August View Doorbell Camera review

Our view on the View, August’s new battery-powered doorbell cam

August View

(Update: Since publishing our review, August has stopped shipping the View following connectivity problems, which we experienced in our testing. We've lowered our review score in light of these problems, and we'll update our review once August resumes selling the View. If you've bought one, August will give you a full refund. You can read more here.)

The front door is a coveted spot for smart home companies these days, with seemingly everyone developing their own video doorbell to provide 'visual voicemail' for your home, as well as an always-watching smart security camera.

The convenience and security these devices offer is hard to quibble with, assuming you have an existing wired doorbell to replace. If you don’t, your battery-powered options have been limited. But now there’s a new kid on the block. August’s View is a completely wire-free doorbell camera that lets you know what’s happening at your front door wherever you are by streaming video to your smartphone.

Rivals: The best video doorbell

Promising high-performance 1440p video – 33% more pixels than Full 1080p HD – a unique high-quality zoom feature, and a wider view than August’s original video doorbell cameras (Gen 1 and 2), this third-generation doorbell camera looks great on paper.

It also looks great on your door. Considerably sleeker and slimmer than its predecessors, the View is a good-looking piece of kit, and you can swap out the faceplate for a bevy of beautiful colours. Plus, it’s battery-powered so you can stick it anywhere.

But there are a few buyer-beware issues here. Firstly, a battery-powered doorbell camera is not going to be as reliable as a wired one, and secondly, if you have a mesh Wi-Fi network you’re going to want to sit this one out, at least for now, due to major connectivity issues.

Read on for our full review.

August View Doorbell Camera review

August View: Design and options

August View is completely redesigned, improving on the slightly awkward, chunky, 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 attractively 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 fit. Additionally, because it is entirely battery powered, you’re no longer 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.

Top picks: The best smart home security cameras

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 other battery-powered option in this space. 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 alleviated 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.

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).

A Power Saving Mode will preserve the battery, but this strips out some features you might want to use, 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 are two decent choices right now – the View and the Ring 2.

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 offer 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 $30 more expensive. Ultimately it will come down to personal preference and which ecosystem you want to be in – both work with Alexa and Google Assistant, but only August has any compatibility with HomeKit (through the door lock). Ring 2 can stream video to your Alexa Show, which View can’t – but August says it’s working on bringing video to both platforms.

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’re viewing 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 is something of a laborious process. When you click on a notification, however, it takes you 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. Functionally, however, the app has a significant number of bugs that need to be worked out, including incessant notifications that the battery is low – even when it isn’t.

These popped up every time someone pressed the doorbell, making it hard to act on the actual doorbell notification.

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 – which is slightly taller than the competition – lets you see some of the floor as well, where packages might be left.

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.

Two-way talk works better as well. Just hit the speaker button in the app and carry on your conversation – you no longer have to press the button every time as you do with the original August Doorbell, and it makes it clear when you’re muted and when you’re not. However, connectivity presented a lot of problems, specifically delayed notifications and failed live streaming.

While pressing the doorbell would ring it and activate the indoor chime within a few seconds, smartphone notifications were substantially delayed, and sometimes skipped completely. Thumbnail image notifications occasionally came in as green or pink, and video playback was spotty – sometimes we’d get one second of video and then just a black screen.

Finally, and most irritating of all, on the rare occasions we were able to respond to a notification, the feed would take 15 to 20 seconds to appear and then, 80% of the time, drop out entirely – leaving us clueless as to what was happening at the front door.

August told us there were fixes coming for most of these issues, but the delay in viewing the live feed was because it’s battery-powered. To preserve battery, the doorbell goes into standby mode, waking up when there’s a motion event.

This should only take 5 to 10 seconds, and by the time you get notified, the doorbell should be fully awake. Instead we got a 'Doorbell Waking Up' notification repeatedly, and rarely did we get to see the live feed. Additionally, the doorbell camera started to drop offline repeatedly, and one day we couldn’t use it at all.

August said that our Wi-Fi access point could be the issue, as we were using a mesh system (Samsung WiFi/Plume).

“Potentially because the Wi-Fi chip in the doorbell is very new it will have a different behaviour based on different Wi-Fi access points you may be using,” August said. “Specifically, with mesh systems we think it switches access points, which lengthens the startup.”

They say they are working on fixes, but to test this theory we switched the doorbell off the mesh system and onto standard Wi-Fi. This did resolve a lot of the connectivity issues, and while it still took about 10 seconds to wake up the doorbell, it went to the Live View rather than dropping out.

However, View did persist in going offline occasionally when trying to connect Live View through the app, even on the non-mesh network. Any activity in front of the camera would still trigger notifications and bring it back online. This appears to be a bug connected to the new Wi-Fi chip, which hopefully August will fix promptly as a doorbell camera whose video you can’t view live is pretty useless. We could go in and access the recordings of these events, but the frame images stuttered and jumped.

Speaking of battery power, after 12 days of use the battery sits at 46%, so in theory we’ll be looking at charging it once a month – a little more frequently than the three months August says, but your mileage may vary. You can pick up an extra battery, so you don’t have to be doorbell-less while charging. You do have to remove the device entirely to access the battery, though, 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, and video is coming soon too says August. There is no facial recognition or AI here, so it can’t tell you who is at the door or if the motion was a person versus a car or pet (Nest’s Hello doorbell has facial recognition, which is handy but does raise privacy issues).

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 good 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 change out their locks or re-wire doorbells. If you have wires, however, use them. You do sacrifice speed and convenience with battery power. Additionally, until the mesh Wi-Fi network issues are resolved, we cannot recommend it for anyone using those networks, but if you aren’t using mesh, you’ll find the View a good solution for a totally wire-free smart door set-up.
PROS
  • Attractive, customisable design
  • Easy install
  • Completely wireless
  • Chime included in the box
  • Free 24-hour playback
CONS
  • Lengthy wait to view live feed
  • Does not work with mesh Wi-Fi
  • No smart screen video integration
  • Video playback stutters
  • Occasional over-exposure of video

Recent stories

smart home Smart home sensors: A guide to everything you need to know
smart home Trust it or not, Facebook's voice assistant is essential to its future
smart home Amazon Key will now let couriers drop packages in your garage

What do you think?

Reply to
Your comment