If you’re looking for a top smart home security camera, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor and Arlo Pro 2 will no doubt be high on your list after even a cursory Google. Packed with features and offering the best video quality around, both are fine smart camera choices.
Smart home cameras are really taking off, partly thanks to their versatility within the home. For many they are essential parts of protecting their home – but that’s far from the only reason for using one. Baby monitoring, checking who’s coming and going, finding out what your four-legged friends are up to when you’re gone, or seeing who’s visiting the garden at night are all legitimate reasons for investing in a smart home camera.
The Nest Cam IQ Indoor and Arlo Pro 2 are two of the best and most feature-rich smart home cameras money can buy – but which is best for you?
Essential reading: Arlo Pro 2 review
We compare the standalone $299 Nest Cam IQ Indoor with the basic Arlo Pro 2 package which features two cameras and the hub, which comes in at $449.99.
Arlo 2 Pro vs Nest Cam IQ: Design
The Nest Cam IQ Indoor isn’t a bad looking camera – kind of like an all-seeing robot eye, it does seem to say “we are watching you” with its big glass iris. That’s in comparison to the slightly more industrial looking Arlo Pro 2, which also doesn’t really blend into your home furnishings.
However, the Arlo Pro 2 does have significant extra features as a result of its bulky design. Firstly, it’s 100% wireless, and powered by a lithium-ion battery which should last around a month. It also fits magnetically to supplied brackets, making it easy to get the ideal position. Finally, it’s IP65 rated, making it weatherproof – which means you can stick it outdoors. That makes it far more powerful than the Nest Cam IQ, which is neither wireless nor weatherproof.
There is a slight downside to the Arlo, however. You need to connect a hub to your router, which in turn hooks up all your cameras. While this is commonplace for some smart home devices, it’s unusual for cameras, and it could put off some who are already fed up having white boxes kicking around their home. The only upside is that the range of the Arlo Pro 2 is exceptional, with a decent connection around 30 metres with an exterior wall in the way.
Arlo 2 Pro vs Nest Cam IQ: Features
In terms of smart home camera features, both cameras are pretty complete. Both record in 1080p, with decent results. You get 30fps recording from the Nest Cam IQ – and while the figure isn’t officially quoted from Arlo, it’s right up there, too.
You get night vision, two-way audio, motion and audio alerts and playback of captured video clips, too. Nest is fairly unique here, and you can scrub through 24-hour footage, while Arlo will only show you recorded clips. It does use a three second pre-record, however, so you get the action leading up to the trigger event.
Arlo 2 Pro vs Nest Cam IQ: Footage quality
In terms of footage quality, the Nest Cam IQ offers some of the best around. Both in daylight, low light and night vision, visuals are crisp, clear and free from noise. It also maintains frame-rates too, so you’re more lightly to capture that moment.
The Arlo Pro 2 also fared well in daylight and low light – especially the latter. We captured some fantastic quality footage from Arlo in our garden and home – although performance wasn't as great when it came to night vision. We suffered from the IR bouncing back and causing a white out in our initial testing, and you really need to use the mounts to get clear night vision footage. Even then, we’ve seen better night vision and this is probably the weakest area of the Arlo Pro 2.
Arlo 2 Pro vs Nest Cam IQ: Storage and costs
The Arlo Pro 2 really excels when it comes to the storage of your captured clips. You get unlimited storage from up to five cameras for a week – accessible via the Arlo app. From there you can download a clip to your phone and share them too.
Nest is a different story. As we mentioned, it doesn’t record clips, and you get full 24-hour rolling footage for you to scrub through. Motion and audio events are highlighted of course, but it means that if Aunt Fanny takes a hilarious tumble while carrying a large blancmange, you’ll be able to relive it via the Nest Aware app.
But Nest Aware costs money. The cheapest plan will set you back $5. And things continue to get expensive if you want a longer history. $10 per month gets you 10-day video history, intelligent alerts (facial recognition), continuous video (yes, 24/7 video is recorded for you to scrub through) and priority zones. $30 per month gets you all that for 30 days.
Arlo 2 Pro vs Nest Cam IQ: Integrations
Where Nest really excels is the list of integrations, and you won’t find a camera that plugs better into your smart home. Naturally, it plays nicely in the Works with Nest ecosystem, which means it can work out when you’re not home and turn off the Nest thermostat, but you can also summon the video feed onto devices such as the Amazon Echo Show, Amazon Echo Spot and Google Assistant smart display devices, when they arrive.
Arlo 2 Pro vs Nest Cam IQ: Price
Pricing here is unusual, given that Arlo only bundles its cameras together.
The Arlo Pro 2 with two cameras and the hub costs a hefty $479.99 – with a bundle with three cameras coming in at $659. You can add cameras one-at-a-time for $194, once you have the hub in place.
On the Nest side of the coin, you can pick up a Nest Cam IQ for $299 for a single camera.
Obviously, the Arlo Pro 2 represents better value camera for camera, but you need to pay more to buy into the system. Of course, being able to be placed inside and outdoors it’s more versatile – although there’s a separate Nest Cam IQ Outdoor which costs $349.
Arlo 2 Pro vs Nest Cam IQ: Verdict
While the Nest Cam IQ Indoor offers the best footage and plays nicely with the smart home, its expense is hard to ignore – especially when it doesn’t offer many of the cutting edge features of the Arlo Pro 2.
With the Arlo offering fully wireless, indoor and outdoor placement and the full gamut of features, plus free storage for a week – it’s hard to argue with its value versus the Nest. But the high barrier to entry will put many off, and even if it does work out cheaper per camera.
All-in-all both are impressive systems, but the versatility of the Arlo Pro 2 makes it a winner in our eyes, and comes highly recommended.