There are a large number of dashcams selling today with resolutions that are still sub-par in today’s standards, especially when you have to rely on their quality in order to use them to make a claim. If you have to present evidence of a crash or an accident and your resolution is so low that you can’t recognise number plates or specific details, you might as well not film at all in some cases.
Having a dash camera with a high resolution could make or break a claim, so I was certainly interested in the AUKEY DR02 4K Dash Camera. This tiny form factor dashcam packs a high-resolution AR0521 5.1-megapixel 1/2.5″ CMOS sensor that captures in 4K 24fps in a dashcam the size of 77 x 51 x 37mm / 3″ x 2″ x 1.45″.
In the box, you’ll find the AUKEY 4K camera itself. Its chassis is exactly the same size as the 1080p Dash Camera from AUKEY. The only noticeable difference is there is only one single 3.5mm jack port at the back for the optional GPS input at $19.99. It is unfortunate to see that this camera has adopted the older mini-USB power port instead of micro-USB or even USB-C. So if you already have a micro-USB cable from your previous dashcam that isn’t mini-USB, you’ll have to find an adaptor or rewire the bundled 4m/13ft cable around instead.
The 4K AUKEY comes bundled with lots of helpful accessories to charge and mount the camera onto your windscreen. You get a slim dual USB-A 12v charger to power the dashcam and the camera mount plate comes with a 3M adhesive sticker already attached. There is an additional mount plate and two additional 3M adhesive stickers, should you wish to mount the camera in a different location, or in a different car in the future.
Mounting the camera in your vehicle is super easy. Simply peel back the 3M sticker and stick the camera to your windscreen, then adjust the lens between its full 90-degree range for the best angle from your windscreen. To power the camera you then run the USB cable around your interior using the bundled adhesive plastic clips to neatly run the cable down from your camera and into the 12v USB charging port. Once the ignition is turned on the dashcam springs into life with an audible chime and the dashcam’s internal 1.5” LCD screen illuminates and begins recording.
With a Class 10 micro-SD card installed, with up to 128GB being supported, after an initial format of the SD card you are ready to capture video and photos through the camera’s 157° wide-angle lens. But first, you might want to dip into the camera’s menus to configure it how you want.
The 4K AUKEY can capture a number of resolutions and frames per second. Resolutions include: 2160p (24 fps), 1440p (30 fps), 1296p (30 fps), 1080p (60 fps / 30 fps), 720p (120 fps / 60fps), WVGA, VGA. The higher the resolution you set, the less this camera will be able to record and store onto your installed micro-SD card. Up to 10 hours of 4K resolution will fit on a 128GB SD card. You can also set 3, 5 and 10-minute video cycle lengths.
Having the 1.5” colour LCD on the back of the camera helps simplify the camera’s general operation. Once powered, the screen displays the camera’s live point-of-view on-screen to help any adjustment when required. The 157° focal lens can be rotated up and down in its housing a full 90 degrees, which makes positioning the camera for the perfect angle a breeze.
With an SD card inserted, formatted and the unit powered on, you’re already recording, thanks to its default instant-on loop recording mode. There are two other modes to choose from including Motion Detection Mode, where the dash camera will record only when there is movement detected. There is also Time-Lapse Recording Mode, which will capture a photo every second.
With large enough SD card relatively cheap these days, I really don’t see the need to use the other recording modes. It is best to capture everything from your journey at the highest resolution because you never know how much you will need to freeze-frame through footage when making any accident claim or proving your own case in court.
The detail in night recording is decent too when viewed alongside its competitors, with various exposure settings available: -1.0, -2/3, -1/3, +0.0, +1/3, +2/3, +1.0. Colour in recordings can seem a little high in contrast but not too much to be off-putting. There is a nice colour balance throughout the entire day and night cycle, however, getting the right exposure setting between day and night may be a challenge.
Photos can also be captured from the AUKEY DR02. By simply holding down one of the function buttons for 3 seconds, a photo is taken and saved to your SD card. 3 seconds may be a little slow in capturing an instant moment in time, but for something more stationary, this functionality can be handy when needed – or you could just take a frame from the video capture.
Capturing audio is possible thanks to the small microphone located on the side of the camera housing. Audio recording is not too bad, it records general conversion in the vehicle clearly. Any jolts in the car from bumps or potholes in the road do not distort the audio as I have found on cheaper dash cameras.
Another key feature is the Emergency Recording function, which senses any change in movement that is activated by a built-in gravity sensor. This automatically captures unexpected driving incidents, whether driving or parked and locked up. Emergency recordings are then stored and archived where it cannot be overwritten.
An optional External GPS Antenna can be plugged in to provide accurate position and speed data to the DR02, which is saved and displayed on recorded videos. This additional GPS information may support your case in any driving disputes or incidents. It’s a shame though that this feature comes is an optional extra and is not a bundled item.
Although the AUKEY markets its camera as 4K, it’s sensor however captures at a resolution of 2880 x 2160p, which isn’t exactly 4K resolutions, more like 2K. Viewing footage does playback at 4K resolutions (3840×2160), but this means the video is being captured at 2K and scaled up to 4K. For true 4K, you will need an 8-megapixel sensor. So with a 5.1-megapixel sensor in the AUKEY, you really have to compare it alongside other 2K dash cameras.
When compared to our current crowning dashcam, the 70mai Pro Dashcam from Xiaomi, which is close to AUKEY’s 2K capture resolution at 2592×1944p 5MP sensor, I find that the AUKEY is let down by its image sensor in day time capture, which gives an over-sharpened, overexposed quality than the Xiaomi. Even with HDR support in the AUKEY, the Xiaomi is more capable of offering better exposure in normal lighting conditions and requires less adjustment between day and night. The AUKEY 4K Dash Camera, however, does shoot great night time video, probably the best we’ve reviewed yet.
At $89.99 from Amazon (£87.99 in the UK), the AUKEY 4K Dash Camera is certainly a capable mid-range dash camera, but with its lack of true 4K resolution, its competition can offer just as much detail in its video with a more natural video quality and at a reduced price. Its form factor may appeal though, as it sits relatively small on your windshield and it includes a whole host of tech that will capture some clear and detailed video in all conditions and it has a decently balanced quality between various times of the day.