Smart outdoor security cameras are surging in popularity, offering peace of mind and acting as a strong security deterrent. Until now, much of the focus has been on smart cameras for indoors, which are as much about checking on pets, cleaners and whether the kids got home than actual security.
However, if someone suspect is inside your home, it can be too late, which is why outdoor security cameras are taking hold. And with new models offering better waterproofing and totally wire-free set up, there's never been a better time to buy.
Below is our outdoor security camera guide, with options we've lived and tested with extensively. Remember you can always check out our reviews for in-depth looks at specific devices, but read on to get to grips with the current list of top outdoor smart security cameras - whether you want to connect them with Alexa, Google Assistant or HomeKit. Glance at the snapshot of our top three picks, then continue below for a more detailed summary of more options.
Quick view: Top outdoor cameras
Best outdoor camera for Alexa
The Arlo Ultra is completely wireless, weatherproof and brings 4K recording for the day and at night. It's an expensive setup if you want to get the very best out of it, but this is the pinnacle of outdoor security - just keep in mind this one works best with Alexa.
Best outdoor camera for Google Assistant
The Nest Cam IQ comes in slightly cheaper than the Arlo range, and, aside from 4K footage, you're getting much of the same experience. With Nest also owned by Google, you'll get nice integration with Assistant-compatible tech and be able to control it with through the Home app.
Best outdoor camera for HomeKit
Mounts can be slightly fiddly, but the original HomeKit smart outdoor camera is still the best - ticking a lot of boxes for those investing in their first device. It comes in a wired or wireless variation, remaining relatively cheap either way, while the 180-degree wide angle lens matches Arlo for the very best in the space. For iOS users, particularly, this one is worth looking into.
Best outdoor camera for under $200
The Ring Stick Up Cam comes in at a great price, with clear HD footage, a wealth of security features and a built-in siren. Power over Ethernet makes it a great outdoor camera for people who struggle to get a decent Wi-Fi connection outside of their homes, too.
Outdoor cameras: Things to consider
The first thing to consider, naturally, is price. And not just the upfront price, which will start at around $200 and move up to over $450 depending on the brand you go with. No, you need to also consider the hidden fees of subscription services.
What you're really going to be paying for here is storage. Each company does storage a little bit differently. For instance, Nest has its Nest Aware plan. It comes in three storage tiers, allowing you to keep footage from three, 10 and 30 days, but it also comes with several smart features - like facial recognition - to make things a little more tempting.
Other companies are just charging you for pure storage, hosting all your video up in the cloud. Some will give you a limited amount of storage out the box and then charge you for more.
What you'll need to figure out is if you need that extra storage. Do you want to be able to have a collection of backup footage in case something happens? Several cam makers allow you to keep clips of your footage by default - for free - so that you can share it with law enforcement a little easier. If that's all you need, you may not even need to opt into any subscriptions.
The other thing to consider here is on-device storage. It's nice to have, but it's also possible for a burglar to rip out your SD card, or even just pull off the camera, and be done with it. You need off-device storage, so we've gone ahead and pointed out which, if any, of these devices have that option.
Battery operation vs. weatherproofing
Most outdoor cameras require a wired connection, which might put off those unwilling to get it professionally fitted. If you don't fancy having a wire hanging out of your window or splicing a cable off your mains then you might be best off with a 100% battery operated model.
With the outdoors, the other things you'll need to consider are weatherproofing, night vision and whether you want an attached light. Weatherproofing is given because your camera will need to stand up to the elements no matter where you live. We're talking dust, rain, birds, wind and maybe even some snow. Night vision speaks for itself, and a built-in motion-sensing light is extremely helpful in scaring the thievery out of potential intruders.
Now that we've gone through that, these are the outdoor smart cameras you should consider. Some of these also do a decent job indoors, too, so keep that in mind.
Reviewed: Best outdoor cameras
1. Arlo Ultra
The newest Arlo security camera â the Arlo Ultra â brings 4K to the mix, while retaining the 100% wireless, battery-operated designs also present in the Arlo Pro 2. That higher tier quality is a big reason why the Arlo Ultra is the best outdoor smart security camera - if you can afford the privilege, that is.
There's a new upgraded base station for handling that extra video in this generation, although older cameras are backwards compatible, with footage stunning and very detailed â enabling you to zoom in on events for a clearer look, as well as capture faces, number plates and garden visitors.
The added HDR means that even at 1080p, your recorded footage is much better quality than the Arlo Pro 2. And with a 180-degree field of view, with image flattening to eliminate the fish eye, it's an even better performer. Battery life is also barely diminished, and you should be able to get three weeks between charges, even in busy zones.
