Best smart video doorbell cameras

The bells, whistles, and potential pitfalls of smart doorbells

The best smart doorbells
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Buying a smart video doorbell camera answers one of the biggest questions of the smart home: if someone calls at your house and you’re not there to answer, did they call at all?

With a smart doorbell, they’re connected straight through to your smartphone or video device within the home. You can get a live video feed and see who’s calling, and use two-way audio to speak to them.

This can make dealing with deliveries a lot easier (“chuck it over the fence”, “put it in the garage”) and enables you to keep tabs on who’s calling. It's also a lot more natural than just using a smart home camera.

Below, we'll run you through our pick of the best smart video doorbells as well as letting you know about some interesting new video doorbells.

We'll then explore some of the things you need to know before buying your first smart doorbell.

Jump to the information you need

The best smart video doorbells

There are now heaps of "smart" doorbells you can buy, but we've been busy testing – separating the heroes from the zeroes – to bring you this guide. Here are our top picks.

Ring 3 video doorbell

Best smart doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell 3

Buy now: Amazon, | $199

Our top pick of smart doorbells right now, Ring Video Doorbell 3 works superbly well, is available globally and you won’t have to worry about cables, given that it works via a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. If you do have wires hanging out of your door frame, you can still attach them to ensure you don't have to recharge.

The Ring 3 and Ring 3 Plus keep the 1080p HD live streaming, 160 degree field of view, HDR video, night vision, motion detection, motion and privacy zones, and two-way audio of the Ring 2 and add support for 5GHz Wi-Fi, an extra motion detection zone, and an optional new solar charger.

The build is a bit big and bulky in order to hold that big battery and we wouldn’t say Ring is the most aesthetically pleasing doorbell on the market.

You'll need a plan. Basic costs $30 per year.

You’ll also need to purchase a Chime, if you want to hear the doorbell in the house. Of course, it’s optional, as you have your phones, a noise from the Ring unit itself, plus you can have your Echo speakers announce when someone is at the door.

Our one beef is the charges for storing video, and we’d like to see 24 hour playback thrown in for free. Otherwise, Ring is a superb system that comes highly recommended.

What we love

  • Easy to install
  • Removable battery
  • 1080p streaming

What we don't love

  • Bit of a bulky design
  • No Ethernet option
  • Cloud storage costs extra

Check out our full Ring Video Doorbell 3 review.

Nest Hello video doorbell

Runner-up: Nest Hello

Buy now: | $229

While we marked down Ring for being big and bulky, the Nest Hello is slim and good-looking. When it comes to standard features there's the 1600 x 1200 HD video at 30fps that's nice and clear, with HDC to make things easier to see at night. It's also set up at a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than 16:9, which will help you see people head to toe.

Where the Hello shines with its smart features. You have quick replies that you can select from the app, that can do things like tell your UPS deliverer to set the package at the door, there are also motion sensors, sound, person and package alerts at your disposal.

If you've got the $5 monthly Nest Aware subscription, there's also facial recognition, which will learn the faces of people who frequent your place the most and let you tag them in the app. If you've got a Nest Cam IQ or Google Home, they'll even announce them.

There's a wireless chime in the box, which is good, but you'll still need a wired connection to work this one – that might stump some people. Nest Pro installation is recommended, though it will cost you a couple of hundred dollars or less depending on how much work your home needs done.

Overall, the Nest Hello is a great choice for those who want to put the smart in smart doorbell. It's got high-end features including facial recognition, pre-recorded responses, and full 24/7 video streaming (not just clips that start recording based on motion or sound). But it's also expensive, from the upfront cost to installation to the Nest Aware subscription.

What we love

  • Facial recognition
  • Small and sleek
  • Pre-recorded messages

What we don't love

  • Expensive
  • Needs to be wired
  • Some niggles with app

Check out our full Nest Hello review.

Arlo Doorbell

Best security ecosystem: Arlo Video Doorbell

Buy now: Amazon, | $150

Arlo is pretty late to the doorbell party, having only launched its first model in 2020. However, the Arlo Video Doorbell is worth considering given that the company's excellent range of cameras make for a powerful smart home security system, and the Arlo Doorbell fits neatly into that ecosystem.

It boasts an impressive 1536 x 1536 resolution, 180-degree diagonal field of view, and a 1:1 square aspect ratio, which works so well for capturing what's happening on your doorstep.

Unlike the company's cameras the Arlo Doorbell doesn't require the hub, so you don't need to be part of the Arlo club, nor pay for extra hardware. However, you will need to buy a chime if you want to hear your doorbell in the house.

You will need existing wires, however. Like most systems, with the exception of Ring, the Arlo Video Doorbell doesn't use a battery.

Arlo's cameras are big on smart features, so captured video will automatically spot packages, animals, cars or people. It doesn't use facial recognition, so it won't be able to tell you who called, but it can help you filter out motion alerts that aren't of interest.

