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The best dash cams give you the peace of mind that any incidents in your car will be recorded for posterity. For anyone that's dealt with the immense headaches of navigating the legal system after an accident where fault is at issue, the value of a dash cam is self-evident. They can not only save you huge amounts of cash but, in the long run, be critical for preserving your driving record and avoiding points on your license (and is also a boon in insurance terms). The major advantages for rideshare drivers are also obvious, but for anyone who spends a fair amount of time on the road, a quality dash cam is a wise investment.
We sorted through a ton of the dash cams currently being sold and evaluated them based on camera quality, features, and usability. We filtered out the overpriced dross and selected the very best cams available for a variety of needs and use cases.
Great smartphone integration
170-degree, 1080p recording
G-sensor to lock footage
Motion detector slightly oversensitive
For those looking to purchase their first dash cam, the Safeel Zero+ has all the features you need to record while driving or parked at a price point that will fit just about any budget. This dash cam connects to your Android or iOS smartphone via built-in WiFi and dedicated app for easy configuration, playback and downloading of footage. It records in full 1080p HD with a 170-degree wide angle lens to reduce blind spots and capture details.
It features motion detection capabilities to record only when you’re driving or to record potential break-ins while parked. It also has a G-sensor to lock footage when it detects sudden jolts and collisions. This dash cam can be mounted to your windshield with either an adhesive pad or suction cup mount for quick and easy installation. It comes packaged with a 32GB SD card and car charger. ThiEYE offers 24/7 online support for their customers and a one year warranty to cover common malfunctions and dead units.
Front and rear cameras
Embedded location and speed data
For those looking to spend a little more, or just upgrade their existing dash cam set up, the AUKEY DR03 dual camera system is perfect. This system comes packaged with both front and rear cameras to record your car’s complete surroundings for extra protection while driving. The cameras can be connected to AUKEY’s GM-32 GPS antenna, which is available separately, to embed location and speed data into your recordings for extra security in the event of a collision or accident.
The front camera has a 170-degree wide angle lens, while the rear has a 160-degree wide angle lens. This allows both cameras to reduce blind spots and record wide highway areas in full 1080p HD even at high speeds. Both cameras use a supercapacitor rather than a traditional battery for reliable emergency power, even in extreme temperatures (-22F - 167F). Normal power is provided via the triple-port USB 5V charger; this provides power to both cameras while leaving a port open for charging mobile devices. AUKEY offers a two-year warranty to cover product replacement when needed.
Easy to install
Great LCD screen
1080p, wide-angle video
The Apeman C450 A series dashcam is a well rounded unit that is a great choice for anyone looking to document and archive traffic collisions. The adhesive-backed suction cup mount makes it easy to install in just minutes. The three-inch LCD screen allows you to monitor and replay key moments even if driving at high speeds. The dashcam records in full 1080p HD with a 170-degree wide angle lens. This reduces blind spots and captures critical details.
There is a built-in G-sensor that detects sudden crashes and shakes to lock footage and prevent accidental erasure or overwriting. This dash cam also features motion detection and a parking monitor mode to record your car’s surroundings at all times. The C450 A also has great night vision capabilities that capture crisp details and colors, even in low-light environments. It also supports SD cards for storing critical driving footage. It records footage in a loop, so you never have to worry about deleting old recordings to free up space for new ones. Our reviewer Danny loved the easy mounting options and full 1080p capture.
"The Apeman C450 performs decently for a camera this small and inexpensive, and for many, its design flaws can be forgiven for its price tag." — Danny Chadwick, Product Tester
1080p, 60fps recording
Great for nighttime recording
Driver assistant features
LCD screen is slightly small
High definition recording is important when documenting your travels, collisions and accidents. The YI Smart Dash Cam delivers superior 1080p full HD recording capabilities even at high speeds. During the day, it records at 60 frames per second for crystal clear recording both on the highway and when parked. At night, the Smart Dash Cam records in full 1080p HD at 30 frames per second to preserve color and details in low-light environments. The 165-degree wide angle lens features an infrared light filter to help reduce glare and eliminate thermal image ghosting.
