How to: Convert your old smartphone into a Dashcam

“Alvaro martínez” is a freelance writer who writes articles in his spare time and works making automotive reviews and many many more things


At some point in a petrolhead’s life… there’s always that one fender bender that can happen anywhere, you accurately report what happened to the insurance company and even made a diagram on the accident report. To ensure that whoever reviews it can’t just lazily assign guilt right? Well… you got assigned the guilt regardless of the road rules giving you the right, and currently the car’s in the shop awaiting expensive repairs… Bummer.

As well you probably want to record that exciting lap at the track day, that spirited drive up and down a mountain pass but got no money for one? Well your old smartphone has a second purpose. And today I will be showing you how to turn your old android cellphone into a cheap and simple dash cam shall you need it.  


First, we are going to need an old smartphone, any brand will do… However, it’s important that the smartphone has a camera capable of recording video in at least 720 Pixels in order to get a clear view of the road and whoever’s plates come up on view. As well your old smartphone will need a factory reset since it will no longer function as a call/internet browsing device.

However back up any files you have left on it, you will need to maximize the available space on the device and increase it’s overall performance. It is optional to add a SD car with higher capacity to increase available storage space… And now for the next steps.

You will need a windshield mount or a mount on the dash, preferably one that allows you a landscape orientation to improve the range of view the camera can capture as you drive, you also will need a car charger. Preferably one that can hook to the USB connector of your car or your cigarette lighter. Those can be found in Amazon or in any gas station with a car section.

Depending on how far your “dashcam” is away from any electrical source, you will need a charging cable that can be at least 1 feet of length. As well you are going to need to install in your old Smartphone a Dashcam App. (Droid Dashcam, Drive Recorder, Autoguard blackbox…) to name a few! 

Things we should take in mind.

  1. -The recording angle MUST be in panoramic (putting the phone on its side) even then with a wide angle of recording the software limitations impedes a wider angle of view and may leave blind angles the camera will not record. As well night time recording might prove difficult since Smartphones have no night vision and heavily rely on light sources. (like our headlights)
  2. -Some smartphones have a bad video recording quality, always ensure to recite the plate of the guy that has hit you just in case the resolution doesn’t allow for a clear view of the plate. 
  3. -The cables shouldn’t obstruct our view or operation of the controls. Make sure the cable is not too long. I recommend windshield mounted dashcams via suction cup or rear view mirror mounted ones.
  4. -Before starting the car, you will have to enter the App and start recording manually. As well setup the GPS before driving since operating it while driving is illegal. As well keep it out of view since even old smartphones sell for a pretty penny these days.
  5. -In some countries like Spain, Dash cam footage cannot be used as proof in an accident, check your local regulations for dashcams… e
  6. -And finally… A dashcam won’t ALWAYS give you the right when it comes to accidents. Always act following the rules of the road since you’re as well recorded by your own camera.

(disclaimer: This set of instructions for car maintenance/modification is merely orientative, the article poster takes no responsibility for the misunderstanding of instructions and subsequent damage to the vehicle, procedures for maintenance or modification might vary on every vehicle. Perform at own responsibility.)


Published in How To / Advice

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