4000nex.

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