You'll need a subscription to have footage saved for playback, and $3 gets you 30 days of storage (but this jumps to $10 if you have Arlo cameras as well.

Footage was great quality in our review testing, during the day and night, but we did think audio quality lagged rivals.

Be aware that a battery powered Alro video doorbell is coming soon,

What we love

  • People, animal, vehicle alerts
  • Square view shows more doorstep
  • Works with Alexa, Google
  • Geofencing

What we don't love

  • Some audio issues
  • No 24/7 recording option
  • Wired only
  • No on-board storage
  • Plug-in Chime costs extra

Check out our full Arlo Doorbell review.

Ring Peephole Cam

Best for apartments: Ring Peephole Cam

Buy now: Amazon, | $129

A unique entry into the doorbell space, the Ring Peephole Cam previously called the Door View in the US) fits in the peephole of your door – making it a great option if you can’t install a wired doorbell or drill holes into the outside of your home.

Battery-powered, this Ring has the easiest install, taking under five minutes as there’s no wiring or drilling. Once installed you get nice, clear, full HD video, with a 155-degree angle view (slightly narrower than its big brother Ring 2), and nighttime infrared recording.

All the standard Ring features – motion sensor controls, a snooze alert option, and privacy areas – are here, plus the Ring cloud plan for storing and playing back video, and Alexa integration (no Google Assistant or HomeKit).

A new feature is knock detection that catches people who don’t ring the bell. However, there's no option to set activity zones and we found the video to be slightly jerky, unless we turned on HDR, which reduces battery life.

Speaking of batteries, you’ll be charging this three or four times a year so you might want to buy a backup battery, plus pick up a Ring Chime (or Chime Pro if you need to extend Wi-Fi to your front door), as you won’t hear the noise out of the small speaker inside your home.

The biggest drawback of the Ring Door View Cam is actually its biggest advantage – its unique positioning. Because it’s in the door, when you open the door you lose the video footage of your front doorstep, instead you get a nice view of the side of your head.

Still, you get all of the features and reliability that we’ve come to expect from Ring, in a package that can be installed in a matter of minutes. For those that can’t fit a regular doorbell or that aren’t allowed to drill holes, there’s nothing that works this well.

What we love

  • Fast and easy installation
  • Fast response and clear audio
  • Detailed Full HD video

What we don't love

  • No Google Assistant support
  • Privacy zones don’t prevent recordings
  • Camera moves with door

Read our full Ring Peephole Cam review.

ring 2nd-gen doorbell

Best budget option: Ring Video Doorbell (2nd-gen)

Buy now: Amazon | | $99,

The smart doorbell that kick started the connected front door revolution has been revamped for 2020. The second generation Ring Video Doorbell boasts a budget price-tag and some pretty impressive specs.

It takes the original Ring Video Doorbell and adds Full HD 1080p video, improved motion detection, privacy zones, audio privacy and crisper night vision.

You'll still have to take the whole doorbell unit off of the wall when it needs charging; although there's a $49 solar base where you can mount the Doorbell on, which charges it.

The key job of a video doorbell is to send a quick alert when someone approaches your door or presses your doorbell. The Ring delivers well here, the alert came almost instantly and the video feed took about 6 to 8 seconds to show up on our phone and the Echo Show 8 we tested it with.
While the video quality is 1080p, the same as all the other Ring doorbells, it's definitely not as bright or crisp. But it's fine for general viewing, and the zoom is okay.

What we love

  • 1080p HD live streaming
  • Works really well with Alexa
  • Much better motion detection

What we don't love

  • No Google Assistant or HomeKit
  • Need to remove to charge
  • No 24/7 recording

Read our Ring Video Doorbell (2nd-gen) review.

Eufy Video Doorbell

Best with no subscription: Eufy Video Doorbell

Buy now: Amazon, | $159

Eufy offers a great balance between excellent value for money and exceptional performance, and it does it all without any monthly cloud storage fees - as it stores your video locally.

We love the responsiveness of this doorbell - there's no waiting for endless buffering, and the video quality is excellent, serving up 2K (2560 x 1920) resolution with HDR technology for clearer images, and offers a 160-degree field of view and 4:3 aspect ratio – totally comparable to Nest's Hello.

Person detection means you can choose not to be bombarded with notifications when trees sway in the wind or a cat or car crosses by your front door, and quick responses let the doorbell do the talking for you, you can even create custom ones.

It's slightly more expensive than our Budget Pick, the Remo S Bell, but it comes with an indoor Chime (you have to buy one separately for the Remo), and its performance is better - especially on the software side. Notifications are super speedy and the app is polished and very user-friendly.

