Cobra CDR 855 BT review

Cobra’s latest dash cam packs high features into your low budget

For most consumers, new to the dash camera market a device like the Cobra 855 BT is a fantastic place to start.
For most consumers, new to the dash camera market a device like the Cobra 855 BT is a fantastic place to start.
For most consumers, new to the dash camera market a device like the Cobra 855 BT is a fantastic place to start.


  • Simple design and controls
  • Affordable pricing
  • 160 degree viewing angle


  • Requires iRadar app for GPS
  • Cobra 875 G offers more for only $30 extra

DT Editors' Rating

The dash camera market is being flooded with outside competitors offering more features for less money. To counter this, big name manufacturers are releasing a line of new products to try and stay ahead of the curve.

For the team at Cobra, they looked to build upon their great line of cameras, like the CDR 900 we reviewed last year. But can they reduce the price, improve the design, and stay ahead of the competition? We gave the Cobra 855 BT Dash Cam a whirl to find out.

Initial camera setup

The packaging includes the 855 BT camera unit, windshield mount, USB to Micro USB cable, 8GB MicroSD card, and 12-volt power cable. Because this is a budget device, the camera body is composed of light plastics that can feel rather unsubstantial. This isn’t to say that the camera will fall apart in your hands, but don’t expect a solid metal build like the stuff from some manufacturers like Vantrue. The design of the camera is thankfully more rounded than the “simple and square” style of last year’s CDR 900. For this updated design, Cobra has also improved the interface to incorporate four buttons under the display screen. This allows for easy access to common controls like the display on/off, mute/unmute, pause/record, and capture photo actions. Additionally, you find a button above the screen to capture and save an “Emergency Recording” so it cannot be overwritten.

On the right side of the unit is an HDMI output and Micro USB port. The left side has a slot for the MicroSD card and an “unused” accessory port (used to connect GPS on CDR 875G model). The camera will turn on and begin to record once plugged into a power source in your vehicle. A small battery can power the unit for around 30 minutes, but keeping it plugged in is recommended. The default setting records in the highest 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution at 30fps. At this quality, you will fill the standard 8GB memory card in around two and a half hours. The lower 1080 x 720 pixel resolution setting at both 60fps or 30fps will fill the memory card at around two and four hours, respectively.

Cobra iRadar application

For most consumers, new to the dash camera market a device like the Cobra 855 BT is a fantastic place to start.

Those who quickly glance at the product description of the 855 BT might assume GPS is built within the unit. Unfortunately, the system requires you use Bluetooth to pair a smartphone running the iRadar application in order to keep track of the video location. The application offers a nice interface and quickly connected our iPhone 6 to the Cobra 855 BT camera. Other benefits of the iRadar application include alerts for red-light cameras and speed traps as reported by the community using the app. The drawback of this GPS system is that you will need to remember to connect your phone each time you set off, and it’s a manual process each time. For those who regularly prefer something like the Waze application for road alerts, this may be inconvenient to have another background app running.

Video quality and features

With a 160-degree viewing angle, the Cobra camera really captures every detail of the road ahead of you. Out of the cameras we have tested, the Vantrue R1 Pro is the only one that outmatches the video quality and viewing angle for the price. At $150, the Cobra has great value for the quality of video and a fair amount of detail can be seen in the 1080p quality setting. In low light, the camera also does a good job adapting to street lights and you can make out the details for surrounding cars and signs. In fact, the quality at night is on par with the more expensive cameras like the BlackVue DR650GW.

Like most cameras, the Cobra 855 BT has a built in G-Sensor that will store recordings in the case of an accident. The system will also auto-detect when the vehicle is stationary — for five or 10 minutes dependent on the settings — and automatically activate Parking Mode. We found that in slow traffic, the G-Sensor would assume you were stopped even if crawling at around 15 mph and the camera would prompt, asking if you would like to switch to Parking Mode. Changes in the G-Sensor sensitivity helped with this, but it would also trigger an accident recording when going over some larger potholes on a couple occasions. The automatic Parking Mode can be completely disabled for those who don’t want to use the camera while stationary.


If you’re new to the dash camera market, a device like the Cobra 855 BT is a fantastic place to start. If you are open to using the iRadar application for road alerts and GPS location on your videos, then you will have very few problems with this camera. But for some people, the lack of built-in GPS may turn them off completely. For that buyer, the extra $30 for a Cobra 875 G that includes a GPS unit that attaches to the camera — and doesn’t require the iRadar app — may be a better decision. Whatever you decide, Cobra remains one of the better options for compact and affordable cameras in the market.

Product Review

With the S10e and S10 Plus, do we really need the Samsung Galaxy S10?

The Galaxy S10 is the middle child in this year’s Galaxy S10 range, between the Galaxy S10e, and the Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s no striking reason to buy it, but it’s still an excellent phone you’ll be happy with.

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.

Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the powerhouse smartphone 2019 has been waiting for

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the brand's latest phone, and it's a real powerhouse. It comes with a Snapdragon 855 processor, a triple-lens camera, a new in-display fingerprint sensor, and a new design. Here's what you need to know.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.

This modified Land Rover Discovery is heading to Africa to help fight malaria

A Land Rover Discovery will be used by the Mobile Malaria Project for a 3,900-mile trek across Africa to study malaria. The SUV is equipped with a mobile gene-sequencing laboratory, as well as everything necessary for serious off-roading.
Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.

Volvo wants to use speed limiters, in-car cameras, and data to reduce crashes

Volvo believes new tech is the best way to improve car safety. The Swedish automaker will let owners set speed limits when loaning out their cars, install cameras to monitor drivers, and use data to design better safety features.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe teased way ahead of its November debut

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is coming to the United States, eventually. The new compact BMW won't be unveiled until the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The Gran Coupe will be based on a front-wheel drive platform.

Tesla lets you skip the dealership, order a car from the comfort of your couch

Tesla has always bypassed traditional dealerships, and it has now adopted an online-only sales model that lets customers configure and order their car without leaving their couch. Here's what you need to know.

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.