Today's breed of smart home cameras allows you to see a live feed of your home (or any room in your house) simply by opening an app on your smartphone or summoning the feed with your voice — via Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri — so that it appears on your smart TV or smart display. You can see when packages get dropped off and talk to people who are at your door. And many of them have built-in lights and sirens for an extra layer of security.
The new generation of smart cameras is perfect for a modern smart home. The only question left is: which one is right for your home?
Nest Cam Indoor (Wired) Read More
Nest Cam (Battery) Read More
Nest Cam with Floodlight Read More
Ring Indoor Cam Read More
Ring Stick Up Cam Read More
Below, you'll find a rundown of our favorite families of home security cameras and the models available to suit various needs. Remember, just because a camera is expensive doesn’t necessarily make it immediately better. A lot of the more expensive options are only worth buying if you know you’ll use it a lot and you’re willing to pay a recurring subscription fee.
What to Look for
Most of today’s home security cameras have a lot in common. Motion sensors, night vision, two-way talk and a companion app that allows you to, at any time, get a live feed of what’s happening in front of the camera are all standard baseline features. When it comes to differences, there are four main things to consider:
• Smart home compatibility: If you already own smart home devices, you’ll want a home security camera that plays well with them. An Alexa-only camera is likely a bad fit for your Google-based smart home no matter how cheap or capable it is.
• Ecosystem: You also want to consider the smart camera manufacturer you're buying from, be it Nest, Ring, Arlo or others, because these manufacturers design their cameras so work really well together and they're intuitive to control. Also, it makes financial sense when it comes to subscription plans because if you have multiple smart cameras from the same manufacturer, you can often get a better deal.
• Subscription: Most smart home cameras require a monthly or annual subscription fee to get their more advanced features like facial recognition, person alerts, the ability to share clips and to access recordings stored in the cloud. You likely won’t need a subscription to see what’s going on live, but factor in the cost if you require more than that.
• Wired or Battery: Some security cameras are battery-powered, giving you more freedom in where they are placed, at the cost of having to remember to charge them. Depending on your situation, the tradeoff might be worth it.
• Security: Pretty much every smart home camera has built-in security features such as motion detection, night vision, two-way talk and built-in siren alarms. But some cameras have additional features such as spotlights and floodlights.
• Price: When it comes to the basics, affordable options like the Wyze Cam v3 will have you covered with features like 24/7 live feed, two-way talk, night vision and motion alerts. More expensive cameras can offer better app experiences or advanced (but niche) functionality. Generally, a cheaper camera will work just fine, especially to start.
What Is Thread?
If you're shopping for smart home devices, you'll undoubtedly come across "Thread." It's a relatively new smart home protocol that connects smart devices across a low-power mesh network (similar to Zigbee or Z-Wave). This allows the supported smart home devices — be it smart home cameras, smart doorbells, small thermostats and more — to work better with each other.
The benefits of Thread are that it improves the connectivity and range of smart home devices as they are all able to talk directly to each other. Additionally, thanks to the low-power and low-latency connection, Thread can also extend the battery life of portable smart devices, which is really important for smart doorbells and, obviously smart home cameras.
Thread is still a relatively new protocol and there aren't that many smart home devices that support it. Of course, more and more smart home devices are being released that support Thread. The good news is that Thread is a protocol that is supported by Google, Amazon and Apple smart home ecosystems. The newest Apple TV 4K, HomePod mini and the HomePod (2nd-generation) are just a few such examples.
Nest's ecosystem of smart home cameras is the best option for people who have built a smart home around Google Assistant and/or have other Nest smart home devices (such as a video doorbells, smart speaker or smart thermostat). This is because Google owns Nest and designed all these devices to work seamlessly together. In 2021, Google released updated and redesigned versions of its Nest cameras, antiquating its old "IQ" line and introducing its first-ever battery-powered camera.
Subscription: You don't need a subscription to Nest Aware, but it does give you more cloud storage as well as give some Nest cameras more abilities (such as the ability to identify faces) and intelligent alerts. A subscription starts at $5/month.
Pros and cons: The Nest ecosystem of smart home cameras are some of the best you can buy. They are especially designed to work within Google's smart home ecosystem, which consists of Nest smart home devices (such as smart thermostats, smart doorbells, smart locks and more). Many of these devices now work with Alexa, too. The only real downsides are that Nest kind of ties you into its smart home ecosystem and very few Nest devices work with Apple's HomeKit right now.
Nest Cam Indoor (Wired)
The Nest Cam Indoor is the company's newest entry-level smart home camera that's available in four different colors: white, pink, beige or green.
