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Cobra RAD 480i Review

A radar detector that has Bluetooth connectivity to an app on your smartphone but leaves out a few favorite features in exchange for a friendly price
Cobra RAD 480i
Credit: Amazon
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Price:   $150 List | $149.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Bluetooth connectivity, community shared information, adjustable sensitivity
Cons:  No location lockouts, sensitivity adjustments cannot be performed individually, lots of false alerts
Manufacturer:   Cobra
By Hayley Thomas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 19, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 8
  • Features - 30% 7
  • Accuracy - 25% 6
  • Range - 25% 6
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7

Our Verdict

The Cobra RAD 480i is a surprisingly feature-rich device for the price. That being said, it is still missing some of the more valuable features like manual location lockouts. This radar detector comes with Bluetooth capabilities allowing your smartphone to supply the GPS and live updates from other drivers using the same app. It is somewhat customizable, but the level of customization is very limited. Compared to the other detectors in our test suite, the 480i leaves a lot to be desired in the range department. Still, this budget-friendly device is a great option for anyone who doesn't mind a lack of location lockouts and a few false alerts.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $150 List
$149.95 at Amazon
$400 List
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Check Price at Amazon$50 List
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$100 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Bluetooth connectivity, community shared information, adjustable sensitivityAdjustable X, K, and Ka-band sensitivity, super long range, built-in GPS, user friendlyX, K, Ka-band and laser detection, good range, user-friendly, budget-friendlySimple, inexpensive, impressive range for the priceSomewhat adjustable sensitivity, simple, IVT filtering
Cons No location lockouts, sensitivity adjustments cannot be performed individually, lots of false alertsLittle memory, inadequate BSM filtering, trouble with MultaRadar detection, no directional arrowsNo MultaRadar detection, limited memory, false alerts, low-quality mountNo GPS, limited filtering, little customization, lots of false alertsNo location lockouts, lots of false alerts, no GPS or Bluetooth
Bottom Line A radar detector that has Bluetooth connectivity to an app on your smartphone but leaves out a few favorite features in exchange for a friendly priceA highly customizable radar detector with an extremely long range at a fair priceA simple radar detector with an impressive range for a very friendly priceAn inexpensive radar detector with impressive range but limited filtering and lots of false alertsA simple radar detector with low-level customization but also a low price point
Rating Categories Cobra RAD 480i Uniden R3 Uniden DFR7 Uniden DFR1 Cobra RAD 380
Features (30%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
Accuracy (25%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Range (25%)
6.0
10.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Cobra RAD 480i Uniden R3 Uniden DFR7 Uniden DFR1 Cobra RAD 380
Radars Detected X, K, Ka, Laser X, K, Ka, MRCT, MRCD, Laser X, K, Ka, Laser X, K, Ka, Laser X, K, Ka, Laser
Display Not stated Multicolored OLED OLED Not stated Not stated
Available Modes Highway, City Highway, City, Advanced Highway, City, Advanced Highway, City Highway, City
Power Chord Type 12v 12v 12v 12v 12v
Wifi Enabled? No No No No No
GPS? Yes Yes Yes No No
Bluetooth? Yes No No No No
Location Lockout Manual Manual Manual None None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Cobra RAD 480i is a great detector for those on a budget. It does not come with all the bells and whistles, but considering the price, it's a pretty good deal. Unfortunately, it is missing some vital features like location lockouts, but it connects easily with your smartphone to give you the power of community at your fingertips. With real-time updates, a small collection of features, and mid-level customization, this is a great budget-friendly option.

Performance Comparison


The RAD 480i is a great budget option.
The RAD 480i is a great budget option.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Features


The range of features that a radar detector can offer is vast, and the RAD 480i offers quite a few for the price. It doesn't have GPS built into the system, but Bluetooth capabilities allow you to connect to your smartphone via an app and use GPS that way. This app also opens up communication between drivers as it shares live updates, red-light cameras, and stationary speed traps. The 480i can detect X-band, K-band, Ka-band, and laser, but not MultaRadar (MRCD), which is rather new to the United States. It also allows users to mark locations. This is a great feature and usually goes along with the ability to lockout certain locations, but that's unfortunately not a feature this detector offers.

The 480i comes equipped with X-band, K-band, Ka-band, and laser...
The 480i comes equipped with X-band, K-band, Ka-band, and laser detection but cannot detect MultaRadar.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Accuracy


Accuracy is a two-part metric when it comes to radar detectors. Not only does your detector have to be able to pick up frequencies used by law enforcement, but it also needs to filter out frequencies that are non-threatening. Radars are everywhere these days, and one of the bigger challenges that the radar detector industry is faced with is false alerts.

A few things the RAD 480i offers to help fight against false alerts are IVT filtering and band sensitivity adjustments. IVT, or In-Vehicle Technology filtering, helps filter out technology like Blind Spot Monitoring on more modern vehicles. Adjusting the band sensitivity is a wonderful feature, but unfortunately, the RAD 480i does not offer individual band sensitivity adjustments. Instead, you must adjust the sensitivity of the entire device from high to medium to low. You can, however, turn certain bands, like the X-band detectors, completely off, which is helpful. This device is far from perfect in the accuracy realm and false alerts a lot, but it does okay for the price.

It's a good thing the 480i allows you to turn off the X-band...
It's a good thing the 480i allows you to turn off the X-band detection, because it false alerts rather often.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Range


A long-range is quite the sought-after characteristic, and for good reason. Without enough time to slow down, radar detectors are rather useless devices. A lot can get in the way of radars, like buildings, trees, winding roads, and hills. This is why your device must be able to pick up a frequency from far away.

When compared side by side to others in our test, the RAD 480i lagged very far behind our top performers. In most situations, the device gives enough time to slow down; however, it struggles when there are obstacles in the way. It works best on long flat roads, so if you live in the country where there are fewer obstacles to obstruct your detector, then this is a good budget option.

The RAD 480i doesn't have award winning range, but gets the job done.
The RAD 480i doesn't have award winning range, but gets the job done.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Ease of Use


Radar detectors should not distract you from the road. They should be easy to understand while driving and play the role of copilot seamlessly. This metric has three parts; the initial set-up, easy adjustment post initial set-up, and of course, how easy it is to understand the alerts. As far as the initial set-up goes, the RAD 480i is very easy. Just plug it in, download the app, and sync the device to your smartphone. The app is straightforward informative.

We do have a couple of bones to pick with the 480i in this department, though. There is a volume wheel on the side, but the alerts are very jarring regardless of volume. Since it false alerts often it can be challenging to focus on the road. We found it best to turn the volume off and simply keep an eye out for visual alerts. There are also no directional arrows to clue you in on where the threat is coming from. Generally speaking, this device is an easy one to use, but it has a lot of room for improvement.

The 480i is easy to set up, but the alerts are loud even with the...
The 480i is easy to set up, but the alerts are loud even with the volume down low. We chose to turn the volume off completely and just visually check the device, but this isn't ideal.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Value


When you compare the price to what you get, the RAD 480i is a great deal. It still costs a chunk, but it is on the far lower end of the price spectrum in the grand scheme of radar detectors. You will inevitably need to upgrade if you'd like to stay current with the devices that law enforcement uses, but this detector will do just fine for now.

Conclusion


What the Cobra RAD 480i lacks in range and accuracy it makes up for in features. Even though Cobra left out some important ones like GPS location lockouts, the power of community shared updates with the app is huge. If you live in an area with long straight roads and want a budget-friendly device, this is a good choice.

The 480i has a surprising number of features for the price.
The 480i has a surprising number of features for the price.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Hayley Thomas