However, there's a catch for those who want the everything that the Ultra has to offer. Despite charging a princely $399 for a single camera and base station, Arlo also charges $1.49 to get Premium Video.
Many other key features â detection of people/animals/cars/packages, smart action areas, lock-screen previews â are also behind a paywall, which starts at $9.99 per month. So, this certainly isn't a setup for budget wallets.
Read our full Arlo Ultra review
Feature check: Weatherproof, battery operated, free seven-day storagem4K streaming, wireless, 180-degree angle lens, night vision, motion/sound alerts, two-way audio, local microSD recording.
- Great quality footage
- Big wireless range
- Good battery life
- Lots of paid-for extras
- Base station required
Nest's smart home cameras come in two flavors - outdoor and indoor, each one specifically tailored to their chosen needs. The Outdoor features a bunch of advanced tracking skills that are enabled with the optional Nest Aware subscription.
Nest Aware doesnât come cheap, either. Itâs $5 a month for five days of cloud storage, $10 a month for 10 days of cloud storage, and $30 for 30 days. You'll also get discounts of $10 , $20, and $60 if you commit to 12 months upfront.
But thatâs just for your first camera, and, if you add more, you'll need to pay for each one â albeit not at full price. But you get some neat features for the extra cash. The biggest difference is 24/7 recording and playback (rather than just activity triggered events), the ability to share clips and time-lapses, activity zones and intelligent alerts such as facial recognition and differentiating between a dog's bark and a human's speech, for example.
Installation, as with any outdoor bit of tech that requires wiring to the mains, is a bit of a faff. You'll have to drill a hole through the wall in order to get it plugged in, unless you have outdoor power, but good luck hiding the 7.5m cable, which is brutally thick.
But recording quality can't be sniffed at thanks to 1/2.5-inch, 8-megapixel (4K) colour sensor, with 12x digital zoom and enhance, close-up tracking view and a 130Â° diagonal viewing angle. The camera will zoom in and follow people around automatically â and can recognise familiar people with the Nest Aware subscription.
Two way audio comes courtesy of Nest's Talk and Listen HD audio tech, and the big speaker on the base makes you clearly audible â unlike many rivals. You'll also hear their reply as a result of an upgraded 3-microphone array.
Google's Assistant isn't built in like it is on the Indoor variant (for obvious reasons) but you can control on/off switching, and viewing the Nest stream on a Chromecast-enabled device through a Google Home speaker. Likewise you can view a feed on an Alexa and an Echo device with a display.
The IQ Outdoor has an IP66 weatherproof rating â which means -40Â°C to 45Â°C (-40Â°F to 113Â°F) operating. It works on Wi-Fi at 2.4GHz, so make sure you've got a strong signal where you're planning on putting it â that could be a stumbling block for some.
Read our full Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review
Feature check: Storage from $5. 1080p streaming, IP66 weatherproof, 130 degree angle lens, night vision, person alerts, facial recognition, HD talk and listen, 4K close-up tracking.
- Packed with intelligent tracking tech
- 12x HDR zoom
- HD 2-way audio
- The best features cost more
- Installation requires DIY skills
$179.99, Amazon |
The latest Ring Cam is designed to work indoors and out, with an improved design to make it both look better and feel more sturdy. But it's outside where it impresses most.
The new Stick Up is a much more versatile camera and fitting it outside is super simple; everything you'll need for mounting it comes in the box, including templates and a built-in spirit level.
If you opt for the outdoor model (and make sure you choose the right one - there are actually three models), it runs off a battery and is officially known as the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery (the indoor one is called the Stick Up Cam Wired). It's also compatible with Ring's solar panel so you don't need to worry too much about that battery running empty. If you were wondering - you'll get three to six months of battery life, depending on how intensively you use the camera.
The Ring Stick Up is Full 1080 HD, meaning a nice crips image with a field of view that spans 150 degrees horizontally and 155 degrees vertically. The night vision is particularly impressive and you've also got a built-in siren that's mighty loud - good for scaring off potential baddies. That said, you'll need to pay a monthly fee of $3 if you want to access previously recorded footage (up to 90 days).
For those of you who already use Ring products, adding the Stick Up Cam to your ecosystem is a cinch. New to this Ring business? Luckily the app is really easy to get to grips with.
And if you have an Echo Show or Spot, you'll be able to give commands like,"Alexa, show me the Stick Up Cam" or, "Alexa, show me the latest event from my porch" to bring up the feed on your Show speaker.
Read our full Ring Stick Up Cam review
Feature check: Indoor and outdoor. 1080p HD recording, night vision, weatherproof, battery and wired versions.
