NextBase iQ 4K Dash Camera review

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Erin L

Erin L

Nextbase iq dashcam review close up.Dashcams have caught some pretty crazy stuff from the sky falling to crashes to stunting and even the earth moving. More often though, they capture more mundane stuff… but that kind of stuff could help you if you’re ever in a collision. All that’s why dash cameras are so popular. Choosing one is tougher than justifying the purchase; there’s hundreds of choices out there. I recently got to get hands-on with one that’s billed as one of the most technologically advanced dashcams on the market… the NextBase iQ. In this review I’ll install the camera in my vehicle and talk about why it doesn’t go in like a regular dash camera. I’ll take a look at the resolution which is a market-beating 4K. I’ll also look at some of the extra features it has and whether it’s worth the substantially higher than average $699 US price tag. Plus there’s something you need to know about this camera—and that’s that most of its best features are locked behind a paywall. I’ll wrap my review with the pros and the cons and let you know if I think I can recommend this camera to you.

NextBase iQ dash cam
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Summary

Cynics are going to find this camera little but a lure to lock customers into a perpetual subscription just to maximize the base potential of this already pricey dash cam, since many of the best features are locked behind a paywall. But with that said, if you have need for some higher quality video and better and more reliable security and safety features, those may be worth the price.

Pros

  • High quality 4K video
  • Front facing and cabin-facing camera in one
  • SD card or cloud recording
  • Voice control
  • Witness mode
  • Emergency help
  • Good customer service
  • App is easy to use, uncluttered
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • Most key features need subscription
  • Can’t access app without inputting credit card info
  • Power choices only OBD or fuse
  • No in-car display

NextBase iQ dash cam review: What’s in the Box?

NextBase iQ 4K Dash Camera is compact and solid-feeling; the camera is anchored to a bulky articulating mount that has reversible antennas. The mount is big because it houses some more advanced tech… which we’ll get to.
The only option for install here is with a sticker, so this won’t be a camera you swap in and out of multiple vehicles unless you want to hack your own set up.

Nextbase iq dashcam review flat lay of all components in the box.I chose the highest resolution 4K model, but lower resolutions are available for lower prices.

The kit comes with several cables and accessories. In addition to the unit itself, you get a special OBD2 power cable that connects to your car’s On Board Diagnostics port under the dash. There’s also hardwire power cables with fuse taps if you prefer, plus a fitting tool for peeling back mouldings and rubber seals.

Inside the NextBase iQ unit is a 64 GB U3 microSD card.

Watch my hands-on review and see the footage here

Nextbase app and (kinda mandatory) subscription

You’ll also need the Nextbase app to connect the camera to service and to use several of the features, but you will also absolutely need a paid subscription to one of Nextbase’s plans. No plan and your camera will only offer limited use, like recording to the Micro SD card – no live viewing, no notifications, no cloud storage and no emergency calling.

Before I could even start testing the camera, I discovered that it was seemingly impossible to do anything with the camera or app without actually signing up for a Nextbase subscription plan, whether I wanted or or not, even if I planned to simply use the SD card instead of the full feature set.

While there *appears* to be an option to bypass the sign up, as of press time it didn’t work for me, and all I was able to view was a blurry screen on the app like I was blocked from accessing it. Grudgingly, I gave in and handed over my credit card and agreed to sign up for the Cadillac-level Pro Plan on a trial basis.

The plans range from $14-$26 CAD ($9-19USD) per month and offer slightly different options, but the core of what you’re paying for is live streaming from the camera via cellular networks, notifications to your phone if there are any concerns like accidents or break-ins, and a remote alarm. There’s other features including several which are still marked as ‘coming soon’ months after I first looked at the site.

Don’t skip enabling the extra features

Nextbase iq dashcam review Nextbase app.The next thing I realized is that most of these Pro level features do require you to activate them; they’re not on by default. For example if you want your camera to contact emergency services in the event of a crash, You need to enable a host of settings and permissions inside the app. Similarly if you want to enable Witness Mode, which will send a live stream to up to two contact you designate if you are ever pulled over or in a situation you are concerned about, you need to make sure you have this set up, your contacts have been designated, and going one step further, those contacts have agreed to receive your live streams. No point deduction for this, just something to be aware of.

