Smartphone as a DVR: the benefits and ways of upgrading

At present, the capabilities of modern mobile devices have long been beyond the scope of everyday use, characterized by conducting communications with other users of similar devices.

Now it is mostly a gadget for communicating in social networks and instant messengers, a device for playing video content, including recording and broadcasting it on the World Wide Web, and also as a device necessary for uninterrupted workflow.

But some users are trying to squeeze the most out of their smartphone / tablet and "turn" them into DVRs with a practically similar set of functionality.

And how exactly this “transformation” can be realized, as well as whether there is any practical benefit in this, will be discussed in this article.

Is it worth

As with any desire to implement any kind of adventurous (to some extent) action, you should ask yourself one key question: “Is the end result of the effort and resources expended?”.

The topic considered in this article is not an exception in this case, since the answer to such a question is rather ambiguous, and here's why.

Positive points:

  1. No need to buy the usual DVR.
  2. Most multitasking than most devices offer with an average pricing policy.
  3. The presence of image stabilization, which also can not boast of all.
  4. If you have a good camera in your smartphone, the records will be of higher quality.

Negative points:

  1. The quality of shooting, in most cases, depends on the time of day. It will be hard enough to achieve a “watchable” level at night or in bright sunlight.
  2. Possible overheating. A constantly switched on camera of a smartphone will surely cause a certain heating of the components of the gadget, in addition, special attention should be paid to direct sunlight, the effects of which a mobile phone can be exposed to for a long time and / or running the windshield.
  3. With short trips, this method of fixing traffic is less convenient, as it is required to constantly remove / put the phone in place (do not leave it in this form in the car).
  4. The inability to fully use the phone. For example, in case of downtime in traffic jams, it will be necessary to make a choice, which is preferable to read the news and delve into social networks or fix the car in front (creeping ahead).

So, as can be seen from the above, in this matter there is an equality of pros and cons, which does not allow us to call such a decision 100% justified or, conversely, unfounded.

The conclusion is simple - it is immediately determined what is more important and priority for you in terms of convenience.

What is necessary

Of course, in this issue, you can get by with just one smartphone, simply by installing it on the stand and turning on the video. Will these actions make sense? Perhaps it will, but which one.

Therefore, in order to achieve maximum image quality and uninterrupted operation, you will need to purchase the following components for the future of the latter-day DVR:

  1. The future device for fixing traffic needs to be installed on something in order to secure the mobile gadget itself and ensure the most optimal viewing angle.

For these purposes, the best option would be swivel holders with a minimum number of different hinges and moving parts. The phone installed in the holder should be securely fixed, but it should also be easily removed, since, if the main phone is used, then leaving it in the car is simply inappropriate.

It is also necessary to choose its correct location, which would allow to achieve maximum coverage, fixed by the camera space, and minimize the risks of "glare."

As a recommended option, pay attention to holders equipped with a suction cup, which can be mounted directly under the rear-view mirror or on the dashboard or on holders mounted on the rear-view mirror itself.

The latter option looks the most attractive both in practical terms and in terms of convenience, as it will allow for shooting at almost the level of the driver’s eyes, which significantly increases the area of ​​fixation. But this question is purely individual, as some prefer “shooting from the hood”, but in this case it can lead to the lights announced above.

In addition, it is worth noting that when choosing a holder, you need to pay attention to its compatibility with the dimensions of your mobile phone.

The average cost of such a device is 500 rubles, and in well-known Chinese online stores even less.

  1. The second thing to take care of is to provide the smartphone with constant power supply, since the constant operation of the camera will inevitably lead to an early discharge of the battery.

In order to avoid this misunderstanding, you will need to purchase (if it isn’t already) an adapter working from the vehicle's cigarette lighter and the corresponding charging cable connector of the mobile device.

In this issue, the savings are far from the best option, since the work is expected to be long, then the adapter and cable must be performed at the proper level.

It is worth thinking about the length and location of the cable. If you are not confused by the hanging wire, the meter cable will be enough in abundance, but if you plan to lay around the cabin, you should purchase a 2/3 meter cable (depending on the location and method of installation).

  1. The third, but not obligatory addition is additional lenses on the phone camera. Most smartphones in the medium price range allow you to shoot with a small viewing angle, which is not the best option for the application in question, but it is not critical either.

The choice of additional lenses is also huge, as with holders or adapters. The most interesting options look with glass lenses and fasteners in the form of clothespins (Screen 5) - it is convenient and compact, and also quite cheap (about 200 rubles).

A somewhat more expensive option are the covers, on which additional lenses are simply screwed up according to need. They will cost more than 500 rubles (depending on its manufacturer and manufacturer of your phone), but they will provide the maximum angle for video shooting.

The above "Trio" - this is the physical needs of your smartphone, if you still plan to "turn" it into a DVR, but there are also software needs, which will be discussed further.

Which application to choose

Surely, the fact that standard DVRs perform cyclic video recording, that is, saves the files with regard to its duration and up to a certain number, will not be a secret to anyone.

For example, it is programmed that one video file should last 1 minute and the maximum of the saved files should not exceed 500 pieces, that is, 500 minutes (or 8 hours and 20 minutes).

Therefore, it is logical that the functionality of a regular telephone camera is indispensable, since no memory is enough for this, and watching an 8-hour video clip is not a very convenient exercise.

In this issue will help third-party applications, not only allowing the cyclical recording with saving to cloud storage, but also offering extensive additional functionality, which many regular devices can envy.

CamOnRoad from SmartLabsLLC

CamOnRoad is a high-quality application that combines a DVR with the functions indicated above, and a “GPS-navigator”, which is based on the capabilities of augmented reality.

For each user, “CamOnRoad” gives 2GB of disk space in the cloud storage, and this means an average of 3 hours of recording.

The key feature is the presence of work in the background, which allows you to use your smartphone without stopping the video.

You can receive calls, listen to music, watch movies, or even just turn off the screen, and CamOnRoad will continue to work with the camera.

This is very convenient not only in terms of removing restrictions on the use of phone functions, but also significantly reduces the battery consumption.

The presence of GPS and GLONASS with the previously announced augmented reality functionality provides a fairly accurate route with translucent arrows right on the road. Futuristic and very convenient.

"Roadly radar detector and recorder" from the company "RoadAR, Inc."

It has a similar set of functions, as in the application above, with only a few very attractive "chips":

  1. "Roadly" is able to recognize road signs (not all, but most of the main ones) and warn about their area of ​​operation, as well as writing directly to a saved file.
  2. It has a built-in anti-radar to determine the speed control cameras, including those who record the average speed.
  3. Able to send recorded video to YouTube in just a few clicks.
  4. Integrated exposure compensation with an algorithm that automatically adjusts the exposure level depending on the lighting, which minimizes the risk of glare.

In summary, Roadly is a very ambitious project in its category with responsive developers and great potential.


So, all the above refers to the preparatory part of the “transformation” under consideration. All other manipulations are assigned to each, depending on the chosen application and smartphone model.

As a small tip, it is worth noting that you should not strive to record video in 4K, since FullHD or regular HD will be enough to perform the main function.

Experiment with the settings of the selected application and choose the most appropriate functionality for you. Also, if you plan to send saved files to the cloud storage, get an unlimited tariff on the mobile Internet.

There are a lot of nuances, so check the settings, read the developer's tips and make a worthwhile replacement of the DVR from your smartphone.