What is the best dash cam app? The best dash cam app will be able to loop record, use a collision detection sensor (called a G sensor), and use a phone's GPS ability to track location. It will be easy to use, shoot high quality video, and offer a simple ways to export files, whether by USB, uploading to Google Drive or Dropbox, or automatically uploading to cloud storage.
We've combed through the top dash cam apps for iPhone and Android to determine which are the best.
Our criteria centered around three main areas: how well the basic dash cam app features were executed; what additional perks, if any, were included in the app; and the quality of user feedback included in each app's reviews.
For our verdict, we've selected Nexar AI as the best dash cam app for iPhone – it offers great basic abilities, impressive machine learning-powered features, and an automated cloud backup that makes it easy to save your videos instantly.
We selected AutoBoy as the best dash cam app for Android – it includes granular settings, and reliably records even while running in the background of a phone.
It should be noted that compared to a dedicated dashboard camera, getting a dash cam app is not usually the best choice: reliability and convenience in particular will suffer. But for personal use only, a dash cam app can be a short term substitute or low budget alternative.
Read on to see all our 2021 dash cam reviews and advice.
Smart Dash Cam
Car Camera DVR. Pro
Free, with $1/month upgrade
With a total of 500 million miles recorded behind the wheel, the Nexar dash cam app comes with a large fanbase – and for good reason. This free app offers a lot of the perks you'd expect from a physical dash cam – as well as recording your drives, it even uses machine learning to automatically sense important driving events, such as hard brakes and even collisions. These events are instantly saved to your phone, including GPS location tracking, and are also auto-backed up to the user's private Nexar cloud.
The app also offers a unique feature: a “1-Click Report” template that lets you quickly fill out a detailed summary needed for an insurance claim, covering the place, time, impact, and video footage involved in the incident.
There are a few catches, though. For one thing, the app will try hard to upsell you on the official Nexar dash camera, which will pair with the Nexar app to offer high-quality video and additional features (it also costs $60, and the app works fine without it). This upselling could arguably be considered a benefit, since it makes it easy for users to upgrade.
Also, Nexar has been dinged in the past for selling its users' data. And like any dash cam app, it'll drain your phone's battery like crazy, so you'd be wise to keep your phone charging at all times while using it. That said, the quality of the features on offer should satisfy any driver.
- Saves to the cloud
- Incident report template
- GPS tracking
- Sells user data
- Drains phone battery
IPCamSoft.com's Smart Dash Cam app makes a strong case as the top dash cam app for iPhone. It offers both manual and auto-recording modes, lets the user set their preferred resolution (up to 720p HD), can record audio, displays the time and speed of a vehicle in its videos, and auto-records a locked video file if it detects a collision. If it hasn't locked a video, it'll use continuous loop recording with a time range of up to 60 minutes, which overrides the oldest videos in order to make room for new ones.
You'll be able to play music on your phone even while the app is recording – which isn't always a guarantee in the world of dash cam apps – and you can choose which video files to delete if you need to free up phone space after an uneventful trip. You have two options for how the app uses your phone's storage: you can set a max capacity that the app won't go over, or you can just allow it to use all the available space on your phone before it starts writing over the oldest files. Recorded videos can also be uploaded to the cloud via Google Drive, YouTube, or Dropbox, and individual files can be sent to an email address. And on top of all that, four languages are supported: English, Spanish, French, and German.
Some reviewers have noted choppy video quality, and you'll see some advertisements – but, hey, you can't have everything.
- Flexible settings
- Lots of local and cloud storage options
- Supports four languages
- Video quality can be shaky
- Comes with ads
The resolution for this app can be set as high as 1080p HD – though 720p or 480p will prevent overheating and save battery power – and recording can be set to automatically begin as soon as the app has started up in order to save time. Offering four different map providers, including a layer that depicts traffic in real time, the OsmAnd DVR app can be used for navigation as well as video recording. Video playback includes a frame-by-frame mode, so you won't miss anything, and you can set the length of each video file and how many files are saved before the app writes over the oldest ones.
In addition to the maps, the OsmAnd DVR app stands out thanks to a few simple features that make it easy to quickly save and playback important videos. If you need to save a video, simply tapping the screen will automatically save the current video file. Videos can also be easily saved to your iPhone's camera roll for safekeeping and fast playback.
Additional features include location, speed, and altitude readings, a power saving mode, portrait and landscape modes, a black screen mode to minimize distractions, a G-Sensor that detects collisions and saves the current video file, a speedometer, and automatic video stabilization (for iPhone 4S and higher). Files can be saved to your computer wirelessly, or through a USB cable.
The app works on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It's a good pick if you want a feature-rich option that includes mapping functionality, even if the user base is small and the power drain is hefty.
- Four map providers
- Flexible settings
- Automatic video stabilization
- One tap saves the current video file
- Few users and few reviews
- Drains battery power rapidly
This app also records at three resolutions – 480p, 720p, and 1080p – although which resolution is used will depend on your device. It can also record up to 30 FPS, so should be able to capture all the detail you need. Users can also set the length of each video file, and the number of files allowed in a loop before the app begins writing over the oldest ones.