This dash cam not only records great video, it also features what YI calls the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). The dash cam has the ability to let you know when your car drifts out of its lane and into oncoming traffic or onto the road shoulder, and it also has a front vehicle collision warning mode to let you know when you’re too close to another car. The 2.7-inch LCD screen displays video recording and the ADAS in real-time, and it also has large buttons and an intuitive interface for easy use.
Shoots crisp 4K video
Multiple capture modes
Built in microphone
Suction cup doesn't rotate
Toguard offers a dash cam that 4K UHD capabilities to traffic recording. This dash cam shoots footage in ultra high-def 4K at 25 frames per second, allowing you to capture details like license plate numbers and highway lane boundaries with ease. You can also record in 2.7K, 1080p and 720p to capture and store more footage. When used with a 32GB SD card, you can record up to 6 hours of footage.
The lens has a 170-degree wide angle view to help reduce blind spots and record more of the highway and vehicles in front of you. This dash cam also has a built-in microphone for recording audio as well as video in the event of a collision or accident for greater security and protection. The compact design of this dash cam makes it great for mounting on the inside of the windshield without being a distraction. TOGUARD offers a one year warranty with 24/7 support with each new unit.
Superior night vision
Subpar mounting setup
The Chortau dual dash cam system is the perfect choice for those looking to record both the front and rear of their cars while driving or parked. The rear camera is waterproof to protect it against the elements, and it also has four infrared LED lights for superior night vision while reversing or recording the road behind you. The rear camera also acts as a backup guide camera for parking and maneuvering.
The front camera has a 170-degree wide angle lens, and the rear camera has a 130-degree wide angle lens to reduce blind spots. Along with the lithium-ion backup battery, this dash cam system uses a supercapacitor for reliable operation in extreme temperatures (from -86F to 158F). Both cameras shoot in full 1080p HD at 30 frames per second for ultra-clear video at high speeds. The body of the front camera features a compact design, and the three-inch LCD display has a screen saver mode for distraction-free driving.
Built-in GPS system
Android and iOS support
4K UHD video
150-degree angle rather than full 170-degree
GPS information can be a great asset when recording traffic footage. The Rove R2-4K dash cam has a built in GPS that embeds location and speed information in its recorded video to help keep you protected in the event of a collision or accident. It connects to Android and iOS smartphones via built-in WiFi and a dedicated app that makes it easy to view, download and share recordings. You can integrate Google Maps with the Rove app to sync your driving plans with your recordings.
The camera shoots video in 4K ultra high-definition with a 150-degree wide angle lens. It also has a low-light sensor for clear recording at night and in low-light environments. You can create time-lapse video to show a series of events, and you can also shoot in slow motion for critical moments like impact or other traffic accidents. There is a built-in, three-axis G-sensor that automatically powers on the camera when parked and locks footage for archive. Rove offers a one year warranty with Chicago-based customer support.
Rear-facing camera records interior
Infrared LED lights for night recording
Always records when battery powered
With ride-sharing services becoming a bigger part of our lives, it’s important for drivers to keep themselves protected in case of an accident or customer complaints. The Vantrue N2 Pro dash cam is designed with ride-sharing service drivers in mind. It has a front-facing camera to record traffic and a rear-facing camera to record the interior of the car. The rear-facing camera has four infrared LED lights for clear recording at night and in low-light environments. Both cameras shoot video in full 1080p HD to capture crisp details.
The dash cam system can be set to automatically turn on with the car’s ignition, and the LCD display has an auto-off feature for distraction-free driving day and night. The system also has a built-in microphone to record audio from the car’s interior. You can create time-lapse video to show a series of events, and the motion sensor protects your car while parked. Vantrue offers an 18-month warranty with 24-hour email support. You can also purchase an optional GPS system to integrate with the dash cam for greater protection.
Small and compact, doesn’t attract attention
Compatible with most smartphones
Detail more clear in day than night
If you’re looking for a compact dash cam that won’t draw attention, consider the Garmin Dashcam 66W. It fits easily behind your rearview mirror and is likely not to be noticed by anyone.