- Improved 1080p image with wide FoV
- Wired and battery options
- Google integrations are poor
- Fee needed to view recorded footage
With 180-degree field of view, the Circle 2 joins the Arlo as the widest-angle lens of the cameras on test. This is great for wide backyards or driveway, but generally speaking, a lens with 110 degrees is enough and 180-degrees is just unnecessary.
Itâs maybe not the sexiest to look at and youâll want to fork out for one of the alternative mounts but all the features are there, including Full HD video recording. As far as mounts, there are a couple different options. The window mount especially is a stroke of genius.
You'll be able to easily mount it outside without worrying about drilling a hole in the wall. The standard mount is a bit frustrating to use when it comes to getting a straight picture, but it'll do. There's also a plug mount, though that's a little more useful indoors than it is out. All in all, the mount options make the Circle 2 one of the most versatile weâve used. Weâve been living with the wired version, though there is a battery-powered model on offer as well.
The Circle 2 boasts all-weather protection and the app experience is decent. You donât need to spend hours tinkering with sliders to stop it reporting false alarms, and does a good job of categorizing alerts into low and high-level disturbances.
While you can check on individual motion alerts, the Circle creates a Day Brief, which is a time-lapse version of whatâs been going down, and is particularly funny if you have children or pets. Burglars â not so much. That said, the Circle 2 has no siren to scare off intruders - which is rather disappointing.
Subscription-wise, things are promising. A dayâs worth of history and unlimited video downloads is free. Upping that coverage to 14 days will cost $3.99 per month, per camera, or head for the $9.99 package, which throws in person detection, action zones and more.
But it's iOS users that get a great deal. There are certain advantages in having your Circle stream a little more front and centre on an iPhone, thanks to decent Apple HomeKit integration. Likewise, Alexa integration means you can check cameras on screen-toting Alexa speakers, although it's less useful on-the-whole.
Read our full Logitech Circle 2 review
Feature check: 24 hour clip storage free. Full HD recording, 180-degree angle lens, night vision, wired or battery (6400mAh), weatherproof, time-lapse mode, talk and listen.
- HomeKit enabled
- Super wide angle 180 degrees
- Fully weatherproof
- Mounts are a bit fiddly
- No scheduling on the app
- Accessories inflate the price
Thereâs no shortage out outdoor cameras from big name brands â so why plump for the Hive View Outdoor, from a company known for smart thermostats? Well, itâs pretty cheap â especially when you factor in storage. It looks good, thanks to Yves Behar design, and works within the Hive app, so if youâre an existing customer â it may be worth a pop.
The Hive View Outdoor records and streams in 1080p quality with 130 degrees field of view, which is actually pretty massive â and there's 8x digital zoom as well. You get person detection, so faces will appear on your phoneâs lock screen when you get a notification of someone outside. Video quality isnât quite as good as Arlo and Nest Cams at 1080p, though only noticeable when you zoom in.
Storage is an important factor, and Hive offers storage of clips free for 24 hours before theyâre automatically deleted. You can up that to 30 days by paying a subscription.
Thereâs no face recognition here, so the cameras wonât learn your family and regular visitors and give you optimised notifications (or none at all) â and thatâs really only the preserve of Nest via Nest Aware which starts at $5 a month for five days of cloud storage.
And thatâs the big decision. The Hive View Outdoor is actually around the same price as older Nest Cams, although not when you factor in the cost of storage. Nest Aware will cost you, but you get a stack of benefits built in â and the value of those if your personal choice. The Hive View Outdoor is a simple, decent performer â without hidden costs. Itâs not the best â but doesnât profess to be.
- Decent HD footage
- Nice, subtle design
- 24 hours free storage
- Fiddly app
- Some outages on Wi-Fi
- Footage not market leading
6. Canary Flex
The fact that Canary cams are so discreet is a double-edged sword. On one hand it won't make your house resemble a secure compound â but it doesn't do the greatest job of warding off potential intruders either.
True to its name, the Flex is has a mount with one of the strongest magnets you'll find, which ensures that you can put the camera anywhere outside. It's rated as "weatherproof" which is all you need, although details on ATM rating aren't forthcoming. What's more, it's battery operated, which means no-wires, but longevity varies hugely on usage, and you could be charging a few times a month.
The quality of the footage itself was perfectly reasonable, although it should be noted that streaming is 720p, despite the 1080p sensor. That's one of the lowest quality cameras, in terms of recording resolution in our test, and goes some way to explain the more attractive price tag.
