Looking for the best dash cam you can buy right now? You've landed in the right place. We've tested and ranked all of the best car cameras that are available right now – so whether you drive a car, truck or van, you'll find the ideal option in this buying guide.
There are lots of good reasons to buy a dash cam. Mounted to your windscreen, they make motoring safer by capturing everything that happens while you’re behind the wheel. Beyond peace of mind, they can also help to lower your insurance premiums – and clips of unexpected moments on the road can also be great fodder for your YouTube channel.
While minor mishaps will hopefully be the most a dash cam ever captures, its recordings could also prove invaluable in the unfortunate event of an accident. And with roads getting increasingly busy again after a pandemic lull, it's well worth investing in the best dash cam you can get.
So what should you consider when choosing the right dash cam for you? Firstly, there’s resolution. Most entry-level dash cams can shoot footage in Full HD, but the best can now record 4K video as standard. That added resolution isn’t essential for everyone, but it could be the difference between, for example, being able to read the number plate of a passing vehicle or not.
Another bonus that’s increasingly common in the best dash cams – like our current number one, the NextBase 622GW – is night vision mode, which is a particularly handy feature to look out for if you do a lot of after-dark trips. If you’re looking to record footage inside your vehicle as well as out, some dash cams also have a second lens for this purpose. Alternatively, you can also find 'front and rear dash cams' that can be paired with a second camera that can capture video out of the rear-view mirror.
Some high-end dash cams, like the Kenwood DRV-830, can also capture additional data like the G-force of an impact, or track your location via GPS. A few even support Alexa integration for hands-free smart assistance as you drive. But away from these premium models, there are also some impressive entry-level models too, like the keyfob-sized Garmin Dash Cam Mini. These cameras offer a simple, reliable recording solution for drivers on a budget, while also including important safety features like incident detection.
What's the best dash cam you can buy right now? Our overall pick for the title is the NextBase 622GW. It shoots crisp 4K video, has great stabilization, and is very easy to use thanks to its 3-inch touchscreen. But it’s not necessarily the best choice for you, so read on to find the very best dash cams for every kind of driver.
The best dash cams 2021 at a glance:
- Nextbase 622GW
- Nextbase 522GW
- Garmin Dash Cam 66W
- Viofo A129 Pro Duo
- Garmin Dash Cam Tandem
- Garmin Dash Cam Mini
- Kenwood DRV-A601W
- Vava 2K Dual Dash Cam
- Kenwood DRV-830
- BlackVue DR900S-2CH
- Thinkware T700 Dash Cam
- Vantrue N2 Pro
- Halfords HDC400
- Viofo A139
The 14 best dash cams in 2021:
Rather than being a replacement for the more affordable 522GW (see below), the 622GW is simply a new flagship dash cam. It brings much-improved video quality, better stabilization and the inclusion of what3words geolocation services, which make it possible to pinpoint a stricken vehicle within a three-meter radius.
Opting for 4K at 30fps sees the resulting footage look almost cinematic in its presentation, with extremely crisp definition and great detail, even in poor lighting situations. This makes it much easier to pinpoint registration numbers or pick out hard-to-see elements of an accident.
A built-in polarizing filter on the front of the camera can be rotated to reduce glare from windscreens, while digital image stabilization is another first for the dash cam market and helps smooth out those bumps and shakes caused by potholes and poor road surfaces.
Like its 522GW sibling, this model can be controlled via your voice with Alexa Skills, but it requires the accompanying smartphone app to work, which isn’t the best. Despite new dual 2.4GHz + 5GHz Wi-Fi, it still has trouble connecting with phones to transfer images and video clips.
Thankfully, the 3-inch rear touchscreen is crisp, clear and very easy to use, while the inclusion of what3words combines well with Nextbase's EmergencySOS feature, which you get a year's free subscription for with this dash cam. If you're in the UK, it also currently gives you up to 30% off Nextbase's own Insurance.
- Read our in-depth Nextbase 622GW review
The Nextbase 622GW flagship (above) might be one of the most advanced dash cams you can buy, but the 522GW remains our top choice for all-round value. Thanks to a crisp 1440p resolution and wide-angle lens, it does the basics very well, but also throws in plenty of additional features.
