Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Car Kit review

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A few weeks ago I posted an article about two of my Cummins co-workers who had integrated a Nexus 7 tablet into their vehicles. I was really impressed by their ingenuity and was inspired to inject a little more tech into my 2013 MINI Cooper. You’d probably think my car would have all the tech bells and whistles that you could ever imagine, but it doesn’t because the dealership talked me out of the expensive tech package when I bought my car last year. I ended up just getting Sirius radio and Bluetooth hands-free calling. My free year of Sirius radio expires in just a few days and I’ve decided not to renew because it’s too expensive when I only listen to 4 stations on a regular basis. I figured with all the music streaming apps that I could just use my Android smartphone (Samsung Galaxy Note 2) as an alternative to satellite radio. But unfortunately the Bluetooth in my MINI does not allow for audio streaming. It’s strictly for calls only. But did I let that stop me? Heck no, I bought the Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Car Kit. So hop in the passenger seat, buckle up and let’s take it for a spin.

Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.

Package contents

Kinivo BT450
2 3M adhesive pads
3.5mm extension cable
User manual


The Kinivo BTC450 is a Bluetooth Car Kit that not only offers hands-free calling features, but also offers audio streaming – a feature missing on my 2013 MINI Cooper. The BTC450 is a small black plastic disc that is about the same diameter as a half dollar coin. The top surface is a large multi-function button with a microphone at the 5’o-clock location and a status LED at the 9’0-clock location.


The multi-function button is used to answer/end calls, redial calls, initiate voice command mode (for Siri enabled iPhones) and pause/play music.

The top edge of the device also has a rocker button that controls media navigation for previous and next tracks.

From the BTC450 there’s a thin cable that has two leads. One lead goes to a 12V car adapter and the other is a 3.5mm stereo cable.


The 12V adapter plugs into an open port in your car and the 3.5mm cable plugs into the AUX Input audio jack in your car’s stereo. The 12V adapter has a USB port so you can also use it to charge your phone. The cable is long enough that you can route the BTC450 to a location on your dash and attach it there using the included 3M adhesive stickers. I didn’t want to do that for two reasons. First of all I didn’t need to use the BTC450’s hands-free calling feature because that feature is already built into my car and secondly, I didn’t want to stick anything to my MINI’s dash. So I was able to locate everything out of the way and pretty much out of sight in the center console.


Pairing the BTC450 with my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was very easy because the BTC450 automatically goes into pairing mode as soon as you start your car. Once paired, I went into the Bluetooth settings for the BTC450 and turned off the call audio feature, leaving just the media audio enabled. That way I could still use my MINI’s built in Bluetooth calling feature and steering wheel controls.

I did test the Kinivo’s call features though and I’m sorry to say that I was not impressed. It’s actually kind of crummy and I’ve been asked if I fell down a well while using the BTC450 to talk to Jeanne. That said, She sometimes complains about my MINI’s stock Bluetooth too.


The main reason I bought the Kinivo was for it’s audio streaming. The Kinivo BTC450 supports A2DP, HSP, HFP and AVRCP profiles. I was VERY impressed with the audio streaming quality using my phone and apps like Pandora, Slacker Radio (my personal favorite) and others. In my opinion audio quality using the Kinivo sounds noticeably better than the Sirius radio audio quality. I was never all that impressed with my MINI’s stereo and Harman Kardon speakers until I started using the Kinivo. Now I’m happy and won’t miss Sirius radio at all.

If your vehicle does not have Bluetooth audio streaming but your car’s stereo has an AUX input, you should definitely check out the Kinivo BTC450. It’s a very affordable way to enjoy music through your smartphone and car stereo without having to install a whole new stereo / head unit.

Updates 03/19/15

I still use this every day in my MINI Cooper paired with my current Android smartphone (right now that’s the LG G3). I use this adapter along with some Tasker scripts to control the media on my phone while I drive. You can read about how I did that here.

Updates 05/20/15

I recently switched to a different Bluetooth audio adapter to free up the 12V power port that I needed for a Dashcam. I ended up buying the VicTsing Portable USB Bluetooth Audio Music Streaming Receiver Adapter from Amazon. This little adapter was less than $10 and uses a USB port for power. Since I wasn’t using the USB port in my MINI and I didn’t use or need the handsfree features of the Kinivo, this adapter is perfect. It sounds just as good as the Kinivo and takes up less space and ports in my car.

Source: I purchased the Kinivo BT450 Bluetooth Car Kit for this review. For more info about this device, visit


Product Information

  • Automatically powers on when you turn on the car
  • Prev and Next buttons control any music app
  • Great audio quality
  • Provides USB charging port
  • Thin cables
  • Call quality is not the best

22 thoughts on “Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Car Kit review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. It’s good to see your experience mirrored mine. I think the audio quality is so good because it supports apt-X.

