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How to Use Your Old Smartphone as a Dashcam

Dashcam is a must have for every motorist. However, they may also cost a pretty penny. But what is a dashcam after all but just a camera plugged into your car’s charging socket?

So, if a dashcam is what it is, why not use an old, unused smartphone instead? That way, you can save a few bucks while extending the life of your old tech. It also helps to reduce the e-waste lying in our drawers.

So, here’s how you can use an old smartphone as a dashcam.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Smartphone Dashcam

Now, before we dive into what you need to convert your old phone into a dashcam, you need to know its pros and cons first. The biggest advantage of a smartphone dashcam is that you’ll save money on a new camera.

Since you’re using a smartphone, you can automatically connect it to any of your Wi-Fi access points or hotspots to back up recordings to the cloud. Also, if you want to watch the captured video, all you have to do is remove its mounting and use it like any other smartphone.

However, since it’s a smartphone, it’s an attractive target among car thieves. This is especially true if you leave it in plain sight like most dashcams. Another option is to remove it from its mounting. You can do that, but it can be a hassle to mount it back every time you drive.

You should also consider your local laws. Some jurisdictions are strict about having a phone in your driving line of sight, so a smartphone dashcam could get you in trouble.

Still, if it’s legal in the places you frequent and you live in a fairly safe area, a smartphone dashcam may be a good option for you. So, there are a few things to keep in mind when setting up an old phone for a dashcam.

Camera quality and smartphone quality

Having a dashcam means that you should have a clear record of the roads you are driving on. If your older smartphone has poor camera quality — anything less than 1080p Full HD resolution — and it doesn’t adjust well to frequently changing lighting conditions, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Also consider the field of view of your phone’s camera. You wouldn’t want to use a smartphone that only shows a small part of your hood; You want something that records the driver’s entire vantage point. So it is ideal if your phone has an ultra-wide camera for recording.

You don’t have to have a new phone in the car, but a three to five year old phone can work well as a dashcam. Anything older, and you have to consider that its camera isn’t up to par or its internals may already be failing from wear and tear.

Remember, if you’re using this as a dashcam, it’s going to be exposed under varying temperatures – from extremely hot under the summer sun to violently cold during the winter months. This may put a dent in its expected lifespan as smartphones are generally not meant to be used in such temperatures. So it is best to use an old phone without any physical damage. Its position should allow it to last for a long time.

phone storage capacity

Most older phones come with limited storage. If your old phone only has 32GB or 64GB of space, you should reformat it before using it. Also, make sure it has nothing but the essential apps and dashcam app. That way, you have plenty of room for your videos.

If your phone can expand its storage via a microSD card, consider installing a 128GB removable card. That way, you can record your dashcam videos at the highest possible setting and have several of them on your phone before they’re written.

mount your phone

If you have a phone with the proper sound available, your next step is to install it in your vehicle. Are you planning to mount this on your windshield or your dash? You can mount it in any position, but windshield mounts are usually better because they can capture more of the road.

You also want a mount that is easy to remove. That’s because if you don’t intend to leave your smartphone’s dashcam in the car, at least you won’t have the hassle of putting it on and taking it off every time you drive.

Remember, always consider carefully where you keep your dashcam (be it a dashcam or a smartphone)! You don’t want to have a gadget that will interfere with your car’s sensors or put it on an airbag. Doing so is dangerous as it can cause your vehicle to act erratically, or become a projectile if the airbags inflate in an accident.

source of power

While most phones have a decent battery life, older devices generally have poorer battery health. In addition, recording video consumes a lot of power. That’s why you want a fast charging cable and adapter in your car to charge the smartphone dashcam.

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