There is a responsive three-inch touchscreen at the back, as well as the option of using the built-in Alexa functionality. Currently, users can ask Alexa to play music, place calls and listen to audiobooks through connected devices, but they'll soon be able to use an upcoming Dash Cam Skill to command it to ‘start recording’, ‘stop recording’, ‘protect a recording’ and ‘send to my phone’.
That all might seem like a bit of a gimmick and, to be honest, we didn't use it all that much, so it is lucky that the remainder of the UX is extremely simple. Videos can be quickly and easily shared to a smart device via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, while a clever Emergency SOS system will alert the emergency services of your location and other details if you prove unresponsive following an accident.
We've often rated the Garmin dash cam offerings for their ease of use, and new to the party is its concise line of cute, inconspicuous dash cams, which piggyback on the marque's action camera user interface but boast plenty of features that make them a valuable assistant on the open road.
This more expensive and latest 66W unit is the one to go for in our eyes, simply because the inclusion of the massively wide 180-degree viewing angle lens makes it the master of capturing everything that's going on ahead – although there is some distortion at the very edge of the frame.
There are very few dash cams that don't automatically record and save footage when a built-in G-sensor detects and accident and that's exactly what Garmin has implemented here too.
On top of this, users can operate the 66W using voice commands, such as 'OK, Garmin, save video' and 'take a picture,' but we found this system a little clunky when out on the noisy motorway.
Footage is largely excellent and performance in low-light situations is very good but arguably its greatest appeal is the neat and tidy package. It is small, inconspicuous and doesn't cost the earth.
We won’t hold it against you if you’ve never heard of Viofo, because it certainly ins’t the most recognized name in the dash cam business, but its 4K resolution Pro Duo model represents phenomenal value for money.
The front camera is quite a bit bulkier than many rivals on this list, but it features a built-in GPS module, something that many other brands offer as an optional extra. Its plastic casing looks and feel basic, but it houses some rather trick technology that belies its overall build quality.
It runs super capacitors, rather than a traditional rechargeable battery set up, meaning its power source is built to last and can withstand an extreme temperature range without blunting performance. On top of this, you get the option of glorious 4K (3840 x 2160p) video recording up front, with the resulting footage offering a great amount of details and Wide Dynamic Range for rich colors in all weather conditions.
Unfortunately, 4K recording is only possible at 30fps, which isn’t the greatest if you want to slow footage down. However, dual recording (front and rear cameras) is only available at full HD (1080p) anyway and this is pumped out at 60fps for much smoother results.
Set up is very easy and Viofo offers a smartphone app for quickly reviewing and saving clips. Unfortunately, instillation of dual cameras requires the removal of interior trim and the clever stashing of long wires. It can be a messy and infuriating process to get it right, but worth it to avoid a dangling tangle of power cables.
The fact that you get night vision, a parking mode, motion detection, automatic emergency recording, GPS tracking and dual channel 1080p at this price makes this a package well worth considering if you cover a lot of miles and want total camera coverage that doesn’t cost a small fortune.
Garmin’s first dual lens dash cam allows you to view what’s going on both inside and outside the car while you are driving, which is handy for taxi drivers and others wanting to keep an eye on their passengers.
Extremely compact in design, the Dash Cam Tandem features a clip-in magnetic mount and can be easily installed below the rear-view mirror and removed when not in use.
Two lengths of USB cable are provided (the longer one enables you to run the cable around the car cabin neatly) as is a cigarette lighter USB socket with two ports for charging your phone at the same time. However, if you want to use the dash cam for incident recording – such as if your car gets bumped in the car park while you are shopping – you will need to get it professionally installed so it’s constantly recording.
Key for control of the camera is the Garmin Drive app (Android and iOS) where you can review video and audio footage from your drives without having to take the MicroSD card out of the camera. Picture quality is generally excellent especially from the front camera. And while the rear camera struggles a bit in very low light, you can still make out passengers reasonably clearly in black and white. There’s also a picture-in-picture option so you can view both rear- and front-facing camera footage simultaneously.
Rather usefully, footage is displayed with a time stamp, the speed of the vehicle and its location. Voice control is also provided, which enables hands-free control with instructions such as ‘OK Garmin, take a picture’ or ‘OK Garmin, save video’. Safety cam alert updates will also be added to the app soon.