    I had BlackBerry Remote Stereo Bluetooth Gateway in my car before and it did not support apt-X. I think it’s audio quality suffered because of that.

  3. Another reason to mount the puck would be to put the microphone closer to the head of the person speaking. Did you test the call quality like that?

    1. @Aphoid I tested the call quality with the puck temporarily taped to my dash (where it would normally be placed in most vehicles). Call quality was not very good. I would not rely on this product for that feature unless you make very few calls. It does work for calls, it just don’t work well. Where it shines is with audio music streaming through your car’s stereo.

  4. Hi Julie – I bought one of these when I bought my RAV4 last December. I use it daily and I love it! I mounted the puck on the side of the radio cluster near steering wheel, and my voice comes through very clearly for my callers. BTW I’ve been reading your site since about 1997. 🙂

    1. @Tim wow, thanks for sticking with us all these years! The issue with using the Kinivo for calls must be hit or miss, but there are lots of people complaining about it in the Amazon reviews, so I know it’s not just me.

  5. Julie – Thanks for the great review. I’ve been playing with the BTC450 and agree with you – the audio streaming is great but the mic is pretty lousy. I noticed you disabled audio calling – I assume that can be done on an Android phone but not an iPhone. I wish I could do the same but I’m on an iPhone.

    I was using a HomeSpot BTADP-233 before the BTC450 but it wouldn’t always auto connect to my phone and required a lot of fiddling. So far the BTC450 is always spot on in terms of connecting to my phone when I turn on the car.

    1. @JoeCNM Yes, I turned off call audio on the Kinivo because I already have that feature built into my car and only needed/wanted the music streaming feature. I’m still really happy with the Kinivo. Are you sure you can’t turn off the call audio feature on your iPhone? Poke around in the Bluetooth settings for that specific connection, the option might be there.

  6. I don’t understand why you would need the Kinivo, if you have an aux jack, because you can just plug the headset jack on your phone in to the aux jack on the radio and have the same function without bluetooth, but hard wired. What is the advantage of using the Kinivo? I have a similar set up in my Silverado, with bluetooth phone only in the truck and was very disappointed that it didn’t stream music, but it does by simply using the aux input connected to the headphones jack. I must be missing something. Please explain what the Kinivo does that’s different that my hook up. Thanks.

    1. @Deneane the advantage is that I do not have to plug in any cables. I just get in the car and everything connects as soon as I start the engine. The phone can be in my pocket, in my bag or stuck on the iOmount. I don’t want to plug in any wires, so this works great for me.

  7. I’m still using mine as well with my updated phone, the Nexus 6. Also, now I have the iOttie with qi charging so I’m truly wireless in the car.

    I’m hoping to be able to stick a NFC tag on the iOttie to get some automation like you did but I’m not sure if it will be an issue with the wireless charging.

      1. Hi Julie,

        This is the iOttie holder I’m using in the car:

        It’s a tight fit with my Nexus 6 in it’s Spigen Neo Hybrid case but it does work. It’s certainly no turbo charger but it seems to keep up with bluetooth music streaming and even navigation running. I really wanted the Tylt car mount but I couldn’t justify paying almost double what the iOttie is going for on Amazon.

  8. Can the VicTsing pull the bluetooth audio and play it back through USB or do you have to use the Aux cable? If this works there are some micro bluetooth usb adapters that would clean up the console.

    1. Sorry to bug, but a VicTsing adapter review stated that it needed to be paired manually every time. Did you get around this with Tasker or is it not true?

      1. I don’t have to pair it every time I get in the car, but sometimes it doesn’t connect and I do have to unplug it from my MINI’s USB port and plug it back in. When I do that it almost immediately connects and all is good.

  9. Thanks for the insights/ideas! Quick question about your May 2015 update: while using the VicTsing USB adapter for music streaming, are you also able to use the MINI’s built-in BT calling features? If so, does it work with the same device at the same time, or do you have to re-pair (switch from the VicTsing pairing to the MINI pairing) to take/make a call? I understanding this presumes you’ve tested and/or needed the hands-free, which you said a few places you didn’t care for. Just curious if you’ve tried! THanks again.

    1. Ryan, Yes, I use my MINI’s built-in BT calling features with the same phone which is paired with the VicTsing USB adapter. If I’m streaming music, it will pause and the call will come through. When the call is completed, music will start playing again. Everything works seamlessly. The only problem I have with the VicTsing is about once every two weeks or so, it won’t connect to my phone and I’ll have to unplug it from the USB port in the car and replug it. Then it pairs automatically. This usually only happens when I have been driving and stop somewhere, turn off the engine and then get back in the car a couple minutes later.

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