If you want the smallest and most discreet dash cam on the market, the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is for you. Barely the size of a keyring, the Mini 2 forgoes features like a touchscreen 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. That puts it a bit behind other larger members of the Garmin Dash Cam family, which shoot at 1440p through wider 180-degree lenses. But we think 1080p is still good enough for a dash cam, especially one this compact and priced competitively.
Sticking to the design for now, the Dash Cam Mini 2 is remarkably compact. The front houses nothing more than the lens and a ball joint that connects to a short arm. This then has an adhesive patch to stick on the windshield.
We’re big fans of the magnetic mounts on other Garmin dash cams, but the compact plastic arm still takes up very little space on the windshield and works well. Given the Mini 2’s small size, we suspect most buyers will leave it in place permanently and only remove it (by separating the ball joint) 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 needs 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 toggles audio recording on and off, while a button on the back records the most recent section of footage. The location of this button makes it easy to press quickly if you spot an upcoming incident. Footage is automatically recorded when a collision is detected, but the button is useful for manually recording video of anything you notice while driving.
The camera comes with a choice of USB cables, one short and one long, plus an adapter to power the dash cam from a 12V cigarette lighter socket. A pair of windshield mounts adhesives are also included, 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 up the camera. We had no problem connecting our phone to the dash cam – an area where other dash cams can slip – and used the app to see a live view of the camera, adjust settings, update firmware and view recorded images.
Once configured, there is no need to use the app again, if you don’t want to. The dash cam quietly does its job, and footage can easily be transferred to your computer or tablet from the microSD card.
If you’re connected to your phone via Wi-Fi, the images will automatically upload to the Garmin Vault online storage system. Recordings are stored for 24 hours free of charge. Or, for $4.99/£4.99 per month, this can be extended to seven days.
The video quality is very good considering its size and price. It films in Full HD 1080p with HDR and is captured at 30fps through a 140-degree lens. Details such as road signs and vehicle license plates are clear and images remain sharp in varying lighting and weather conditions.
We would have liked the lens to be a bit 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 that’s a relatively minor complaint.
Another point against the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is its lack of GPS. Instead, location data can only be captured if the Mini 2 is synced to a GPS-enabled Garmin dash cam, via the Drive app. This feature, called Dash Cam Auto Sync, lets you register up to four Garmin dash cams at once. While four may be overkill for most motorists, the system makes it easy to pair the front and rear cameras.
A parking mode is available, but requires Garmin’s constant power cable, sold separately, which connects the Mini 2 to your car.
Audio recording is possible and can be turned on or off using a button on the back of the dash cam. In our experience, this isn’t very useful when recording dash cam footage, and it’s something your passengers would probably prefer to be disabled.
In addition to pressing the button, audio recording can be controlled by speaking to the dash cam. Garmin’s voice command system works pretty well, with the command “hey Garmin” reliably catching its attention. You can then ask the camera to record footage, take a photo, or enable/disable audio recording.
Unlike other models in the Garmin Dash Cam series, there are no driver assistance features with the Mini 2. We don’t mind that, as we often find these features more annoying than useful.
Overall, the Dash Cam Mini 2 is hard to fault. Instead of overwhelming the user with a bunch of features they’ll rarely use, it’s a simple little product that’s content to be a quality dash cam without any distractions.