Nest Cam (Battery)
The Nest Cam can be used either inside or outside and in either wired or wireless modes (its battery can last roughly three months). It comes with a magnetic mounting base.
Nest Cam with Floodlight
This is essentially a souped up version of the Nest Cam. It has a IP65-water-resistant rating and comes attached to a floodlight (2400 lumen) that will go off when motion is detected. There's no wireless model.
Amazon bought Ring in 2019, meaning that it owns two smart home camera manufacturers (including Blink). While both Ring and Blink smart home cameras work well with Alexa and actually have a lot of the same capabilities, there are a few advantages to buying into Ring. It makes a wider selection of smart home cameras (both wired and battery-powered) and they work better with Ring's vast ecosystem of other smart home devices; so if you're building a pretty serious DIY system with video doorbells and smart locks, Ring is your better bet.
Subscription: Without a subscription plan, it's pretty very similar to Blink, as you really only get motion-activated push notifications and live video streaming — but no recordings. Ring offers two different cloud storage subscription options, a Protect Basic ($3/month) and Protect Plus ($10/month).
Pros and cons: Ring is to Amazon what Nest is to Google. Amazon owns Ring and over the last several years has made all of Ring's smart home devices work really well in an Amazon smart home ecosystem. You can think of Ring's smart home cameras as an elevated (and more expensive) option to Amazon's more budget-friendly line of "Blink" cameras.
Ring Indoor Cam
The Indoor Cam is a smaller and cheaper version of Ring’s Stick Up Cam, and it has most of the same abilities as every other entry-level security camera on the market.
Ring Stick Up Cam
The Stick Up Cam comes in three different models – wired (Plug-In), battery-powered (Battery) or solar-powered (Solar) – and it’s a larger (and slightly better) version of Ring’s Indoor Cam.
Ring Spotlight Cam Plus
Released in late 2022, the Spotlight Cam Plus is an outdoor smart home camera with motion-activated LED light strips and a siren. Plus this new model adds a new radar sensor and a 3D motion detection feature so that it can more accurately track people and objects that it picks up. The Ring Spotlight Cam Pro is available in battery, wired and solar-powered models.
Arlo specializes in battery-powered smart home cameras, which makes them different because you can place each camera anyway throughout the house. Most of Arlo's smart home cameras are sold as "systems" (meaning several cameras) and require a smart home hub (or base station) to work, but Arlo does sell some standalone cameras that connect directly to Wi-Fi. The main advantage of a system with a smart home hub is that it allows you to save more photos and videos without a cloud-based subscription. Most of Arlo's camera systems are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, but it does sell one — the Arlo Ultra 2 — that works with Apple's HomeKit.
Pros and cons: The big advantage to Arlo's smart home cameras is that most (not all) are battery powered and thus give you more flexibility when placing the cameras. The downside to this is that you need to occasionally remember to recharge the camera. The other good thing with Arlo is that they can work with a variety of smart home ecosystems, however it can get a little complicated as not every line of smart home camera is compatible with the same ecosystems.
Subscription: Arlo offers 7-day cloud storage for free, but you can subscribe to Arlo Secure subscription plan (starting at $3/month for a single camera or $10/month for unlimited cameras) and that will enable smart features and alerts, as well as get you unlimited video cloud storage for 30 days.
The Essential is Arlo's entry-level battery-powered smart home camera. It's one of the company's few options that can be used by itself and without a smart home hub.
Arlo Pro 4
The Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight is a more affordable version of the Ultra 2 Spotlight. It captures 2K video (instead of 4K) and lacks the same wide field of view. It doesn't require a hub, either.
Arlo Ultra 2
The Ultra 2 Spotlight is the company's most advanced smart home camera. It shoots 4K video with HDR and has the widest field of view. And it works with HomeKit. It requires a smart hub. (2-camera kit)
The Blink ecosystem of smart home cameras is designed to work best with an Amazon Alexa smart home; Amazon bought Blink in 2017, afterall. The cameras are generally a better value than Ring's (also owned by Amazon) smart home cameras, with the Blink Mini going for $35 (or less). The reason why you'd buy into Blink's ecosystem rather than Ring's, in addition to cost, is that Blink's cameras are not totally dependent on cloud-based storage; you can buy a base station, such as the Blink Sync Module 2, to provide local storage for up to 10 Blink cameras.
Subscription: Without a subscription plan, you only get motion-activated notifications and live video streaming — but no recordings. There are two subscription plans to choose from. The "basic" plan costing $3/month (or $30/year) for 60 days of rolling video storage for a single camera. A "plus" plan costs $10/month (or $100/year) does the same thing for unlimited cameras; it also gets you extended warranty coverage.
