Sony’s XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 car stereo head units pack helpful features like Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and amplified power. This makes them great, budget-friendly upgrades for anyone wanting to outfit their ride with modern tech. But what sets these two models apart? Read on for a comparison outlining key differences between Sony XAV-AX3250 vs XAV-AX3200 to determine which Sony stereo fits your needs best.
Get to Know the XAV-AX3250
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The Sony XAV-AX3250 has a 6.95-inch floating touchscreen. This 2022 car stereo builds on their previous XAV-AX3000 model. It’s equipped with:
- A responsive capacitive touchscreen with 800×480 resolution
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration
- Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calls and wireless audio
- 55 watts x 4 amplifier power
- 3 sets of 2-volt preamp outputs
- Rear USB port
- SiriusXM capability (tuner sold separately)
- Customizable interface with 3 home screen options
The XAV-AX3250 has a sleek, blacked-out look matching modern car interiors. Its screen technology improves visibility in the sun and at wide angles.
With great sound, smartphone integration, and custom options at a reasonable price, the XAV-AX3250 nicely balances features. It’s a top choice if you want to add Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and touchscreen abilities affordably.
Overview of the Sony XAV-AX3200
Meanwhile, the Sony XAV-AX3200 is a slightly more affordable floating-screen car stereo that Sony also released in 2022. The XAV-AX3200 shares many of the same features as the 3250 model but cuts back in a few key areas:
- 6.95” capacitive touchscreen with 800×480 resolution
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration
- Built-in Bluetooth
- 55W x 4 amplifier power
- 3 sets of 2V preamp outputs
- Single USB port
- SiriusXM ready with tuner sold separately
- Minimalistic user interface
Like the XAV-AX3250, the XAV-AX3200 also has an optical bonded screen for improved visibility. However, it lacks any customization options for the user interface. The XAV-AX3200 also has a slightly underpowered amplifier and fewer preamp outputs compared to the 3250 model.
The XAV-AX3200 provides a very basic Apple CarPlay/Android Auto receiver with Bluetooth at the lowest cost. However, it lacks many of the premium features and customization options available on the XAV-AX3250.
Key Comparison Chart
Here is a comparison chart summarizing the features of the Sony XAV-AX3250 vs XAV-AX3200:
|Feature||Sony XAV-AX3250||Sony XAV-AX3200|
|Screen Resolution||800 x 480||800 x 480|
|Apple CarPlay & and Android Auto||Yes||Yes|
|Bluetooth w/ Multi-point||Yes||Yes|
|Amplifier Power||55W x 4||55W x 4|
|Preamp Outputs||3 Sets 2V||3 Sets 2V|
|Navigation & SiriusXM Ready||Yes||Yes|
|Price||More expensive||More affordable|
Screen Size and Resolution
The Sony XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 share an obvious similarity – both have a 6.95-inch touchscreen with 800 x 480 resolution. This capacitive display size works well in single DIN openings without looking out of place. The display is large enough to conveniently display Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and media information without feeling cramped.
800 x 480 resolution is adequate for a car stereo display of this size. Images, album art, and text look sharp enough for daily use. Higher resolutions would be largely unnecessary on a 6.95-inch screen.
Since the screen specifications are identical between the two models, there is no difference in terms of display quality. You can expect the same visibility, viewing angles, and brightness.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Integration
A key shared feature: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Connecting phones to these Sony stereos delivers an excellent experience. You can pull up directions, play tunes, and listen to podcasts, everything right on the head unit’s touchscreen. Way better than fumbling with your phone while driving. Super convenient access to apps and navigation in one spot.
Both the XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 work with the latest versions of CarPlay and Auto. That means you’ll get full voice control capability through Siri or Google Assistant. You’ll also have access to newer CarPlay apps like Sygic, ChargePoint, and ParkWhiz that aren’t available on older car stereo models.
Since CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on both units, you won’t gain any advantage choosing one over the other in this department. Both deliver an excellent connected experience.
Bluetooth Connectivity and Calling
In addition to CarPlay and Auto, both Sony receivers also come with integrated Bluetooth for hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming.
These stereos make it easy to pair your phone for hands-free calls too. Just connect over Bluetooth and chat through your car speakers. The built-in microphone picks up your voice nicely for crystal-clear calls.
You can also stream music wirelessly from your phone using Bluetooth if you lack Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It’s great for listening to Spotify, podcasts, or anything else on your phone without dealing with cords. Super quick and convenient access.
Sony also makes it easy to switch between different Bluetooth audio sources right from the touchscreen interface. For example, you could have a phone and tablet paired simultaneously and switch the audio source as needed.
A cool feature is that both models let you connect two devices over Bluetooth at the same time. So you can be streaming a podcast from your tablet and pick up a call from your phone without losing the audio. Pretty handy to have multi-point Bluetooth!
Overall, both models offer excellent Bluetooth integration and call quality. You’ll have the same hands-free experience and wireless streaming on either unit.
Amplifier Power and Audio Quality
The Sony XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 are comparable high-end car stereos with equal power, but the AX3250 uses superior components giving it slightly better sound quality and audio customization.
Both units have identical built-in amplifiers with 55 watts per channel power. This provides sufficient clean power to operate most aftermarket speaker systems without needing an external amplifier. The 55 watts per channel should enable both head units to produce high volumes without distortion.
Another similarity is that both the XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 come with a 10-band equalizer for audio adjustment. This allows customization of the sound profile to compensate for uneven sound quality in different parts of the car cabin. The equalizer permits enhanced control over bass, midrange, and treble frequencies compared to basic tone controls.