The only slight problem we experienced was that the app wasn’t as intuitive as we would’ve liked and didn’t automatically connect to the Wi-Fi connection when reviewing footage from our drives. Aside from that, this is a pricey but excellent option for those who want to keep an eye on their car, inside and out.
Garmin’s tiny Dash Cam Mini is designed to be hassle-free and hidden. Attached to the low-profile mount, the compact cam disappears behind the rear-view mirror, letting you focus on the road. Run the longer of the two USB cables behind your cabin’s headlining and you’ll quickly forget it’s there.
Built to be simple, there are just two buttons on the Dash Cam Mini: one to mute the microphone, the other to save clips on the go – and there’s no display for framing footage. Instead, download the Garmin Drive App on your smartphone, connect to the Mini’s built-in Wi-Fi and view the live preview feed while adjusting its position.
The app is also where you can review, edit and export clips, making it straightforward to get footage off the camera. You can tweak settings, too, including data overlay and video quality (which can be reduced to 720p), as well as remotely controlling the dash cam. It’s an easy, reliable setup – and if you don’t want to sit in your car while sorting clips, you can pop the cam off its mount and power it using the spare USB cable.
Once installed, the Dash Cam Mini records constantly, looping over the microSD card. While it doesn’t offer the higher resolutions of some rivals, its Full HD footage is still bright and detailed, while exposure adapts well to different conditions. And the 140-degree viewing angle covers the majority of the view ahead, without fish-eye distortion.
There are some compromises: there’s no GPS or night mode, and you’ll need to buy and install the separate cable for parking surveillance. And while incident detection saves footage automatically, it did miss a couple of heavy braking events. All the same, as a subtle, uncomplicated and affordable solution, the Dash Cam Mini ticks a lot of boxes.
The Kenwood DRV-A601W does everything you ask of it, and does it well, without including many of the annoying additional features – such as lane keeping assist warnings and speed limit alerts – that many modern units attempt to woo potential customers with.
The 4K footage is smooth, and the addition of a removable polarizing filter and built-in HDR technology means it’s possible to get incredibly crisp and clear images, even in adverse weather conditions or low-light situations.
That said, the DRV-A601W is expensive; similarly priced rivals offer equally good video quality with the addition of innovative features, such as the Emergency SOS geo-location service found on the Nextbase 622GW.
Kenwood also pushes its rear view camera, which offers fantastic HD quality footage to capture rear-end collisions and the like, as well as its hard-wiring kit that allows the camera to draw a certain amount of power when the ignition is off, without draining the vehicle’s battery. This opens up parking surveillance opportunities and gets around modern engine stop/start technology that can often see the power cut off to cameras and recording terminated.
However, adding these extras can get expensive, and there are models such as the new Viofo A139 that offer a perfectly good three-camera setup for the same price as the Kenwood’s front-facing unit. Of course, it can’t compete on video quality, but if you want all-round coverage on a budget, there are options.
- Read our in-depth Kenwood DRV-A601W review
Vava joins a growing list of relative newcomers to the dash cam game that includes brands like Vantrue and Viofo, but it offers a level of build quality and finish that could easily rival some of the bigger names in the market.
Arriving in neatly divided and high quality packaging, the Vava 2K Dual Dash Cam immediately feels like a premium offering. This is reflected in the fairly lofty price but unfortunately the footage isn’t as crisp, detailed or clear as some of the 4K rivals higher up in this guide.
On top of this, the rear camera, which is neatly integrated into the single, lozenge-shaped unit, predominantly captures what is going on inside the cabin, rather than the important stuff happening out of the rear window.
That said, the extra niceties, including a wireless physical button for recording footage on the fly and capturing still images when driving, are neat things to have. Plus, features like a driver fatigue alarm and infrared lighting for inside the cabin feel like welcome extras.
It’s a good little dash cam, it just doesn’t capture footage as well as those products that feature separate front and rear cameras.
Kenwood might be a brand that’s most associated with sub-woofers and colorful head units favored by boy racers, but its recent line of dash cams is sleek and packed with cutting-edge technology. Oh, and they’re very good too.
This DRV-830 unit might not be compatible with existing Kenwood head units (you’ll need the DRV-520 for that) but it sports it own 3-inch full color TFT display, making reviewing and saving clips a doddle.
