Advertisement

Capture the Magic: The Best Dash Cams You Can Buy in 2024

best dash cams
Best Dash Cams 2024Amazon/Getty Images


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."

This article was updated in May 2024 with new products and information.

Our Takeaways

  • The NextBase iQ includes a comprehensive suite of safety features but requires a subscription on top of its hefty price to access all of its features. The Cobra SC 400D is the only dash cam on the market that also functions as a radar detector. The Vantrue N4 3 offers a strong value with a competitive price, multiple cameras, safety features, and great image quality.

  • While there are many reasons you may want a dash cam, its fundamental function is recording high-quality video in and around your vehicle. So a strong preference was given to those that do the basics well.

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Pricier dash cams have lots of enticing safety features (which can work very well), but this isn't the primary function of these devices. So if you are looking for a dash cam, shop with your needs in mind.


Accidents happen, and an already painful experience can be made worse by getting blamed for something that wasn't your fault. Dash-cam footage is frequently used following traffic incidents or break-ins to aid insurance companies and the authorities in conducting investigations that could mean the difference between your claim being covered or not. Many cameras can also record what goes on inside your vehicle and can be invaluable in traffic and other tense situations.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. Dash cams can capture scenic routes and also work great for documenting road trips and even monitoring teen drivers. Dash cams come in a range of configurations and can become pricey on the high end, so I enlisted the help of my Car and Driver colleague and resident dash-cam expert, Gannon Burgett. Burgett provided helpful insight into the ins and outs of dash cams and helped to determine what actually makes a useful device.


More Car Tech: Best OBD2 Scanners | Best Backup Cameras | Best Road Trip Gadgets


Things To Consider

With such a wide range of products out there, here are some things to consider before you pull the trigger.

Resolution: High-definition (HD) resolution results in clearer, sharper images with greater detail, but it also means the files are larger and you need more storage. Look for terms such as 1080p and 4K when shopping for a dash cam.

Power Supply: Most dash cams plug into your 12-volt outlet via a USB cord. Others are battery-powered and rechargeable. However, dash-cam batteries can be short-lived; some last as little as 30 minutes. There are some high-end options that connect directly to your car's battery; these should be installed professionally, but you'll benefit from hidden wiring for a cleaner cabin.

Memory: Many dash cams require an SD card (or Micro SD) to store recordings. Oddly, however, most dash cams don't include them in their packaging. Before buying, check if the dash cam you're considering requires and includes an SD card or if you'll need to purchase one separately.

Interior Cameras: This may not be a feature most drivers are interested in, but for some—particularly those who make their living toting passengers around—having a cabin camera that captures what's going on inside your car can be a lifesaver. For ride-share drivers, a cabin cam may even be required by law.

Rearview Cameras: Many dash cams come with internal or rearview cameras, which can record events behind you in the event of a rear-end accident (or just help you back up safely). Again, this feature may not appeal to everyone, but for professional drivers, it could be essential.

Field of View: Some dash cams utilize wide-angle lenses to capture more of the road and surrounding areas. A wider angle of view makes it easier to capture what's going on at intersections and in your peripheral vision, but objects directly ahead will appear smaller. Knowing what sort of lens your camera has is important.

Connectivity: Wi-Fi-enabled dash cams usually interface with a smartphone app to adjust camera settings and to capture, store, and replay video. It's not essential, but without Wi-Fi connectivity, you'll likely need an internal SD card to store recorded videos.

Safety: Some dash cams can inform you if you cross lane lines or let you know if a car in front of you has stopped in traffic. They can also detect collisions and notify emergency services if you are involved in an accident. This is helpful in the event that you are unable to reach assistance. Additionally, if they have GPS, they can inform the emergency personnel of your precise location.


The Best Dash Cams You Can Buy

N4

The N4 contains all the top-of-the-line capabilities of pricier dash cams, including GPS, parking mode, time-lapse, etc., and provides simultaneous 360-degree car coverage from the inside and the outside. It's also one of the more popular dash cams on the market. But it's not flawless.

Because Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are not supported, the only method of playback and review is via a wired connection to a computer. Additionally, ordinary SD cards aren't compatible—a rather obnoxious sales tactic. You must use Vantrue's exclusive 256GB SD card, which is not included. N4 buyers are required to buy one separately or pay more for a Vantrue dash cam bundle.