One standout feature of the Car Camera DVR. Pro is its data overlay, which is embedded into the video files it produces. This allows you to see the time, vehicle speed, coordinates, and heading for every saved video. This in turn makes the video footage more valuable, since it's easy to prove how fast you were travelling and on which road, should you receive an erroneous speeding ticket or want to show you are not at fault in an insurance claim. Videos can be played back within the app, or can be exported to the iPhone's video gallery with the touch of a button.
The app supports 12 languages (English, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish), and costs $3.99. While the feature set isn't as wide as some of the free apps on this list, the Car Camera DVR. Pro is undeniably a great app for what counts: recording and saving data-rich video files when you need them.
- Data overlay for video files
- High quality resolution and FPS
- 12 languages supported
- Not free
- Missing some features, such as collision detection
SaveDrives is primarily a route-tracking app. It lets you see your entire trip history, along with statistics including start/end times and locations, distance, duration, a map of the route, and average and maximum speeds. It also functions as a dash cam, allowing you to record and play back up to 30 minutes of driving, extracting any specific clips that you want to save.
The app is technically free, with a $0.99/month premium plan. However, the free plan is limiting in a few big ways: you can only export limited CSV data, it won't export 30- or 60-second long drive clips, and it won't even record in HD. While the $0.99 price tag certainly isn't onerous, it is a monthly fee, meaning that the lifetime cost of this app will continue rising over time.
These premium features are available on most of the other apps listed here, meaning that if you're just looking for a dash cam, this might not be the option for you. However, if you want a reliable route tracker that can reveal historical data about your typical speeds, or which can prove you took a specific route on a specific date, you can't do better than SafeDrives.
Price: Free, with $0.99/month upgrade
- Tracks route data
- Saves records of routes
- Easily exports video clips (in premium plan)
- Only records 30 minutes
- Free plan is far too limited
DailyRoads Voyager dash cam app logo
KM Car Camcorder
The AutoBoy app brings plenty of granular features with it, making it particularly appealing to tech nerds. However, it also offers another perk that will make it a popular dash cam app for many: it can record in the background, while the phone is being used for browsing the internet or other apps.
The AutoBoy's recording functionality will loop files, auto-deleting the oldest file once it reaches the maximum allowed storage space. Users can choose their preferred recording cycles, maximum storage, and video quality, including resolution, encoder, frame rate, bit rate, and audio quality. GPS functionality is included, as is a smart crash sensor, which locks the current video file when it detects a collision. You'll know whether the dash cam is recording or not – it triggers an LED backlight that flickers when it records in the background.
The camera's in-app functions are more versatile than most dash cam apps: it can zoom, focus, flash, and display grid lines, as well as offering a scene mode option. The app supports 12 languages – Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Turkish, Italian, Vietnamese, and Thai. Reviews have noted a few issues with crashing and freezing, but if you're just leaving it undisturbed in the background, it should run perfectly fine. This app is a good option for anyone who wants to use their phone to play music or podcasts, while on a trip that they also need to film.
- Runs in the background
- Granular video quality settings
- May crash or freeze on occasion
Like most dash cam apps, DailyRoads Voyager offers continuous looped video recording, letting users set the length and video quality for each file, as well as toggle the audio on or off. You can quickly save interesting video files by tapping the screen once.
Shock sensors can auto-lock the current video file when they detect a collision, while a time-lapse photography mode is also available. All video files are timestamped and geotagged with GPS functionality, though the GPS can be disabled to save power, and the files can be set to display vehicle speed and elevation as well. Like AutoBoy, DailyRoads Voyager also comes with a background mode that frees up the phone it runs on.
One cool perk that not every dash cam can handle: the Voyager app can be set to automatically start up and shut down with the car, as long as it is connected to the car deck. Other features include overheating protection, brightness adjustment, a built-in file manager, and the ability to upload files to DailyRoads.com.
The Voyager app comes with in-app advertisements that might bother some, but ultimately, it's a serviceable app that does what a dash cam app should. The fact that it connects to a car desk in order to power on or off alongside the vehicle itself makes it a great pick for a driver who enjoys automating repetitive tasks.
- Can automatically start up/shut down with the vehicle
- Video files are timestamped and geotagged
- Runs advertisements
Vault Micro, Inc.'s Dashcam 9 is named after the nine special features it offers, although the final one – a “screen off” mode – has yet to be added in an update.
Many of the other features should be pretty familiar to the dash cam app aficionado. Speed, location, and time are overlaid in each video file; files can be saved in either internal or external memory, with automatic file deletion when the predetermined storage space is exceeded; map data is offered via GPX. Also, an event data recorder (EDR) function will automatically create a video file when it detects a collision, starting five seconds before an accident and continuing for five seconds afterwards.
One big benefit of the app that's not always common with dash cam apps is the option to add an external camera. You'll be able to use a physical camera within the app's interface, which allows you to simultaneously record both front and rear video, with your phone's camera filming the front and the additional physical camera (connected by a long cord) filming the road to the rear of the vehicle. Granted, you'll need to buy a physical dash cam for this get-up to work – we've listed the top dash cam options over here. Front and rear footage can be saved to the same file simultaneously, with the rear footage nestled inside the front video screen.