The Garmin brand has done a fantastic job with the 66W. The video screen has a wide 180-degree view and records 1440p videos, which can save onto a micro SD card. Thanks to the GPS, you can also pinpoint exactly where the footage was taken.
We love the voice controls, perfect for when you’re on the road, and the Dash Cam Auto Sync can connect up to four Garmins together, creating a full 360-degree picture. The Travelapse feature, like a hyperlapse, is a fun way to create short video snippets of long road trips.
It would be nice to see the 66W with a touchscreen, rather than control buttons, but overall it’s a top choice from Garmin, a trusted navigation brand. w
Sleek, streamlined design
Sync with rear camera for front and back video
Built-in Alexa and GPS
No infrared light, so best for daytime use
The app could be better
The Nextbase 422GW is an impressive dashcam that stands out for its stylish and functional design. An HD touchscreen makes it easy to control and the device can be easily paired with rear cameras, giving you the full picture.
In addition to the touch screen, the dashcam can be controlled via Alexa or by the app on your smartphone. Alexa can also be used for directions, making calls, or playing music.
The 422GW has an amazing safety feature — in the event of a crash, the dashcam can instantly alert emergency services, including your current GPS location. For peace of mind, this dashcam might be worth it just for this reason.
As the 422GW doesn’t have an infrared light, it doesn’t perform well at night. If you predominantly do late or early morning driving, this might not be for you. However, it’s otherwise a top contender for its intuitive design, innovative features, and compatibility with rear cameras.
For a great all-around balance of features and performance at a reasonable price, the THiEYE Safeel Zero+ is a fantastic option. For those looking for a more complete package, with a huge suite of extras and features (and who don't mind spending a bit more), the AUKEY 1080P Dual Dash Cam is a very worthwhile splurge.
Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate dash cams based on design, video quality, setup, functionality, and features. We test their real-life performance in actual use cases, recording video from both moving and stationary vehicles, and appraise additional features like embedded data and software packages. Our testers also consider each unit as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.
Taylor Clemons is a tech reviewer and journalist with several years of experience writing for top outlets as well as her own website. She previously worked with MTD Products, assembling and repairing robotic, riding, and push lawnmowers.
Danny Chadwick has been writing about tech since back in 2008, and has produced hundreds of features, articles, and reviews on a massive range of subjects. He specializes in dash cameras, and reviewed the Apeman C450 A for our list.
Let's face it: Roads and highways can be dangerous at times (there are millions of car accidents every year). And while we might think we’re safe and responsible drivers, that doesn’t account for the other careless and reckless individuals who could cause an accident—or other unforeseen situations, like unnecessary traffic stops or even things like insurance fraud. For all these reasons and more, it can be helpful to have a dash cam as your second pair of eyes on the road.
So, what exactly does a dash cam actually do? Essentially, a dash cam is a way to constantly record your driving whenever you’re driving. With a recording of what’s going on around you, you can prove fault in case of an accident, monitor your teenager learning to drive, and more. Not only that, but dash cams are getting increasingly affordable and easy to use, so they’re not limited to tech-heads and early adopters.
Unsure if you need one or do want some more intel before you make a decision? Before buying one, there are a number of things to consider. Because a dash cam is essentially a camera, the main things you’ll want to keep in mind are related to camera and video quality. In addition to that, there are a lot of features that might be helpful to you. These include things such as GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity, for smarter recording, increased storage, for the ability to record more footage, and a built-in display, to name a few.
Because it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to buying a dash cam, we’ve put together this handy guide. Here’s everything you need to know about buying a new dash cam for your car.
When buying a dash cam, there are several features to keep in mind. Read on for the breakdown.
Dash cams can come with a range of bells and whistles, but perhaps the most important thing to consider is the overall quality of the actual camera. Cameras of a higher quality will boast a clearer picture—which can be very helpful if you need to see different details after an accident or other incidents.
