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Best home security camera: Smart wireless and wired cameras tested

Buyers guide: The latest smart indoor and outdoor home security cameras

The best home security cameras
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It didn’t take smart security cameras long to become a firm fixture of the smart home. Whether they're solely for security, to act as a dedicated pet camera, or even a supercharged smart baby monitor, wireless home security cameras are versatile beasts.

These cameras are getting even better – with some offering 4K recording and playback and smart features that help you make sense of large numbers of recorded clips.

Scroll down for a detailed look at everything you need to know about buying the latest and greatest home security cameras, as well as our in-depth reviews.

We've picked out the best indoor and outdoor home security cameras, read on to find out more.


Jump to the information you need


The best home security camera: Wireless and wired cameras tested

Best smart security camera: Arlo Ultra

From $399.99, Amazon | arlo.com

The newest Arlo security camera, Arlo Ultra, brings 4K to the fore while retaining the 100% wireless, battery-operated designs, weatherproofed for indoor and outdoor use.

The new design also sports an upgraded base station for handling that extra video, although older cameras are backwards compatible.

The footage is stunning and super detailed – enabling you to zoom in on events for a clearer look, capturing faces, number plates and garden visitors in better detail.

However, there is a catch. Despite charging $399 for a single camera and base station, Arlo also charges $1.49 to get Premium Video.

You do get seven days storage for free, 4K streaming, 180 degree angle lens, night vision, motion/sound alerts, two-way audio, local microSD recording are also all included. But many other key features – detection of people/animals/cars/packages, smart action areas, lock-screen previews – are behind a paywall, which starts at $9.99 per month.

However, 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 FOV with some neat image flattening to take out the fish eye, it's an even better performer. What's more, battery life is barely diminished, and you should be able to get three weeks between charges, even in moderately busy areas.

The Arlo also gets our pick of best outdoor security camera right now.

What we love

  • Brilliant 4K footage
  • HDR makes 1080p superior
  • Great battery life

What we don't love

  • Plans are expensive
  • New base station required

Read our full Arlo Ultra review.


Best wireless home security camera

Runner-up: Ring Stick Up Cam

Buy now: Amazon | $179.99

The Ring Stick Up Cam is built to work indoors and out, and installing it outside couldn't be easier; everything for mounting the cam comes packaged in the box, including templates, and a built-in spirit level to avoid a wonky installation.

If you're using it indoors, you've got Micro USB and Power over Ethernet, so you can (if you wish) connect it directly to your router, which is helpful if your Wi-Fi is spotty. If you opt for the outdoor model (and make sure you choose the right one) this runs off a battery and is named, aptly, the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery (the indoor one is called the Stick Up Cam Wired).

The cam is 1080 HD meaning a nice crisp image with a field of view that spans 150 degrees horizontally and 155 degrees vertically. The night vision is particularly impressive, trouncing a lot of the competition, and you've also got a built-in siren that's mighty loud – good for scaring off potential burglars. 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 is a breeze. New to this Ring business? Luckily the app is super 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 my Stick Up Cam" or, "Alexa, show me the latest event from my backyard" to bring up the feed on your Show speaker. Same for Fire TV users.

What we love

  • PoE means no Wi-Fi woes
  • Slick looking design
  • Simple installation

What we don't love

  • Cloud subscription needed really
  • Google Assistant is limited

Check out our Ring Stick Up Cam review.


Best wireless home security camera

Best Google Assistant camera: Nest Cam IQ Indoor

Buy now: Amazon, nest.com | $249,

The more advanced version of the indoor Nest Cam, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor builds on what came before by adding a 4K sensor and HDR imaging. The upgraded speaker and mics, with echo suppression and noise cancellation, really make a difference – the HD talk and listen feature is easily the best we’ve tested (and it’s subscription-free too, which is nice). You've also got Google Assistant built in here.

Although there are a tonne of great features you can tap into without topping up your initial outlay – such as night vision, motion and sound alerts, snapshot history, 1080p live views and a neat close-up tracking view (for that ultimate Baldwin in Sliver surveillance power trip) – you will have to cough up for the Nest Aware subscription service to make the most of this. Luckily, the price of that subscription is coming down.

Design wise, the Nest Cam IQ is a bit of a hefty beast and there is only a wired version available, which uses a USB-C cable; so don’t go thinking you can simply swap your old Nest Cam out for the newer IQ model and use your existing wiring.

