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The Nextbase IQ dashcam is the best kind of splurge purchase


Most who equip dashcams in their car generally go for something that simply records to an SD card. While that’s a valid option, the Nextbase IQ takes car security to another level, bringing some of the best features from home security and camera systems to your vehicle through a solid LTE always-on connection.

The Nextbase IQ is next level

I’ve long been a proponent of dashcams. For the longest time, I’ve utilized the type that simply turn on when the vehicle does and records looping video onto an SD card. At the very least, I believe everyone should have one in their vehicle, no matter what tech level it sits in.

However, the Nextbase IQ severely changes the game and how we should be thinking about dashcams. Think of your home and how if you have security cameras, you’d ideally equip ones that safely record video that can be digitally obtained. For instance, Google’s Nest Cam records video to the cloud, which is viewable at any given time, so long as you have an internet connection. Those are the sort of cameras that will be reliable if something were to happen and make recovering that data very easy in crucial instances.

In the same way, the Nextbase IQ is an always-on camera that connects to a secure 4G LTE network. While driving, it records video with its front camera and cabin-view camera, giving a full view of the external and internal vehicle. If you want, a rear-view camera can be added for a fuller image.

Because it’s always connected, whatever it records is instantly available to download to your phone. The added Bluetooth connection does help if you want to pull video a little faster, but there’s a reason I fell in love with remote video downloads.

I was driving home in the rain only a few days ago on the highway. As I merge onto a new bit of highway, the rain starts to pick up heavily. Coming up on the right was a large accident with several EMS vehicles. Naturally, I move to the left side of the highway to ensure traffic isn’t clogged and another accident doesn’t occur. As I do that, a bit of debris kicks up from the truck in front of me and rattles under my car. It sounds absolutely terrible, and literal moments later, I see an air pressure alert on my dash.

After pulling into a gas station on the next exit and taking a good look at my obliterated tire, I was able to look back on the drive with the Nextbase IQ app. It records everything, and as long as the video happened within a certain period, it’s there to pull.

I was able to easily download the video and take a look at the details, which included a G-force graph and speed parameters, as well as a GPS representation of the stretch or road I was on. Sure enough, I could hear the exact moment that debris hit my car, though the rain made it impossible to make out the details of what it was – to no fault of the IQ.

I didn’t have to pull an SD out or wait until I got home to throw it onto my PC or tablet. I was able to pull the footage right then and there, with no issue.

In the event of a crash, being able to pull that video up at the scene of the accident would be huge. So long as you’re not at fault, you can ensure that the truth of what happened is evident to all parties involved.

Security and app features

The Nextbase IQ goes beyond simple recording during a drive. Depending on how you set the dashcam up, you’re able to see what’s happening at any given moment, even while the car is parked.

The Nextbase IQ utilizes the car’s OBD port, which allows it to run on battery power while the car is off. To conserve energy and ensure that it doesn’t drain the battery, it will fully power down if it senses a low energy level from the car. Outside of that, it only ever turns on when it senses movement.

The Nextbase IQ dashcam is the best kind of splurge purchase
The Nextbase IQ dashcam is the best kind of splurge purchase

In essence, this turns the IQ into a security camera. The feature itself is called “Smart Sense Parking,” which essentially turns the device into a motion detector for your car. If someone so much as walks by the car and lingers too long, the IQ will send a notification to your phone. From there, you can sound an alarm from the dashcam itself.

The IQ also sends a notification if a collision has been detected, which is helpful if someone were to hit your car while you’re away. It will automatically record that instance and save it to the “Events” tab, which is different from the “Library” where all videos from the last day or so are stored.

One of my favorite quality-of-life features on the IQ is the physical save button on the bottom of the camera. Hitting that will automatically save the surrounding video timeframe to the events tab, making it easy to find again and saving it in a more prominent spot.

There is also a download tab that shows what’s been recalled to the device. It’s not immediately clear that you need to first download it to the app from the cloud and then to your phone, so just keep that in mind. It’s a fast process and the 4G LTE connection is surprisingly good at recovering videos quickly, even at high resolution.