The first metric you’ll likely notice when it comes to buying a camera of any kind is the camera’s resolution. Normally, the resolution of the camera will be expressed by the number of vertical pixels in an image. If a camera is 1080p, then there are 1080 pixels vertically. A 1440p camera has 1440 pixels vertically. And a 2160p camera has 2160 pixels vertically.
Generally speaking, more pixels is always better. When a camera is capable of capturing more pixels, it means the resulting image will be clearer—which can be pretty important. We recommend buying a camera with at least a 1080p resolution—though if you can afford a camera with a higher resolution (i.e. 4K), then that’s the way to go.
The field-of-view of a camera is essentially how wide the camera can see and this can vary a lot. While some cameras only have a narrow field-of-view, others are specifically designed to have wide fields-of-view that allow for the user to see a lot more at any given moment. Of course, there are trade-offs to that. When a camera’s field of view is too wide, it can have an effect on image quality because the pixels are spread out a little more.
Unfortunately, manufacturers of dash cams aren’t the best at providing details about field-of-view. On top of that, there isn’t really a standard measurement. Some manufacturers, for example, provide a horizontal measurement, while others inflate their numbers by providing a diagonal measurement. We recommend seeing if you can find screenshots of footage from the camera before buying one, and paying particular attention to details on the side, and how detailed the image is in general. If you think the camera would be able to capture everything that you want, then it’ll probably do just fine.
Because dash cams film video—not take photos—frame rates are important to consider, too. Generally speaking, most dash cams offer a frame rate of 30 frames per second (fps). This is a standard frame rate and one that will be perfectly fine for the vast majority of users.
Some dash cams, however, step things up to 60fps. The result of this is a much smoother video capture. That’s perfect for things like sports capture, but we don’t think it’s really a necessary feature for dash cams. On top of that, footage captured at 60fps takes up twice the storage space, meaning you’ll only get half as much footage before your storage runs out and you have to either start replacing old footage or buying new storage cards.
If the dash cam you want offers 60fps capture anyway, it might be a nice bonus for some, especially if it can be toggled on and off, but we don’t recommend spending extra for this feature considering it won’t make much of a difference in most situations, and may actually do more damage than good considering the amount of storage it takes up.
One last feature to take into consideration is night vision, and it could be very helpful for some drivers—especially those who drive at night a lot. After all, your camera could essentially be rendered useless if it’s overly dark and there isn’t sufficient light for the camera to pick up—meaning that night vision could be the difference between proving innocence in an accident, or not.
Night vision essentially ensures that even in dark situations, there’s enough detail in your footage to make out what’s going on. Footage may not look as colorful as it would during the day, but that hardly matters when all you need is to see the license plate of the person that hit you.
When you get your dash cam, you’ll need to mount it to your car in some way, and there are a few ways to do that. Most dash cams can be mounted onto the dash, but some can also be mounted from the windshield. That’s helpful for those who might not want to clutter up their dash or who already have a phone mount on it.
Generally speaking, dash cams mount to the dash or windshield through a suction mount, and those suction mounts are pretty strong. Some, however, instead go for an adhesive mount that actually sticks to the dash or windshield. These can be a little trickier to deal with because they’re harder to unstick and move, and they can sometimes leave a little adhesive when you do decide to unstick the mount. Still, there is a trade-off to using an adhesive mount, and that’s the adhesive mounts generally don’t require as much space, so if you have limited space to mount your dash cam then they may be the better option.
We live in an era of smart devices, so it makes sense to have dash cams that can connect to the Internet or to your phone through something like Bluetooth.
There are a number of advantages to wireless connectivity on your dash cam. For starters, if your dash cam can connect to your phone through Bluetooth, you may be able to do things like manage footage, manage the settings for your dash cam, and more, all from your phone. Then, you don’t have to mess around with a tiny built-in screen on your dash cam, or going through badly-designed settings menus.
With Internet connectivity, there’s a host of other features that could be added to your dash cam. For example, footage captured by your dash cam could be uploaded directly to the cloud, where it can then be streamed to a phone or a computer.
Some dash cams also communicate with your phone through Wi-Fi, and doing so will yield similar results to Bluetooth connectivity. When connected through Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to download and view footage straight from your phone.
