Cobra RAD 700i Review: Affordable New Radar Detector Provides Excellent False Alert Filtering & Ease of Use

Cobra RAD 700i 5 scaled
Cobra RAD 700i
False Alert Filtering
Overall Ease of Use
Drive Smarter App
Material Construction

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, Automoblog earns from qualifying purchases. The Cobra RAD 700i here was supplied by Cedar Electronics, an affiliate partner. Commissions from Amazon and other affiliate partners come to us at no additional cost to you. Automoblog is a member of the Radar Detector and Countermeasures Forum to ensure truth and accountability when covering radar detectors. 

The Cobra RAD 700i hits that sweet spot between performance and price, making it an excellent choice if you want to purchase your first radar detector or upgrade from an older unit. As the latest in Cobra’s RAD family of radar detectors, the 700i easily outpaces its brethren and gives other higher-priced radar detectors like the Uniden R4 and Radenso DS1 a run for the money.

In the weeks leading up to the release of the Cobra RAD 700i (September 13th, 2023), I spent time driving with the unit around metro Detroit, later taking it on two extended trips: one to Sandusky, Ohio, and another to the Twin Cities.

I will hit the hit points of the Cobra RAD 700i here and summarize my experience with it. Not counting any specials that might run from time to time, the RAD 700i retails for $250 on Cobra’s official website and for the same price on Amazon. To help you make the best purchase decision, allow me to provide additional context on where the Cobra RAD 700i lands in the world of radar detectors.

Escort vs. Cobra Radar Detectors: Features & Pricing

Under Cedar Electronics are two popular manufacturers of radar detectors: Cobra Electronics and Escort. And under each of those is a “family” of radar detectors: RAD (Cobra) and MAX (Escort). In essence, Cobra is the more budget-focused brand, while Escort is the premium nameplate. For example, in Escort’s MAX family of radar detectors, the least expensive unit (the MAX 3) is $400, whereas nothing in Cobra’s RAD family exceeds $250, the retail price of the RAD 700i.     

Spec-heavy and feature-laden Escort radar detectors, like the MAX 360c MKII and Redline 360c, can run as high as $700 and $800, respectively (and more yet if you opt for additional accessories like radar-mounted dash cameras and laser shifters). Escort would be the preferred brand over Cobra for radar detector enthusiasts who want to squeeze every last drop of juice out of their countermeasures setup. Higher-end units from Escort have a more robust material construction, tremendous detection range, increased false alert filtering, and directional alert arrows, which illuminate on the detector to indicate where the police radar is coming from.

By comparison, Cobra’s RAD family is more like the “life hack” style of radar detector. It’s that “one simple trick” you can use if you only need the occasional gentle reminder to keep your right foot in check. Cobra’s RAD family doesn’t have the same performance muscle or detailed feature set as Escort’s MAX family, but the price is right considering the intended usage. Where the Cobra RAD 700i gets interesting, however, is that it borrows certain technical aspects from Escort’s MAX family, like Digital Signal Processing.

On the left is a digital speed limit sign in Northville, Michigan, and on the right is a Kroger parking lot just down the street. Usually, radar detectors, regardless of the brand, will alert on a K band false here. That’s not the case with the Cobra RAD 700i, a welcome and pleasant surprise. My Cobra RAD 480i tends to alert the Korger doors, as do my Uniden R4 and Radenso DS1.

Cobra RAD 700i: Digital Signal Processing

Digital Signal Processing technology helps radar detectors decipher false alerts (the proverbial automatic doors of a grocery store or pharmacy, for example) from legitimate police radar. Often written as DSP for short, the technology analyzes and processes all of the radar signals that may be present in a given area, prioritizing only the most relevant radar sources on the detector’s display screen, showing things like signal strength, band types, and frequency. Radar detectors with the right balance of DSP will alert you to legitimate police radar every time while keeping false alerts, especially on the K band frequencies, to a minimum.  

Escort radar detectors have higher degrees of DSP than Cobra radar detectors, so they are less prone to false alerts, which is part of the reason why they cost more. The Cobra RAD 700i, although still not on the level of an Escort product in terms of DSP, is miles ahead of its fellow family members, the RAD 480i and RAD 380 (the latter of which doesn’t have DSP at all since it’s a $100 unit). As far as Cobra’s RAD family goes, the 700i has the best application of DSP, making it the quietest of the lot. Whereas my RAD 480i struggled around metro Detroit with false alerts, the RAD 700i hardly made a peep, much to my surprise and delight.

