The evolution of dash cams is fuelled by research and development undertaken by mainstream brands such as Nextbase. But those advancements are quickly used by other unknown dash cam manufacturers in their own models, and that creates a chasm in the market between the former and the latter.
Using Nextbase and Vantrue as representatives, we’ve been finding out how wide the chasm is. Are there tangible differences in performance? How do the features compare? Are they built to the same standard?
We want answers to such questions. Ultimately, with whom is it wise to spend money on a dash cam?
Introducing Nextbase and Vantrue
Nextbase is quite a dash cam leviathan. Kicking off in 1999, it currently stands as the largest dash cam brand in the world and has achieved this by producing a range of models that stretch from entry-level to best in the business. While the models vary significantly in terms of features, they all bear the unmistakable Nextbase trait of build quality that few manufacturers can match.
Vantrue has been around since 2015. It’s what you would consider to be one of the numerous anonymous dash cam brands you can find on Amazon. It’s jumped in feet first, intent on competing directly with Nextbase with its high-spec dash cams.
Head to head: 4K models
Used as a trump card in dash cams, if a model flies the 4K flag it’s allegedly awesome and can’t be argued with. That’s a separate debate to be had - but what about the clash between 4K flagship models? Place your bets, because that’s what we’re doing here.
Video 4K at 30fps; 1440p HD at 60fps; 1080p HD at 120fps | Screen 3-inch touchscreen | Field of view 140 degrees | GPS Yes | Wi-Fi Yes | Bluetooth Yes
Video 4K at 30fps; 1440p HD at 60fps; 1080p HD at 120fps | Screen 3-inch | Field of view 155 degrees | GPS Optional | Wi-Fi Yes | Bluetooth No
On paper, the 622GW and X4S stack up evenly and are equally simple to install. But then the X4S swings in with a heavy right hook because it’s much less expensive, even with the £24 optional GPS module. However, having tested both models, that is kind of where similarities end. In reality, there are significant differences.
For example, it’s immediately obvious the 622GW is built to a higher standard. The front is metal rather than plastic; the X4S is fine, but in the company of the 622GW, it’s a bit outclassed. Customers have often been impressed by the cool packaging of the Vantrue but it’s somewhat inversely proportional to what sits inside. By contrast, the Nextbase is the other way around.
The X4S features range-topping video quality and an app from which you can view footage and GPS tracking if you’ve opted for it.
The 622GW matches the features on the X4S but includes more besides. In addition to the recording quality, the 622GW has a polarising filter to cut out glare from the sun and works a treat. Furthermore, its image stabilisation software really pays dividends on bumpy rural or unsealed roads; likewise, Extreme Weather Mode improves footage clarity when it’s misty or rainy.
We were also impressed with the 622GW’s safety features. It’s the only dash cam to have What3Words built in, and Nextbase also offers a subscription-based Emergency SOS function that springs into action in the event of a crash.
Both cameras can host a rear-facing camera that adheres to the rear window and is wired to the main camera. Though, the 622GW can also use a rear-facing camera module that connects directly to the main unit, which gets rid of extra cabling while still providing clear rear recording.
What this boils down to is, yes the Vantrue X4S is a reasonably decent dash cam but if you’re after a high-end dash cam, the 622GW offers many more useful features.
Head to head: Under £100
Taking on a mainstream brand is easier at the wallet-friendly end of the market. Thus, it’s a closer contest between the Nextbase 222 and Vantrue N1 Pro.
Video 1080p HD at 30fps; 720p at 60fps | Screen 2.5-inch | Field of view 140 degrees | GPS No | Wi-Fi No | Bluetooth No
Vantrue N1 Pro
Video 1080p HD at 30fps; 720p at 30fps | Screen 1.5-inch | Field of view 160 degrees | GPS Optional | Wi-Fi No | Bluetooth No
Removing all the high-tech features leaves the two more basic models trading blows. The Nextbase scores points for build quality and a larger screen, while the Vantrue fights back with a wider field of view and optional GPS. The rest is all fairly even.
On balance, the Nextbase 222 emerges as the better dash cam because superior build quality counts for a lot. You want a model that lasts.
What have we learnt?
Internal development and research prove fruitful in high-end dash cams. Simply adopting the advancements made by other brands doesn’t necessarily result in models that are as easy to use or reliable. Therefore, Nextbase should be your first port of call for a top-end dash cam.
But the waters become murky at the entry-level point in the dash cam market. Nextbase’s 222 is an excellent little dash cam but must try and fend off competition that is more evenly matched and not significantly faulted by quirky features. Here, you can hunt around a bit to check out the competition because some of it is quite good.