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ELM327 OBD2 Adapter: The Clone Wars

Nothing can be worse than waking up in the morning and seeing a one-star review from a user claiming my app isn't working. Luckily my friends and loyal users help me identify that 90% of the problems are caused by bad clones out there flooding the market, those bad clones lure users with unbelievable low prices but the results never end well... at least for Dr. Prius App and other hybrid-specific Apps like Hybrid Assistant.

It's a misconception that whatever works for Torque App should also work for Dr. Prius, the reality is, to get to the battery specific information, the OBD2 adapter must have the ability to "set message header" to a different ECU address, while other generic Apps only targeting the main ECU to retrieve very basic vehicle information like speed, rpm, coolant temperature.. etc. So with that, I decided to buy all the cheap clone adapters and see for myself, you, my friend, just sit back and enjoy the show.

PS: Most of the adapters are for Android only, iOS users please jump to the bottom of the page.

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-all

The tool/App that I use for testing

1. ELM327 Identifier
2. Elm327 OBD Terminal
3. Dr. Prius App
4. Hybrid Assistant App
5. Torque App


Mini Junk

This expensive adapter claims to support bluetooth 4.0 and all OBD protocols.
Yeah right! this is another junk adapter that is being packaged in a tiny and beautiful space-grey semi-transparent case, however, it is far from usable and it does not have the ability to switch between ECUs, I've tried it on both iOS and Android devices with the same disappointing result. The only App that works for this adapter is called "Mini OBD II" App, it is nothing more than a proxy to the basic vehicle information.

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-mini junk

No Name Junk

This no-name Junk is sharing the same packaging as the previous Mini Junk.
It has a nice transparent blue finished, and it "looks like" it is able to switch between ECUs, however in the end it failed to retrieve any battery-related information from both Prius Gen2 and Gen3. Please browse away whenever you see this packaging, I believe they are from the same company that produces defective/un-tested products.

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-no name junk

Mother of all Junks

This particularly cheap clone has dominated the market for many years and it's absolutely disgusting, there is a real ELM327 version out there but with a more expensive/realistic price tag.
Definitely one of the worst adapters, it doesn't even support most of the basic OBD command from v1.2 all the way to v2.3, it might work with a few simple OBD apps but definitely not for Dr. Prius.

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-mother junk

OBD2 mini with ON/OFF switch

This is a weird adapter that kind of works.
This adapter with On/Off switch has a tendency to losing connection, on top of that it is missing info in every response (missing number of additional bytes at the beginning of each payload), however, I was able to make it work for Dr. Prius. I still do not recommend using this adapter.

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-on/off junk

GNTOP - almost there

This adapter comes with a nice acrylic case and instruction, it almost passes the test...
My first impression with this adapter is pretty good, it feels like this manufacturer/distributor spent time in branding and packaging, it works for most of the part but unfortunately, it has this weird bug that preventing some data from being retrieved consistently.
Note: This adapter can work with Dr. Prius but is missing DTC error code data, people actually give me one-star reviews for this reason...

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-GNTOP

Bait and switch Junks

You will find these packages on the internet everywhere, however only a handful of sellers are actually selling the good stuff, so please make sure you see double-layer PCB from the product pictures
Update 07/11/2018 - After a couple of one-star user reviews, I found that even a dual-layer PCB could be a bad clone, at this time I don't want to approve any OBD2 adapter in this form factor, it feels like someone from the Chinese factories is watching this post and changing their strategy to counter back, not cool, not recommend and buy at your own risk!
Update 06/09/2018 - Thanks to our friend Alexandr from Belarus, we actually found a good clone on AliExpress that is cheap and works well (as of 6/8/2018), be sure to pick the BLUE or WHITE adapter NOT the black with MINI on it. Please be aware that this seller recently swaps the black adapter with a bad clone that doesn't work at all, NOT COOL!
AliExpress OBD2 adapter for Android

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter from AliExpress

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter from AliExpress

bad OBD2 clone adapter from AliExpress

bad OBD2 clone adapter from AliExpress

BlueDriver - expensive orphan

I got quite a few requests from users asking if BlueDriver can work, well... The quick answer is NO, even after spending $100 bucks.
Turns out BlueDriver can only work with it own proprietary App using their own proprietary protocols (not ELM327 compatible)
Don't get me wrong, it is an excellent adapter on its own but the story ends there, I have even contacted their technical support and confirmed that it is a closed-loop system that will not work with any other ELM327 software, sorry!

