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Category: BMW Models

Upgrading the BMW X5 - All you need to know

Bianka Rommel

Oct 20, 2020

Upgrading the BMW X5 - All you need to know

The X5 has always been considered one of the most luxurious BMW models, and that didn’t change with the third-generation BMW F15. However, as the fourth-generation X5 appeared on the roads in late 2018, its predecessor has started to get on in years, especially in terms of the latest in-car technology.

What can you do to get a breath of fresh air for your BMW X5 then? Is it necessary for you to upgrade to the latest BMW X5 G05 or X6 G06 model, or is it possible to retrofit your beloved F15?

To help you make your decision, we take a closer look at the X5 Series SUV F15, explain what you can expect as its owner and what steps you should take to revitalize the vehicle. BimmerTech has a wide range of retrofits for BMW F15, such as 6WB Digital Cluster, Apple CarPlay, navigation retrofit, car audio upgrades and a host of others - because of that it is very easy to sign yourself up for a spectacular vehicle upgrade. 


Which BMW is the X5?

Keeping it simple. BMW uses many overlapping terms to name its vehicles - BMW X5, BMW F15, SUV F15 - which may get confusing after a while. So, to get things straight, BMW X5 is a family of BMW’s luxury SUV cars manufactured by the company since 1999. It is nestled above four smaller SUVs, ranking alongside its model mate, the X6.

The F15 on the other hand, is an internal model code used specifically for the third-generation X5 SUV produced in the years 2013 - 2018. And it is this code that separates the third-generation X5 from other BMW generations, such as BMW E53, BMW E70 or BMW G05. 

As for the engines, BMW X5 models include both petrol and diesel ones. Among others there are xDrive40i, xDrive50i, xDrive35i, xDrive25d or M50d.

What is the technology package on BMW X5

Although the newest BMW X5 (G05) and X6 (G06) are more advanced in terms of in-car technology, the Technology Package could easily jazz up your X5. So if you are a tech-freak and having the latest technological bells installed in BMW F15 is of the highest importance to you, check out the Technology Package, a lot of which is available to retrofit with BimmerTech. 

The Technology Package includes:

  • Remote Services: Lock and unlock your doors, activate the horn and more remotely from your smartphone.
  • Advanced Real-Time Traffic Information: Get traffic updates through the iDrive navigation system, helping you avoid jams.
  • Navigation system: The full BMW navigation system, including larger iDrive screen.
  • BMW Apps & BMW Online: Access Facebook, Twitter, news and other online content through your iDrive.
  • Head-up display: See vital driving information projected onto the bottom part of the windshield for easier viewing.
  • Instrument cluster with extended contents: The 6WB digital cluster, featuring a digital panel with vehicle information.

What is not sold as a part of a Technology Package but does come as a standalone option is Enhanced Bluetooth (S6NSA). It provides support for smartphone integration, which makes it possible for you to browse your phone's music library over Bluetooth, pair two phones and check your texts, emails and calendar events on the iDrive screen using BMW's Mobile Office feature.

Those whose vehicles do not already include the option for smartphone integration can activate Enhanced Bluetooth in their BMW F15 with BimmerTech's remote iDrive coding. Contact us to get more information or check out what BMW Enhanced Bluetooth

BMW X5 key fob

Each model of BMW is compatible with a different type of remote key fob. It comes pre-programmed by BMW itself, so it doesn’t require any further programming from the owner - the only thing you have to remember is to follow a few simple instructions to get it activated.

How to change X5 key battery

In case you are the owner of an F15 without Comfort Access, keep in mind that standard key fobs come with non-rechargeable batteries lasting up to three years. It might then be high time for you to change it, especially if you’ve noticed your remote range has gotten worse or entirely stopped working.

You can check out how to take apart BMW X5 key fob  and replace its battery in this video.

Replacing the battery is quick and simple. Just remove the internal key blade - it’ll expose a small hole behind the plastic back plate of the fob. Then, leverage the back plate with a key blade and there you have it; quick access to the CR 2450 battery.

How to get a new BMW key

Unfortunately, there are times when changing your battery won’t help at all. It might be the sign of a faulty or broken key fob, which simply needs replacement. In that case the only option for changing it is getting a new original BMW key fob.

Discover how to replace you BMW remote key fob

For security purposes, BMW pre-programs all F15 key fobs to match your exact vehicle, thus precluding the usage of any second-hand fobs. With that measure, the company aims to prevent thieves from gaining unauthorised access to your vehicle. The original BMW F15 replacement key fobs offered by BimmerTech ensure the best quality and proper functioning with your car. Fobs are available with or without the laser cut key blade.

How to program X5 key fob

If you already got access to your replacement X5 F15 key fob and want to pair it with your BMW, it’ll be vital for you to activate the fob first.

The process takes only a few steps. After unlocking your vehicle with your existing key, set the key down away from your car, hold the new fob against the key markings on the side of the steering column and hold the start/stop button until the 'no key' warning light disappears. Pressing the start/stop button again will confirm the pairing worked.

