BMW Drive Recorder – All you need to know about a BMW dash cam

Bianka Rommel
Apr 6, 2021

The most unfortunate road events take seconds to happen. And in moments like these, even the sharpest eyes may not be enough to catch the details of the whole encounter.

But having four eyes… Well, that changes things.

Even though you may not be omniscient, BMW makes sure your car will cover that for you. With the introduction of the new BMW Drive Recorder, it promises double the on-board support, or shall we say... quadruple, and wide app usage possibilities. 

Let’s see what this latest technology has to offer and how it compares to other dash cams.

BMW Drive Recorder

What is a BMW Drive Recorder?

It wasn’t long ago that BMW started offering a dash cam recorder promising reliable assistance during critical road situations. Shortly after, with the debut of Operating System 7, a few steps further have been taken, and you can now use your car’s built-in cameras to record the footage.

That’s exactly what the BMW Drive Recorder is in a nutshell – software connecting your BMW surround view cameras to an app on your iDrive screen where all the recordings are displayed. The built-in recorder had its premiere in July 2019 on the 8 Series G15, and since then it became available for all 2019+ BMWs featuring iDrive 7.0, BMW ConnectedDrive package and surround view cameras from the optional package Parking Assistant Plus. 

How does BMW Drive Recorder work?

The recorder works either automatically or manually, unless you allow it in the settings to work in both modes simultaneously.

Although the prerequisite for the BMW Drive Recorder to be activated is the presence of the 4 surround view cameras, you can actually select which ones you want to do the recording job – the front one, the two on the side mirrors or the rear view camera. Working all together they’ll generate a 360 degree video around the vehicle. Yet, should you want only one or two to do the recording, specify it in the BMW Driver Recorder settings.

Now, let’s see how the automatic vs manual setups differ.

Automatic recording

From the moment you enable camera recording, the BMW Drive Recorder will film unstoppably. However, it is only after an accident gets detected by the crash sensors that the footage is saved. The maximum length of recordings takes only up to 40 seconds – 20 before the accident happens and 20 after – which are the most relevant developments of the event. Taking such video later to court may help with accident reconstruction, and clarifying the cause or who’s guilty. 

Many people also wonder whether the BMW Drive Recorder works in parking mode. Yes, it can do that. Once you put your car in reverse, the Parking View will be filmed and saved in case of car damage.

Manual recording

There’s also the manual way of using the BMW Drive Recorder. If you just want to save a specific situation – something you yourself would love to see in a YouTube compilation ;) – you can activate the recorder with a push of the Panorama View button, or by selecting ‘Start recording’ in the home screen app. Just like with automatic recording, the footage is saved in a 40-second loop – 20 seconds before the push of the button and 20 after. However, if you prefer to record for a shorter period of time, you’re also free to do so. Just specify it in the BMW Driver Recorder settings and choose your footage length from 5 up to 20 seconds. 

Saved recordings

No need to rush with external devices or SD cards. 

After the recording is made, it saves itself automatically with all the important data such as speed and GPS position. The videos are processed in the TRSVs control unit and up to 10 recordings can be stored in the head unit, so should you want to play them back, you can do so on the infotainment display (the iDrive screen). Or if you wish to export your recordings elsewhere to free up the space, just download them to your USB stick and share via email or on social media. 

How to activate BMW Drive Recorder?

To activate the BMW Drive Recorder for the first time go to your iDrive menu:

  1. Select ‘Apps’.
  2. Enter ‘Installed apps’.
  3. Choose ‘Drive Recorder’.
  4. Accept the legal disclaimer.
  5. In ‘Settings’ check ‘Recording allowed’.
  6. Set up the recording length before and after the trigger.
  7. At ‘Camera selection’ set up prefered cameras used for recording.
  8. Choose your recording type – automatic, manual or both.

BMW Advanced Car Eye vs. BMW Drive Recorder

The all-seeing built-in recorder seems alluring, doesn’t it? But since it’s exclusively reserved for 2019+ vehicles, your older BMW might need a slightly more classic solution. For these cases, BMW Advanced Car Eye 2.0 has been created – an original BMW product that comes as a set of 2 dash cams for your front and rear windshields. Their full HD 150-degree wide-angle cameras automatically document each journey from the moment you start the engine, and record any critical road situation, even in parking mode. Once smart radar and G-sensors encounter an impact or any movement / vibration in the video image, the recording is enabled automatically. Just as with a BMW Drive Recorder, the video is saved on the spot. 

Comparing the BMW Advanced Car Eye (ACE) and BMW Drive Recorder, you might presume the latter takes the lead solely based on its full unity with your BMW ecosystem and 360-degree view... However, despite appearances, the 2 dash cams may in fact exceed their digital counterpart in one area – phone integration. 

While BMW Advanced Car Eye 2.0, just as any current dash cam, allows for an iPhone or smartphone connection, the Drive Recorder lacks this possibility, leaving you with the need to keep your USB to hand. That’s ACE’s major advantage over the digital recorder, since My ACE app acts as portable storage for all your recording data and allows you to check up on your videos or share them immediately.

What are some other differences between those two? 

  • The ACE 2.0 records 60-second videos instead of 40.
  • ACE’s light-sensitive sensors promise excellent recording quality even at night.
  • The ACE uses a 32 GB micro SD card, ensuring greater memory capacity.

See how to use the BMW dash cam!

Can you retrofit a BMW Drive Recorder?

We know that a car-integrated BMW dash cam is something many of you would gladly get your teeth into. This is why we’re currently working on a BMW Drive Recorder retrofit – no redundant equipment cluttering your dashboard, no additional wires, intuitive usage right from the start.

And while we don’t offer a BMW Drive Recorder retrofit as of yet, you can still subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know when it’s available for your vehicle.

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