The best dash cam in 2024: security and protection for you and your vehicle

In this guide

Vantrue N4

(Image credit: Amy Davies/Digital Camera World)

The Quick List ↩
1. Best overall - Garmin 67W
2. Best mini  - Garmin mini 2
3. Best 4K  - Nextbase 622GW
4. Best for security - Nextbase iQ
5. Best for ease of use - Nexar Beam
6. Best budget - Thinkware F70
7. Best value 4K - Miofive 4K
8. Best hard-wired - Thinkware U1000
How to choose
How we test

Looking for the best dash cam for your vehicle? Our expert guide will help you choose the right model for your budget and requirements. With a dash cam installed, you’ll always have video evidence at hand, should you need to prove your innocence after an accident.

All of the best dash cams record what's happening on the road ahead as you drive, but many will do so much more than that. Some offer driver aids to alert you if you are drifting out of lane or approaching a speed camera, others act as 4G-connected security cameras, and some can even share your location with the emergency services if you’re unresponsive after a crash.

Dash cams are evolving rapidly. A simple budget dash cam will provide a basic level of security and is better than no protection at all. But while basic dash cams only record through the windscreen, some come in pairs; these front and rear dash cam systems record forwards and rearwards for a more complete view of your vehicle’s surroundings.

If you want to know more about the different options before you choose, you can jump to our explainer on what to look for in a dash cam below. 

Alistair Charlton
Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a technology and automotive journalist who has reviewed dozens of dash cams over the years. Whether they are $20 or $400, he has tried and tested dash cams from companies like Garmin, Thinkware and Nextbase, as well as lesser-known brands. Every model is fitted to his car and used as if his own before it is reviewed, and then judged if suitable as recommendations in one of our buying guides. With over a decade of experience, Alistair also writes for Wired, Forbes, T3, and The Independent. A typical week includes reviewing light switches, Lamborghinis, and everything in between.

The Quick List

The best dash cam we recommend in 2024

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

The best dashcam overall

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton)
Best dash cam overall for most drivers

Specifications

Cameras: Front, rear, interior (up to four)
Resolution: 1440p
Frame rate: 60fps
Dimensions: 56 x 40 x 22 mm
Screen: 2in LCD
Power supply: Battery (30 mins) / 12V socket (hardwiring kit optional extra)
GPS: Yes
WiFi: Yes
4G: No
Parking mode: Yes (hardwiring required)
Subscription available: Vault cloud video storage (optional)

Reasons to buy

+
Compact size
+
High resolution with HDR
+
Fast frame rate

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive when buying two or more
-
Short battery life (when not plugged in)

The Garmin 67W is no longer the newest dash cam on the block, but it’s still our favorite. This is because, for us at least, it strikes the perfect balance between cost, design, functionality, and performance. We especially like the compact dimensions and excellent magnetic windscreen mount, which takes up far less space than any other while still offering plenty of adjustability.

Then there’s the video quality, which can’t match 4K dash cams like the Nextbase iQ or Thinkware U1000 on pixel count alone, but still produces fantastic 1440p footage with HDR and through a wide, 180-degree lens. The Garmin also packs GPS, which adds speed and location data to videos, and there’s space for a 2-inch display on the back for speed camera and red light camera alerts. It’ll even beep to get your attention if you haven’t noticed the car ahead has set off.

We also like how well the Garmin’s voice controls work, which makes it easy to turn the microphone on and off, or manually save a portion of video, with a quick voice prompt. Quite frankly, the Garmin 67W is a masterclass in dash cam design. And even though it’s a few years old now, we still think it’s the very best.

Read more: Garmin Dash Cam 67W review

The best mini dashcam

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton)
Best dash cam if you want something small & simple

Specifications

Cameras: Front (up to three more can be added wirelessly)
Resolution: 1080p
Frame rate: 30fps
Dimensions: 31 x 53 x 29mm
Screen: No
Power supply: 12V (optional hardwiring cable sold separately)
Wi-Fi: Yes
GPS: No
4G: No
Parking mode: Yes (requires hardwiring kit, sold separately)
Subscription: Optional cloud storage available

Reasons to buy

+
Tiny design
+
1080p Full HD with HDR
+
Voice control

Reasons to avoid

-
No screen for viewing footage directly

It’s another podium finish for Garmin, with the incredibly compact Dash Cam Mini 2 securing second place in our list of the best dash cams on sale today. This model has the same fantastic windscreen mount system as the Garmin 67W mentioned above, while being incredibly compact and still packing Full HD video with HDR and a 149-degree lens.