As with the Nest, the app experience is also very satisfying. Itâs a case of good design that flows all the way from the hardware through to the software UX. Its ability to ascertain whether youâre home or not which using your phoneâs GPS and Wi-Fi minimises nuisance alerts, and Night Mode can arm cameras while youâre asleep, even though you might be home.
One of the biggest bugbears with Canary is what you get with the basic package or, more to the point, what you donât get. Unless you pay a subscription, you canât use the two-way talk feature and you canât download any videos.
You do at least get a dayâs worth of storage and all the smart detection features. That said, thereâs no activity zones or facial detection available with the Flex. If you jack it up to $9.99 per month, though, youâll get everything you need.
Better smart home integration would be welcome â currently the only official support is for Google Assistant; youâll have to use Wink or IFTTT to get some Alexa action. HomeKit compatibility is coming soon, weâre told.
Feature check: 24 hours of clip storage free. Full HD recording, 116 degree angle lens, night vision, wired or battery (6700mAh), weatherproof, motion detection, two-way talk (with membership).
- Discreet design
- Great long battery life
- Easy to move around
- Only 720p streaming
- Notification delays
- Two-way talk is additional cost
First thing to mention about the Ring Spotlight Cam is that it comes in two variants: a battery-powered model and a wired model. For a lot of people who don't want to run wires to the outside of their homes, the Spotlight provides an answer.
If you go for the Battery model, each charge is good for between 6-12 months or 1,000 notification events. If you buy a second battery, you can simply swap it in when it's time to juice up the other. If you go for the wired version, you'll need to connect it to the mains.
As for features, the Spotlight Cam offers motion detection, alerting your phone if it notices someone moving about and capturing the footage to prove it. You can view these via your phone or the Ring portal on the web, but you can't see a live feed through the web browser like you can with Nest and Arlo cameras. But being an Amazon product, you can view that feed on your Echo Show or Fire TV.
It's also named Spotlight for a reason: there are two LED strips that can be ignited manually or when the camera detects motion. Setting motion zones is easy too, with the camera's 140-degree field of view divided into three segments that can be enabled or disabled as you wish. It's not as detailed as the custom motion zones we've tried on some cameras, but it was faster to get going.
When you're tuned into a live view of the camera, you can also activate the two-way audio, turn on the lights, and sound the siren. However, to view all the motion detection events afterwards, you'll need the Ring Protect Plan. That costs $3 a month or $30 for the whole year (that's per camera; if you need to add another it's another subscription fee). It's another cost to consider, but a low one compared to the competition.
While marketed as an outdoor camera, it's only listed as "weather resistant" which doesn't fill us with confidence about it being able to survive the great British winter. What we can tell you is it survived a couple of nights of light rain with no adverse effects.
Feature check: Battery option, 140-degree field of view, weatherproof, smart motion detection, spotlight.
- Smooth, useful app
- Works well with other Ring gear
- Accurate motion detection
- Camera quality could be better
- Costs of cloud storage
- Rather uninspiring design
This Full HD, battery-powered smart security camera costs less than $100. Sure, it looks pretty basic and sure, the app is a tiny bit rough around the edges but... that price tag! It represents excellent value - don't be put off by how cheap it is, (or the fact you've never heard of the company).
It looks a bit like a Ring Stick Up Cam, but with extra screws and plastic. It's not great looking but it's not terrible either and the build quality is reassuringly solid.
The Argus Pro comes boxed with an outdoor security mount that is simple to use, allowing you to bend and shape the angle of the less in a way that suits you best. You're able to mount it to a wall using the mounting template and screws you'll find in the box, or just use the nylon strap to attach it to something.
It's completely wireless so you don't have to worry about mains access, other than for charging it every so often. It also works with a solar panel accessory and packs a smart PIR sensor that detects motion events to triggers alerts. A PIR sensor can detect a person, so you won't get false alarms when a tree blows in the wind or a car drives past.
You can set it up to send you an alert via your phone, play a warning, record a clip to an SD card - or all three. Insert an SD card and you can record clips of a time-length you determine in the app. If you did want to take your recordings to the cloud using Reolink Cloud â US only, for now â it's $2.49 or $4.99 monthly depending on how much storage you want.
The alarm on the camera itself can be a default tone or you can record your own message. The times that you get alerts, recordings are made and audio alarms happen are all set in the app through the schedule function.
Feature check: Full HD recording to SD card, 130 degree angle lens, night vision, battery powered, weatherproof, PIR motion detection, custom alerts.
- Very affordable
- PIR is great for detecting people
- No wires, no fuss
- No smart home integrations
- Basic design and build
- Needs an SD card