The best radar detectors to ensure you’re legal and informed of obstacles on the road 2024

Save yourself a headache by installing a radar detector in your car.

radar detector on road

by Ryan Gilmore |
Updated on

While you should be monitoring your speed wherever you go, it can be easy to miss speed cameras as and when they appear, creating a market for radar detectors. Speeding fines and penalties are among a driver's worst fears, so for peace of mind, a radar detector can make sure you're on the right side of the law.

Speed cameras may not be every petrolhead's favourite thing in the world, but they do have a place on our roads. They're designed to control traffic speed and ultimately reduce the number of accidents.

Also called speed camera detectors, a radar detector can help you keep check of your speed and are perfect if you miss a speed limit sign when driving.

The best radar detectors 2024 at a glance:

Editor's pick: Ooono Co-Driver No1 - buy from Amazon
Best for range: Cobra RAD 480i - buy from Amazon
Best sat nav with speed detection: Garmin DriveSmart MTS - buy from Amazon

These gadgets are up there with dash cams when it comes to keeping you legal, so we've found the best radar detectors on the market in the UK and listed them below.

The best radar detectors 2024

The best radar detector

OOONO Co-Driver NO.2Via OOONO

The Co-Driver No.2 is the new and improved radar detector from innovative brand, OOONO. The Co-Driver No.1 was quite popular in its time, but the No.2 comes fresh with improvements. It works by giving you a subtle light dance and sound when there is a detected hazard ahead, such as a speed camera or other obstructions. It also networks with other OOONO detectors to learn new information constantly about the roads and where things are. The most notable update to the Co-Driver No.2 over the No.1 is the compatibility of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - allowing for alerts to be sent to your car's infotainment system or other display screen.

It also has a new USB-C port, so you can charge up the Co-Driver while on the go. It also has new LED lights, a new light dance, and sounds, but these are minor updates to what was already a standout radar detector. The only real downside is the magnetic mount that fits into the air vent to hold the device, isn't included and will set you back an extra £9.

Pros

  • Compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • USB-C port for charging while on the move
  • Easy to install, subtle, and compact

Cons

  • The magnetic stand that holds it isn't included

Editor's pick

Oono Radar DetectorVia OOno
Price: $81.30

The Co-Driver No.1 is the predecessor of the No.2, and naturally, is a bit older with less clever features. However, the basic function is still the same and especially now, represents better value. This really small radar detector will quite happily sit on a dashboard minding its own business most of the time, before providing a little light and audible chime when a speed camera or obstacle is nearby.

If you spot a roadside speed camera or obstacle, you can feed it into the app by pressing the device, once for a camera and twice for the obstacle. Connected to an app via Bluetooth, this device is continuously updated for live reports and is a very clever device for your car. However, the magnetic holder is still a separate purchase in the No1's case, which is slightly annoying.

Pros

  • Small and discreet
  • Live updates to keep you on your toes
  • Easy to read the display

Cons

  • Not a detector, it's reliant upon live information
  • Isn't quite as smart as the new Co-Driver No.2

The best magnetic radar detector holder

OOONO Magnetic Phone HolderVia OOONO
Price: $38.88

The Co-Drivers above aren't sold with the magnetic phone and device holder that's best suited for the things. At £9, it's pretty good value, and because it's magnetic and fits into your car's air vent, it can be used as a normal phone holder as well, should you need it for that purpose.

It measures just 4.4cm in width and height, making it a wonderfully compact device that won't intrude too much space on your dashboard.

Pros

  • Great value as far as phone holders go
  • Fits Co-Driver No.1 and 2 perfectly
  • Compact and easy to fit into your air vent

Cons

  • Not the strongest phone holder available

The best radar detector for style

Saphe Drive MiniVia Saphe

The Saphe Drive Mini is a simple and stylish radar detector. Connect your phone to the device using an app,

and it will flash up relevant information as you drive, letting you know about changing traffic conditions. All the information is supplied by the network of users,

and this little device can inform you of more than just nearby speed cameras. It can also warn you of accidents and dangerous conditions ahead. It may not be quite as reliable as the Ooono example, but it's certainly worth considering for the excellent display.

Pros

  • Quality build and construction
  • Really easy to read
  • Pretty good value for money

Cons

  • Updates can be buggy

The best sat nav with speed dectection

Garmin Drive Sat NavVia Garmin
Price: $462.00

The DriveSmart 65 MT-S combines smart technology and navigation to become your in-car control device as well as the navigator and radar detector. Through Garmin's Drive app, you can launch Alexa and get the sat nav to provide not only speed camera information but also play music, make hands-free calls, and give you updates on the weather.

Pros

  • A clever feature included in a sat nav
  • Usual Garmin quality
  • Nicer view of what's ahead on a map

Cons

  • Dedicated radar detectors are better for the specific task

Best budget detector

Saphe One+Via Saphe

The Saphe One+ is a compact radar detector and the best budget option. Connect your phone to the device using the app, and it will beep to inform you of changing traffic conditions. All information is supplied by the network of users and can inform you of more than just nearby speed cameras.

It can also warn you of accidents and dangerous conditions ahead. You can also get an official mount so you can fit it on one of your car’s air vents.