The XAV-AX3250 has slightly superior audio quality over the XAV-AX3200 owing to its higher-end digital-to-analog converters and improved internal components used by Sony. While subtle, this gives the XAV-AX3250 a more natural, smoother sound overall. Vocals and instruments have a more realistic timbre.
Additionally, the XAV-AX3250 provides more flexibility for fine-tuning the audio. It incorporates Sony’s DSO (Dynamic Stage Organizer) sound processing which creates a more surround-like listening experience. There are also digital filters to customize the characteristics of the DACs.
When it comes to pre-outs for connecting external amplifiers and speakers, the Sony XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 are equally equipped. Both head units have three sets of 2-volt RCA preamp outputs.
This allows you to optimize the signal routing for front, rear, and subwoofer speakers by having dedicated preamp outputs for each. Having three sets of outputs provides maximum flexibility in how you configure and install aftermarket amplifiers and speaker systems.
With three 2-volt pre-outs on both models, you can maintain a strong, clean signal when sending audio to external amps. The preamp outputs allow seamless system expansion whether you want to add a separate subwoofer amp or multi-channel amps for front and rear speakers.
So in this regard, the XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 are evenly matched. You have the same ability to create a full high-end sound system over time using the three preamp outputs on both Sony head units. You do not lose any functionality or expandability going with the XAV-AX3200.
USB Ports and Charging
The Sony XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 have only one USB port each rather than dual ports. This single USB input on both models lets you connect and charge mobile phones, play stored music directly from a USB drive, and enable integrated smartphone features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
With just one USB port, you do lose some functionality compared to head units with dual USB inputs. For example, you cannot charge your phone and run CarPlay at the same time through the same USB port. However, the single port on both the XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 models is still versatile and useful.
The single USB input provides enough power to charge most modern phones at a decent 1.5 amp charging rate. Connecting your smartphone via USB also facilitates hands-free use and music streaming through CarPlay or Android Auto. Plugging in a USB flash drive allows you to play MP3s and other audio files directly through the head unit.
While a second USB port dedicated to charging would be beneficial, the single input on these Sony units still covers the core USB functions. The port is optimized to avoid connectivity issues that can occur when trying to juggle multiple tasks through one port.
Navigation and SiriusXM Readiness
While neither unit has built-in navigation or satellite radio capability, they are both designed to work with separate navigation units and SiriusXM tuners.
The Sony XAV-AX3250 and XAV-AX3200 feature rear auxiliary video and audio inputs. This allows you to connect an external navigation unit like a Sony XNV-660 and have the map display right on the head unit’s touchscreen. Route guidance will play through the car stereo speakers as well.
You can also add a SiriusXM Connect Vehicle tuner (sold separately) to both models. This lets you access SiriusXM’s extensive satellite radio programming like Howard Stern, NFL games, and commercial-free music stations. Control is integrated into the head unit.
Since auxiliary input support is standard on both models, there is no advantage of the XAV-AX3250 versus the XAV-AX3200 in terms of expandability with external devices. Either one can be upgraded to work with navigation displays and satellite radio tuners.
User Interface and Customization
Though seeming alike initially, the XAV-AX3250 stands out for its highly customizable interface versus the XAV-AX3200’s limited options.
The XAV-AX3250 is particularly notable for its more advanced user interface. You have the option to choose from various layouts for the home screen, allowing you to configure it to your preferences for easy access to frequently used applications and functionalities. Any unnecessary app icons can be removed as desired to streamline the appearance. There is also the capability to modify the background wallpaper to your liking.
The Sony XAV-AX3250 lets you pick different colors and display styles. This means you can match how the receiver looks to the inside lighting of your vehicle. It will blend in better.
The XAV-AX3200 doesn’t let you customize the look at all. There’s only one home screen layout with black text on a white background. You can’t change the wallpaper or anything.
If you like customizing how your head unit looks, the XAV-AX3250 is much better. The XAV-AX3200 barely lets you change the appearance or layout.
Price and Value
Predictably, the feature-rich XAV-AX3250 costs more than the XAV-AX3200. But considering customization options and performance, the 3250 can offer greater value if it aligns with your priorities.
Considering the significant audio and functionality advantages, the XAV-AX3250 easily justifies its moderately higher cost. It’s the clear choice if you’re looking for the best mix of features and performance in the price range.
On the flip side, if you just want basic smartphone integration at the lowest cost, the pared-down XAV-AX3200 may suffice. But you lose out on the power, expandability, and customization that make the 3250 model so compelling for a little bit more money.
Which Car Stereo Head Unit is Better Overall?
Based on this detailed comparison of Sony XAV-AX3250 vs XAV-AX3200, the XAV-AX3250 stands out as the clear winner between these two models.
For a little bit more money, the XAV-AX3250 gives you more customization options. The XAV-AX3200 shaves off some key features to come in at a lower cost. But most buyers would appreciate the added versatility and quality of the XAV-AX3250.
That being said, if you’re on a tight budget, just want basic smartphone mirroring, and don’t care about extra customization options, the XAV-AX3200 may still be a decent choice. You still get CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth in an affordable package.
Overall though, for just a few bucks more, the average consumer will find the XAV-AX3250 more than worth the minor price bump. Unless you have very basic needs, spending a little bit more for the 3250 model is the wiser long-term investment. It simply outperforms the XAV-AX3200 in many meaningful ways.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.