Whether you’re in a house or apartment, making sure your home is safe while you’re away is a key priority. One of the best ways to deter thieves while providing yourself with peace of mind is with a quality smart doorbell like the Nest Hello. We’ve done the research and made a list of the best smart doorbell cameras for any home. See which one works for you.
Best Overall: Nest Hello
I love this smart doorbell. It costs a little more than average, but you get plenty of features that make the price worth it. For one thing, you can set it up to give you alerts whenever it detects motion in specific areas of your yard. What’s more, it has facial recognition abilities, so it can tell you if a particular friend is approaching before they even ring the bell. The camera operates at 1600×1200 with HDR for clear video quality. When the camera senses that it gets dark, it automatically switches to night vision. It’s in grayscale, but it’s clearer than many other cameras on the market.
When I was trying to decide between doorbell cameras for my home, I landed on this one. Unlike some others, it’s always recording. Doorbell cams that only turn on when they detect motion sometimes turn on too late, making it so owners can’t see the faces of those who’ve stolen packages from their porch. With the Nest Hello, I can go through the log and see everything that happened within the past few days. The app even allows me to zoom in for a closer look.
There are a few things that might give people pause when buying this device. For one thing, it requires a hardwired connection. It needs to work with the proper transformer so some folks, especially those in older houses, might need to purchase one of those as well.
Finally, like many other smart doorbells, this one requires a subscription if you want to view recordings, and you’ll need to pay per camera (though you do get the service at a discount if you have multiple cameras). The service is called Nest Aware and you have the option of paying $5 per month for a five-day plan, $10 per month for a 10-day plan, or $30 a month for a 30-day plan. On the plus side, Google announced that it’s will be moving to a whole-house pricing plan in early 2020, to keep the subscriptions more competitive.
- Non-stop recording
- Great video quality
- Smart home integration
- Facial recognition
- Can set motion zones
- Zoom ability
- Hardwired connection
- Subscription costs
- More expensive than others
$230 at Best Buy
An excellent doorbell camera
Monitor live feeds at any time and set specific motion zones for camera alerts. It also distinguishes between humans and cars and records 24/7.
Best Budget: Ring Video Doorbell
If you’re looking for a way to monitor your home without spending too much, you should consider the Ring Video Doorbell. It doesn’t have as many features as other smart doorbells, but it does an excellent job with the things it can do. It only uses a 720p camera. but the 180-degree field of view can capture a wider area than some other doorbell cameras. You can also set it to monitor specific areas of your yard. That way, it will only send alerts if it sees people in your yard rather than cars driving past on the street.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to get this doorbell is the incredibly easy installation. It comes with all the tools you need to install it, and it’s designed to either function using a battery or by being hardwired to your home. It even has interchangeable faceplates so you can select a design that looks best with your door. When the battery life gets low, it will send you a notification so you can recharge it. It typically takes 10 hours to reach a full charge and should last roughly 12 months.
This little device connects to your Wi-Fi, allowing you to monitor and control it using the Ring app or smart home services like Amazon Alexa or IFTTT. Link it to your accounts, and you can use it to talk with those on your porch via two-way communication, or simply to view motion detection alerts.
The biggest downside to this doorbell is that it only records when it detects motion. Some users complain about how the camera didn’t start recording until after someone had already made off with their packages. As with the other doorbell cameras on this list, you’ll need to pay a subscription to access videos. You can pay $10 per month for a Protect Plus Plan or $3 per month for a Protect Basic Plan.
- Can set motion zones
- Interchangeable faceplates
- Works with smart home services
- Alerts you to motion detection
- 180-degree field of view
- Only 720p video
- Only records when it detects motion
Ring Video Doorbell
- $100 at Amazon $100 at Walmart
An inexpensive smart doorbell
This is one of the cheapest doorbells you can find. You can either power it with a hardwired connection or rely on the rechargeable battery for power.
Best August Smart Lock Integration: August Doorbell Cam Pro (2nd Gen)
August is best known for its smart locks and keypads, but it also makes video doorbells to complete the whole smart door experience. If you already own an August smart lock, you should consider getting this doorbell. It works as a Wi-Fi bridge for the August Smart Lock Pro, which on its own can only be controlled via Bluetooth. When used together the Doorbell Cam Pro lets you control the Smart Lock Pro from anywhere on your smartphone as long as you have an internet connection.
This doorbell can also be controlled with Amazon Alexa, so you can use an Echo device to interact with it or talk with people on your porch. Something to note is that the square-shaped casing is broader than many other doorbells. You’ll want to make sure you measure out the space of your existing doorbell to make sure it can fit. It does require a wired connection, so it takes more work to install than the battery operated options. The app is well organized and even includes step by step installation instructions to get you started.
This camera has an unusual resolution of 960×1280, which means the camera records vertically with a 120-degree field of view. While this does make it easier to use on a smartphone without turning the screen sideways, it makes it so you see less of your yard. Of course, if you have a long, narrow entryway, this won’t be a problem. Unlike other doorbells that we looked at, you cannot set motion zones. This flaw means you’ll be getting alerts whenever a car drives by instead of just when someone happens to be on your front yard. It comes with a free subscription plan that allows you to see 24 hours-worth of saved recordings. If you want a longer record, you’ll have to pay more. There’s the Premium Plan, which gives 15-days of recordings for $3 a month, or the Premium Plus Plan for 30-days of records at $5 per month.
