How to Retrofit CarPlay into a 2016 or Older BMW

Bart Donda
Feb 3, 2020

how to retrofit CarPlay into a 2016 or older BMWRetrofit CarPlay

If available in your BMW, Apple CarPlay lets you connect your iPhone to your BMW and use iOS apps on the built-in dashboard display. You can listen to music, make calls, get directions, send texts and more — all while staying focused on the road. With the help of Siri, you can do all these things without taking your hands off the wheel. It’s a very useful feature that enhances your driving experience, so make sure you find out more about Apple CarPlay if you aren't already familiar with it.

When did BMW introduce Apple CarPlay?

For BMWs, CarPlay is quite a recent thing. It’s only available for 2017 and newer models, leaving many BMW owners without the option to enjoy it in their cars.

To find out if your vehicle is compatible with the BMW CarPlay upgrade, enter your VIN into our CarPlay MMI Prime compatibility checker.

Here’s the complete list of BMW cars with Apple CarPlay as of January 2020, provided by Apple:

  • 2017–2019 BMW 2 Series e.g. F22, F23, F45
  • 2017–2020 BMW 3 Series e.g. F30, F31, F34, F80, G20
  • 2017–2019 BMW 4 Series e.g. F32, F33, F36, F82, F83
  • 2017–2019 BMW 5 Series e.g. G30, G31, F90
  • 2017–2019 BMW 6 Series e.g. F06, F12, F13, G32
  • 2017–2019 BMW 7 Series e.g. G11, G12
  • 2018–2019 BMW X1 e.g. F48
  • 2017–2019 BMW X2 e.g. F39
  • 2017–2019 BMW X3 e.g. G01
  • 2017–2019 BMW X4 e.g. F26, G02
  • 2017–2019 BMW X5 e.g. F15, G05
  • 2017–2019 BMW X6 e.g. F16
  • 2018–2019 BMW i3
  • 2019 BMW i8
  • 2019 BMW Z4 G29

Although only vehicles produced after 2017 are officially compatible with Apple CarPlay, the right hardware retrofit can also let you add CarPlay to vehicles without factory support. If you're interested in upgrading your older BMW with CarPlay MMI Prime, read on for a few possible solutions.

If you want to find more about retrofits for BMW 3-Series, check out our guide on F30 upgrades.

Adding Apple CarPlay to your BMW

If you've got your heart set on adding Apple CarPlay to your BMW, you have a few options. Which you choose to go for will depend on your vehicle and budget.

Option 1: Activating your factory BMW Wireless CarPlay

The reason Apple CarPlay is limited to 2017 and newer BMWs is that it requires the NBT Evo head unit with ID5 or ID6 software. In other words, your BMW needs the latest on-board computer and operating system. Even if you have a vehicle from 2016, 2015 or 2014 with recent technology, your vehicle may only have the ID4 software, or the older head unit hardware, regular NBT.

If your BMW is equipped with a compatible head unit, BimmerTech can perform a software activation to enable Apple CarPlay. In some cases, you might need to add a WiFi antenna if your car does not already have one, to allow establishing a wireless connection between your iPhone and BMW head unit. You can check here if your BMW needs one and if so — order it with us. With the appropriate hardware fitted in your vehicle, BimmerTech, unlike BMW, can activate Apple CarPlay even if you live in a country which is not on the Apple CarPlay availability list.


If the original BMW Apple CarPlay activation is unavailable for your vehicle, there are still two ways to upgrade your BMW.

Option 2: Retrofitting Carplay with BimmerTech's CarPlay MMI Prime

A simple and budget-friendly way to get CarPlay in an older BMW is with BimmerTech’s special CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit for BMW..

Simply put, it’s a module that connects to the head unit and iDrive screen. In other words, it’s an extension that seamlessly integrates with the iDrive system. No one will be able to realize you changed anything in your BMW until you actually turn on CarPlay.

Plus, it’s an easy plug-and-play upgrade that doesn’t require any coding and won’t void your warranty.

Unlike BMW original Apple CarPlay, that starting from July 2019 is a subscription-based feature, BimmerTech CarPlay MMI Prime doesn't require any subscription fee and is a one-time-payment retrofit.

Turn it on with the switch of a button on your iDrive controller or radio panel. It provides the same great CarPlay features you’d expect from a 2017 or newer BMW, complete with the user-friendly full-screen interface available in the latest cars. BimmerTech’s solution allows your iPhone to connect to CarPlay wirelessly — just like OEM CarPlay.

CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit will also let you mirror your smartphone's screen to your iDrive display, perfect for using apps that don't have CarPlay versions. An additional USB port also lets you play videos from a USB thumb drive, or connect an Android phone to use Android Auto on your BMW's dashboard display. If you don't know about Google's competitor to Apple CarPlay, check out our introduction to Android Auto.


BimmerTech’s MMI Prime uses a high-quality audio chip for great sound quality. It also has a built-in 8-band equalizer for additional customization. It's a great feature for adjusting the sound in your BMW, especially if you don't have a multi-band equalizer in your iDrive system.

CarPlay MMI Prime Equalizer

It's also compatible with our Rear View Camera Retrofit allowing you to get a backup camera for your BMW much more cheaply with the CarPlay MMI Prime.

It’s compatible with most F-series cars with the following head units: ENTRY, ENTRYNAV, NBT, NBT EVO ID4, CIC (F3x only) and CHAMP2 (F3x only).

To accurately check your BMW’s compatibility with CarPlay MMI Prime or another BMW Apple CarPlay retrofit, use our CarPlay compatibility checker.

Option 3: Retrofitting CarPlay with a Head Unit Upgrade

To get the full original CarPlay experience in an older vehicle you will have to upgrade your BMW iDrive head unit to NBT EVO with the ID5/ID6 software. While this is a more advanced upgrade, it comes with a lot of added benefits, such as an HD screen upgrade, iDrive Touch controller, full coding from BimmerTech, CarPlay & BMW Apps pre-installed, and more.

A full head unit and software upgrade includes:

  • Full FSC retrofit activation including Navigation, Voice Control, BMW Apps and CarPlay
  • NBT Evo head unit with ID5/ID6 software
  • High Definition 8.8" screen
  • iDrive Touch controller
  • All other parts required to perform the retrofit based on your car specification
  • Full retrofit coding
  • The latest GPS maps for your region
  • DVD/Video-in-motion activation

If you don’t need to add all of the bells and whistles and just want CarPlay, you most likely will not need to upgrade the entire head unit set; your vehicle may already have some of the required parts such as the HD screen, allowing you to save as much as $1000. This depends on your BMW model and year — please contact us giving your VIN number for more information.

Many BMWs from 2016 or 2015 come equipped with NBT EVO ID4. Luckily, in this case, your car will require only one or two parts — the aftermarket head unit and possibly the ATM module.

Older cars from 2015, 2014 and 2013 with regular NBT (not NBT EVO) will require a different head unit upgrade but are already equipped with the required 8.8” HD screen and touch controller.

Cars with even older head units (CIC, ENTRY, ENTRYNAV), require a more complicated upgrade — the entire NBT EVO ID5/ID6 set will need to be retrofitted.

Once your BMW has been fitted with the right parts, the only step left is to activate CarPlay. In case of upgrading the whole NBT EVO head unit set, it will come with CarPlay already installed and ready to use.

For detailed information and assistance on retrofitting Apple CarPlay in your specific vehicle, please contact us. We’ll help you choose the right upgrade kit to make your CarPlay upgrade simple and without any extra parts that you don’t need to install.

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