The Mini 2 lacks GPS, which is a shame, and we would like to have seen an option for HD video at a higher frame rate than 60 fps. But that’s nit-picking, because what the Mini 2 lacks in features it makes up for with its design, and how it really can be completely hidden behind the central mirror of almost any vehicle.

If you want high-quality Full HD video with HDR from an incredibly compact design, you really should look no further. We found that the voice controls are also very good, the mount is small and simple to use, and you can even pair up to four of these cameras together for synchronized recording right around your vehicle.

Read more: Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 review

The best 4K dashcam

(Image credit: Amy Davies/Digital Camera World)
The best 4K dash cam that gives your precise location in a crisis

Specifications

Cameras: Front, rear, interior (optional)
Resolution: 2160p / 4K (front), 1080p (rear/interior)
Frame rate: Up to 120 fps (front, 1080p); 4K at 30 fps
Dimensions: 152 x 127 x 122 mm
Screen: 3in IPS touchscreen
Power supply: 12V or hardwiring (kit sold separately)
GPS: Yes
WiFi: Yes
4G: No
Parking mode: Yes (hardwiring required)
Subscription available: No

Reasons to buy

+
4K main camera
+
Digital image stabilization 
+
Alexa built-in
+
Support for multiple additional cameras

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively expensive
-
More features than some drivers might need

Want 4K video and a whole load of features? This is the dash cam for you. Before the iQ came along the 622GW was the flagship of the Nextbase range, and it still packs a punch. As well as 4K video, this dash cam has GPS and WiFi, plus support for what3words, the service that helps provide accurate locational data when you’re in an area with poor local mapping and no cellular signal.

It also has an emergency SOS function that automatically calls the emergency services and shares your location if the dash cam detects a major collision and the driver is unresponsive. Then there’s Alexa, which is integrated with the 622GW and, by using your smartphone’s data connection, works just like the Alexa voice assistant on your Amazon Echo smart speaker at home.

It isn’t the smallest dash cam around – not least because of the 3-inch display – but it’s still nicely designed and feels like it has been built to last. The modular design also means secondary cameras designed to record the interior or point through the rear windshield can be attached to the side of the 622GW, turning it into a two-channel system.

A final trick of the 622GW is how, if you lower the video resolution from 4K to Full HD, the frame rate jumps from 30 fps to a massive 120 fps, which is the highest we’ve seen on any dash cam to date and creates super-smooth video.

Read more: Nextbase 622GW review

The best dash cam for security

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton / Digital Camera World)
A 4G-connected dash cam as impressive as it is expensive

Specifications

Cameras: Front and interior (rear optional extra)
Resolution: 1080p / 1440p / 2160p (front), 1080p / 1440p (interior), 1440p (rear)
Frame rate: 30fps
Dimensions: 45 x 80 x 175mm
Screen: Yes, but not for video
Power supply: OBD II / hardwired
WiFi: Yes
GPS: Yes
4G: Yes
Parking mode: Yes
Subscription: Optional (required for 4G and cloud storage)

Reasons to buy

+
4G connection
+
Constant power OBD cable
+
Great 4K footage

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Some features require monthly fee
-
Not all features available at launch (Q4 2023)

Only its high price and bulky design prevent the Nextbase iQ from earning five stars. This is a dash cam that does it all, from 4K video and an optional rear camera, to the integrated interior camera and a 4G connection that turns the whole thing into an intelligent security camera for your car, the iQ is a formidable package.

We love how the included OBD II cable makes it easy to give the iQ a constant power supply (or it can be hardwired to the fuse box if you prefer), and we’re impressed with how the camera sends an alert to your smartphone when it spots someone loitering near your car. We also thought the 4K video it produces is top-notch (although we’re yet to try the cheaper 1080p and 2K/1440p versions) and we like how the iQ can double as an alarm if your car is broken into.

In our review we were less keen on the massive price, and how Nextbase failed to include all of the iQ’s software features at launch; it instead says they’ll arrive via upcoming software updates. We also found it isn’t entirely suited to small cars with compact windshields, as its unusual design takes up a fair bit of space.