The Nest app is great and super simple, giving you control over your various Nest devices based on their location. The Home / Away function is superior to anything else we’ve tested too, as not only can your Nest Cam determine when you’re not around for security reasons, it can also do clever stuff like turn the heating off when you leave the house (if you’ve got a Nest Thermostat, that is).

What we love

  • The Nest ecosystem integration
  • HDR close-up tracking
  • HD two-way audio

What we don't love

  • Extra features cost more
  • Bulky design
  • Mains only – no battery option

Check out our full Nest Cam IQ Indoor review.


The best home security camera: Wireless and wired smart security cams tested

Best Alexa security camera: Amazon Cloud Cam

Buy now: Amazon | $119.99

Though Amazon has two smart camera companies under its wing – Ring and Blink – it also has a camera of its own. The Amazon Cloud Cam has a cheap point of entry, with an additional subscription required to hit its potential.

It's a great little camera with nice crisp 1080p footage and decent night vision, as well as trigger alerts for motion, sounds, and people, the last of which will start recording if the camera detects a human walking into the frame.

The Alexa integration is as good as you could hope. You'll get alert notifications on your phone as well as other Alexa Echo speakers. You can also ask, "Alexa, what are my notifications?" to get an update on anything missed.

The Cloud Cam offers two-way audio too – if you click on the live video feed in the app you can press and hold the microphone icon and speak through it. The Cloud Cam is indoor-only, so this feature might be less useful to you, but it's nice to have it there.

The biggest drawback of the Amazon Cloud Cam is its restrictions without a subscription – you're only getting 24 hours of storage and motion detection (though that includes support for up to three cams and unlimited sharing). Paying will unlock audio and person detection, zones, up to 30 days of cloud storage, and support for up to 10 cameras. The subscriptions start at $6.99 a month, which gives you support for seven days and and three cameras total.

Finally, there's support for Amazon Key, so you can let an Amazon deliverer into your home to drop off a package. However, you'll need the Amazon Key edition of the Cloud Cam plus a compatible Amazon Key smart lock if you want that feature (and be in a city that supports it).

What we love

  • Tight Alexa integration
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Affordable

What we don't love

  • Alexa only
  • Pretty bare without subscription

Check out our full Amazon Cloud Cam review.


The best home security camera for your smart home

Best HomeKit security camera: Logitech Circle 2

Buy now: Amazon, logitech.com | $179 (wired), $199 (wireless)

With 180-degree cover, the Circle 2 is perfect for covering large outdoor spaces. Generally speaking, a lens with 110-degrees or more is enough for most situations. 180 is a bit overkill, to be honest, and makes everything look like a skate video – which was actually quite entertaining, if unnecessary.

We’ve tested the wired version, though there is a battery-powered model on offer as well. The standard mount it comes with can be a touch frustrating for getting a picture that’s straight, but the plug mount and window mount are strokes of genius.

The Circle 2 is an all-weather creature and the app experience is very user-friendly. You don’t need to spend hours tinkering with sliders to stop it reporting false alarms; it automatically categorizes alerts into low and high-level disturbances, which you may as well re-label in your mind as ‘nonsense’ and ‘actual things happening,' and displays them all in a timeline in different colors.

That timeline is a joy to swipe through and most amusing of all is the Day Brief it creates for you on demand, a timelapse version of what’s been going down and hilarious if you have kids and pets – less funny if you’ve got burglars. Speaking of which, the Circle 2 has no siren to scare off intruders, which is rather disappointing.

Subscription-wise, things are brighter. You get a day’s worth of video history and unlimited video downloads for free. You can up that to 14 days for $3.99, per month, per camera, or head for the $9.99 package which throws in treats like person detection, action zones, and more.

What we love

  • HomeKit enabled
  • Super wide-angle 180 degrees
  • Fully weatherproof

What we don't love

  • Mounts are a bit fiddly
  • No scheduling on the app
  • Accessories inflate the price

Read our full Logitech Circle 2 review.


Best home security camera: Smart wireless and wired cameras tested

Best budget security camera: Kasa Spot

Buy now: Amazon | $49.99

Sure, the Wyze Cam is cheaper, but we've found the Kasa Spot much more reliable. You're getting several key features including remote viewing and motion alerts, for a price that's under $50.

