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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120 Vs. AVH-4000NEX... Which One Should You Buy?

Pioneer's entry level NEX head unit, AVH-4000NEX, has been available for a few months now and is probably the most popular model. But with AppRadio 4 (SPH-DA120) being launched, it gives potential customers an additional choice to avail of Apple CarPlay in that price range.

So, how will you decide which head unit to buy? We have shortlisted a few features which may help you make your decision easier. Take a look after the break...

1. Price: Suggested retail price of the AVH-4000NEX is $700 compared to $600 for the SPH-DA120. Again, that is the "suggested retail price" which means you are likely to find lower prices from retailers like Amazon. Big box retailers usually list prices similar to suggested retail pricing.

The last time we checked, the AVH-4000NEX was priced at around $520 on Amazon. The SPH-DA120 is priced around $470 (latest prices may vary).


2. Screen Size: The difference in diagonal screen size between the two head units is 0.8 inches. The AppRadio 4 has a 6.2-inch screen whereas the AVH-4000NEX has a 7-inch screen. Granted, you won't be squinting to see things on a 6.2-inch screen but bigger is usually better.

3. Capacitive vs. Resistive Touchscreen: The AVH-4000NEX features a resistive touchscreen. Resistive touchscreens are sometimes not as responsive as capacitive touchscreens. The SPH-DA120 has a capacitive touchscreen similar to the AVIC-8000NEX and most of today's smartphones.

4. DVD Drive: The SPH-DA120 does NOT feature a DVD drive. The AVH-4000NEX has a DVD drive. So if you're into DVDs or CDs, you may have to get the NEX receiver.

5. Buttons: Do you like physical buttons on your head unit? If you do, you should stick to the AVH-4000NEX. The AppRadio 4 doesn't have any buttons you can press. The buttons on the head unit are digitized like some of the newer Android smartphones.

6. Detachable Face Plate: The AVH-4000NEX has a detachable face plate for extra safety. The AppRadio 4 doesn't offer this feature.

7. Navigation: Add-on navigation is available for the AVH-4000NEX using the AVIC-U260 add-on navigation system. The AppRadio 4 is not navigation ready but both head units can do navigation through Apple CarPlay.

8. SD Card Slot: The AVH-4000NEX has a full sized SD card slot behind the LCD panel. No SD card slot is available on the AppRadio 4.

So, the choice is yours. Both units are Apple CarPlay capable. If you have made up your mind to buy a NEX head unit, check out our ultimate NEX head unit comparison chart which allows you to compare all the five NEX receivers more easily.


  1. Don't understand why the new Appradio 4 couldn't have an HD Radio tuner as well.

  2. do you know if the Appradio 4's screen is detacheable? (for security purposes)

  3. Is there a review of the AppRadio 4 unit coming soon? Would love to know if the screen is improved at all.

  4. thanks a lot for that comparison!!!

  5. I love my AppRadio4! My only complaint is I think it should have a pbus input for adding a cd changer. You can add a cd/DVD player to it but your cd/DVD player will have to have its own control functions. I fancy myself to be an amateur wiring specialist. Only because I know how to read the diagrams and understand how to hook all the components up correctly based off that. Also YouTube videos help as well, but can't be trusted all the time. To bypass the video on the app4 you will have to wire up a toggle switch or find a bypass or double pole relay that has quite a long delay as the unit takes a hire a few seconds to boot up. If you are using an iPhone5 or newer you don't need the fancy pioneer cable just the factory iPhone cable or other high quality one and make sure it is plugged into the USB 1 slot in the back. I recommend using the actual iPhone cable because it charges your phone and transfers data and cheaper cables will only mess your phone or radio up (use the included USB extension that comes with the radio and route it somewhere you can swap your charge cable out as needed). Also make sure to go in your radio settings and select your phone for app connectivity. It should walk you through it the first time you turn the unit on after you plug in your phone connection type. The unit is very easy to use just read the directions thoroughly. Also this unit has constant firmware updates that make it run much faster. Just make sure you follow the directions to the letter or you can mess your radio up badly. The only other thing I wish is that more apps were available for it, but it's a relatively new thing so... I had the appradio3 & went to the 4 & I love mine very much crutchfield was very good to me.


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