During testing, the Vantrue proved itself by virtue of its value. Despite being supremely affordable, it features three cameras and a ton of features. Our expert Gannon also notes that its video quality was among the best.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083V6K8RH?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>N4 </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$259.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Shop Now

N4

amazon.com

$259.99

Amazon

MAXcam 360c

For those seeking both radar detection and dash-cam functionality, the MAXcam 360c is an excellent choice. Featuring a Sony Starvis image sensor and a 2560 x 1440 resolution, the dash cam captures footage at 30 frames per second with a 143-degree field of view. While the video quality has high contrast and offers noise reduction, video compression significantly affects image clarity.

Gannon notes that in its comparison test of dash cams, the Gear Team found the MAXcam 360c performed well in low-light conditions, although finer details became blurry at a distance.

Despite its high cost and the potential complexity associated with using a radar scanner, the MAXcam 360c offers a comprehensive solution for those in need of both radar detection and dash-cam capabilities. If you're looking to streamline your vehicle accessories and address both needs simultaneously, this Escort model is worth considering.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BBNGYYJZ?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>MAXcam 360c </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$844.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Shop Now

MAXcam 360c

amazon.com

$844.99

Amazon

Mini 2

The Mini 2 is a solid offering from one of the most trusted names in the game. It's about the size of your car's key fob but still manages to pack in an abundance of features. It records in 1080p, can take hands-free voice commands, and can be powered with either a USB-B or USB-A.

The Mini 2 impressed the Gear Team, although our expert says because of its diminutive size everything about the Mini 2 must be configured, controlled, and adjusted via the Garmin Drive app, which might be a hurdle for some.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0931YZ82P?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Mini 2</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$129.99</p><span class="copyright">Garmin</span>

Shop Now

Mini 2

amazon.com

$129.99

Garmin

G840S

The Wolfbox G840S is an all-in-one car-camera solution with a rear camera for parking and a 12.0-inch display doubling as a rearview mirror. The unit fits seamlessly onto your existing mirror, saving windshield space. The front-facing camera can record in ultra-crisp 4k, and the rearview mirror display is larger than standard, eliminating potential blind spots.

As a backup camera, the Wolfbox was named Best Overall in our Gear Team test, thanks mostly to its outstanding image quality and versatility. Gannon's testing team found the rearview mirror image quality to be impressive, as well. As a dash cam, it leaves some functionality and image quality to be desired but its overall versatility makes it a fine selection for almost anyone who wants both a dash cam and a backup camera in one unit. In fact, it would be ideal for older vehicles that aren't equipped with a backup camera.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0811Q28N6?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>G840S </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$119.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Shop Now

G840S

amazon.com

$119.99

Amazon

SC 400D

The SC 400D by Cobra stands out as one of the most comprehensive dash-cam packages available. Featuring a front camera with remarkable 4K resolution and a rear-facing camera delivering high-quality 1080p footage, it ensures thorough coverage. The camera is user-friendly too, with options including a touchscreen display, the Drive Smarter app, and hands-free commands via Alexa. Powering up via a micro-USB port, it securely attaches to your windshield using a durable adhesive pad. Offering an array of driver alerts and navigation tools, including police alerts, this feature-rich dash cam sets itself apart from others on the market.

It's also versatile. You can choose to forgo the rear-facing camera and save a few bucks, or you can add on the additional interior camera for full coverage.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09GL8F8Z9?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>SC 400D</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$299.95</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Shop Now

SC 400D

amazon.com

$299.95

Amazon

F7N-Plus

The F7N-Plus is an Amazon Choice for a reason. It packs in all of the features you expect from a premium dash cam, such as wide-angle front and rear cameras, 4K 1080p quality, GPS, and loop recording. Despite all these features, it can often be found on sale for less than $150.

The Gear Team didn't test this dash cam, but customers seem to like its image quality and appreciate its ease of installation and operation. Opinions on size and video download time are mixed, though.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098WVKF19?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>F7N-Plus </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$129.99</p><span class="copyright">Redtiger</span>

Shop Now

F7N-Plus

amazon.com

$129.99

Redtiger

iQ 4K Smart HD Dash Cam

Offering an impressive array of advanced features, the iQ4K blurs the lines between a standard dash cam and a comprehensive vehicle safety system. What sets the iQ4K apart is its extensive safety features, including lane departure and collision imminent alerts, anti-sleep alerts, and a guardian mode tailored for monitoring younger drivers.

Operable via voice commands and a user-friendly app, the iQ4K offers convenient control and customization options directly from your smartphone. For LTE features a subscription is required, which can be paid monthly or annually. Furthermore, the iQ4K offers flexible power options, via the OBD-II port or wired directly through your vehicle's fuse box. Also available in cheaper iQ1K and iQ2K lower-resolution versions, the iQ4K provides crisp coverage of up to 360 degrees with front, interior, and rear cameras.