How to close BMW windows with remote

What the BMW F15 key fob can do is not limited to locking and unlocking doors. The fob also allows you to remotely control windows and sunroof;  all you have to do is press and hold the lock and unlock buttons on your key fob to roll the windows up and down.

This feature however may not be available for your market. So, if you can’t operate your vehicle’s windows by pressing the key fob’s button just activate this option through coding provided by BimmerTech.

BMW X5 retrofit

BMW X5 coding

Remote window control isn't all coding can do for your F15. You also have the chance to change several aspects of your iDrive via coding, which make your vehicle more suitable to your needs.  

How to code your BMW X5

iDrive Coding by BimmerTech is the simplest way to code your BMW F15. There are two possible coding methods depending on your car: coding via cable or via USB.

Coding via cable allows you to have a remote coding session for your F15 with our expert technician. To start it, just connect your laptop to the BMW’s OBD port with an ENET cable. Cable coding may be required for some vehicles without  high-end technology or navigation options. 

On the other hand, F15s from 2014 - 2016 are usually supported by NBT or NBT Evo ID5/ID6 head units, which means that coding via USB would be the preferable option for them. 

There is no other more convenient coding process available for vehicles than coding through USB. It lets you have a coding session whenever you want simply by plugging a thumb drive into your vehicle's USB port. In a matter of minutes, your BMW’s chosen software features will be updated and good to go.

Learn  more about BimmerTech’s Easy iDrive Coding for BMWs

Each of those methods will let you update BMW X5 software at any time you want, without ever leaving the house.

What things can you code on a BMW X5?

While coding your BMW X5 you have plenty of features to choose from. The popular ones include:

  • Video in Motion: Keep your passengers comfortable and let them watch videos on the road (learn more about Video in Motion for BMW).
  • Legal Disclaimer Deactivation: Turn off the safety warning that’s displayed when starting your vehicle.
  • Enhanced Bluetooth: Use a wide range of your smartphone features by pairing it with your BMW F15 (learn more about Enhanced Bluetooth for BMW).
  • RDC Safety: Keep an eye on your tire pressure displayed on the iDrive screen.

Coding options available to your BMW are fully determined by your exact vehicle configuration and iDrive head unit version. To check the possibilities for your car enter your VIN number on BimmerTech’s BMW iDrive coding page.

BMW X5 Apple CarPlay

When fine-tuning your iDrive settings you can additionally use coding for unlocking third-party services, such as SiriusXM satellite radio for BMW or BMW’s wireless Apple CarPlay. It’s especially important for those who wouldn’t even consider getting a new vehicle without the latest in-car multimedia hub; fortunately, the right BMW X5 CarPlay retrofit is a great way to modernize your older vehicle. 

How to add CarPlay to BMW X5

If your F15 was built after 2017 it’ll most likely include the NBT Evo ID5/6 head unit that’s already prepared for CarPlay, just as any other car with the CarPlay Preparation (S6CPA) option. 


No luck? Find out how to retrofit CarPlay in an older BMW

Activating Apple CarPlay in your BMW is in this situation an easy coding process. All you need to do is to attach a WiFi antenna, enabling the connection between the iPhone and your vehicle. Doing so, all of your phone’s popular navigation, music and messaging apps will be displayed on your iDrive screen in less than an hour, without the need to make any physical changes to your BMW.

In case you own an F15 that does not allow for activation of the BMW-original CarPlay, you can get BimmerTech’s compatible product - CarPlay MMI Prime retrofit. This hardware upgrade was developed to add support for CarPlay and Android Auto. Contrary to factory CarPlay, CarPlay MMI Prime connects to your iPhone via Apple white cable or an included wireless antenna, hence doesn’t need any factory-original WiFi antenna. Furthermore, our product’s interface is displayed full-screen by default, unlike the factory CarPlay, which displays its interface in split-screen. Learn which CarPlay option is compatible with your F15.

Are you or your family using Android phones? No problem. Our Carplay MMI Prime comes with Android Auto, making it simple to add Android Auto to your BMW.

How to watch Netflix in a BMW X5

Speaking of versatility, CarPlay MMI Prime is indeed unbeatable, but one thing it can’t provide to BMW X5 owners is access to VOD platforms. This feature is exclusively available with our SmartView HD Apple TVs. 

If you want to play movies for your passengers while driving and be able to screen mirror your iOS device, SmartView HD Apple TV3 and SmartView HD Apple TV4 are the products to take a closer look at. They both allow you to stream films from Netflix, Hulu, HBO and other popular VOD platforms, with Apple TV4 offering an even broader range of apps.

See what you can do with BimmerTech’s screen mirroring devices.

BMW X5 Backup Camera retrofit

Backup cameras can make parking a quick and seamless experience. No wonder then they've become standard equipment in all new vehicles in the US and Canada manufactured since 2018. However, if your car comes from before that period, it might be missing one.  

