Nextbase 522GW Review
The Nextbase 522GW dash cam offers a solid mix of features and good video quality. But while its big screen and built-in polarising filter are useful additions over models lower down the Nextbase range, it’s no better than the mid-range models at capturing what’s happening around you. Unless you really need its big screen or Alexa functionality, I’d save money and choose the 322GW.
- Brilliant windscreen mount
- Strong feature set
- Good video and screen quality
- No advanced driver safety features
- Not a big step up from Nextbase’s mid-range models
- UKRRP: £169
- USARRP: $189
- EuropeRRP: €220
- CanadaRRP: CA$280
- AustraliaRRP: AU$299
- GPSBuilt-in GPS stamps video with the exact location of an incident
- AppThe compatible app lets you view a live stream, update firmware, activate the SOS feature and more.
- Safety featuresSOS feature is available via the smartphone app.
The Nextbase 522GW sits one down from the top of the company’s extensive dash cam range, the 622GW.
It’s quite well specified, with GPS support, Alexa integration and an SOS feature. There’s also a big 7.6cm colour touchscreen and a polarising filter to help cut down on glare.
But despite some upgrades, it shares the same 1440p resolution as the next model down in the range. Is it worth the extra outlay? Here are my thoughts.
Design and features
- A great windscreen mount, and rear camera support
- GPS positioning, parking mode, an SOS feature and Alexa support
- Quad HD resolution
The Nextbase 522GW dash cam sits near the top of the company’s six-model range. Despite sharing many of the same specifications as the 422GW, it’s larger to make room for a bigger 7.6cm screen, which has a significantly higher resolution.
This camera records the same 1440p, 30fps video as the 422GW, but interestingly it uses a higher resolution 5.14 megapixel sensor whereas the cheaper camera has a 4MP sensor. Given the availability of these ‘spare’ pixels, it seems odd that there’s no electronic image stabilisation feature on the 522GW.
What you do get is the same G-sensor-controlled parking mode found on the rest of the Nextbase range. There’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, allowing you to link the 522GW with Nextbase’s mobile phone app, from which you can change settings and download footage of an incident. This linkup also enables the SOS mode, which again uses the g-sensor to detect if you’re involved in a serious incident. If you’re unresponsive, your phone will automatically contact the emergency services.
This camera has a slot to connect one of Nextbase’s rear view or cabin cameras, which we’ve reviewed separately. It also supports Alexa integration, allowing you to control the camera and media playback. As with the 422GW, I had issues getting this to work properly. While it could be handy for voice-free control of audio and calls in an older car, it’s not really needed if you have CarPlay or Android Auto.
It’s worth explaining one upgrade in a bit more detail. Like the range-topping 622GW, the Nextbase 522GW has a polarising filter covering the front of its lens array. You might need to rotate it, but get the alignment right and it should improve visibility through your windscreen, cutting down on glare and reflections of the cabin under certain lighting conditions. The camera’s big screen is helpful for fine-tuning this, but you can use the app’s live view feature to check when you’re getting the best results.
Finally, I should mention that this camera misses out on advanced driver safety aids such as lane departure warning or emergency stop notifications. While these might be useful in older vehicles without them built in, I haven’t typically found the dash cam versions to be especially responsive or helpful, so it’s not a great loss.
Performance and video quality
- Great video quality
- Easy to live with
- No great upgrade in video quality over the 422GW
NextBase’s magnetic windscreen mount makes it easy to fit and remove this camera from the car, although you will need to unplug the wired Rear Window Camera if you buy one. You’ll probably want to enable the screensaver rather than have the big, distracting screen stay on while driving.
In most cases, enabling parking mode will be sensible, too. This is best used with a hard-wired power connection, for which you can buy an optional kit, but I found that the camera’s small battery was enough to power it while our frequently used car was left idle.
I found it particularly hard to eject the microSD card from this camera, needing to resort to a match to push it in far enough to release.
There’s no doubt that the Nextbase 522GW produces high quality video. In daylight I could clearly see all details of traffic, road signs, pedestrians and other road users. As with most decent dash cams, it was easy to read number plates provided they weren’t moving too quickly in relation to my car.
Low winter sun is often a stern test for dash cams. The 522GW’s polarising filter helped improve footage when the sun was blasting through the front screen, cutting down glare and completely removing reflections of the cabin that otherwise would have interfered with the view out. However, I felt at times that the camera’s exposure was darker than I’d like.
While the Nextbase 522GW captured a wide range of brightness – from houses lit by the sun to the unlit road below – it seemed more interested in the former. Happily, you can tweak the exposure in the video settings – it’s worth noting that this doesn’t affect the rear view camera if you’ve got one connected.
I was a bit less impressed with this camera’s night performance. Despite a wide 𝒇/1.3 aperture, it didn’t seem to capture any more detail than cheaper NextBase cameras such as the 322GW. In particular, it tended to underexpose darker areas of the frame, meaning footage contained little detail of pedestrians, shop fronts or even cyclists, unless they were almost directly under street lighting.
Changing down to lower resolutions and framerates didn’t seem to help things. Boosting the exposure by a few stops did improve the results somewhat, but at the cost of quite a bit of noise creeping into the video.
Should you buy it?
You want a solid mix of features and good video quality:
The Nextbase 522GW offers a big screen, decent video quality, and a helpful polarising filter.
You mostly drive at night:
The Nextbase 522GW is not brilliant at grabbing detail at night.
This is another good Nextbase dash cam, but I feel like it’s not really a fantastic upgrade over the 422GW – or even the 322GW. While its polarising filter is very welcome, I could easily live without its bigger screen and Alexa integration. Given that its resolution boost over the 322GW doesn’t seem to help it grab any more detail from the road, I’m not convinced it’s worth the extra money. That’s not to say it’s poor value, though – it still compares well to many competitors.
How we test
We test every dash cam we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Used as our main dash cam for the review period
We take sample video during the day and night to see how good the footage really is.
We test any smartphone apps to see what additional features are on offer.
We test any additional safety features, such as lange change warning, to see how useful they really are.
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This is a forward-facing camera, but it’s compatible with Nextbase’s range of cabin and rear view cameras, available separately.
There’s no hardwiring kit in the box, but you can buy one separately.
A polarising filter can help filter the light reaching a lens. It’s particularly useful when you’re filming through glass, as you can rotate it so that it blocks unwanted reflections from inside the car that would otherwise show up on your windscreen.