The 522GW isn’t the smallest dash cam out there and shares the same overall aesthetic as the rest of the Nextbase range. It’s a design language that’s starting to get dated compared to much more compact offerings from Garmin, for example. That said, it’s not ugly, and its size is partly due to the large screen on the back.
There are only two physical buttons on the Nextbase 522GW. There is a power button in the left corner and a red button centrally below the screen. This is used to manually record part of the footage – useful if you’ve anticipated an incident but were not directly involved, so that the camera’s g-sensor didn’t detect a collision and saved the video for you.
Everything else is controlled via the touchscreen or by talking to Alexa. Once set up, the Amazon voice assistant can be prompted to stop and start recording, turn the microphone on or off, and perform other simple actions. We feel this is more of a gimmick than a useful feature, as dash cams are usually devices that are set up once and left to do their thing with no further interaction, not least via Alexa.
The dashcam is set up and controlled using the MyNextbase app, which is free for iOS and Android. It all works fine, but is a bit clunky and not the most attractive – but again, this is common for dashcam apps, which often prioritize function over form.
The app is used to change video resolution (we prefer the extra pixels of 2K at 30 frames per second, but 1080p Full HD at a smoother 60fps is also available), and to decide what information you want in your footage such as GPS coordinates, speed, and a timestamp. Footage also includes a map and telemetry to show movement on the camera’s X, Y, and Z axes; such fine details could be helpful in determining the cause of a collision.
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Nextbase includes a USB cable and a 12V light plug adapter for powering the dashcam, along with a suction cup and windshield mount with an adhesive backing, so you can decide whether you want an easily removable or more permanent solution. There is also a tool to tuck the cable behind your car’s interior panels and headliner.
The 522GW has a parking mode, which uses its own battery to keep the g-sensor alive while your car is parked and turned off. Then, when a collision is detected, the camera comes to life and records footage for three minutes, trying to capture the aftermath of a parking push or attempted theft.
As for video footage itself, the Nextbase 522GW does a pretty good job and is one of the better dashcams we’ve used in recent years. The exposure is well controlled to ensure good detail in both shadows and highlights, while the integrated polarizing lens helps reduce glare from the windshield on sunny days. The lens rotates so you can adjust how effective it is.
The 140-degree lens isn’t as wide as some other options, such as Garmin’s 180-degree dashcams. But we still found the Nextbase’s view to be wide enough to provide a full view over the front of our car, and without distortion.
Our only concern is how the camera’s image stabilization works. We’ve used other Nextbase dashcams before with no problems, but testing this 522GW with our (admittedly brisk-driving) car, a Mazda MX-5, caused the images to rock back and forth, as the image stabilization fought against the jitters of the car. Our car. This was especially evident at a standstill with the engine running, but the visuals were smoothed out again on the move.
We must emphasize that this has to do with the solid handling of the car used in our test, and not with the camera itself.
One feature that sets the 522GW apart from some rivals is an emergency SOS response. If a particularly severe impact is detected, the dashcam will first attempt to get a response from the driver. If not, it will use your Bluetooth-connected smartphone to call emergency services and use the dashcam’s built-in GPS to share your location. It can also share medical data such as blood type, allergies and medical history as long as you have added it to the Nextbase app beforehand.