Fortunately, BimmerTech makes it possible to add an aftermarket BMW X5 rear view camera retrofit to your vehicle and allows you to choose an option that suits you best. There are three camera models available for X5 F15 - MMI, OEM Integration and OEM. Each one mounts the camera discreetly in the trunk handle and uses the factory dashboard screen to display the image from the camera.

  MMI OEM Integration OEM
Manufacturer BimmerTech BimmerTech BMW OEM
Camera mode Full screen Native (with PDC view)* Native (with PDC view)
Requirements Factory screen Navigation Professional Navigation Professional + PDC
Coding Not required Required Required
Installation time 3-4 hours 3-4 hours 3-4 hours
Compatible add-ons SmartView HD AT3/ATV4, SmartView HD Flex, Front View Camera, PDC PDC Obstacle marking (included), Trailer hitch mode (included), Surround view

*PDC is not included as part of the kit.

There are plenty of reasons to have a backup camera, but if you’re still not sure which camera is the best for your X5 enter your VIN on our BMW Rear View Camera retrofit page. You’ll get to explore all options that could be compatible with your vehicle.

BMW X5 navigation retrofit

If you feel like your iDrive is long in the tooth, there are still few hardware and software changes you can implement to match your F15 to the latest vehicles.

How to update BMW iDrive navigation

iDrive head unit is your key place to start if you’re trying to acquire all the latest features for your F15. Changing an aging or more basic iDrive version for first-rate hardware will instantly provide you with a wide spectrum of new features and a sleek, modern interface.

Learn more about BMW X5 head unit upgrade

The first step you ought to take while preparing for an upgrade is to find out which BMW iDrive version you have and learn what additional features the latest head unit for BMW F15 NBT EVO ID6  has to offer.  

F15s of older manufacturing age used to come with an NBT head unit as the premium option, yet since 2016, a superior NBT Evo iDrive has replaced them. Therefore, your upgrade to NBT Evo ID6 highly depends on which iDrive head unit you currently have in your F15.

If you’d like to retrofit an NBT Evo ID5/6 head unit in your BMW or learn more about the upgrade process, get in touch with us

How to update BMW X5 navigation maps

If you search for a simpler way to keep your X5 from falling behind, the easiest option for you would be to update the BMW navigation maps. As BMW is regular in adding new roads and points of interest, the company suggests to update your maps to the latest version every 6 months.

Updating is simple; the only thing you should do is to upload the latest map data to your vehicle through the USB port and enter an authorization code from BMW. Map data and activation code are both available in BimmerTech’s BMW Navigation Maps Update.

Retrofit 6WB Digital Cluster in X5 

Want to boost the looks of your beloved car? BMW's 6WB digital cluster is something you should consider then. It is a fully digitalized instrument panel, that comes with a digital speedometer, navigation directions, display of oil temperature and other gauges. Plus, it is available from the factory for most F15s.  

Apart from being very eye-catching, it also helps with getting important information while driving. It can be customized to display the data you're most interested in and thanks to its clear, illuminated screen you can easily see all of the info at any time of the day.

Want to be instantly updated on how fast you’re driving? Replace the needle dial with a numeric display and get to know your speed in the blink of an eye.

Learn more about BMW's 6WB digital cluster.

Thanks to BimmerTech it will be very easy for you to retrofit a 6WB digital cluster in your BMW X5. Take a look at the video and see how fast you can install it at home.


BMW X5 sound system upgrade

In order to achieve the ultimate audio experience, many people are looking towards an upgrade of their BMW F15 stereo that comes with replacement speakers for BMW or an aftermarket amplifier. The vehicle audio retrofit when done properly can release mesmerising sounds often compared to the premium Harman Kardon sound systems found in many BMWs and, importantly, doesn’t have to be a difficult job.

BMW X5 audio upgrade

BimmerTech’s car audio reputation was established on the basis of theAlpha One Amplifier, the world’s first high-standard replacement for the factory BMW amplifier to feature a powerful 64-bit DSP. What is significantly different about the Alpha One Amplifier is its incomparably greater power and clarity, which you could not experience in the factory BMW amplifier. 

For the owners of F15s - those of you who are equipped with the base or HiFi stereo options can easily add the amp to their vehicles, as BimmerTech includes a harness and bracket designed specially for the BMW brand.


BMW X5 speaker upgrade

To achieve maximum potential, BimmerTech additionally created the Alpha One speakers, which perfectly complement both the Alpha One Amplifier as well as the factory BMW amp. Using tweeters, midranges and woofers all designed to perfectly fit the existing housing of your BMW, the installation of the Alpha Ones turns into a simple DIY job, which can be done within an hour or two. Check out how we do it in this video:

Learn which product should you try out first

At BimmerTech, we maintain that the latest in-car technology shouldn't be exclusive to the newest cars. Many of you prefer to stick with an older-generation model that still provides a great driving experience, which is why we’re committed to giving you the ideal F15 retrofits that would make your BMW as modern as it can be. If you need any more help upgrading your car, please get in touch with our team.




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