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11 Dec 2020

Is it ever worth spending £500 on a dash cam, or can you get away with a £40 one?

Whether it's a Christmas gift for a loved one or for yourself, it can be hard to know what a decent dash cam costs. Here's everything you need to know to find the right dash cam at the right price for you
Premium dash cam car exterior

We've put dozens of dash cams to the test over the years in our rigorous test labs. Which means we can confidently say that when it comes to finding a good dash cam, price isn't always a reliable indicator of quality.

We've seen fantastic Best Buys for less than £70, as well as lacklustre models for hundreds of pounds. So what's the difference between the cheaper models and the expensive ones? And is it ever worth spending £500 on a dash cam?

With Don't Buys to avoid at practically every budget, it's important to know what features you're really looking for and decide what they're worth to you.

To compare features, prices, test scores and more, see our independent dash cam reviews

What does £500 get you that £40 doesn't?

Table comparing cheap vs premium sat navs

As the above table shows, premium models can be packed with a lot of extra tech. But do you really need it and can you get away with spending less than £40? Keep reading to find out.

Four popular dash cams compared

Here, we've rounded-up four dash cams that cost from nearly £500 to less than £40 so you can see what features you get for your money. Add-ons aren't everything, though. We've seen some dirt-cheap models match or even beat their expensive counterparts where it counts - picture quality and ease of use.

Want to know more about the latest dash cam features? Read our guide to how to buy the best sat nav

BlackVue DR750-2ch LTE - £499.95

Blackvue DR750 two channel dash cam
  • Full HD recording
  • Separate rear camera included
  • 4G compatibility
  • Parking mode with text alerts
  • Wi-fi connectivity
  • Wireless docking
  • GPS location tracking

This dash cam has a host of fancy features - which you'd expect at this price. The most notable is 4G connectivity, which allows the device to send you a text alert if it detects an impact - handy if someone's dinged your car while it's parked.

You can also operate this dash cam remotely from anywhere in the world. So if you're ever in Canberra and want to know how you're car's doing in Cardiff, this could be a tempting pick.

With all those features packed into such a small device, though, is the recording quality actually any good?

Read our BlackVue DR750-2ch LTE review to find out

Nextbase 622GW - £249.99

Nextbase 622GW dash cam
  • 4K recording
  • Emergency SOS function
  • Parking mode
  • Wi-fi connectivity
  • Wireless docking
  • GPS location tracking

It may not set you back nearly £500, but this is still a very expensive dash cam. It does have some interesting features, though, including a setting that automatically lets the emergency services know your GPS coordinates if you get into a crash.

On paper, 4K recording should lead to sharper footage than the other models we've selected here. But could the difference really justify this price?

Read our Nextbase 622GW reviewto find out

Nextbase 222 - £64.95

Nextbase 222 dash cam
  • Full HD recording
  • Parking mode
  • Wireless docking

This more affordable Nextbase model lacks some of the fancier features of its pricier 622GW sibling (above). Simplicity isn't necessarily a bad thing, however - it's easy to use, compact and the wide-angle lens records in Full HD.

But can it pull off filming in difficult conditions?

Read our Nextbase 222 review to find out.

Motorola MDC150 - £39.99

Motorola MDC150 dash cam
  • Full HD recording
  • Parking mode

This budget dash cam is compact, has a wide-angle lens, and records in Full HD. Technically speaking, that's all it really needs to perform well as a dash cam.

But at this price, can it pull off those basic functions well enough to prove who's at fault in a crash?

Read our Motorola MDC 150 review to find out.

Basic dash cam features

Budget dash cam behind mirror

Above all else, a dash cam should capture high-quality footage when you need it to. You can't tell from the box or marketing blurb if a dash cam can do - but our lab tests dig beneath the surface to uncover the best of the best. See our round-up of the best dash cams for models you know you can trust.

Any dash cam worth its salt should at least have the following specs and features.

Full HD recording

Full HD, or 1080p, recording is a good standard when it comes to picture quality. Even many affordable models are capable of this, so there's no reason to settle for 720p, which we've noticed still appears from time to time.

Some models can now record in 4K. That's technically four times more detailed than Full HD, but it uses up a lot more data. Which means you can't save as much footage.

Wide-angle lens

A wide recording angle is important to capture as much information as possible - but too wide could distort details at a distance. We've seen acceptable footage with coverage ranging from 130 to 180 degrees.

G-force sensors

Most dash cams have G-force sensors, which allow the camera to safeguard any footage if an impact is detected. Some use this technology to turn the camera on and start recording, even when you're out of the vehicle.

This 'parking mode' might be useful for you - but it's no use if you plan to hide it in the glove compartment when you're out of the car or take your dash cam with you.

Premium features

These features are often reserved for the most expensive dash cams. They might be nice to have, but they're far from essential.

Rear dash cam cameras

Some models come with additional cameras, which record behind your vehicle or inside the cabin. The footage on these devices is generally notably worse than on the forward-facing cameras, but they can still function well.


This can allow you to watch, save or edit footage to your phone, laptop or camera wirelessly - no more rummaging in drawers for the right wire. It also reduces the need for a built-in screen, which can make for a more compact dash cam.


4G connectivity is the latest in dash cam technology. We've only tested one device with this feature - the most expensive model we've ever put through our dash cam test labs.

It allows you to interact with your dash cam from anywhere with an internet connection, but you'll need to pay subscription fees of a few pounds a month to use it.

Wireless power

This is a bit of misnomer. There are still wires, but they're all built in to the base that the dash cam nestles into. This means you don't need to manually connect or disconnect wires every time you put up or take down the camera.

GPS location tracking

GPS allows the camera to record your car's location while recording. You could theoretically use this to determine your speed, or show where your vehicle was at the time of an incident.

SOS alerts

Another relatively new feature, this optional mode uses GPS tracking to alert emergency services of your precise location if it detects a crash.

Do I need to pay for installation?

Dash cams can be fiddly to install for the first time - tucking the wires away into your car's upholstery requires a certain amount of finger dexterity. That's especially true if you're planning to hardwire the device to your car's electronics, which will free up your cigarette lighter port.

If you'd like to save yourself a job, professional fitting usually starts at around £30 at car part retailers.