Additional false alert filtering comes from Cobra’s proprietary IVT Filter, or “in-vehicle technology” filter, and Traffic Sensor Ranking (TSR) feature. The IVT Filter decreases the number of false alerts caused by collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control systems of other vehicles, which are radar-based. Meanwhile, the TSR feature filters out K band signals generated by traffic flow monitoring and measuring systems. Regarding fixed location false alerts, Cobra’s proprietary TrueLock GPS Filter is responsible for storing, ignoring, and ultimately locking those out (covered further below).

Cobra RAD 700i

Affordable radar detector integrates digital signal processing for better false alert filtering.

Good option for first-time radar detector users with a simplified display and settings menu.

Receives shared alerts via the Drive Smarter app.

Cobra RAD 700i In-Depth: What It Offers

The RAD 700i comes with a 12V power cord, a suction cup windshield mount, and a quick start guide (you download the complete owner’s manual from Cobra’s website). Unfortunately, the Cobra RAD 700i does not come with a carrying case, so we recommend picking up something inexpensive on Amazon if you want one.

Band Detection

The Cobra RAD 700i will alert you to X, K, and Ka radar bands, laser (lidar) guns, and MultaRadar CD and CT, written as MRCD and MRCT for short. MultaRadar is often associated with traffic light cameras and other photo enforcement devices. During an alert, the audible tones will repeat faster as you approach the signal source (the RAD 700i issues a separate tone when a laser gun is detected, given the accuracy and urgency of a laser threat). You can keep the audible alerts to a minimum by turning on the Quiet Drive option in the settings menu, in which only the first few seconds of an alert will sound.

Unlike its premium Escort cousins, the Cobra RAD 700i does not detect Mesta Fusion, a long-range, multi-lane, and multi-target enforcement strategy supplied by French technology company IDEMIA. Mesta Fusion towers, which combine a Doppler radar and high-resolution camera, were deployed in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada after city officials received a demonstration from IDEMIA in 2017.

K Band Low Detection

In the settings menu, you will notice something called K Band Low. As described by Cobra Electronics, K Band Low was added in case the RAD 700i were to go on sale in Asia. As the name suggests, it allows the K band detection frequency to go lower than what is typically seen in the United States. The default setting for U.S.-spec units is off, and Cobra recommends keeping it off.

Detail Displays

You can experiment with two different “detail” displays in the settings menu. In “More Details” mode, the band type, frequency, and signal strength via five illuminated bars will be displayed. By contrast, the “Less Details” mode will show one, two, or three bars to indicate how likely the alert is to be a police radar or laser gun.

I prefer the More Details mode, as it will help you become better accustomed to what police radar bands and frequencies are most commonly used in your area. Over time, you will be able to take a quick glance at the detector and know what is false and what is a legitimate threat by the information being displayed.

Cobra RAD 700i in the More Details mode, which shows the radar band (Ka here), signal strength (weak but likely to increase in this situation), and frequency (34.71 GHz in this instance).
Cobra RAD 700i in the More Details mode, which shows the radar band (Ka here), signal strength (weak but likely to increase in this situation), and frequency (34.71 GHz in this instance). Photo: Danielle Anthony.

Sensitivity Modes

The Cobra RAD 700i has four different sensitivity modes depending on where and how you drive. You can scroll through each mode by pressing the SEN button on top of the unit. Here is how they function:

  • High: Zero filtering for maximum sensitivity (best for highway or open road driving).
  • Medium: Minimal filtering to help reduce some unwanted alerts.
  • Low: Maximum filtering to reduce unwanted and/or false alerts (best for city driving).
  • Auto: Adjusts the sensitivity according to your current speed.

While I’ve experimented with the different sensitivity modes, I always gravitate back to the Auto setting since it’s speed-dependent. In Auto sensitivity, the Cobra RAD 700i becomes a “set it and forget it” type of radar detector. The value is in attaching it to your windshield and going about your day, which the Auto sensitivity lends itself nicely to. Be it around the Detroit metro, down the Ohio Turnpike to Sandusky, or through Chicago on my way to the Twin Cities, I’ve used the Auto sensitivity mode on the Cobra RAD 700i with no issues.

AutoLearn Intelligence (Auto Lockouts)

As we discussed above, Cobra is taking a page out of Escort’s book with this feature. AutoLearn analyzes fixed-location radar over time to determine if such alerts are legitimate or false. Should the Cobra RAD 700i encounter the exact frequency in the same location approximately three times – and that frequency is deemed false – it automatically locks it out and flashes a “Stored” message.

Conversely, the Cobra RAD 700i will unlearn signals to prevent itself from inadvertently locking out real threats. If a particular signal is no longer present at a location that was previously locked out, the RAD 700i will unlock it.

