If you want the smallest and more discreet dash cam on the market, then the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is for you. Barely the size of a key fob, the Mini 2 forgoes features like a touchscreen display in favor of being so small it hides neatly behind your car’s rear-view mirror.
Despite its compact size, the Dash Cam Mini 2 records in Full HD at 30 frames per second through a 140-degree lens. This puts it a little behind other, larger members of the Garmin Dash Cam family, which shoot at 1440p through wider, 180-degree lenses. But we feel 1080p is still good enough for a dash cam, especially one that is this compact and competitively priced.
Sticking with design for now, the Dash Cam Mini 2 is remarkably compact. The front houses nothing more than the lens and a ball-and-socket joint which connects to a short arm. This then has an adhesive pad for sticking to the windscreen.
We’re big fans of the magnetic mounts of other Garmin dash cams, but the compact plastic arm here still takes up very little windscreen space and works well. Given how small the Mini 2 is, we suspect most buyers will leave it permanently in place, and only remove it (by popping the ball-and-socket joint apart) when they want to move the camera to another car or access the microSD card.
Speaking of storage, Garmin doesn’t include a memory card in the box, so you’ll need to provide your own. This has to be at least 8GB and the camera supports cards up to 512GB, with Garmin recommending a Class-10 card or faster.
There are just two buttons on the Dash Cam Mini 2. One on the side switches audio recording on and off, while a button on the back saves the most recent section of footage. This button’s location makes it easy to quickly press if you spot an incident ahead. Footage is automatically saved when a collision is detected, but the button is useful for manually saving video of anything else you spot while driving.
The camera comes with a choice of USB cables, one short and one long, plus an adapter for powering the dash cam from a 12V lighter socket. Also included are a pair of adhesive windscreen mounts, making it easy to switch the camera between two vehicles.
Garmin’s smartphone app is called Drive – it's free to download for iOS and Android, and is used to set the camera up. We had no issues connecting our phone to the dash cam – an area where other dash cams can slip up – and used the app to see a live view of the camera, adjust settings, update the firmware, and view recorded footage.
Once set up, there’s no need to use the app again, if you don’t want to. The dash cam quietly gets on with its job, and footage can easily be transferred to your computer or tablet from the microSD card.
If connected to your phone over Wi-Fi, footage will be automatically uploaded to Garmin’s Vault online storage system. Recordings are stored for 24 hours for free. Or, for $4.99 / £4.99 a month, this time limit can be increased to seven days.
Video quality is very good, considering its size and price tag. It shoots 1080p Full HD with HDR and is captured at 30 frames per second through a 140-degree lens. Details like road signs and vehicle registration plates are clear, and footage remains sharp throughout varying lighting and weather conditions.
We’d have liked the lens to be a little wider, as 140 degrees is really the minimum we’d want from a dash cam. A wider lens would include a view to the sides of the car as well as straight ahead, but this is a relatively small complaint.
A further point against the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is its lack of GPS. Instead, locational data can only be captured if the Mini 2 is synced with a Garmin dash cam that has GPS, via the Drive app. This feature, called Dash Cam Auto Sync, lets you have up to four Garmin dash cams recording at once. While four might be overkill for most motorists, the system makes it easy to pair front and rear cameras together.
A parking mode is available, but requires Garmin’s Constant Power Cable, sold separately, which hard-wires the Mini 2 to your car.
Audio recording is possible, and can be switched on or off with a button on the back of the dash cam. In our experience, this isn’t of much use when recording dash cam footage, and is something your passengers would likely prefer to be disabled.
As well as pressing the button, audio recording can be controlled by speaking to the dash cam. Garmin’s voice control system works pretty well, with the ‘hey Garmin’ command reliably getting its attention. You can then ask the camera to save footage, take a photo, or turn audio recording on/off.
Unlike other models in the Garmin Dash Cam series, there are no driver assistance features with the Mini 2. We don’t mind this, though, as we often find such features more annoying than they are useful.
Overall, the Dash Cam Mini 2 is hard to fault. Instead of overwhelming the user with a bunch of features they’ll seldom use, it is a tiny, simple product that just gets on with the job of being a quality dash cam, with zero distractions.
Should you buy the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2?
Buy it if…
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- Check out our guide to the best dash cams you can buy