Pros and cons: Blink is Amazon's more budget-friendly line of smart home cameras than Ring. They're every affordable and work well within an Amazon smart home, but they lack many of the features and abilities (as well as the premium look) as Ring's high-end options.
The Blink Mini is the company’s smallest and most affordable smart home camera. It's also the only one that requires a powered connection at all times.
The Blink Indoor is a battery-powered smart home camera with a few advanced features, such as privacy zones and temperature monitoring. It also gives you the option of local storage.
Blink Mini Pan-Tilt
The Blink Outdoor is a rugged version of the Blink Indoor. It has all the same features, but it is designed to withstand the wind and rain.
Wyze now has an entire ecosystem of smart home devices that includes everything from video doorbells to DIY security systems, smart lights to smart plugs, but it's still best known for its line of smart home cameras. They're incredibly affordable and work with most smart home ecosystems (including Alexa and Google Assistant). Additionally, the company's Wyze Cam Pan is one of the few smart home cameras that you can control and pan (via the Wyze) so you can get an alternate viewing angle.
Subscription: Every Wyze smart home camera comes with free 14-day cloud storage for 12-second event videos. A subscription to Cam Plus($1.25/month per camera) gets you a bunch of advanced features, such as unlimited video length (as opposed to 12-seconds) and motion-detection alerts for people, pets and vehicles.
Pros and cons: Wyze makes a wide-variety of smart home devices that all are very budget-friendly and work well with Amazon's and Google's smart home ecosystems. The main downside is that recently Wyze has come under scrutiny because of security hacks and vulnerabilities, which is obviously disconcerting.
Wyze Cam OG
The Wyze Cam OG captures 1080p video, supports two-way talk, and it will automatically record video clips (up to 12 seconds) if it detects motion or hears a loud sound.
Wyze Cam Outdoor v2
The Wyze Cam is a wireless and weather-resistant version of the Wyze Cam v3. The rechargeable battery can last between 3-6 months.
Wyze Cam Pan v3
The Wyze Cam Pan v3 is a more advanced smart home camera that adds motion tracking and the ability to "pan"; open the Wyze app and you can control what the camera is looking at. Compared to the "v2" version, the Wyze Cam Pan v3 has better night vision, an IP65 rating (so it's good for outdoor use) and it does not need a Base Station for Wi-Fi connectivity.
Anker's smart home division, Eufy, makes a number of different smart home camera systems under the "EufyCam" name. They are similar to Arlo's offerings in that they are battery-powered systems and require a base station (or hub) for local storage, but there are few important differences. EufyCams generally have a better battery life (which can last up to one year) and are compatible with Apple's HomeKit, as well as Alexa and Google Assistant, which is a rarity among smart home cameras. They also deliver more features without a subscription. The downside, generally, is they lack the same video resolution, field-of-view and high-end features (like color night vision).
Subscription: You don't absolutely need a cloud service subscription as each wireless system comes with a local storage hub (which takes a microSD card) that can store several months worth of recordings. A subscription, starting at $3/month per camera, gets you 30-days of rolling cloud storage.
Pros and cons: Eufy is a good option for those looking for a battery-powered system of smart home cameras. They also tend to be more affordable than Arlo's various options. The main downside is that Eufy makes a wide variety of smart home cameras (just three are listed below) and they can vary a lot with which smart home ecosystems they are compatible with. So you need to do you research before buying.
Eufy Solo IndoorCam C24
The Eufy Solo IndoorCam C24 is the company's most affordable and entry-level smart home cameras. It's a wired smart home camera, which is notable because most of Eufy's options are moveable and battery powered. It also has local storage and doesn't absolutely need a base station. It's also compatible with HomeKit.
EufyCam 2C Pro (2-Cam Kit)
The EufyCam 2C Pro is one of the company's best-selling smart home camera systems. It's essentially a more advanced version of the "non-Pro" EufyCam 2C, as it has a better quality camera with wider field-of-view. The biggest difference is that each EufyCam 2C Pro camera has double the battery life — they can go an entire year between charges. It works with all major ecosystems, including HomeKit.
EufyCam 3 (S330)
The Eufy Cam 3 is a system of battery-powered smart home cameras that have a couple big advantages. Each camera is capable of capturing 4K video and the system don't require a subscription service thanks to a local storage hub. Additionally, each camera comes with a built-in solar panel so that if it gets enough sunlight (roughly three hours per day), there's the potential that you'll never have to charge your cameras.