Dr.Prius OBD2 blue driver adapter

Expensive adapters not always good - OBDLink LX and MX

If you believe expensive items are always good, think again..
I've received 50/50 praises/complaints about this OBDLink adapter that I had to purchase myself despite the expensive price.
Well, turns out this is a really fast adapter but all the good things pretty much stop there. The manufacturer claims to support “both Android and iOS,” however with iOS, it can only run with its own App, this is due to it's last-generation Bluetooth hardware isn't compatible with the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). Also, I found it frustrating to pair it with Android devices, I think you have to click the connect button either at the right timing or with the right duration to make it discoverable by your Android devices, overall, I would not recommend this fast adapter to users.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H9S71LW/

Dr.Prius OBD2 adapter OBDLink LX MX

CARISTA for iOS and Android

(Used to be) my favorite
Carista used to be an affordable solution, however I am getting complaints from users saying Carista lured them into a subscription service.
Please note that Dr. Prius has no partnership with Carista therefore we can't refund you on that Carista subscription fee!
FIXD is another company selling the same adapter bondo their own App, the adapter works the same but at a much higher price.
Amazon US: Carista OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter for iOS and Android
AliExpress: Same OBD2 adapter from AliExpress

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone CARISTA

PanLong - for Android

An adapter that you can trust!
I got this PanLong OBD2 adapter from Amazon thinking I could return it anytime, and surprisingly that never happened in the past two years. This adapter is the work horse of all my developing and testing efforts.
Open up the case and see for yourself how beefy it is compared to any other clone mini, however their new adapter in red color is defective and won't work for Dr. Prius App or Hybrid Assistant App.

Update: The Amazon seller contacted me and provided the following promote code exclusive for Dr. Prius users, thanks Kathy!
Amazon US 20% promote code: JD3JHWBE
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PJPHEBO/

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-PanLong

Veepeak for iOS and Android

Great adapter at a good price
Let's start with their Bluetooth for Android, it's basically the same as PanLong or any other beefy clone adapters selling at a great price, great deal!
What really impress me is their Bluetooth BLE 4 adapter out-performing many adapters in terms of speed.
Their WiFi adapter is only an “ok,” due to the fact the on/off button is confusing to use
Amazon US: VEEPEAK OBD2 Bluetooth 4.0 for iOS and Android
Amazon US: VEEPEAK OBD2 Bluetooth for Android

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-veepeak Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-veepeak-open-case

The best of both worlds - iOS and Android

This affordable adapter that support both Android and iOS (BLE 4)
Update 02/09/2019 I have user reports back saying the TONWON adapter from Amazon has bad quality control, he got two bad adapters in a row, thanks Clarence for the warning!
I found this "TONWON" adapter from Amazon, I also found it was being renamed to "OBDII Pro" or "VGate" on AliExpress, and as a matter of fact I don't actually know which one is the original...
It is one of the best adapters I've tested so far, it connect to both my Android and iOS beautifully. Note: Pick the one with "BLE 4.0 With iOS and Android", NOT the 3.0 or WiFi
Amazon US: TONWON OBD2 Bluetooth 4.0 for iOS and Android
AliExpress (pick Bluetooth 4.0): vGate OBD2 Bluetooth 4.0 for iOS and Android

WARNING !! NOT ALL vGate are created equally, there are older version vGate(Bluetooth 3.0) or fake vGate flooded the market, please pick the one that looks exactly like the one in below picture, the side has clear writing "Bluetooth LE 4.0 E50".

Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-vGateDr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-bad vGate Dr.Prius OBD2 clone adapter-vGate

Popular Bluetooth OBD2 adapters that work (Android)

Following are the popular OBD2 adapters that approved by many Dr. Prius users, you can find these adapters easily, as they are not limited to Amazon.

BAFX 34t5 Bluetooth
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NLQAHS/

Dr.Prius OBD2 adapter BAFX 34t5

Hybrid Assistant helpful page

Please also visit my friends at Hybrid Assitant for more helpful information:
Dr.Prius-friend page

http://hybridassistant.blogspot.fr/p/obd.html
http://hybridassistant.blogspot.fr/2016/08/quality-of-obd-adapters.html



This is it for now, I am pretty sure there are still hundreds of clone adapters out there waiting to be tested, and I am sure there are hundreds of sellers having different opinions than I do. Please feel free to reach out to me at feedback@PriusApp.com, it will be my pleasure to test/re-test your adapter and share the result with the community.

With gratitude,
Jack C.

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