The iQ recently received a round of updates from Nextbase which included a host of changes meant to improve the user experience. Updates were made to the iQ rear cam's functionality, SmartSense Parking, cabin image quality, and others. AI voice recognition software called "Picovoice"was also added, enabling users to engage hands-free with iQ simply by saying: "Hey, iQ" and can be used in multiple user languages.

We've used the iQ4K, and while we love its tech-y features and quality, installation was... not easy. Unless you're comfortable in wiring behind your dashboard or settling for one of the cheaper versions, we'd recommend getting professional assistance.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CJWHSWSS?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>iQ 4K Smart HD Dash Cam </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$699.99</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Road Patrol Touch Duo

The front and back cameras on the Dual View make it the perfect dash cam for ride-share drivers on a budget. Even the interior camera can catch 110 degrees of vision, thanks to the 1080p Sony image sensor.

This is one of our favorite dash cams not because it comes from our colleagues at Car and Driver, but because of 1) it's affordability for the features, and 2) the Drivesmart driver-assistance that notifies you if your car drifts out of its lane or approaches another vehicle too closely. It also offers parking mode, accident detection, and an integrated GPS for pinpointing your location in the event of an incident.

During testing, the Gear Team really liked the dual tripod that allows mounting from either the top or bottom of the camera, making angle adjustment a breeze. Gannon says that while the screen quality displayed some visual quirks while driving, those did not show up in the downloaded footage, so the end result was just fine. While the Gear Team was impressed, some online reviewers have mixed opinions about product quality.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099789RFT?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Road Patrol Touch Duo</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$139.99</p><span class="copyright">Car and Driver</span>

R2-4K

The R2-4K from Rove is a solid middle-of-the-range option—and one of the most popular dash cams on Amazon with more than 30,000 reviews (!) and a sterling 4.4-star rating (although smart consumers know to take that for what it's worth).

Its ultra HD, 150-degree wide-angle-lens camera can capture images up to 2160p resolution, and the built-in Wi-Fi and GPS can track your route on the Rove app or Google Maps. It also features parking mode, motion detection, g-sensor, loop-cycle recording, emergency lock, time-lapse, and slow-motion capabilities.

The Gear Team did not put this dash cam to the test, but customers who bought it say it's reliable and produces clear videos, and appreciate the value and ease of setup. However, some customers have reported issues with the app and recording quality. They mention that the app is buggy and struggles to work. Customers also differ on speed, and performance.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074JT3698?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>R2-4K</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$99.99</p><span class="copyright">Rove</span>

Shop Now

R2-4K

amazon.com

$99.99

Rove

622GW

The Nextbase 622GW stands out from the herd with a few features that most others simply don't offer. Image stabilization, 5-GHz Wi-Fi, super-slow-motion playback, defogging, and What3Words GPS to pinpoint your location within meters.

Its image quality is top-notch, and we know because while the Gear Team hasn't tested it, we have used this particular package and it's fantastic; easy to set up and great quality. There are a lot of components to wire up, but it's not difficult for anyone with a modicum of know-how.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08F7RH7NY?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>622GW </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$499.98</p><span class="copyright">Nextbase</span>

Shop Now

622GW

amazon.com

$499.98

Nextbase

V1

The V1 is a tough camera. It features a built-in supercapacitor designed to handle temperatures from –20 to 166 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for venturing off into extreme situations. It also includes a list of premium features such as GPS, a parking monitor, loop recording, Wi-Fi connectivity, and 2160p resolution.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X528FNE?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10064.g.43907819%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>V1 </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$94.99</p><span class="copyright">Rexing</span>

Shop Now

V1

amazon.com

$94.99

Rexing

Testing Editor Gannon Burgett's Expert Advice on Dash Cams

Gannon Burgett is a testing editor for Road & Track's sibling publication Car and Driver. In January 2024, the Gear Team conducted a hands-on test of some of the best dash cams on the market. In preparation for and during testing, Burgett spent hours researching dash cams and sifting through footage to determine the best balance of image quality, safety tech, and more.

Aside from his hands-on testing of dash cams, Burgett's knowledge of photo/video and image quality has been honed over the years shooting motorsport, with his work appearing in publications such as USA Today, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Digital Trends, and more.

During my conversation with Burgett, we talked about safety tech, image quality, and whether or not dash cams serve a practical purpose for the typical consumer.

  • "For me, the biggest takeaway when considering purchasing a dash cam is to figure out what features you want in it. Personally, I'm a fan of keeping it simple. I just want something that'll record video in the front and rear of my car with the best resolution possible. Generally speaking, I don't think you need fancy features like built-in lane detection or even smartphone connectivity."

