BMW Original Apple CarPlay vs BimmerTech CarPlay MMI Prime

Anastasiia Husieva
Oct 20, 2020

Integrating an iPhone with your BMW is one of the best things that could happen to the owner of two of the most popular brands out there, and it’s all possible thanks to a  CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit for BMW upgrade.

What is Apple CarPlay? Read about it in detail in our  blog post.

Apple Carplay

Stats say that Apple CarPlay, together with  Android Auto, 'were available in 46% of new vehicles sold in Europe in Q1 2018 and 52% of new vehicles sold in the US.' And it’s great news, but what about BMWs with older iDrive systems that are not compatible with BMW CarPlay activation? For those who are not aware of this fact and have already made some ambitious plans, original BMW Apple CarPlay upgrade can be activated only in cars manufactured after March 2018 and only with NBT Evo ID5/ID6 iDrives. Don’t know which iDrive version you have? Find out in this  blog post.


But no worries, BimmerTech has your back — we’ve launched our own new-generation CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit for BMW which works in cars with older iDrive systems. It is absolutely the same in terms of the look & feel of the BMW CarPlay apps, with the same standard applications available. However, it differs from the original BMW CarPlay in other ways. Check out our brief infographic to understand the difference.

apple carplay vs. bimmertech carplay mmi prime

How do I set up CarPlay in my BMW?

So, the main difference lies in the way you add Apple CarPlay to BMW, and the logic behind that is very simple. Original software only requires activation via USB (and sometimes Wi-Fi antenna) or cable coding because the functionality is pre-set from the factory. However,  BMW CarPlay MMI Prime is a full hardware retrofit. Take a look at the installation process for CarPlay for NBT-type iDrives.

NOTE: The installation process may vary depending on your head unit.

Although the above installation process for CarPlay for NBT-type head units is manageable even for inexperienced DIY’ers, the process of mounting CarPlay MMI Prime in cars with CIC is a bit more tedious. Therefore, if you’d need a helping hand, here’s a list of our installers who will manage this process for you. 

Decode your VIN number to see if your BMW is compatible with CarPlay MMI Prime.

Do I have to pay a subscription for either solution?

No, both Apple CarPlay Activation and BimmerTech's CarPlay MMI Prime are free of any subscription charges. However, in the case of BMW’s Apple CarPlay, if your car has iDrive 6.0 or older you will have to pay a one-time subscription fee of $300.

BMW Wireless CarPlay

Original BMW Apple CarPlay supports a wireless connection between the iPhone and car. That’s why your BMW has to be equipped with a Wi-Fi antenna to use BMW Apple CarPlay over Wi-Fi. Check whether your BMW needs a Wi-Fi antenna here. Wirelessly connecting your iPhone to BimmerTech's CarPlay MMI Prime does not require that your car be equipped with a Wi-Fi antenna, and connecting via an original Apple Lightning cable is only required if you want to simultanously charge your iPhone.

BMW CarPlay Update: Full-Screen Mode & Screen Mirroring

Full Screen Mode is available for all compatible vehicles as a standard option. In addition to the Full Screen Mode, you can also use the Screen Mirroring option.

Compatibility with this feature is limited to NBT Evo ID5/ID6 iDrives with software updated in 03/2018 or later. To check your software version, go to Settings -> Software Update -> Show current version. BMW owners with a NBT Evo ID5/ID6 head unit and software version between 07/2016 & 02/2018 can have Apple CarPlay, but are not compatible with full-screen.

What are other differences?

CarPlay MMI Prime has several additional features not available in the OEM Apple CarPlay software, like an 8-band equalizer. It also includes Android Auto alongside Apple CarPlay, making it possible for both iPhone and Android users to connect their phones.

Carplay MMI Prime Equalizer

If you want to update your BMW, contact us with your VIN and we will help you out. Which CarPlay is your BMW compatible with? Check  here.

You might also want to watch our CarPlay MMI Prime reveal video.

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