Emergency SOS and ‘Witness mode’

Another massive plus that the Nextbase IQ has going in its favor is the emergency SOS feature. Much like how the Google Pixel has car crash detection, the Nextbase IQ has car crash detection. If it senses a certain G-force spike, it will automatically send an SOS signal to the local authorities with your location and medical data. It needs to be set up in the app, so be sure to do that, otherwise the feature will not work.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the emergency SOS feature only works with the highest-paid plan – yeah, there are subscription tiers. Whether or not $20/month on top of what you already paid for the IQ is worth it is up to you. I’ve since changed my tone from when I got the IQ to now, and I’m more in favor of paying for a service like that in the chance that something happens while my wife or myself is driving.

Another feature that only exists because of the heightened need for security these days is “Witness Mode.” Witness mode is a voice-activated feature that does a few things. When activated by saying “Hey IQ, start witness mode,” the IQ will begin recording an event. It will alert your emergency contact – which you set up in-app. They can then view the live footage.

This feature is meant to ensure that extra eyes are on you and your vehicle if some sort of dangerous event were to happen. Suppose a stranger walks up to your vehicle asking for directions, and you don’t feel right about their intentions, start witness mode. It won’t alert the authorities, but it will ensure the interaction is recorded and someone else is watching, just in case.

Both of these are fantastic features that add value to the IQ, taking it beyond just a dashcam.

Hardware and camera quality

As dashcams go, the Nextbase IQ isn’t the most inconspicuous. If someone were to ride with you, they’d immediately know they were being recorded, likely tipped off by the camera lens facing them and the big red dot on the small display above it.

Even still, it doesn’t look ugly. The base of the IQ sits on your windshield, held by a strong 3M adhesive. That base has two small antennae to connect to its LTE signal. From there, the camera juts out downward, aimed at both the road and you.

There is a small status display above the inward-facing camera. It shows when recording is happening, your LTE connection strength, and a couple of other status indications, like when smart-sense parking has alerted or when the app is viewing the camera live.

I was sent the 2K Nextbase IQ, but there are three tiers. Basic 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. The 2K variant does well to capture crucial detail, as long as the video I pull from the device is the highest definition. At its price point, I think the 2K version will work for most people. There are instances where the 4K variant would come in handy, but at $100 more expensive, it might not be worth it for most.

Another big reason the Nextbase IQ stands out is because the company develops a lot of its own hardware. I’ve spoken with the team about the construction of the device and it carries a lot of the same premium features that our smartphones or computers do. In the time I’ve used it, I’ve only come across a couple of small connection losses, but it’s easy enough to restart the device when you notice it. Other than that, my experience has been optimal.

It’s not cheap, but it could be worth it

As mentioned, there are three Nextbase IQ variants. There is a 1080p model, a 1440p model, and a 4K model. At the base price, the Nextbase IQ 1080p costs $499. That’s more expensive than the large majority of dashcams on the market, and likely more expensive than most of us have seen a dashcam go for. On top of that, each step up in quality is $100 more, with the 1440p version coming in at $599 and the 4K model at $699.

That’s not cheap, and I still think it’s about $100 higher than it should be, but then again, a lot of drivers will happily spend $500 on a radar detector. The fact is that I’ve come to really enjoy using the IQ in my vehicle. With the number of features it brings to car security in general, on top of ease of use and being able to grab recordings from the app, even if the IQ is far away, I really can’t complain about my actual experience.

The Nextbase IQ dashcam is the best kind of splurge purchase
The Nextbase IQ dashcam is the best kind of splurge purchase

Of course, getting features like emergency SOS is another $20/month. There is a free tier, which gives basic features like text notifications and access to the IQ app. A step above that is $10/month which is probably what most users will want. That middle tier offers cloud storage for 30 days instead of 180.

The Nextbase IQ isn’t for everyone, and it’s probably a little too expensive for most users. But for those who want to prioritize car security, easy footage recovery, and probably the most peace of mind you can get for your vehicle, the Nextbase IQ might be a good purchase that pays off.

Buy the Nextbase IQ

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