The Zenfox U1 is a competent camera (without notable overheating issues), reasonable video quality for the price, and several features found on higher end cams. The slightly soft focus prevents the cam from being a home-run, although if you’re watching the video on a small screen, chances are you won’t be able to notice.
- Front Cam: 8MP IMX415
- Rear Cam: 2MP IMX307
- Parking Modes: Motion detect, timelapse, low bitrate
Inside the box is all the cabling needed to get started with a basic (non-hardwire) install. A memory card is not supplied, my suggestions for that is here. There’s also a USB-C cable for plugging the camera into a computer, an SD card reader, some mounting clips and extra stickers.
The camera itself is made of a mix of glossy and matte plastic that looks handsome. I find it’s not as big as it looks in pictures. Control buttons line the bottom, and a there are two USB type C ports: one for the rear camera and another on the mount. The rear camera cable is thick, which could make clean wiring a bit difficult, but for the most part this camera is installed the same way as any other dashcam. Stick it to the windshield behind the rear view mirror, run the cables around the top of the windshield and down behind the side trim, run the rear camera cables across the top of the door, and plug it all together. This camera will start and stop recording with the car, but cannot continue recording when the car is powered off without additional hard-wiring or battery backup enabled, which is sold separately.
The Zenfox app worked fine from my experience. A lot of dashcam apps have bad reviews, and I honestly think that is because many many phones will auto disconnect from the dashcam wifi when they detect it does not have internet access. If you force your phone to stay on the wifi the connection is steady, video has live preview and you can change all the settings with a touch screen. Notably missing from the app is Parking Mode Timers and Record duration, and these would be nice to have.
Video Samples – Front Camera
Let’s check out some video quality samples, and quickly get the good news out of the way: this camera did not have any noticeable overheating issues. After running for an hour it was comfortable to the touch, and removing the memory card after recording it was hot, but not burning. Now, keeping in mind that the price point of this camera is relatively low for real 4K, I do think the front video performs reasonably well. It’s vibrant, colourful, and has modest license plate readability. We’ll get into camera comparisons in a little bit, but needless to say, it smashes my main camera, a Viofo A129 duo, 1080p front cam, and it is, respectfully, smashed, by the more expensive Viofo A129 Pro 4K.
Zenfox falls right in the middle of the two pricing wise, so that makes sense.
It’s honestly not so much an issue with the camera itself, its sensor, processor or anything software wise. I really like the way the Zenfox U1 processes video overall – it’s extremely visually appealing and aligns more with how a phone creates colour. The video would look great for a content creator in terms of colour reproduction and contrast. The little issue is with the lens: this camera runs a little bit on the soft side of focus. The first U1 I had seemed to be very out of focus on one side, so Zenfox sent a replacement, and unfortunately even their replacement was a bit soft focus. I think the focus is too close to my car, with my headlight lenses being tack sharp, while distant trees and street signs are a bit dull. This, in itself, is the one of the only reasons the Zenfox U1 is smashed by the A129 Pro. Lens sharpness is much higher, making license plates more readable, street signs more readable, etc.
Likely if you’re watching on a small screen like a phone it would be much more challenging to see the soft focus. For example, when I downsize the footage to 1080p, for comparison beside the A129 standard, this camera is great. In reality, it’s just a nature of photography, where more pixels means any slight variance in lens will show much more. My A129 Duo, even, tends to go out of focus when it’s running hot but because it is only 1080p the effect is less pronounced.
Video Samples – Rear Camera
The rear camera is closer to what I expected quality wise from a camera at this price point. It’s a bit crunchy, perhaps a tad over-sharpened, and plate readability is low to moderate. Close up, stopped, or at night this camera does a great job with plate readability, however, during the day and at speed it can be hit or miss. It’ll primarily serve as additional evidence in case you get in a crash.
Where to Buy
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The Zenfox U1 is a decent camera for the price, with good looking video, and a slight lens quality control issue that will hopefully be worked out by production time. The features are vast, and although we did not extensively test parking mode (as we do not have the hardwire kit), what we did test of the camera works fine.