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The best speed camera detectors to buy in 2023

The best speed camera detectors will keep you safe on the roads, while helping you avoid any pesky fines landing on your doormat

First things first: the best way to avoid getting caught speeding is to not speed in the first place. However, with local authorities frequently changing limits, and the UK’s road sign network seemingly in a poor state of repair, this can be easier said than done – especially when you’re simply following the flow of traffic, or you’re travelling along a road late at night with no other cars around.

None of those excuses will wash, however, if you’re snapped by one of an increasing number of speed cameras or caught in a police radar trap. And this is where speed camera detectors, or radar detectors, can help save the day. Acting as an additional pair of eyes on your speed, they produce an audible alert when you’re approaching a speed camera. Some display your speed using GPS, or use the same satellite technology to show when you’re approaching a known camera location. Others use radar to alert the driver to the presence of a police radar trap.

With a huge choice of speed camera detectors – including standalone units and those based on smartphone apps – available, knowing which to go for can be difficult. So, below is our selection of the best speed camera detectors you can buy, offering a range of features at various prices, so you can pick the right model for you.

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Best speed camera detectors: At a glance

How to choose the best speed camera detector for you

Are speed camera detectors legal to use?

In the UK, it’s perfectly legal to use a speed camera detector, although it’s a subject that often comes up for debate in Parliament. Nevertheless, while detectors – units that alert the driver to speed traps – can be used, radar jammers are strictly forbidden. Drivers using a jammer could be charged with perverting the course of justice, a crime that can carry a custodial sentence and/or a large fine.

Can I use a speed camera detector abroad?

Before driving overseas, you should familiarise yourself with the rules of the road in the country you’re in. This includes the use of speed camera detectors; they’re legal in some countries, but not in others. An added layer of complexity is that it’s legal to have a detector, but the use of one isn’t permitted in some countries.

Be mindful that some portable satnav devices have speed camera detection functions that should be disabled before use in countries that prohibit their use.

What types of cameras do they detect?

Most speed camera detectors use a continually updated database of camera locations, so are agnostic to the type of camera used. That means they will equally detect rear-facing Gatso and front-facing Truvelo cameras at the roadside, as well as HADECS 3 cameras mounted on the side of motorway gantries.

Such detectors also provide alerts to the SPECS cameras that monitor average speed limits on major roads. Some cameras will sound or display a different kind of alert to reflect that these speed traps can last for many miles.

Do all speed camera detectors pick up laser or radar speed traps?

Since laser/radar traps and roadside cameras use different technology, it’s far from a given that a detector will be able to provide 100% coverage of everything. That said, those that do detect both fixed and mobile speed cameras will shout loudly about it on the packaging, so do your homework.

How do speed camera detectors update?

For speed camera detectors to provide accurate information regarding the latest camera locations, they need to be updated. Smartphone app-based detectors should do this continually, but standalone units will either have an over-the-air update feature or will need to be plugged into a computer to download the latest data. The latter are often cheap to buy, but you’ll need to sync them regularly for the best protection.

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The best speed camera detectors you can buy in 2023

1. Saphe Drive Mini Speed Camera Detector: Best-value speed camera detector

Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at HalfordsCompact, easy to use and offering a clear display, the Saphe Drive Mini is a speed camera detector that ticks all the boxes. That, coupled with an extremely attractive price, means it undermines Saphe’s more expensive One+.

The tiny unit has a rechargeable battery, which Saphe says should last up to four months between charges, and means you won’t have to worry about unsightly cables trailing across the dashboard. It’s small enough to tuck out of the way, and once you’ve connected it to your smartphone (iOS 14.0 or later, Android 6.0 or later), you can easily forget about it until it chimes an alert.

The crisp display clearly shows the type of camera you’re approaching, your distance to it, plus the speed limit. Helpfully, it can also provide an early warning if you’re coming up to a broken-down car, accident or other dangers. Two buttons on the unit allow you to report an accident or a new camera location, and with Saphe’s claimed community of 11m users across Europe plus over-the-air (OTA) updates, it should provide excellent coverage.

Key specs – Size: 60 x 36 x 15mm; Cameras detected: Fixed and mobile, traffic light, average speed; Updates: OTA; Power source: Rechargeable battery; Accessories supplied: Adhesive pads, mounts

Check price at Halfords

2. Waze Navigation & Live Traffic: Best speed camera detector smartphone app

Price when reviewed: Free | Download from Apple App Store; Google Play We should say at the outset that both Waze and Google Maps are both very good navigation apps, but when it comes to real-time speed camera updates, it’s Waze that gets our nod. The slightly cartoonish graphics won’t suit everyone, but with the sheer number of users – 140m, according to Waze – the real-time crowd-sourced data is exceptional.

Once a user reports a camera or other incident, it’s uploaded in real time – as is congestion information – allowing it to be beamed to all other local users. Waze detects fixed speed cameras, but users are also able to report mobile speed checks using the Police function within the Send a Report menu, a process that requires just a few clicks – just ensure you do this safely and legally.

Unlike other speed camera detectors here, Waze also hooks into One.Network to provide roadwork updates, it displays pothole warnings, and can even allow you to access music streaming services through the app. As a big bonus, it’s also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Key specs – Size: N/A; Cameras detected: Fixed and mobile, traffic light, average speed; Updates: Real time; Power source: N/A; Accessories supplied: N/A

Download from Google Play

Download from Apple App Store

3. Snooper My Speed XL G2: Best speed camera detector for overseas use

Price when reviewed: £149 | Check price at AmazonFirst, a disclaimer: while the Snooper My-Speed XL G2 can be used in countries including Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy, you should ensure it’s legal to do so.

The Snooper looks like a traditional portable satnav device, and clearly displays your current speed alongside the actual speed limit on its clear, 5in touchscreen; here the emphasis is clearly on prevention.

Snooper offers free lifetime updates, but you’ll need to connect the device to a computer to do this, and at the same time any new locations you’ve added will be uploaded after being checked by Snooper for accuracy. Helpfully, users can select the type of vehicle they’re driving to ensure the correct speed limits are displayed.

There are a couple of issues, though: it’s fiddly to attach to the windscreen mount, and the unit requires the power cable to be connected, meaning it will trail across the dashboard unless you can tuck it away discreetly.

Key specs – Size: 132 x 86 x 19mm; Cameras detected: Fixed and mobile, traffic light, variable and average speed; Updates: Real time; Power source: N/A; Accessories supplied: Windscreen mount, 12V-24V power supply, USB cable

4. Road Angel Pure One: Best motorway speed camera detector

Price when reviewed: £250 | Check price at HalfordsRoad Angel is one of the most familiar names in speed camera detecting, and with the Pure One, it’s carved out an intelligent niche: motorways.

The compact unit takes a feed directly from Highways England to deliver real-time speed limit information across the nation’s smart motorway network – an exceptionally useful feature for the long-distance driver. No less appealing is its ability to calculate your average speed between two average speed cameras, so you can slow down if you’ve inadvertently crept up over the limit. The 2.4in screen is clear and crisp, and it’s possible to tailor the alerts to what’s most important to you, while the mount offers an excellent level of adjustability to ensure the screen is always in view.

Impressive stuff, then – but the Road Angel isn’t cheap to buy, plus you’ll need to take out an annual subscription (costing between £100 and £150 a year) to really get the benefits of its features.

Key specs – Size: ‎75 x 40 x 60mm; Cameras detected: Fixed and mobile, traffic light, variable and average speed; Updates: OTA; Power source: Rechargeable battery; Accessories supplied: Mains plug, USB adapter, USB cable, dash mount

Check price at Halfords

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