Read more: Nextbase iQ review

The best dashcam for ease-of-use

(Image credit: Amy Davies/Digital Camera World)
Simple set-up dashcam that you control with your smartphone

Specifications

Cameras: Front
Resolution: 1080p
Frame rate: 30fps
Dimensions: 63.5 x 50.8 x 36.8mm
Screen: No
Power supply: 12v (hardwiring kit optional extra)
WiFi: Yes
GPS: Yes
4G: No
Parking mode: Yes (hardwiring required)
Subscription: No

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Easy to set up
+
Links neatly to your smartphone

Reasons to avoid

-
No display, for those who want one
-
Suction cup mount could be better

Although not quite as small as the Garmin Mini 2, the Nexar Beam is a nicely compact dash cam with plenty of great features. During our time with the Beam we found it easy to set up and felt the hardware was of high quality. The lens could be a little wider, at just 135 degrees, but the Full HD video the Beam produces looks great.

Also impressive is the Beam’s smartphone app. This is almost always the weakest link of any dashcam, but Nexar has done a great job to produce an app that is nicely designed and a pleasure to use. Our only complaint here is how, because the Beam connects to your phone over WiFi, you can’t use wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at the same time, since they also use WiFi to connect to your car. Plug your phone in, however, and this issue goes away.

We were pleased to see GPS included, but the way the antenna forms part of the windscreen mount isn’t the most elegant hardware solution. Factor in the suction mount, and how the dash cam itself plugs into the mount with a short cable, then a second cable heads from the mount to your vehicle’s power socket, and the aesthetics take a hit. All that said, we think the Beam represents good value for money, and the nicely designed app makes it a pleasure to set up and use. 

Read more: Nexar Beam review

The best budget dashcam

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton)
The best budget dash cam

Specifications

Cameras: Front
Resolution: 1080p
Frame rate: 30fps
Dimensions: 78 x 34.6 x 31.5mm
Screen: No
Power supply: 12V (hardwiring optional extra)
WiFi: No
GPS: No
4G: No
Parking mode: Yes (hardwiring required)
Subscription: No

Reasons to buy

+
Compact design
+
Low price
+
No distracting display

Reasons to avoid

-
No integrated GPS
-
High frame rate would be welcome

The Thinkware F70 is another dash cam designed to take up very little space on your windshield, while also being among the cheapest on sale today. For under $100 you get a dash cam from one of the biggest names in the business; one that records in 1080p Full HD, has a parking mode when hardwired and…that’s about it.

We prefer our dash cams to have GPS, and while the F70 misses out, Thinkware offers a GPS modular as an optional extra. 

This really is a simple, set-it-and-forget it dash cam that covers the basics and nothing more. Some drivers will yearn for extra features, but if you’re on a budget or just want a dash cam that avoids the jack-of-all-trades approach, this is the one for you.

A newer version, the Thinkware F70 Pro, has recently been launched which is similar - but crucially adds wifi so it can synch up with an app on your phone. The new model offers better lowlight performance for use when you are driving at night.

Read more: Thinkware F70 review

The best value 4K dash cam

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton/Digital Camera World)
Best budget 4K dash cam with built-in storage

Specifications

Cameras: Front
Resolution: 2160p
Frame rate: 30fps
Dimensions: 116 x 60 x 55mm
Screen: 2.2in IPS
Power supply: 12V (hardwiring kit optional extra)
WiFi: Yes
GPS: Yes
4G: No
Parking mode: Yes (hardwiring required)
Subscription: No

Reasons to buy

+
Premium feel
+
4K video recording
+
Useful rear display

Reasons to avoid

-
4K video creates very large files
-
Integrated storage means WiFi video transfer required

You might not have heard of Miofive, but believe us when we say it’s a company worthy of your attention. Its first dash cam, simply called the 4K Dash Cam, shoots in 4K (who’d have guessed?) and packs a useful 2.2in display into a compact body.

Interestingly, it’s one of the only dash cams to shun a microSD card in favor of 64GB of integrated storage. Recordings are accessed via a smartphone app and speedy 5GHz WiFi.

There’s even a battery for wireless use, but it’s only good for a few minutes of recording and therefore very short journeys. Plug in using the included 12V socket cable or opt for hardwiring to the fuse box for a neater, more permanent installation. We like the premium feel of this dash cam – especially considering the price – as well as its high video quality and compact dimensions display the screen.

