Trying Out The Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2

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The dash cam market has always been interesting to me due to the absence of the major electronics companies that have so much brand loyalty in the US. They seem to have left the entire market to smaller, unknown brands from Asia. Online stores like Amazon and eBay have been selling the cheap overseas brand dash cams for many years, and big brands like Garmin have been slow to catch up.

The Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is just one example of how a big US electronics company is trying to get a share of the market. The Mini 2 is actually just one entry in their dash cam lineup, as they also have several others at different feature and price points. How do the cameras from the big US companies compare? Does the brand name justify the higher prices?

In this review of the Garmin Mini 2 dash cam, I will seek to answer that question. I’ll provide an overview of the Mini 2, the Garmin Drive app, and the installation process. I will also show you some footage I captured in my testing. Finally, I’ll compare the quality to a popular Chinese dash cam model, and let you know which one I recommend.

Note: This article may contain affiliate links for the products mentioned


The Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is a tiny, 1080p dash cam that prioritizes size and ease-of-use over most other factors. The Mini 2 is aimed at people who want a basic dash cam at an affordable price point. But it doesn’t come with too many compromises. You still get a capable dash cam with 140 degrees FOV, automatic accident detection, voice control, and cloud connectivity.

Like most dash cams, the Mini 2 is powered by USB, and includes a dual 12V car adapter. You install it by securing the mount to the windshield with the included double-sided tape. Storage is handled by a removable microSD card, which you will have to purchase separately.

You can adjust settings and view your recorded video files from the Garmin Drive app. It connects to the Mini 2 via Bluetooth. The camera has the ability to connect to Wifi to sync video files to the cloud if you desire. It’s just as easy to access the microSD card to load into a PC to transfer the files directly.

What’s in the box:

  • Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2
  • 12V power adapter (dual USB-A)
  • 2 x mounting brackets
  • USB power cable
  • USB data able (for connecting to a PC)
  • Instructions


I drive a Toyota Prius, and installation of the Garmin Mini 2 dash cam was pretty easy. The complexity of the installation process will depend on your individual application. I chose to use the included 12V adapter to power the camera via the included USB power cable. I could have just let the cable dangle from the windshield mounting location, but decided to tuck the power cord underneath the dashboard, up along the a-pillar, and then along the headliner. This gave me a clean, professional look that I could easily do myself.

The Mini 2 is mounted to the windshield with a small mounting bracket that sticks to the window with double-sided tape. Garmin includes 2 brackets which appear identical. Maybe just an extra one? I found that to be a nice touch, in case the tape ever wears out or I decide to swap the dash cam between two vehicles.

In my case, the 12V outlet in my Prius is only powered when the car ignition is on. That means recording automatically starts when I start the car, and automatically stops when I turn it off. It has a capacitor that stores enough energy to be able to give you an acknowledgement beep, and finish saving the video when you turn off the power.

Garmin Drive App

Setup and configuration is a breeze with the Garmin Drive app. After I completed the installation, I powered up the camera and was able to easily connect it to my phone via Bluetooth. The app detected the Mini 2 and I was able to start messing with settings, preview the video feed, and figure out how to view stored footage. I found the app to be user friendly and way less glitchy than other software from dash cam manufacturers.

You don’t necessarily need the Drive app to use the Mini 2 after the initial setup. Since the Mini 2 doesn’t have a screen, it’s useful to be able to properly aim the camera. It’s also useful for formatting the microSD card. But after that, if you don’t to use it, you can always retrieve footage directly from the microSD card and bypass the Garmin Drive app completely.

Review After Two Months

I used the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 for more than 2 months before writing this review. I wanted to use it in a variety of situations, and make sure it held up long term. After 2 months, I don’t have any major gripes or issues to report. The Mini 2 has worked as expected, and luckily, I haven’t been involved in any kind of accident where I needed to retrieve footage. I have, however, used the Mini 2’s save functionality to mark interesting events. For example, I witnessed some dangerous driving which I wanted to show some friends later on. On the Mini 2 you can just touch the save button to protect and save that part of the video file. You can also use the voice feature if you desire.

When I did review some footage, it revealed that the quality was about what I expected for an entry-level dash cam. The Mini 2 records at 1080p 30 fps, but the actual video file is compressed when it is written to the SD card. That means you shouldn’t expect crisp HD footage even though it’s 1080p. The bitrate that it records at will leave some pixilation and artifacts. Here are two screenshots from my time using the Mini 2:

Daytime Footage From Garmin Mini 2
Low Light Footage From Garmin Mini 2

As you can see, the video looks pretty good, but tiny details like license plates and street signs are difficult to read. From my experience with other entry-level dash cams, this is normal and expected. Unless the car is parked right in front of you, it will be difficult for the image sensor on a dash cam to record crisp enough video to read license plates from dozens of feet away.

The automatic incident detection went off several times from hitting potholes, so I can say for sure that it works, and is pretty sensitive. It doesn’t activate enough to be a problem or annoyance. To be fair to the Mini 2, those potholes were pretty big!

One gripe I have with the Mini 2 is the status and power LED’s. When the Mini 2 starts up, you get a beep, and the LED turns green. When recording has started, they turn to red. Unless the camera is hidden by your rearview mirror, you can see the LED’s from the drivers position. These LED’s can be distracting. They aren’t super bright or anything, but I’m just not used to having a light where my rearview mirror is. After a week or so I got used to it, but it is a minor gripe of mine I thought you should know about.

Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 vs. Cheaper Cameras


My previous dash cam was the Blueskysea B1W that I got from Amazon. It came highly recommended from several online tech communities as a good budget option. I had it installed in my previous vehicle, but never transferred it to my current Prius. I managed to dig up some old footage from the B1W to compare to the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2. Here is a side-by-side comparison, with the B1W on the left and Mini 2 on the right:

The lighting is more favorable for the B1W, but as you can see, the quality is similar. Both are 1080p dash cams with a wide FOV. In both screenshots, license plates are nearly impossible to read clearly unless the car is right in front of you.

It should be noted that the Blueskysea B1W is about half the cost of the Mini 2. A lot of you may be wondering if going with the brand name Garmin is worth the extra cost. Both camera’s produce a similar image quality, but the Garmin has a better warranty, better customer support, and a better app. If you are a tight budget, I think the B1W or similar budget Amazon dash cams are a great option. If you prefer a slightly more polished product with a better app and user experience, the Mini 2 is your best bet.

What I Liked

  • Easy installation with included hardware and cables
  • Lots of extra features like incident detection and voice control
  • Small form factor that makes this dash cam stealthy
  • The Garmin Drive app is easy to use and responsive

What I Didn’t Like

  • Video quality makes it hard to pick up license plates unless they are close
  • The footage looks similar to much cheaper dash cams
  • The power LED’s can be annoying if they aren’t hidden by your rearview mirror

Final Thoughts


The Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is a great little dash cam if you prioritize size and ease-of-use. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to some other dash cams, but still nearly double the price of similar overseas brand dash cams you can find on Amazon. I think it’s great that popular US companies like Garmin are entering the market. When you buy from a trusted brand, you get familiar quality, good customer service, and a solid warranty.

In this case, I think the Mini 2 sets the standard for an entry level dash cam. The Garmin Drive app allows you to easily manage your settings and footage. This is a dash cam you could use for years, with support from a trusted US manufacturer. If you are on a super tight budget, the Blueskysea B1W or similar offers a better value, but the Mini 2 is one of the cheapest name brand dash cam on the market. I am happy to recommend it if you are like me, and just need basic features and video quality in case you ever get into an accident. If you need more features or better quality, you might look up in Garmin’s dash cam lineup.

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