  • "The only thing that surprised me was how convoluted some of these were to set up. Aside from the physical setup in terms of getting everything plugged in and routed through the dash/interior, some of the apps and built-in menus required to get some of the cameras up and running properly were convoluted. A dash cam is no use if you don't know how to quickly turn it on and access the footage, so as much as I love my technology, I prefer to keep it as simple as possible."

  • "To me, camera quality is the most important factor behind basic usability. After all, what good is a camera for recording information about a crash or incident if you can't see any detail in the resulting image? It's worth noting, though, that quality goes beyond transparent resolution. There are 1080p cameras we tested that I'd argue are better than some of the 4K cameras we tested due to either the better lenses in front of the sensor or better low-light performance at dusk and night."

  • "Assuming you're a responsible driver, it rarely hurts to have an audio-visual record of all on-road interactions. I see it as another form of insurance to use should you be falsely accused of something by another party, be it another citizen or a law enforcement officer. Being able to have a visual record of the vehicles and their respective license plates around you serves as another way to passively obtain additional information should you need it to come to your defense at some point in time. You also never know when you might catch a crazy meteorite flashing through the sky or another crash where your video evidence could be beneficial to the parties involved. This does work both ways, though. If you're not as responsible of a driver as you probably should be, keep in mind that this evidence could be used against you. Do with that information what you will."

  • "I believe it ultimately comes down to accountability. I know I'm far less likely to speed even a little bit or pull a California roll through even a completely clear stop sign if I have a dash cam running while driving. As mentioned above, knowing the audio/video evidence can be used against me just as much as it can be used to protect me helps keep me in check behind the wheel. This not only helps keep me safe but improves the safety of others by holding me accountable and serving as a deterrent for any kind of unsafe driving out of fear of self-incrimination."

best dash cams
Micheal Simari

FAQs

Do I need a dash cam?

Depending on what, how, and why you drive, a dash cam can be useful. Truck, delivery, and ride-share drivers are all professionals who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, and they use dash cams regularly. Dash-cam data can safeguard drivers by exonerating them from liability in the event of an accident or traffic infraction.

According to the Journal of Safety Research, accident-related costs decreased by as much as 86 percent when a dash cam with driver feedback was used.

Are there different types of dash cams?

Dash cams are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and shapes. There are generally two types:

Single-lens dash cams are among the most basic. They record from one camera lens and are usually mounted in the front windshield to record what's happening in front of your vehicle.

Dual-lens dash cams come with two cameras: one looking forward to record events in front of the car and the other commonly pointed at the rear of the car to record the exterior. Sometimes the second camera can be turned to record the vehicle's interior cabin.

What is a premium dash cam?

Premium dash cams go above and beyond the standard dash cam and typically include features such as parking mode, smartphone integration, HD video resolution, g-sensors, cloud connectivity, and more.

How much video can a dash cam store?

Most dash cams record onto an SD card, so the amount of video you can store depends on the memory capacity of the card you use. Many newer and premium dash cams utilize cloud management, making it simple to edit and distribute video as needed. These dash cams and their accompanying smartphone apps typically let you save event footage to prevent overwriting critical video files.

How do I mount a dash cam?

Dash cams mount either with double-sided adhesive tape or a suction cup. Both have their pros and cons. While suction-cup mounts give you the flexibility to reposition your camera or even use it in another car, they're not as secure. Adhesive mounts provide a more stable base but make it much more difficult to reposition your camera and move it between cars.

Are dash cams legal?

Although they are legal in the U.S., you should examine the regulations and limitations on their use and mounting requirements in your state and locality. Because it can impair your view, mounting a dash cam directly to the windshield is prohibited in several states. Ride-share drivers could be compelled by law to alert passengers if they're being recorded.

Why Trust Us

Road & Track and its sibling publications at Hearst Autos represent three of the most influential automotive publications in the world. We rely on decades of experience in the automotive and gear spaces to help readers make informed purchasing choices, bringing reviews and evaluations of automotive gear and accessories, such as Action Cameras, Sim Racing Setups, and Truck Tonneau Covers to our readers.

With the legacies of Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track behind us, the Hearst Autos Gear Team is more concerned with the trust our readers have in us than our bottom line. We won't tell you to buy something if we wouldn't buy it ourselves or recommend it to our friends, and we'll never claim to have used or tested something if we haven't. Read more about our testing process here.

in cabin view of a car with a dash cam at night
Jackyenjoyphotography - Getty Images

You Might Also Like