The downsides? No decent smart home integration beyond basic Alexa and Google Assistant integration (you can view your doorbell feed from their screen-enabled devices and Alexa can act as your indoor chime). There's also none of the high-end features such as face recognition or being able to trigger other cameras around your home, and no integration with smart door locks.

What we love

  • Free, local video storage
  • Indoor chime included
  • Super quick alerts
  • Excellent video quality

What we don't love

  • No smart doorlock integration
  • No continual recording
  • No HomeKit
  • 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi only

Read our full Eufy Doorbell review.

netatmo homekit doorbell

Video doorbells: Coming soon

As well as those top picks listed above you should also be aware that a few notable smart doorbells are due to launch in the coming weeks and months.

We'll have the reviews posted on the site as soon as we've had an appropriate time to test them but, in the meantime, here's a snapshot of new video doorbells that will be available soon...

Arlo Essential Wire-Free Video Doorbell

The latest smart security option from the Arlo Technologies stable has just gone live - the Arlo Essential Wire-Free Video Doorbell.

Looking exactly the same, and featuring the same feature set, as the wired Arlo Video Doorbell, this $200 smart video doorbell, as the name suggests, doesn't require existing wiring - it offers a three to six month battery life from a charge, depending on usage.

That feature set, in case you're not familiar with the Wire-Free's older sibling, includes a 1:1 aspect ratio with a square feed – so it shows more of the person standing at your threshold.

Talking directly to your router using Wi-Fi (so, no need for an Arlo Base Station), it also makes use of HDR, boasts night vision and resolution is an impressive 1536 x 1536.

Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell

The Netatmo is a wired doorbell offering. Netatmo tells us that it is compatible with most electrical installations, from 8-24 volts up to 230 volts.

When it was first announced - almost 2 years ago now - the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell had the honor of being the first HomeKit compatible doorbell but in the many months that have passed, the likes of the Yobi Video B3 and the Robin ProLine have gone live; the latter boasting full HomeKit Secure Video features, as well (which, Netatmo assures us, is incoming for its doorbell soon, too).

Netatmo's video doorbell can be controlled via the Home app or using Siri - you can ask Apple's assistant to show you who's at your door. You'll be able to see a live video feed on your phone if someone comes ringing, while the doorbell will send you an alert if it detects people loitering around your home.

Kangaroo Photo Doorbell

This doorbell keeps the cost below $20 by excluding one of the key components of smart doorbells... video footage.

Kangaroo's new contender takes a series of stills when it detects motion, or is pressed and presents GIF-like recordings to the user's phone.

The idea is you get to see who is knocking (ringing) on your door - there's none of the two-way talking functionality that more sophisticated video doorbells offer.

Best video doorbell buying guide

Video doorbells: Things to consider

If you’re sold on the idea of a smart doorbell and are now looking at the cold reality, there are a few key considerations.

Wired vs wireless

The first is how the doorbell is connected. If you’re replacing a doorbell on the front of the house, which is wired in, you’re already winning as you can make use of the existing doorbell wiring.

Most video doorbells are designed to support this system, and you can wire them in using these connectors, and ignore the need for batteries forever.

Read this: A beginner's guide to smart home wiring

If you don’t have a wired set up, you're going to be limited. You can either wire in a doorbell, which is less than ideal: chasing home electrics back to a junction box, installing a transformer to step down the power, finding somewhere to chase the wire and then drill through your doorframe. Or you can buy a battery-powered version.

Brands such as August, Ring, Arlo and Eufy all now have battery powered video doorbells on sale.

There is also the option of Power over Ethernet (PoE). These doorbells, Ring has the Elite for example, are powered by an Ethernet cable that goes directly to your router; an Ethernet cable that also transmits the data and, as such, makes for a more reliable connection.

Storage costs

The next consideration is cloud storage and accessing recorded motion and rings. While answering a ring at your doorbell is part and parcel of the smart doorbell experience, watching video back of missed calls or detected motion usually (but not always) comes at a price.

This can cost in excess of $25 per year, and is an ongoing cost for having a doorbell, not something that everyone wants to enter into.

Smart lock integrations

Increasingly, smart doorbells aren't just being used to screen callers, but to let the person in. That could be a cleaner, dog-walker or tradesperson – but this requires the doorbell to work together with your door.

For example, Nest's Hello doorbell plays nice with the Nest x Yale smart lock, and the companion app will let you both see who's at your door and unlock it simply.

As for Ring, it now has integration with Z-wave locks from Schlage, Kwikset, Yale, and others, which means that you can now unlock your door from the Ring app if you have the two paired.

What about HomeKit?

HomeKit has been painfully slow to feature on any smart doorbell. Robin, Yobi and Netatmo are, so far, the only brands offering HomeKit compatible video doorbells.

However, with the arrival of HomeKit Secure Video we hope this will soon change, as there's an incentive for both Apple and smart home companies to make it work.

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