- Good app design
- Pairs with August smart lock and keypad
- Two-way audio
- Vertical 120-degree field of view
- Requires hardwired installation
- Wide square design
- Can’t set motion zones
Best Smart Lock Integration
August Doorbell Cam Pro
$200 at Amazon
Pairs perfectly to August smart locks
This camera doorbell works with August smart locks to help protect you and your home. Use it to monitor your porch more conveniently.
Best for Apartments or Condos: Ring Video Doorbell 2
Ring is a home security company owned by Amazon. As such it’s not surprising to learn that Ring devices work super well with the Echo Show and Echo Show 5 to help you monitor your front yard or engage in two-way conversations with those on your porch. If your smart home is already primarily made up of Alexa devices, this is an excellent doorbell for you.
This camera offers better video quality than the original Ring Video Doorbell at an improved 1080p. Something I appreciate is that it’s super easy to install since it can be either battery-powered or hardwired into your home. Since the hardwiring is optional, it’s a great option to use on apartments and condos where permanent changes might not be allowed.
As with other Ring doorbells, this one only starts recording when it detects motion. Just be aware that several users have reported that their doorbell has only started recording once someone has already stolen a package or stolen the doorbell itself. Others have reported that the doorbell helped them see intruders or even scare them off before they did anything. It will just depend on how quickly your doorbell decides to turn on. As with other Ring doorbells, you’ll need to pay a subscription if you want to view recordings.
- Battery or hardwired connection
- Easy installation
- 1080p video quality
- Motion detection
- Triggered recording
- Must pay subscription to view recordings
Best for Apartments or Condos
Ring Video Doorbell 2
$139 at Amazon
A sleek doorbell with quality video
It gives you 1080p of video resolution and works with Amazon Alexa. You can choose between a battery or a wired connection for power.
Best Amazon Doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Of all of Ring’s video doorbells, I like the shape of this one the most. Since it’s smaller and slimmer than the others, it’s more likely to fit on the door frame or wherever else your current doorbell resides. It’s the most expensive unit on this list, but it also offers some features you won’t find elsewhere. For one thing, it supports both a 5GHz and a 2.4GHz wireless connection, so you’re more likely to get it to work on your Wi-Fi without connectivity issues.
Within the app, you can draw your own motion zones. I love this since it makes it, so you only get notifications if someone is on your property rather than every time a car passes by. The resolution is a beautiful 1080p, which will give you a clearer view of porch guests than many other doorbell cameras do.
This doorbell does require a hardwired connection so you’ll need to do the wiring work to make that possible. Additionally, this Ring doorbell comes with a Pro Power Kit, that must be installed inside your home for the doorbell to work correctly. The thing with this kit is that it needs the right kind of transformer to work correctly, so you might need to go out and purchase a new one. As with other Ring doorbells, you’ll need to pay a subscription to view recordings.
- Detects motion better than other Rings
- 1080p video resolution
- Allows for 5GHz connection
- Can draw your own motion zones
- Requires hardwired connection
- Pro Power Kit installation required
- Might need to upgrade transformer
Best Amazon Doorbell
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
$179 at Amazon $250 at Best Buy
A powerful doorbell that supports 5GHz
This premium Ring doorbell features a sleek design, offers 1080p video quality, and allows you to draw your own motion zones.
Best Peephole Upgrade: Ring Peephole Cam
Sometimes pulling out your phone to check to see who’s on your front porch feels a little slow or even a little silly, especially when you’re standing right behind the door. In these situations, it would be nice to just have something that worked as both a door camera and a peephole. Enter the Ring Peephole Cam. It’s small and installs in place of your existing peephole to give you both an in-person and digital view of porch guests.
You can also set motion zones and make it so that the Ring device only alerts you if it sees movement in specified areas of your yard. One of the reasons this device is so easy to install is because it’s battery-powered. You don’t have to do any wiring to make it function. Now, if you don’t already have a peephole in your door, the installation will be more of a challenge. In that case, you’ll either need to drill a hole into your door or hire someone to do it for you.
As far as doorbells go, this one has a decent camera. It features a 1080p video for a clearer viewing experience. Additionally, the device features both a camera and a microphone. Using the app, you’ll be able to talk with porch guests and hear their responses from anywhere. However, while some other buzzers feature HDR video, that’s not something you’ll find with this unit. Since this is an Amazon product, the camera only works with one smart home service: Amazon Alexa. If you prefer a different smart home assistant, this won’t be the ideal option for you.
- Physical peephole
- 1080p HD video quality
- Can set motion zones
- Two-way communication
- Only works with Alexa
- Drilling a peephole might be daunting.
- No HDR video
Best Peephole Upgrade
Ring Peephole Cam
$200 at Amazon
A smart doorbell with a keyhole view
This doorbell is easy to install in doors that already have a peephole. It’s also battery-powered, so you don’t have to worry about wiring anything.
When you’re looking to protect your home and deliveries, a smart doorbell is the way to go. There are several options on the market to choose from. We did the research and collected the best of the best for a variety of uses. When you go to purchase a smart doorbell, you’ll want to consider a few things. Things like whether or not you want a wired connection, what kind of subscription plan you’re willing to pay for, the size of the smart doorbell, and of course the price of the device itself.
We highly recommend the Nest Hello as it records non-stop instead of only recording when it detects motion. It also features 1080p of HDR video quality for a clearer view of guests and trespassers. Best of all, you can set detection zones and make it so the device can tell if a human is approaching rather than a car or animal. It even offers facial recognition to let you know if a friend is approaching your door.
Rebecca Spear loves keeping up-to-date with the latest and greatest electronics. She is a life-long gamer and a writer who has written hundreds of online articles over the past four years. On any given day you’ll find her drawing with her Wacom tablet, playing video games, or reading a good book.