But what do we recommend? Bluetooth connectivity will be more than enough for most people who want added features and connectivity options, and if you don’t mind dealing with settings on the actual dash cam itself—and are good at managing file storage—then you may not need any extra connectivity at all.
Just like Bluetooth connectivity, GPS can add some extra features and functionality to your dash cam even though it’s probably not a feature you necessarily need.
With GPS connectivity, you’ll be able to log the speed and location of your car along with the footage, and that extra data could be helpful in figuring out a dispute.
Of course, GPS connectivity isn’t only helpful for your own dash cam—it’s also helpful if you’re buying a dash cam for a company or work vehicle that might be driven by others. With a built-in GPS, you’ll be able to track the car and monitor driver habits, which is helpful in dealing with employees internally, and if they get into an accident of some kind.
While GPS isn’t necessarily that important for most users, it might be helpful for others. If you like the idea of being able to track your car or log location and speed data, then look for a dash cam with GPS.
Video footage can take up a lot of storage, and as such choosing a dash cam with enough storage can be important. Thankfully, there are a few options when it comes to storage.
For starters, some dash cams will have a little storage built right into them, meaning that you won’t have to worry about managing external storage if you don’t want to. Storage in dash cams usually starts at around 4GB, though you may want more than that if you want to be able to store more than a few days of footage.
Most dash cams, however, will instead offer a MicroSD card slot, where you can insert a MicroSD card for storing your footage. Some dash cams will come with a MicroSD card, though others may not, and you’ll have to buy one separately. When doing so, you’ll want to check the amounts of storage that your dash cam supports. We recommend getting a MicroSD card with at least 64GB of storage to ensure that you can record enough footage.
Sometimes, you don’t realize you need recorded footage until after the fact, and since some dash cams record over old footage on a loop, when you realize you need it, it may be too late. Thankfully, however, many dash cams have protections against writing over footage that you may end up needing.
The most common protection against writing over footage is the G-Sensor, a sensor that can detect a sudden change in motion, and tell the dash cam to save footage of that incident. For many dash cams, once that footage is saved, it’s then locked and won’t be overwritten, which is helpful in case you need to access the footage later on.
Of course, don’t rely completely on the G-Sensor. If you’re in a really bad accident that does damage to the memory card inside the dash cam, you may be out of luck, but doing such damage to the memory card would be a rare occurrence.
While the most important thing to capture is video, some might want to capture audio as well. This can be helpful in recording conversations during traffic stops, audio happening around the car, and so on. Not all dash cams have audio recording, but it's an available feature if you want it. Generally speaking, audio recording doesn’t add too much extra to the cost of a dash cam, which is good news.
Not all dash cams have one camera, some of them have two. While most people probably only need to record what’s happening outside the car, some people — like Uber and Lyft drivers, for example — may want to also record what’s going on inside the car too. To that end, some dash cams have one camera sensor pointing out the windshield, and one pointing into the car.
There are a few disadvantages to this, though for some it could be worth it. For starters, double the footage means one minute of recording will take up double the storage space. If you do get a dash cam with driver monitoring, we recommend getting an SD card more storage than you think you’ll need.
The other disadvantage to driver monitoring is cost. Adding an extra camera sensor to the device definitely adds to the overall cost of the dash cam, especially if you’re going for relatively high-quality camera sensors in the first place.
While some dash cams connect to your phone to provide monitoring and control over the camera’s settings, others might have a built-in display. Through this display, you’ll be able to do things like review footage, tweak controls, and more.
Generally speaking, larger displays will make it easier to see details in footage and scroll through menus, but don’t expect to get a smartphone-quality display on your dash cam. Dash cam displays normally fall between two and three inches, so if you want one with a larger display, look for something around the three-inch mark. Displays on these devices are normally LCD displays and are built to be bright enough to see during the day, which is helpful for those that might need to change a setting.
A high-resolution display might be nice, but dash cams normally limit quality — so if you plan on doing a lot of video playback, it may be worth finding a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connected camera that you can use in conjunction with your smartphone.