My early advice: if you are opting to pay the big bucks for this camera and a monthly plan, make darn sure you can take advantage of it by going through each of the settings in the camera and making sure all of the required permissions and options are activated. It would be nice if the app prompted you for this, but it does not.

Set up: I got a lemon

When I went to set up the camera I encountered a world of pain. One warning: Don’t stick the camera to your window until you have it set up in the app. The plug that connects into the back of the camera will become inaccessible as soon as you stick it to the window so keep it handy within reach until the set up is complete, then stick it to the windshield.


Installation of the cables went pretty easily and all the necessary tools are included. I opted for the OBD connection and if I could make one suggestion to the Nextbase engineers it would be not to have the cable come out the side of the OBD2 connector but out the back instead; It barely fit in the small opening where my port is located.

It might be important to mention this camera has no option to pull power off a cigarette lighter adapter; it’s OBD or the fuse panel only for power. While the OBD connection was easy, these options may intimidate users who are less familiar with their cars, but from my experience, they’re easy enough to do.

You can Google where to find your specific car’s OBD port.

When I went ahead with the set up, the camera attempted to download an update. But after the first attempt it seem to get stuck and was hung up for about 20 minutes. I disconnected the power and started it over again and the process seemed to advance further along but always stalled out. After starting over and running the update sequence about 9 times, I gave up and called NextBase support for help.

We went back-and-forth over several days and I will say I got great help but it took a lot of my time. Nextbase software engineers supplied me with several sets of fixes and new firmware downloads via email in order to try to jog the camera into behaving. After the fourth or fifth special software download when things were still not working, the company offered to replace my camera.

Replacement cam worked perfectly

When I went to connect the new camera to the Nextbase app happy to say it connected on the first try and I was set up and ready to go in probably about five minutes. My advice here; if you are experiencing trouble with your camera, and it takes longer than about 5-10 minutes to get it set up, reach out to Nextbase for help and request a new unit.

Premium Features

The NextBase iQ is rich in features and the list includes some premium ones that drive up the cost of this dash cam. Treat this as a checklist of sorts because if most of the features here don’t cater to your needs, you lose out on the overall value of the product, and you’d do well to shop for a less complex and thus cheaper option.

4K Camera Array

Nextbase iq dashcam review with a shot of las vegas strip.The dash cam features a 4K dual front camera with 2K cabin-facing camera. You can also get an optional rear-facing camera too.
The 4K resolution is a huge bonus. It adds crispness to the detail and color accuracy is spot on. What you get here is premium footage that makes it easy to pick out even finer details. Night recordings look good as well and you can toggle the infrared mode to record darker environments.

Video quality: Amazing

Since we’re on the topic, let’s dig deeper into the video quality. I took the iQ camera on a road trip to Las Vegas, plugging it easily into my rental car’s OBD2 port. It was my silent second set of eyes on the four hour drive, capturing desert landscapes as well as the glitz of the Las Vegas strip and interesting sights around town. The footage is indeed crisp, clear and sharp and it makes it a lot easier to identify landmarks, read signs and license plates and capture fine details. 4K footage is easy to zoom into on your computer too, so what you can’t see on your phone, you can easily blow up on a laptop.

The nighttime footage is also pretty good, but as you will see if you check out the video review, the camera can sometimes be blinded by bright light.

Cellular 4G connection

sticker. Nextbase iq dashcam reviewHow does the camera take advantage of features like sending you notifications and live streams? It’s got cellular connectivity built in.
NextBase iQ will connect with 4G cellular service, and in case you’re wondering this is in large part what you’re paying for each month. (Even if you don’t plan on using it, the extra antennas and chip within dash cam contribute to the bulkier size and higher cost of this product). The dash cam lacks a SIM card slot making it impossible to bypass the monthly fee.

GPS & location

Thanks to the cellular triangulation, your dash camera knows exactly where it is at all times. You can open the app and see where your kid has the car, for example, or use it to locate a stolen vehicle (as long as the thief hasn’t yanked the power).

Voice Control

Configuring your dash cam is often a “set it and forget it” affair but with the NextBase iQ, you might see the need to disable the cabin camera or microphone during certain situations or start the “Witness Mode” when you are having a roadside conversation with someone. The voice control feature makes it easier to toggle those features.

