August View doorbell camera review: Better but missing key features

Updated: We re-tested August’s wireless doorbell cam following its re-release

August View
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After a false start when it was first released last April, August's wire-free, battery-powered video doorbell the View is back, with the promise of fixed connectivity issues and better battery life. For those without a wires for a doorbell there aren't a lot of video doorbell options, but the View is still really only worth considering if you have one of the company's excellent smart door locks.

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While it features high-performance 1440p video (33 percent more pixels than full 1080p HD) and a unique high-quality zoom feature, this third-generation doorbell camera lacks a few key features, including person detection and smart screen integration.

But it does look great on your door. Considerably sleeker and slimmer than August's original doorbell cam, the View is a good-looking piece of kit, and you can swap out the faceplate for a bevy of beautiful colors. Plus, it’s battery-powered so you can stick it anywhere.

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But a battery-powered doorbell camera is just not going to be as reliable or as responsive as a wired version due to limitations of the technology. Waking up the View for "live view" takes a bit too long, and the doorbell didn't always ring when pressed, presumably because it was still "sleeping."

We've been testing the View for two weeks now, following reinstalling it after August released some substantial firmware and software updates to fix earlier connectivity issues. Read on for our full review.

August View Doorbell Camera review

August View: Design and options

August View improves on the slightly awkward, square design of the first two August doorbell cameras. This model follows the lines of Ring (closely), bringing a slimmer, sleeker look.

The top of the doorbell features the camera in a glossy case and the swappable bottom faceplate is matt black, with a subtle LED light around the button to show you where to press.

The slimmest video doorbell we’ve tested, it will fit on any portion of most front doors, alleviating a pain-point for those who have wanted a video doorbell but didn’t have a place it would go.

Additionally, because it's wireless, you’re not tied to where those two wires come out of your wall. Although if you do have wires, a wired-doorbell cam is going to be a better option.

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The View has compatible faceplates so you can find one that fits your front door’s aesthetic. Red, white and blue plastic options are $14.99 each, or brass, satin nickel, midnight gray and bronze are $29.99 each.

There’s no alternative option in the box however, as there is with the Ring 2, the View's closest competitor. What is included, that you pay extra for with Ring, is an indoor chime.

A chime was a major missing feature from August’s first doorbell camera, as if you didn’t have a working doorbell chime in your home you wouldn’t hear when someone pressed the doorbell. This was fixed when they announced Google and Alexa integration so you could use your smart speakers to announce visitors, but still most people want to hear “ding dong” when someone’s at the door.

August’s chime is a square white plug that goes into a standard outlet and it comes pre-paired with your doorbell. Just plug it in and it’s good to go.

August View: Installation and setup

This is the easiest doorbell we’ve installed, and we’ve installed more than our fair share. Everything you need comes in the box, including screws, a mounting plate and a wedge.

Because there’s no wiring you just have to screw (or tape) the small backplate on to the outside of your home, insert the battery, pop on the View, tighten a screw and you’re good to go.

Worried about someone pinching it? August offers free replacements. The only extra setup step is if you want to use the included wedge for better camera positioning, which screws on first.

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The app guides you through the whole process step-by-step and then asks if you want to activate a video recording subscription, or link to your August door lock.

Once set up, you’ll want to head to settings to tweak a few things to your preferences, such as deciding if you want notifications for motion, as well as if someone presses the doorbell. Here you can also choose from five different sound options for your chime (including off).

Power Saving Mode preserves the battery, but strips out some features, such as adjusting motion sensitivity, streaming quality and enabling auto night vision.

August View Doorbell Camera review

August View: Features

View sells itself best as an entirely wire-free solution (although being on battery power does cause a few problems), and if battery power is your only option there really are only two decent choices right now – the View and Ring's offerings.

Both Ring 2 and View offer instant motion alerts anytime someone approaches the door, so you don’t rely on them pressing the doorbell to see who is there, and both have an on-demand, live video stream of the doorstep at any time.

Both store video recordings in the cloud so you can review them later, but the View gives you 24 hours for free, then charges $2.99 a month for 15 days of storage and $4.99 for 30 days of storage. Ring doesn’t offer any free recording, but charges only $3 a month for 60 days of footage.

View’s zoom feature works better than Ring’s, however, probably due to the slightly higher resolution video. You can get right in and see exactly what that cat is doing in your front yard.

View edges ahead in a couple of areas, but it is significantly more expensive. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and which ecosystem you want to be in – both work with Alexa, but August also works with Google and has some compatibility with HomeKit (through the door lock). Ring can stream video to your Alexa Show, which View can’t.

August View Doorbell Camera review

August View: The app

View integrates into August’s existing app nicely, letting you view live feed from the camera and see an activity timeline that includes door events, if you also have the August door lock.

Pairing View with the door lock lets you unlock from the same screen you view the video feed from, which is handy. Plus, you can see the status of your door lock and lock it quickly if you need too.

When you first open the app, it takes a few taps to get to the doorbell feed, and you have to press Watch Live and wait for it to connect before you see anything, which takes forever. When you click on a notification, however, you go straight to the video screen.

The app also lets you share access to your lock and/or camera feed as well as manage the settings of all your August devices and control multiple homes.

August View: Everyday use

This doorbell looks good on our front porch, fitting onto a slim door jamb perfectly, where the Ring was too wide. The video was crisp and clear, and the 1920 x 1440 resolution – slightly taller than the competition – lets you see some of the floor as well, where packages might be left. Two-way talk is clear and easy to use and you can carry on a decent conversation.

We did get some over-exposure on clips, and the fisheye distortion is quite comical when someone gets up close, but it is a much-expanded view over its predecessor, and you can now view video in (limited) Iandscape as well as portrait.

When we initially tested the View we had a lot of connectivity issues - including delayed notifications and failed live streaming. August stopped selling the doorbells and worked on fixing these problems, and in our retesting they appear to have worked out most of the bugs.

However, there is sometimes still a substantial delay in viewing the live feed compared to wired doorbells we've tested - upwards of 10 seconds. August says this is because it’s battery-powered. To preserve battery, the doorbell goes into standby mode, waking up only when there’s a motion event. When you hit Live View it has to wake up all over again.

August View
August View

Battery powered doorbells just aren't as good as their wired-counterparts, plus you have to recharge them. View used about 20% battery a week in our testing, so needs to be charged on average every month to 5 weeks (without enabling Power Save mode).

You can pick up an extra battery, so you don’t have to be doorbell-less while charging, but you have to remove the device entirely to access the battery, so you’ll want to keep a small screwdriver nearby.

View integrates with Alexa and Google home speakers to announce you have a visitor at the door, but there's no video capability. There is also no person detection or facial recognition, so it can’t tell you who is at the door or if the motion was a person versus a car or pet.

Despite being promised on the original August Doorbell, HomeKit is “not in the roadmap” for this doorbell camera according to the company.


August View Doorbell Camera
The View is a decent entry into the battery-powered doorbell camera world, offering excellent integration with an August Lock. The combination of these two devices really is the ideal set-up for renters or those who don’t want to (or can't) change out their locks or re-wire doorbells. If you have wires, however, use them. You sacrifice speed and convenience with battery power, and while August fixed the connectivity issues, it still takes far too long to see your live video feed. It's also very expensive and lacks features such as person detection.
PROS
  • Easy install
  • Nice, customizable design
  • Completely wireless
  • Chime included in the box
  • Free 24-hour playback
CONS
  • Lengthy wait to view live feed
  • Expensive
  • No smart screen video integration
  • No person-detection
  • Short battery life

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