Designed for the indoors (if you want something for outside, Kasa has a different camera), the Spot looks pretty basic and feels designed for its price, but it's perfectly fine. Video quality tops out at 1080p HD too, which is less than some of the 4K contenders above.

More impressive is how many features TP-Link has crammed in here. The 130-degree field of view feels generous for the price, as does the inclusion of night vision (which works great, by the way). There's two-way audio for yelling at burglars/dogs/children and integration with Alexa and Google Assistant.

The apps let you set up activity zones and adjust the motion detection sensitivity. The Kasa does have a paid subscription service, but it hardly feels essential. You can keep up to two days of recordings (or up to 1GB of footage) for free, which should be enough for most people.

But spend $4 a month or $40 and you can knock it up to 14 days and a limit of 14GB of storage space.

What we love

  • No hub required
  • Good quality video
  • Slick apps

What we don't love

  • No 4K recording
  • Cheap-ish design

Read our full Kasa Spot review.


The best home security camera for your smart home

Also great for outdoors: Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

$349, Amazon | nest.com

A second entry for Nest, but if you're looking for something for the outdoors, this one's a doozy – albeit one with those same Nest Aware caveats we mentioned above for its indoor brethren. Like the Indoor, the IQ Outdoor features a bunch of advanced tracking skills, with a focus on recognizing and tracking people around your property.

It's noticeably bigger than its Indoor equivalent and the non-IQ Outdoor Nest Cam, but that means chancing burglars are more likely to notice it.

Installation, as with any outdoor bit of tech that requires wiring to the mains, is a bit of a faff. Essentially, you're going to have to drill a hole through the wall in order to get it plugged in. If you've got outdoor power, that'll work, but you'll have a job hiding the 7.5m cable.

The camera on the IQ Outdoor has a 1/2.5-inch, 8-megapixel (4K) color sensor, with 12x digital zoom and enhance, close-up tracking view and a 130-degree diagonal viewing angle. Like the Indoor variant, the camera actually zooms in and follows people around automatically and you'll get all the people and familiar person alerts too.

In order to deter any unwanted lingerers around your property, the IQ Outdoor features Nest's Talk and Listen HD audio tech, so you can shout at any strangers you don't like the look of – and they'll hear you clearly thanks to the big speaker on the base. You'll also hear their reply as a result of an upgraded 3-microphone array.

Google's Assistant isn't built in – for obvious reasons – but you can control on/off switching, and view the Nest stream on a Chromecast-enabled device through a Google Home speaker. Likewise with Alexa and an Echo device with a display.

What we love

  • Packed with intelligent tracking
  • 12 x HRD zoom
  • HD two-way audio

What we don't love

  • Expensive
  • DIY skills required for installation
  • Supersight can be temperamental

Read our Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review.


Smart home cameras: Things to consider

Cost is obviously high on the agenda and smart cameras range from less than $100 on the 'budget' end to above and beyond $300, for the top-dogs, but that’s just for starters.

One contentious issue is subscription fees. What you’re paying for is a cloud storage service where you can access and share your video clips from the last week, month etc. After Netflix, Spotify and the rest; do you really need another subscription in your life?

Some brands will offer you a small amount of cloud storage for nothing, others offer nothing for nothing and some get around the problem by recording everything to a local SD card. That comes with its own issues (what happens when a burglar comes in and pinches the camera and the evidence?). Some off-site storage is a must. We've outlined if there's a free storage option and the cost of on-going subscriptions in every review.

What's a little hard to bear is that some manufacturers won’t enable some of your camera’s features – two-way talk, action zones, face recognition – if you don’t pay the subscription. The occasions where these cameras do the real business of recording and catching burglars are, hopefully, few and far between. So what these extras offer is everyday value, two-way talk for a home intercom especially.

The only essential features of these devices are that they can record and live stream video 24/7, that they have a night vision mode, that they can detect when there’s a person or motion, that they’ll record the footage when they do and that they’ll notify you on your phone. Recording and streaming at Full HD resolution is preferable because it means that you can zoom into the footage and get a decent look at the perp.

A wireless device is nice and mobile but, if want to place your camera in a specific spot, then it’s not necessary. If you do go wireless then make sure that the battery life is very good.

Also there's the indoor versus outdoor option – it's becoming more common for brands to offer security cameras that work both inside and outside of the house, although there also dedicated indoor and outdoor cameras too.

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