Just start the command with “Hey Dash Cam” and specify an action such as “Start Recording” or “Turn Microphone Off”.

Witness Mode & Emergency SOS

There are two features that come with either of the paid plans that actually seem very helpful.

Witness Mode

If you’re ever in a situation alone and wished you could have some backup, Nextbase iQ’s witness mode gives you that option. This is one of the features you do need to set up and get permission from friends to share to. You can say ‘Hey Dashcam, Start Witness Mode’ to the camera and it will both record and share a live stream with up to two emergency contacts.
Emergency SOS

If you — or whoever is driving — are unresponsive during an accident, the iQ will share location and any medical details you’ve provided with emergency personnel so you can quickly get the help you need. Luckily I had no need to test this out during my review period.

Parking Lot eyes

The Nextbase iQ will also alert you to events that happen while your vehicle is parked, like if someone backed into you or tried to break in. You get a push notification to your phone and the camera will record both through the windshield and in the cabin so you’ve got a set of eyes all around. More than once I got a parking alert, but it was either just my husband getting something from the console or a neighbour brushing past.

No display screen

Side view of Nextbase iq dashcam reviewA major downside for some might be the lack of a display screen, which is something reasonable to expect from a dash cam costing over $500. You can access a live view of the camera from the app any time of course, but you also need the paid subscription to do it. I personally find a dashcam screen in the car distracting, so I don’t mind going without.

You’ll want a bigger SD card

The included 64 GB Micro SD card might sound generous considering the fact that it is rated for endurance, but 64 GB in my opinion is kind of insufficient for recording 4K video. Even so, I think it’s nice Nextbase includes one for the price.

Nextbase iq dashcam reviewOn 4K settings, three straight hours of recording will immediately fill up the SD card, which is what happened with my four hour drives to Vegas and back. With both cameras enabled, that time gets cut to just two hours.
What you really should get is a 256 GB card which unfortunately adds to the already high investment cost. NextBase sells their own SD cards on their website, but if you plan on buying elsewhere, check our SD card guide to ensure you buy the correct SD card for your dash cam.

Overall Review: NextBase iQ 4K Dash Camera

Cynics are going to find this camera little but a lure to lock customers into a perpetual subscription just to maximize the base potential of this already pricey dash cam, since many of the best features are locked behind a paywall. But with that said, if you have need for some higher quality video and better and more reliable security and safety features, those may be worth the price.

Nextbase iq dashcam reviewOn the pro side the great resolution is undeniable and makes a massive difference to footage quality whether you opt into the cloud or record right to micro SD. Having both a front and cabin cam in one is helpful too.
The camera was easy to install and while my first unit was a lemon that refused to function, I did get great help from the Nextbase team and the replacement was flawless.
I like the addition of voice control, since anything we can do to be hands-free in the car is safer overall.

The security features like witness mode and emergency SOS are helpful and valuable and would be a boon to homes with new or teen drivers in the family. Of course the fact mom or dad could also peer into the car for a live feed while a child is driving and see what they’re up to is either a godsend or evil, depending on your parenting styles.

On the con side, I can’t overstate the fact that pretty much everything you’ll do with this camera is behind a paywall. As I’m putting this together my trial subscription is expired and I can’t view the camera, see its location or do anything whatsoever within the app. So I think it’s really important to understand that if you’re not going to plan to pay from about $120-240 US each year for your camera and the cellular connection, you can and should shop for something else.
Other potential downsides for a buyer? The permanent installation might limit its use unless you want to hack some kind of a velcro option together. A lack of in-car display might also be a con. I’m also a bit concerned the unit I got was a dud, so I’d love to hear from others out there if you’ve had a similar issue and what happened. Since Nextbase replaced it, it may be less of a downside.

Overall I think the camera is great, and the footage is unbeatable. If you think about it, paying the monthly fee for 24-7 cellular access that lets you see its location, live views and that gives you emergency backup to boot is actually quite valuable.

Get one from Amazon for about $699US/$999CAD. It’s also available from NextBase’s website.

Also Read:

  1. Nextbase 622GW 4K dash camera review
  2. Ring Car Cam: when it’s REALLY coming
  3. Papago GoSafe 760 dash camera review

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Erin L

Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.

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