Press the Mute button three times to manually lock out a fixed location false alert. The first press will silence the audible alerts, while the second press will generate a “Lockout?” prompt on the display. Pressing the Mute button a third time will confirm the lockout with the same “Stored” message as the auto lockouts. In the future, the RAD 700i will not audibly alert if you drive past the area again, although it will display the locked-out alert in grey.

Mark Locations

The MRK button on top of the unit will flag a location and notify you from about a mile out the next time you are about to pass it. Unlike the lockouts (manual or automatic), the Mark Location feature is intended for areas with legitimate threats, like red light cameras and speed traps.

Cobra RAD 700i radar detector
When paired with the Driver Smarter app, Cobra RAD 700i will show the current speed limit (45 mph in this case) alongside your current speed (39 mph in this case). The little Wi-Fi style icon with the “A” indicates Auto sensitivity mode. Photo: Danielle Anthony.

Drive Smarter App

When paired to Drive Smarter, your phone will receive real-time threat notifications in your area, be it a radar source, red light camera, or police patrol, as reported by other Cobra owners using the app (i.e., shared alerts). It also shows the speed limit of the road you are driving on the radar detector’s display screen, a helpful feature if you are in an unfamiliar area and didn’t see the posted speed limit.

These real-time alerts provide an extra layer of situational awareness and add value to the Cobra RAD 700i, an already reasonably priced detector. Drive Smarter is replacing the previous iRadar app and has undergone some serious revisions in the last year to increase its performance, functionality, and overall user experience.

Early versions of Drive Smarter were hit or miss for both Cobra and Escort radar detectors. In the past, we experienced Bluetooth connection issues between the app, the detector, and our phone (and if we could get a connection, it would often crash). The Cobra RAD 700i is better, but not every time. When it connects, it works flawlessly, but that’s when we can get it to connect. It was about a 50/50 shot for us each time we jumped into our vehicle as to whether or not the RAD 700i would connect to Drive Smarter.

The good news is that Cobra is continuing to refine the Drive Smarter app for both Andriod and iOS operating systems (and when it’s working, it’s already far better than it was even just a year ago). Refining the Drive Smarter app is a top priority for Cobra, so we anticipate future versions will run seamlessly. It’s also not necessary to run the Drive Smarter app with the RAD 700i, especially if your primary motive is to have an affordable radar detector with good false alert filtering. Forgoing the app will save your phone battery, too.

Cobra RAD 700i

Affordable radar detector integrates digital signal processing for better false alert filtering.

Good option for first-time radar detector users with a simplified display and settings menu.

Receives shared alerts via the Drive Smarter app.

Is The Cobra RAD 700i Worth The Money?

Speaking personally, I’ve had a sometimes complicated relationship with Cobra radar detectors. My RAD 380 is fantastic, and I have no complaints there, but I’m less sold on the RAD 480i (to be fair, though, comments on my YouTube video on the RAD 480i are positive). I’m also not sold on the Cobra Road Scout, a two-in-one unit that combines a radar detector and a dash camera (the Escort MAXcam 360c is a better option and worth the extra cash). So when I was offered the RAD 700i before its release, I was skeptical, but I’m glad I kept an open mind. I’ve been pleasantly surprised during my drives around metro Detroit and extended road trips to Sandusky, Ohio, and the Twin Cities. 

The Cobra RAD 700i punches well above what its budget-focused price tag would indicate, prioritizing a quiet ride with nearly zero false alerts and a simplified, easy-to-read display. When it comes to “grab and go” type radar detectors, I usually reach for my Uniden R4 or Radenso DS1, but will be moving the RAD 700i to the top of that list, considering it outperforms both of those more expensive detectors with regard to false alert filtering. I’m excited to have the RAD 700i in my collection of radar detectors. 

That said, the Cobra RAD 700i is worth it if you are a first-time radar detector user and need something affordable and reliable. It’s also a good option if you want to upgrade from an older unit but don’t want to break the bank. Not counting any deals that may be running, the RAD 700i is available for $250 on Cobra’s website and for the same price on Amazon. If you purchase a new RAD 700i and have questions, join us on the forum, and we can point you in the right direction. 

Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor of Automoblog and the host of AutoVision News Radio and AutoSens Insights. As a respected automotive industry thought leader, Carl has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows, including Wrench Nation, Cars Yeah, The Car Doctor, and Brains Byte Back, in addition to appearing as a regular contributor on MotorMouth Radio on WHPC 90.3 FM. His work can also be seen and heard 24/7 on the Automoblog YouTube channel.

Photos: Danielle Anthony.