The viewing angle of 144-degrees is among some of the widest on the market and the 1440p footage is perfectly good in both day and low light conditions. Granted, it can’t keep up with the Nextbase or hideously expensive BlackVue models for image quality, but it belies its sub-£100 price tag.
Advanced driver assist systems, such as lane departure and front collision warnings, are built into the system, but many will find them a tad annoying. Thankfully, they can be switched off by rummaging through the numerous settings.
Footage is automatically captured via 3-axis G-Force detection hardware and the camera will manage storage by overwriting any older files that haven’t been saved. That said, if you are the sort of person who likes to regularly save clips, this camera boasts some of the largest memory available thanks to two SDHC micro card slots, capable of a massive 256GB with the appropriate cards.
Those doing high mileage on a regular basis, braving all conditions and types of roads, will likely want to part with a little extra for their dash cam. We're not suggesting the camera needs to boast lots of fancy gizmos and superfluous tech, but spending a bit more means image quality is improved.
This is very handy in the case of an accident, especially in a hit-and-run scenario, where reading a number plate from a distance and making out any distinguishing features can be the difference between catching a perpetrator and ending up with a hefty insurance claim.
Sitting very much at the premium end of the dash cam spectrum, this package from BlackVue includes front- and rear-facing cameras, both of which capture the action in HD quality.
Its circa-£500 price tag might feel incredibly steep for a dash cam, but this is the only camera to feature an 8MP CMOS sensor up front and a high-performance Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor in the rear camera. As a result, the footage is undeniably the best on the market, day and night.
The 162-degree field of view feels absolutely perfect for the task in hand and rids the resulting footage of that awkward fisheye look that some wider-angle cameras suffer from.
Paranoid owners can also make use of BlackVue's advanced intelligent park mode, which essentially carries on recording when the vehicle is powered down. This is possible thanks to the Power Magic Pro, which is wired in to the vehicle's battery and ensures the dash cam doesn't deplete reserves when recording overnight.
You can expect all of the obvious features, too, including built-in GPS, incident detection and the ability to send clips to BlackVue's bespoke smartphone app via the on-board Wi-Fi.
Alternatively, users can make the most of BlackVue's over-the-cloud storage offering or remotely check in on a parked vehicle (via the app) and view real-time footage from the camera.
The Thinkware T700 focuses on clever additional features, rather than blowing the budget on the latest image sensors and huge video resolutions. The result is perfectly adequate, if not completely faultless, HD-quality footage with a healthy dollop of online features that make it great for particularly paranoid car owners.
That’s because this camera accepts Vodafone’s V-Sim card, meaning that for a few quid a month, you can have a constantly connected 4G LTE camera that you can tap into via a smart device from pretty much anywhere in the world.
Due to this fact, the T700 requires hard-wiring into a vehicle’s power supply to make the most of these remote features, which is both fiddly and a bit tricky for most. That said, once initial set-up is complete, it’s very easy to rapidly download clips to a smart device, receive warnings when the car has been involved in a parking shunt, and spy on the kids if and when they grab the keys to your prized wheels.
Type the words ‘dash cam’ into Amazon and the number of search results that appear can be intimidating. But nestled in amongst the pile of offerings is this Chinese brand that flaunts professional spec dash cams that cost up to half as much as some of the market leaders.
The front lens, which is arguably the most important here, is comprised of six individual glass elements and packs a whopping f/1.8 aperture, making it brilliant for capturing crisp imagery in low light situations.
On top of this, a second f/2 lens faces the cabin and is supported by four IR LED lights to boost what is often tricky, gloomy footage via an excellent Sony IMX323 sensor. Although not for everyone, this sort of functionality is perfect for professional drivers who may or may not want to relive any incidents that occur late on a Friday night. There’s also a built-in microphone to record sound.
Continuous loop recording is a given here, as is G-sensor technology that detects an incident and will automatically save the footage to the MicroSD card. However, buyers will have to plump for an optional GPS mount that saves data on speed and location alongside the video file.
Thanks largely to the brilliant Sony sensor, image quality is generally very good and linking the device to a laptop or PC is as simple as it gets. Front and rear footage is handily divided into two separate files too, reducing the time spent browsing the various folders for the desired clip.