The app is free, monetized by advertisements. Even if you don't want to add another camera, this app runs in the background and offers detailed settings, so it functions well as a single front-facing dash cam app.
- Saves files to either internal or external memory
- Runs in the background
- Supports a secondary physical camera
- Runs advertisements
The Drive Recorder app includes plenty of great features. It records in the background, and can be set to auto-record as soon as the app is launched; it supports multiple video resolutions and file sizes; it can share the video to your phone's cloud drive; it can record the driving trajectory; and it can navigate to the last location in the video. You'll also be able to edit videos within the app's editing function, so you can drag and drop to determine the exact length of time that's most relevant to keep as its own clip.
Video files include timestamps and GPS location tracking when played back. Your Android OS should be 4.0 or higher for it to all work.
The Drive Recorder app is simple, although it once again comes with advertisements. It should be an easy option for a dash cam app, and is best for those who would just be confused or distracted by any unneeded bells and whistles.
- Records in the background
- Auto-records at launch
- Run advertisements
The KM Car Camcorder dash cam app uses loop recording, with options that let you pick the right file quantity and the maximum size of the storage folder before the oldest files begin being overwritten. You'll be able to see the timestamp and vehicle speed in your video files, and see the time, date, speed, and location of each video file from your folder.
The app will record video in the background, allowing you to use a navigation app or play music while it's running. It can record from the front or selfie cams on your phone, allowing you to film the exterior and the road ahead, or the interior to keep an eye on your passengers.
It also includes a collision detection sensor, which will automatically lock the current video file when it senses a collision. Video files can be shared via Bluetooth or Google Drive.
One big pro: while this app does include advertisements, you can get rid of them without paying for anything. Just go to settings and toggle the “hide advertising” button for an ad-free experience on your free, just-the-basics dash cam app.
- Easy to use
- Ads can be hidden
- Detects collisions
- Doesn't include top features such as video stabilization or AI abilities
The best free iPhone dash cam app is the Nexar AI app, thanks to its ease of use, extra machine learning abilities, and automatic cloud backup feature. The best free Android app is the AutoBoy dash cam app, due to its detailed video settings, ability to run in the background, and reliable video file recording.
As you can see above, most dash cam apps are free, or come with a free version. The catch is that they either run annoying advertisements, or save the best features for a paid upgrade. Neither option is ideal, as you won't want to be faced with an ad when trying to save a video after a hit and run, and you don't want to have to pay for a premium plan just to download the one dash cam video you need.
To be honest, though, if you're going to pay money for a dash cam, you likely won't want to settle for an app at all. If you need a professional dash cam, you'll probably want a high-quality option, and for that, you'll need a physical dash camera unit. If you're looking for dash cams for a fleet of five or more vehicles, you can find the right dash cam for your business here.
When Not to Use a Dash Cam App
Dash cam apps are great because of the convenience they offer, and how little they cost – but they're not for everyone. Here are a few situations to consider that have kept the pros opting for a physical, dedicated dash camera unit every time.
Are you making grueling trips regularly? If so, you'll likely run out of storage on your phone fairly quickly. One dash cam app developer estimates you should always have 20GB of storage on your phone, but even that will likely just last a few hours.
Any dash cam app worth its salt will use looped recording, meaning it will start writing over old video files once it has reached the maximum storage space on your phone. However, this means that by the time you get to the end of your trip, you'll have lost the footage from the beginning of it, which kind of defeats the purpose of documenting it in the first place.
A physical dash camera, however, often supports 40 to 100 hours of storage space, depending on the size of the micro SD card you use with it.
Do you use your phone regularly? If you're using it for a dash cam app, you won't have access to it for long stretches of time while your vehicle is in motion. And even if you're fine with the lack of access, you'll still need to launch an app and set up your phone in its mount every single time you drive somewhere. The one time you don't bother could be the one time you really wish you had! By contrast, a physical dash cam is set up once, and stays there forever.
Front and Rear Views
Certain dash cams come as two units, with the smaller one located in the back of the vehicle to record the road behind for total coverage. You can't do that with your phone, naturally, and this extra security makes the physical option worth paying for. View our guide to the best front and rear dash cams.
Dual Camera Views
Other dash cams include two lenses in the same unit, shooting footage of the road in front and the interior of the vehicle, including driver and passengers. While many dash cams allow you to film with the selfie cam on your phone for a similar effect, none of them support filming with both cameras simultaneously. If you need to keep an eye on the road and your passengers – Uber drivers and tow trucks are two such jobs – you won't be able to use a dash cam app.
In short, if you operate vehicles in any sort of professional environment, you won't be able to rely on an app. Dash cams are worth the investment, and we've assembled a comprehensive look at all the factors to consider in our Tech.co guide to dash cam costs. The bottom line? The best dash cams for truckers start at around $80.
To get a more robust and professional solution than a dash cam app, you'll want to compare the top dash cam vendors' products and prices for your specific needs. Find the best dash cam deals for trucks today, and upgrade your fleet, using Tech.co's dash cam comparison tool.
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