It is Carplay, 100%-- it's just not apple licensed.Hi Rontgen,
Here's the official Apple CarPlay website;
You can see the 'official Aftermarket brands' which are licensed to run the Apple CarPlay operating system on their head units.
As you can see, there's no Chinese brands listed.
Apple Car Play is an operating system designed to be incorporated into brand new cars at the factory. An 'overlap' is that those licensed aftermarket brands can use the operating system on their head units so that older cars where such a unit can be fitted can have Apple CarPlay. CarPlay has specific aspects designed to make driving safer when connected to an iphone, here's an overview of what it is
https://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/what-is-apple-carplay/ - Apple CarPlay doesn't run or get installed on your handset. I'm not an Apple handset user, but I believe within the phone's OS, there's the capability to 'connect with a genuine Car Play device' so it essentially goes into 'Car Play mode'.
The $65 dongle as mentioned isn't running CarPlay, nor are any chinese clone type head units. You don't have to even have it connected and the head unit will still function - Genuine Apple Car Play only works when connected to a iphone.
Now I know many owners will not really care and will buy the Dongle so will be able to plug their iphone in and use the head unit's controls. I'm simply pointing out that that, isn't genuine Car Play and the 'marketing' by the chinese brands is incorrect in order to dupe people into thinking it is.
If I'm totally wrong, and Apple have licensed their operating system to a chinese factory somewhere, I will update my knowledge and recall/delete the above.
When you plug the phone in, the phone goes into carplay mode. The display on the screen is not a mirror of your phone screen-- it's the simplifed interface apple has the phone output to CarPlay devices apple creates. The phone believes it's connected to an officially licenses carplay device.