Pros

  • Compact size and discreet
  • No subscription needed
  • Can be paired with an app

Cons

  • No laser detector

Best for (where legal) European travel

Saphe Drive ProVia Saphe

With the ability to connect to Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto, the Drive Pro is continuously smart and warns you of upcoming speed cameras with both sound and on-screen warning.

You also get a free 12-month Saphe premium subscription included in your purchase, as well as a GPS-accurate digital speedometer. It works throughout Europe (where you're legally entitled to use it) and even warns you of upcoming traffic jams as well as accidents, red lights and much more. It really is a comprehensive piece of kit for the money.

Pros

  • Incredibly comprehensive piece of kit with many warning signs
  • Good value for money for what you get
  • Useful for *some* European travelling

Cons

  • Some features such as the traffic light warning are a bit pointless
  • Subscription runs out after 12 months

Best long range radar detector

Cobra RAD 480iVia Cobra

Rrp: $149.95

Price: $140.36
Alternative retailers
Lowe's$140.36View offer
Walmart$149.95View offer
Tractor Supply$149.99View offer

For long-range detection, Cobra's RAD 480i is a great shout. It can be paired with Bluetooth to the Drive Smarter App, which gives you access to speed camera locations and red light signals. We believe the red light spotter is a bit of a far stretch, but perhaps it's nice to have if you're in an unfamiliar area.

You can also adjust the sensitivity settings. Cobra say that the range of the device is circa two miles, but this can be affected by hills and curves - something which the UK has a lot of. The Drive Smarter App can also be used to pair a Cobra dash cam, so it's quite multi-use if you happen to have an SC400D model or similar.

Pros

  • Drive Smarter App also compatible with Cobra dash cams
  • Quite a long range (assuming the grounds are clear/level)
  • Good build quality

Cons

  • Range claim may not be too effective in the UK
  • Red light detector may be a bit overkill

Best all-round radar detector

Uniden R7 radar detectorVia Uniden

Rrp: $649.99

Price: $499.97
Alternative retailers
Lowe's$499.97View offer
Walmart$599.99View offer

One handy feature of the R7 is a user marking mode. Essentially, if you spot a hazard zone, you can input it into the R7, and it'll remember it if you ever happen to drive back through. This can be useful if you're travelling somewhere new and you'd like to make a note of speed camera zones and the like.

It also has a voice notification feature as well as an automatic learning mode. The range is reportedly not as great as the Cobra 480i (some report around a mile, tops). Still, it's a reportedly very accurate and handy device for detecting speed cameras and zones where they are regularly placed.

Pros

  • Useful for detecting speed cameras
  • Comes with some useful kit, such as a USB cable and carry case
  • One year warranty included (albeit with limitations)

Cons

  • Isn't as comprehensive as the Cobra
  • Doesn't come with its own app

What you need to know about radar detectors:

It may be against the highway code (Rule 110) to warn other drivers of upcoming speed cameras, the idea being that it's obstructing the duty of a police officer. However, radar detectors are 100% legal to own and use under UK law. There have been whispers from the government about banning them, but no legislation has been presented so far.

Note that these are different to radar jammers, which block the radar. Some police forces consider using a laser jammer to be perverting the course of justice, which can come with a hefty fine and even jail time in some instances.

And remember, if you're planning a trip to France, the Republic of Ireland, or a number of European countries, leave your radar detector at home. They're illegal to use, and you will be fined and have the device confiscated, so make sure to check before you go.

How do speed camera detectors work?

Radar detectors will alert you to the position of fixed-speed cameras (some can also detect mobile ones, too). Some are GPS-based and will know when a speed camera is nearby, while others use radar to detect the signals coming from police speed detectors. Others still are reliant upon eagle-eyed drivers to report them, which means they're not really detectors, more reporters.

What features should I look for in a radar detector?

Your number one priority should be to get a quality item. There are plenty of less-than-reputable examples for sale that are suspiciously cheap, and these should be avoided. The last thing you want is to find out that your radar detector doesn't work or is inaccurate.

Look for a clear display so you can read the information clearly without having to take your eyes off the road. Some will sound an alarm, too, which is a great feature.

Speed camera locations are always changing, so look for a device that can be updated. This is usually done by plugging the device into a computer and downloading an update, although some will require a subscription.

What are the penalties for speeding?

Currently, there are three bands (A, B, and C) which are in place based on the severity of your speed. Under Band A, the court will begin considering 50% of your weekly salary and three points on your licence. The percentage can vary, depending on your offence.

With Band B, it can be 100% of your weekly salary with a range of 75-125%. This is an additional four to six points on your licence or a 28-day driving ban.

Under Band C (the most serious), the starting point is 150% of your weekly salary with a 125-175% range. Additionally, you can be hit with either six points on your licence or a seven to 56-day ban. But depending on your offence, there's no set limit, and you can be hit with even more painful charges.

In terms of the speed itself, Band A to Band C depends on how much faster you were driving over the limit. On a 70mph road, for instance, Band A classes 71-90mph, Band B classes 91-100mph, and Band C classes 101mph and above, and the same sort of scale applies to other speed limits.

Ryan Gilmore is the Deputy Autos and Tools Editor for CAR, specialising in car cleaning and hand tools. With an MA in Automotive Journalism, when he's not testing buckets he can be found looking at old Porsches.

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