Most dash cams are built to run on your car’s power, so they'll be on when you turn your car on, and they’ll turn off when your car gets turned off. Some dash cams, however, have a built-in battery, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to keep your car on to use the dash cam.
For most, this is an unnecessary feature, but for some, it may be important. Some, for example, might want a dash cam that they can use to record after they’ve parked their car in a public lot.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of dash cams have a battery only designed to last a few minutes at most. An alternative for some, however, is to instead use a sports camera like a GoPro as a dash cam. GoPros have batteries that are designed to last a lot longer, however, you’ll be limited to manually setting them to record and stop recording, and they don’t have features like a G-Sensor.
Dash cams are designed to record when you’re driving, and as such getting a dash cam that automatically starts recording when you’re driving can be useful. With auto-start, when you turn on your car and the camera turns on, it’ll automatically start recording. Then, when the car turns off, it’ll save the footage and turn off itself.
For those who are good at remembering to start and stop recording, this is simply a matter of convenience, but for those who might easily forget to start or stop recording, it could be a matter of capturing an accident, or not capturing it.
Loop recording ensures that even when your storage card runs out of space, the dash cam will still continue capturing footage. How does it do this? Essentially by recording over old footage. So, once the storage card fills up, older footage will be replaced with new footage, and you’ll lose that old footage. What this means is that you’ll either want to get ahold of footage from an accident as soon as possible or buy a really big memory card that can hold lots of footage before it starts deleting.
It’s really a handy feature and means you shouldn’t have to worry about managing your dash cams storage yourself, which could get annoying.
Dash cams come in a few general styles. Read on to learn more about them.
Basic dash cameras are just that: video cameras with built-in or removable storage media that record whenever you’re driving. Power-wise, they tend to be hard-wired into your car’s electrical system. However, certain models are designed to plug into a cigarette lighter/12V socket and others have a lithium-ion battery built into them.
If your needs are fairly straightforward—or if you're on a tight budget—a basic dash cam will get the job done. You'll be able to find a good-quality option for less than $100.
There are also dash cams that come with more advanced feature sets like Bluetooth connectivity, auto-start, and GPS tracking. These types of dash cams tend to be priced in the $150 to $350 range.
Certain dash cameras actually include two cameras: one facing outward from the windshield and the other facing the inside of your car. Typically, these images are composited into a single video. These cameras are useful for people who want a more comprehensive view of their vehicle or are looking for extra security; they're also great for parents looking for a way to supervise their new teen drivers.
There are no shortage of dash cam manufacturers. Here are a few we think you should put on your radar as you're shopping.
When you think of Garmin, your first thought is probably its GPS tracking technology–but the company makes dash cams, too. Known for being well-designed and reliable, Garmin's dash cams have options for voice control, extra wide-angle views, and—of course—GPS tracking.
Long a leading name in the dash cam world, Nextbase offers a variety of models at different price ranges. Its most advanced offerings have features like Alexa Auto integration, emergency SOS, auto-sync, and intelligent parking mode.
Founded in 2016, Owlcam makes the first-ever security camera designed specifically for vehicles. Its dash cam has the ability to record video footage of accidents or break-ins and send them directly to your phone in real time. If you're especially interested in security features, this would be a good option to consider, though it's pricier than other options at $350.
Z-Edge offers a full suite of attractive, easy-to-use dash cams that are best known for their excellent ultra-HD 2K image quality. And they're affordable, too—the company's best-selling Z-Edge Z3 can be found for under $100.
Simply put, there's more to keep top-of-mind when buying a new dash cam than you probably originally thought, but hopefully, now that you understand all the different options, buying one will be a little easier.
If you’re more confused than ever, we have a few pointers. For those simply looking for a decent dash cam to capture what’s going on around them, we recommend a 1,080p dash cam with Wi-Fi connectivity, auto-start, and loop recording. You probably won’t need features beyond that—like driver monitoring—unless you’re also worried about what’s going on inside your car. But no matter what you’re looking for from a dash cam, you shouldn't have a hard time finding one that works for you and your needs. Check out some of our top picks below.