Read more: Miofive 4K Dash Cam review

The best hard-wired dashcam

(Image credit: Thinkware)
It offers super high-quality 4K video but needs professional installation

Specifications

Cameras: Front (rear optional extra)
Resolution: 2160p
Frame rate: 30 fps (or 1440p at 60 fps)
Dimensions: 65 x 110 x 36mm
Screen: No
Power supply: 12V, hardwiring or OBD both optional extra
WiFi: Yes
GPS: Yes
4G: No
Parking mode: Yes (hardwiring required)
Subscription: No

Reasons to buy

+
K video with HDR
+
Lots of connected features
+
Discrete design
+
Optional rear camera

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Lack of display (for those who want one)

If you want a dash cam that looks as if it was installed the day your car was built, the Thinkware U1000 is for you. Its lack of a display keeps the profile nice and low, while the rest of the design makes it look factory-fit rather than an aftermarket afterthought.

As well as the suitably stealthy design, the U1000 boasts 4K video with HDR that in our testing we found to be excellent. We were also impressed to see the option of lowering the resolution to 1440p and boosting the frame rate to 60 fps, producing smoother video that has the potential to bring more clarity to crucial details like street signs and vehicle license plates. GPS is also included, along with the option to connect a rear-facing camera too.

Although not mandatory, the U1000 lends itself to hardwire installation more than most other dash cams we’ve tested. Our review sample was supplied only with the hardwiring kit, which we swapped out for a 12V plug to make installation (and removal) easier. If we were you, we’d stick with the hardwire kit, seek out professional installation, and enjoy a dash cam that feels like it came with the car.

Read more: Thinkware U1000 review

How to choose the best dash cam for you

As with any tech purchase, budget is a primary factor. The dash cam market has grown significantly in recent years and it’s now possible to spend anywhere between $20 and $1,000 on a system for your car. I’ve tried a $20 dash cam and, predictably, the video quality was dreadful. Avoid these and instead look at spending closer to $100 and above.

Once you’ve decided on a price (circa $200 is currently the sweet spot), you should look primarily at video quality. This comprises resolution, frame rate, the inclusion of HDR and the viewing angle of the lens, plus the dash cam’s night time abilities and whether 4K resolution can be traded for HD at a higher frame rate.

After this it comes down to personal preference. Would you like a dash cam with speed camera alerts, Alexa voice control and all manner of extra functionality? Or do you want one that stays silent and simply does its job? Next, consider the addition of a rear-facing camera. Do you need one?

Lastly, look at the design of the dash cam (larger models can make cars with smaller cabins and windshields feel cramped and cluttered) and decide between a plug-and-play approach and a hardwired installation.

(Image credit: Future)

Is the lens viewing angle important?

Dash cam lenses tend to have a field-of-view somewhere between 140 and 180 degrees. The wider the lens, the more it can see and the more likely the dash cam is to capture incidents occurring to the side of your car.

A wider lens is generally better, but you should be aware that wide lenses can create distortion, and objects in the center of the frame will seem further away, and therefore appear smaller in your recordings, than with a narrower lens.

Do I need 4K resolution?

4K video, also known as Ultra HD or 2160p resolution, can capture more detail. That said, we have tested some 4K dash cams that produce worse-quality video than those with a Full HD (1080p) resolution. This is because there are many other factors at play, and attributes like the size of the imaging sensor, the frame rate and the camera’s ability to deal with varying light are just as important as the resolution.

If a 4K dash cam seems like great value, we suggest you proceed with caution. Try it out first, if you can, look carefully at the video it produces and only then decide if it’s worth the money. You might find a dash cam with 1080p or 1440p video (like our favorite, the Garmin 67W), produces higher-quality video than one shooting at 4K.

Do I need to run my dash cam off the car battery?

There are three ways to power a dash cam. The least common is the dash cam’s own battery, but since these tend to last only 30 minutes or so (like those of dash cams by Garmin), you are best forgetting this option altogether.

The next option is to plug the dash cam into your car’s 12V port, often known as the lighter socket. This powers the dash cam when the car is switched on, and is usually powerful enough to charge a smartphone at the same time. Many dash cams come with a 12V adaptor with two USB ports, one for the dash cam and one for a phone.

The final option is to hardwire the dash cam. This gives it a permanent supply of power from your car’s battery and enables its parking mode, where the dash cam springs into life and starts recording the moment a collision is detected, even if the car is parked and turned off. Hardwiring usually involves connecting the dash cam to the fuse box of your car, and requires professional installation. Once complete, the dash cam’s cables will mostly be hidden behind the interior panels of your car, creating a more seamless look than when a cable dangles down to the lighter socket.