Parking Mode is also good value at this price point, as it can be switched on to auto record whenever it senses motion. Alas, it requires a power source, so needs to either be hard-wired into the vehicle via a separate accessory or attached to an external power source.
If you've already got a smartphone holder and sat-nav system cluttering the dashboard and front windscreen, it can be a step too far to throw another device into the mix – which is where the sleek shell of this Halfords number comes in.
Easily mounted directly to the windscreen, the diminutive package tucks neatly out of the way, but still manages to record in full HD and capture the action via an extremely wide 180-degree viewing angle.
Alas, there are a few drawbacks, chiefly a lack of screen or monitor, which makes the set-up process slightly complicated. You will first have to download the accompanying smartphone app, connect to the device’s Wi-Fi and then get a live feed from the camera to check positioning.
Downloading footage this way can also be overtly time consuming, but there’s always the option to lift footage directly from the SD card. On this subject, the maximum card size is just 32GB here, which means it will quickly fill up if multiple full HD clips (the file sizes are large) are saved to the device.
That said, the footage is of very good quality, with WDR abilities making even low light image capture a suit above some more expensive rivals. Built-in functionality, such as GPS recording, is also a welcome bonus at this price point.
There aren’t many folk outside of the professional driving world that legitimately need a three-camera setup such as this, where individual units capture footage out of the windscreen, out of the rear and inside the cabin.
But if you’re one of those people, Viofo’s package is enticing, since it offers a lot of technology for the money. In addition, the entire setup is compact and simple enough to discreetly install without impeding too much on windscreen real estate. Just be prepared to deal with lots of trailing wires and get used to hiding them in the car’s headliner or under the carpet.
Footage captured out of the front camera is perfectly good enough for most scenarios, but it falls some way behind some of the market leaders, which now offer impressive 4K capabilities, excellent low-light capture and Wide Dynamic Range technology for all driving conditions.
That said, Viofo uses Sony Starvis image sensors, which work well when capturing footage in low light, although the drop in resolution means that some of the quality is lost in sub-par driving conditions. You’ll be able to punch in to the footage using some video software, but distant details become fuzzy.
The interior and rear cameras capture 170-degrees of action, thanks to a wide field of view, while that interior camera also uses six LEDs to assist with its infrared capabilities. Even in the darkest driving conditions, it’s possible to easily make out what’s going on inside the car.
But at this price, the A139 competes with a lot of fantastic cameras on this list, with many offering lots of additional technology, a more user-friendly app and touchscreens for easier interaction. Plus, Viofo’s own A129 4K dual dash cam setup is a very similar price. Unless you absolutely need the interior footage, the higher-resolution A129 (with rear screen) is the better buy.
- Read our in-depth Viofo A139 review
Best dash cam 2021: what to look for
The best dash cams broadly have similar technology to one another, and, for the most part, mount somewhere along a car's front windscreen or windshield. Of course, wherever you place your dash cam must not block your view of the road.
The advent of rear-facing cameras (or complete kits that contain both front and rear) require a little extra instillation, as these often involve cables that run from front to back. Expect some fiddly work involving the car's headliner to get these fitted correctly.
Dash cams record smaller snippets of footage, usually in increments of one to two minutes at a time. The cameras continually record over the oldest clip in order to keep the memory card from filling up as well.
While older models typically required the user to manually save or tag the appropriate clip in the event of an accident, new G-Sensor-based incident detection technology has taken over, and now takes care of this automatically.
There are also dash cams that boast additional features that, just like any other technology, translate to a higher asking price.
These extra features can include multiple lenses for front- and rear-facing coverage, together with a more refined sensor for better video quality. Some cameras only record 720p HD footage, for example, while many others now offer Full HD (1080p) and 4K capture. Night vision and built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for easy file transfer may also be included.
A rise in popularity of voice control has also made its way over to the humble dash cam, so expect Alexa integration and other such voice-activated technology at the very pinnacle of the range.
Numerous parking modes are also possibilities. These use a time-lapse feature as a surveillance function to capture details of those irksome car park prangs when you're off running errands.
Whenever we get a new dash cam review in, we'll update this list with more of the best we've tested. Keep reading to find out which rank among the best dash cams 2020.
- Best sat nav: the ultimate GPS units on the market right now
- These are the best cheap action cameras in the world right now