When it comes to smart home security cameras, it’s difficult to find a more established name than Nest. It has two cameras: the older (and cheaper) Nest Cam, and the newer Nest Cam IQ. Both cameras come with Outdoor versions, but its the Indoor variants we're going to chiefly focus on here.
And when it comes to investing in one of the Google-owned company's smart cameras, making sure things stay safe isn’t the only thing to consider. With the devices also offering users versatility, these devices are quickly becoming a staple of the connected home. You can check who’s coming and going, keep an eye on your pets or children and even seeing what’s going on in the garden when you’re not there.
Now, let's dive into how the two compare on design, features, integration, footage quality, storage and price.
Nest Cam v Nest Cam IQ: Design
Unlike the outdoor variants of each camera, the look of the Nest Cam (above) and Nest Cam IQ (below) does differ slightly. The Nest Cam is only available in black, while the updated IQ comes in white, with the dimensions varying in one key area.
Both measure just over 7cm wide, while also sitting at around 12cm tall. However, the Cam doesn’t have the same head as its newer sibling, which stretches back a full 7cm. This isn’t the biggest deal, of course, but it might make a difference to you if you’re looking for the most discreet option available or simply want something that can fit onto your shelf without taking up too much room.
The advanced specs and features available through the Cam IQ is likely the reason for this extra heft, which we’ll explore below. But this is really where the differences in design end, unless you’re counting the weight — the Cam hits the scales at 213g, the Cam IQ at 357g — but that’s not a big factor when you consider this isn’t a camera you’re likely to move around too frequently. Why? Well, unlike some smart home security cameras, both of Nest’s options aren’t wireless, meaning you’ll be connecting them with a 3m cable.
As we say, the Outdoor versions of each range are almost identical in the design department. However, one distinction to be aware of is the weather resistance. Being cameras made for the outdoors, both are weatherproof, though the IP65 rating of the Cam Outdoor is one-upped by the Cam IQ Outdoor’s IP66 rating. That means the latter can survive in conditions ranging from -40°C to 45°C — great for those who happen to live in the arctic or the desert.
Nest Cam v Nest Cam IQ: Features
Now, let’s get into what this pair can actually bring to your smart home. In terms of the camera specs, the IQ brings you the action through the 2.5-inch, 8-megapixel (4K) colour sensor with 12x digital zoom. In contrast, the original Cam only features a 3-megapixel sensor and 8x zoom. When actually recording video, though, both operate at 1080p (1920 × 1080) at 30 frames per second.
Thankfully, both are also able to provide continuous recording, meaning you don’t have to worry about when they’re capturing (providing you’re also hooked up with Nest Aware, too). In-built microphones and an internal speaker also make their way onto each, though, as we alluded to when referencing the design of each, the bigger build of the IQ means that its speaker is seven times as strong as the Cam’s.
Thanks to its three-microphone array, it’s also able to bring noise cancellation and echo suppression to your recordings. This also opens the door for HD Talk and Listen, which allows for clearer two-way conversations with people in your home (or your dog) than the SD of the Cam.
At night, the IQ also fares better. That’s not to say the Cam won’t track intruders and the like during the night-time hours, but the IQ’s LEDs (which Nest say shines twice as bright as the original) and eight infrared LEDs help to illuminate things even in pitch black or low light, with its 950nm infrared wavelength sitting slightly higher than the original Cam, meaning you should get a higher quality of vision at night.
If you’re wondering, the differences between the Outdoor pair are less obvious. Again, like the indoor Nest cams, the IQ allows for stronger two-way conversations, as well as person alerts (which learns different faces over time), but generally the package is very similar on the features front.
Nest Cam v Nest Cam IQ: Footage quality
We've talked about some of the specs just above, but how everything comes together when you're all set up is more crucial than what's on paper. And when put up against each other, the contrast between the Nest Cam IQ and Cam is rather stark, and demonstrated fairly well through the video above.
The sound quality is perhaps the biggest upgrade through the IQ, thanks to that microphone and speaker boost, meaning that you can clearly pick up noise even when it occurs some distance away from the device. It's also evident through the HD Talk and Listen and close-up tracking, and night tracking is also much clearer. The Nest Cam is still decent, naturally, but it's not the best that Nest can offer.
Nest Cam v Nest Cam IQ: Integrations
One of the big positives of the Nest cameras is that they’re perhaps the most adept at linking up with the rest of your smart home. It plays nicely with the Works with Nest ecosystem, as you might expect, which means it can, for example, work when you’re not around and shut off the likes of your Nest thermostat. You can tap into the likes of the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot, too, in order to access the video feed from around your home.
At least as far as the Cam IQ Indoor is concerned, it perhaps gets its moniker thanks to the in-built Google Assistant, letting you talk to your camera just as you would with a Google Home smart speaker. This doesn’t extend back to the first generation camera, and, in fairness, such a feature would be much less suited to the outdoor versions.
Nest Cam v Nest Cam IQ: Storage and costs
One of the more contentious issues you’ll have to consider when picking between the litter of smart home security cameras, naturally, is the cost. And, unfortunately, Nest is different to some in that it offers a subscription package for some of its more advanced features.
Through any variation of the Nest cameras, you won’t be able to record clips, and instead will have to opt-in to Nest Aware to receive a full 24-hour piece of footage to run through — not just clips of key events. Motion and audio events are still flagged, meaning you get to relive anything of note just the same, but you’ll have to pay to do so.
The cheapest Nest Aware plan will set you back $5, and it ramps up the more history you want to access. $10 per month gets you 10-day video history, intelligent alerts (facial recognition), continuous video and priority zones. $30 per month gets you all that for 30 days. It’s also worth pointing out that paying for each subscription variation for 12 months does allow you to save a bit of cash; important once you also consider the actual price of the hardware, detailed below.
Nest Cam v Nest Cam IQ: Price
On top of that potential Aware subscription, as we say, you also have to actually shell out for the newest member of your smart home. And with a big disparity between the two generations, it’s a natural consideration.
For the original Nest Cam Indoor, you’ll be paying $199, nearly half of the IQ upgrade, which costs $299. If you’re interested in the outdoor camera from the company, it’s a similar story. The Nest Cam Outdoor comes in at $179, while the Cam IQ Outdoor sits at a whopping $349.
Nest does offer slight reductions when grouping multiples of the same camera together, too, which is a neat way to skim the price tag. For example, buying to Cam IQ Indoor models together will help you save $100.
Nest Cam v Nest Cam IQ: Verdict
There's no question that the Nest Cam IQ range is the more advanced of this pair, with higher quality recording present at both day and night, smarter in-built integrations, microphones and speakers and, depending on your preference, a design that you might prefer, too.
However, it's fair to question whether these upgrades are worth the additional outlay over the first generation Cam. Sure, you're not getting quite the top of the range, but you're still getting a solid smart home security camera at a fraction of the cost of the IQ range.
If you're new to the scene and just want something to do the basics, or your priority rests in adding as many cameras as you can for as little as possible, you won't go wrong with the Cam. If you're looking for some of the best the space has to offer and money is no object, opt for the IQ.