Aukey Portable Bluetooth 4.0 Audio Receiver review: Tiny Bluetooth receiver adds wireless phone connectivity to your car

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The Good The Aukey Portable Bluetooth Receiver's small size makes it an easy and subtle fit in most cars. It cleverly twists to skip tracks and control volume, and activates Apple Siri and Android Voice remotely.

The Bad With no internal battery, it must be plugged into the car to work, and it requires an auxiliary input to the car's stereo.

The Bottom Line The Aukey Portable Bluetooth Receiver comes with more features than many similar products and a clever means of remotely controlling playback from your phone, but it will involve running wires to a power outlet and an auxiliary input in a car.

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8.0 Overall

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When reviewing a car, I always pair my phone to the cabin electronics and listen to music from it over the stereo. I can keep my phone in my pocket and just jump in the car and get going -- no need to wire it to the car's USB port or auxiliary input. While most new cars have this Bluetooth audio-streaming capability, older ones don't.

You can add Bluetooth through a car kit, like the Aukey Portable Bluetooth Receiver. With the Aukey Bluetooth receiver, you can stream music to the car's stereo from your phone, get hands-free phone calls, hear navigation prompts, and even listen to text messages.

Aukey Bluetooth car kit
The Aukey Portable Bluetooth Receiver nestles subtly among other controls on this dashboard. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The main component of Aukey's Bluetooth car kit is a small, circular, black pod with a permanently attached wire leading to audio and power connections. Deceptively simple in looks, the top of the receiver is a button and the upper casing twists on its base. A ring around the middle lights up to let you know the device is on.

The receiver measures about 2 inches across and an inch high. The wire leading off of it runs about 3 feet, with a split at about half its length for power and audio. Aukey includes a two-port USB adapter that plugs into any 12-volt power point in a car.

The magnetic back of the device attaches to adhesive, magnetic pads that Aukey includes with the kit. This mounting solution makes it easy to remove the Aukey receiver and stash it in the console or glovebox.

Double-duty controls

Wireless Bluetooth connectivity is the device's main purpose. Turn it on, then pair your phone to it, and any audio from your phone gets transmitted to the Aukey Bluetooth receiver. Output goes to the device's 1/8-inch audio-out connector. Plug that connector into your car's stereo, and the phone's audio comes out through the car speakers.

Although you will have to use your phone to start audio playback and choose what you want to hear, the Aukey Bluetooth Receiver offers some limited control. The button on its top controls pause and play. Give the upper part of the device a quick twist and it will skip tracks forward or back.

Aukey integrates a few other functions in these simple controls. Twist and hold the upper part of the device, and you will bring the volume up or down. Pushing the center button down and holding it activates Siri on an iPhone, S-Voice on a Samsung phone, and Android Voice on other Android phones. In voice-command mode, a tiny microphone in the Aukey Bluetooth receiver transmits your voice to the phone.

Aukey Bluetooth car kit
Aukey includes a 12-volt USB adapter for cars with its Bluetooth car kit. Josh Miller/CNET

That microphone also enables hands-free phone calls. Push the button on the Bluetooth receiver to accept an incoming phone call, and you will hear your call over the car's speakers and it will send your responses through its microphone to the phone.