A handful of dash cams can be powered by the car’s OBD II port, which is usually found under the steering wheel and provides a constant source of power.

Do I need to pay a subscription to use a dash cam?

Generally speaking, no. The vast majority of dash cams work without you needing to pay for a subscription. That said, many offer extra features in return for a monthly or annual fee. This includes cloud storage, where recordings are automatically uploaded to the cloud and can be accessed from your phone or computer. Dash cams require an internet connection to do this, either via your smartphone or a nearby WiFi network.

A couple of dash cams have their own 4G connection, like the Nextbase iQ. In that case, a monthly fee is charged to use the 4G service, which enables video uploading to the cloud and turns the iQ into a remote security camera, accessed via a smartphone app just like a video doorbell.

Do I need more than one camera?

Sometimes the hazard is from behind, so a rear-facing dash cam can be very useful. We have a separate buying guide to the best front and rear dash cams. Some front-facing dash cams come with an optional rear camera upgrade.

Some drivers, and particularly those who make a living carrying passengers, will want a dashcam that also records the vehicle's interior. Our best Uber dashcam guide recommends the best options for this. If you want a front, rear, and interior camera check out our guide to the best three-channel dash cams.

Do I need a dash cam with GPS?

GPS is a useful feature to have. It gives the option of adding location and speed data to your video recordings, which could help prove your innocence after a collision. GPS also ties into the emergency SOS calling function of some dash cams, like the Nextbase 622GW, which makes an emergency call and shares its location if the driver is unresponsive after a significant impact.

What other features should I consider?


High dynamic range: Also found in the worlds of digital photography, TV and cinema, HDR helps a dash cam retain detail when a scene includes bright lights (like the sky) and dash shadows (like the road on a dim winter’s afternoon). A dash cam with HDR will generally produce footage with more detail than one without.

WiFi:  This is useful for transferring videos from the dash cam to your smartphone (instead of ejecting the microSD card and slotting it into your computer). WiFi can also be used to connect a dash cam to your phone and use its 4G or 5G data services.

Night vision: Almost all dash cams have night vision. This usually produces grayscale footage with help from infrared sensors. Some dash cams offer color night vision, but these are generally more expensive.

Driver assistance: Some dash cams sound alerts if you cross lane markings or warn you about nearby speed cameras. Some also beep to let you know the vehicle ahead has started moving. These features can be useful, but in our experience they can also be unreliable and, often, a distraction. Do your research and decide if you really want these driver assistance features before making your purchase.

Voice control: Some dash cams have their own voice control systems, like Garmin devices that listen out for phrases like: “Hey Garmin, turn the microphone off,” or: “Hey Garmin, save the video”. This can be useful, but voice commands are’t something you’ll use all that often. Other dash cams, like the Nextbase 622GW, include Alexa, which can be far more useful if you don’t already have access to a voice assistant in your car. Be aware that the dash cam needs to use your smartphone’s data connection to access Alexa.

How we select the best dash cam

Our favorite dash cam, the Garmin 67W, strikes a fantastic balance between price, performance and design. Itr doesn’t have 4K video, but offers a high frame rate at 1440p resolution, a wide lens (the widest of any dash cam we’ve used, in fact), voice controls that actually work, and a design that is brilliantly compact, with a great windscreen mount. It’s our favorite because it excels in almost every area, and even though it isn’t the newest, we think it’s the best option for most people.

We’re big fans of the Nextbase iQ and how it uses a 4G connection to act as a security camera. We also love the iQ’s OBD cable, which gives it a constant power supply without the hassle of hardwiring it to the fusebox. But the price is very high, the 4G connection can be patchy, and I found the dash cam simply too large for my small car.

How we test best dash cams

We use every single dash cam in our own car before reaching a verdict. Only if it’s good enough will the dash cam appear in a buying guide like this one, and to get there it has to have impressed us with its video quality, design, ease-of-use and features.

We can’t hardwire every model we test, but we can at least position them correctly in our car – installing the interior and rear cameras too, if applicable – and power them from the 12V socket or OBD port, just as many buyers would. Their features are tested and their video recordings are transferred to our computer and analyzed before we reach a verdict. Naturally, we cannot test a dash cam’s ability to sense a collision.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair has been a journalist since 2011 and used to be Deputy Technology Editor at IBTimes  in London. His specialist tech subjects include smart home gadgets, phones, wearables, tablets and dashcams. He is the host of  The AutoChat Podcast.

With contributions from