With the increasing popularity of dash camera or car dvr video footage posted on social media, more and more people are looking into getting a dashcam of their own. While there are many full HD dash cams for under $100, turning your Android smartphone or other brand of cellphone into a car video recorder can be a practical and free option for recording activity on the road to protect yourself from false insurance claims and unjust traffic tickets. We’ll show how to turn your smartphone into a car dash camera, which will work on most popular phone models that run the Android OS, such as the: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note series, Motorola DROID, Google Pixel, and the Pixel XL. It is reccomended that your smartphone can record video at 720p or greater for reasonable video quality. Most people are using dash cameras for liability purposes rather than creating films, so any video quality that will be enough to show who is at fault for an accident for example should be sufficient.
Although a smartphone dash cam will never be as good as a dedicated dash cam designed to be installed 24/7 in your car, turning your Android phone into a dash camera can be a good alternative.
You’re going to want to start out by installing one of our top picked free apps below that best fits your needs for an in car camera.
Our Pick Of The Best Free Android Dash Cam APPS
DailyRoads Voyager is a dash cam app that records images and video during car rides. Although it captures everything by default, the user can choose what to keep in the app. The user can change the video length and quality and toggle sound on and off. Similar to high-quality dash cams, the storage card automatically deletes old data and replaces it with new data, meaning that the user will never run out of storage. It can store the footage on the phone itself or on an SD card inside the phone. The app also has a shock sensor and automatically retains data if it senses that an incident has occurred. The app also has a bookmarking function to note specific videos of an incident. The app is free, but there is also a DailyRoads Voyager Pro for $4.99 that includes automatic starting and stopping as well as time stamps, speed, and altitude embedded in the video.
Below is a video recording sample of the DailyRoads Voyager app running on a HTC Evo 4G LTE android smartphone on an overcast/cloudy day:
CamOnRoad is a free dash cam app. It works as an audio and video recorder for a car. They also implement speed camera locations to notify the user when they might be monitored for their speed and provide the speed limit. Speed can be displayed in miles per hour or kilometers per hour depending on the user’s preference. There are two options for storage: an SD card or cloud storage within the app. Video quality can be changed by the user and audio can be turned on and off. It also lets the user alter the length of videos the application records. The app provides two gigabytes for free for every user, which equates to about three hours of video. The application is free and does not have advertisements. The app can also work in the background so the user can use other features of the phone while the app is recording dashboard video.
The AutoGuard Dash Cam free version automatically starts recording when the phone is connected to Bluetooth or put into a car dock. The application supports HD video, can show video and map information on one screen, and take photographs of important situations. The user can send videos and pictures to their email. The application will always record and delete the oldest unsaved files first to make room for the new recordings. The pro version of this application costs $2.99 and allows the user to upload their recordings to YouTube with captions for location and time information, does not contain advertisements, and allows the user to run the application in the background while using the phone for other things. It syncs with a GPS and shows the user the exact route they were taking while they were using the app. It supports seventeen different languages including many Asian and European languages.
Nexar – AI Dashcam is an app that records audio and video from a user’s smartphone while they are driving. It determines the direction, speed, and acceleration of every car it sees to inform the user of as many road conditions as possible. The application automatically detects deviations to normal driving like sudden stoppages. The videos are recorded constantly and the oldest ones are deleted to save space for new recordings. Nexar has their own cloud storage that the user’s videos are sent to and allows the user to share the footage on various social media platforms. The application also has an in-car camera so that people that rideshare frequently can record the people that enter and exit their vehicle. On some devices, the application can record the outside and inside of the car simultaneously. If a user is involved in an accident, the application will generate a Collision Report for the driver.
The Smart Dash Cam app for the Android OS was created by IP Cam Soft, a company that specializes in security camera software. The free Smart Dash Cam app is ad supported, displaying a banner ad on the screen when in use. The banner is over the video feed, which shouldn’t bother you too much, considering it’s just on the video and not covering up the setting buttons or stats. This app features auto-loop recording that will overwrite old video files that are no longer needed in order to cut down on in-phone storage space. Smart Dash Cam app has collision detection which will detect a large jolt to the phone and automatically lock the video file, preventing it from being erased by the auto-loop feature, ensuring that the video of an accident is saved.
Currently, the app only saves directly to your phone, however, they plan on adding a feature to record directly to an SD card in the near future.
Our Pick For Best Android Dash Cam Mount
We have chosen the iOttie Easy One Touch 2 smartphone dashboard and windshield mount that fits a wide range of Android driven smartphones. This mount offers the ability to be mounted in a variety of different places with it’s reusable sticky gel pad, not just your windshield, which can come in handy for different video angles you might have in mind. The iOttie Easy One Touch 2 works on phones 2.3 inches to 3.2 inches wide. The holding device on this mount is low enough to give your smartphone camera enough clearance to be open for recording video through your cars windshield. It features a telescopic arm that pivots up and down and the top mount rotates 360 degrees, allowing you to position your phones camera directly onto the road ahead, giving you full video coverage like a traditional dash cam would.
Some of the compatible phones for this mount: Galaxy S5/S4/S3/S2, Galaxy Note 2/3/4, HTC One M8, Google Nexus 5/4, LG G2/G3, Droid RAZR MAXX, Pixel and Pixel XL
Disadvantages of using an Android smartphone as a dash cam
Some things to keep in mind when planning on using your Android phone as a dash camera.
Having your phone in your windshield for an extended period of time during hot days or direct sunlight can cause your phones battery and processor to overheat, which will cause performance issues while your phone is recording video. This might lead to no video being captured at all. A dedicated dash camera is built to withstand high levels of heat while mounted on your cars windshield and often have a capacitor rather than a battery to solve high heat issues.
Some apps might not offer continuous recording while you are receiving text messages, getting an incoming call or viewing a map online.
Every time you get into your car you need to manually setup your camera and start recording video, where a real dash camera will be permanently installed and start on it’s own. Leaving your phone mounted in your car may invite thiefs to break in and steal it.
Your smartphones lens angle is not going to be as wide as a dash cameras lens angle, which will cover more of the surrounding area in front of your car, ensuring you get more video protection in the case of an accident.
Summary on using an Android phone as a dash cam
Using an Android smart phone as a dash camera in your car will never be as good as an actual dash cam that is designed for this purpose and to be installed in your car full time. However, using your phone can be a great supplement to having a dash camera if you’re not able to currently get a dash cam, or you are driving a different car that does not have your dash cam in it, like a rental car.
Hope you’re able to give the dash cam apps listed above a try and find one that works best for you and your car.
Do you want more than just your smart phone as a dash cam? Check out our list of the Best Front and Rear (Dual Channel) Dash Cams