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

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

The best home security camera

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

Here, we’ve reviewed our pick of the best smart home security cameras. These are all cameras that we’ve spent time living with, so rest assured that we know them inside out.

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. However, if you’re just looking for a quick snapshot of the top models currently on sale, here goes...

The best smart security camera 2019

Top pick: Nest Cam Indoor IQ
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The Nest Cam IQ Indoor builds on what came before by adding a 4K sensor, HDR imaging and a speaker that's seven times more powerful. There's also three microphones with echo suppression and noise cancellation – the HD talk and listen feature is the best we’ve tested.

The best outdoor security camera

Best outdoor cam: Arlo Pro 2
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The Arlo Pro 2 cameras are completely wireless – running on a single rechargeable lithium-ion battery. They connect to a wireless 802.11n hub which is connected to your router. They are also weatherproof - so are perfect for protecting your premises from outside.

Best smart camera for under $200

The Stick Up Cam comes in at a great price, with nice, 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. The nice design also makes it just as useful indoors.

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 is 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, 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. In our reviews below, we'll make it clear exactly where these cameras are designed to live (and where they live best).

Now we’ve got that sorted, these are the smart home cameras that we like best and a few reasons for and against each of them...


Best wireless home security camera

Nest Cam IQ Indoor

$249, Amazon | nest.com

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. There's also a new speaker that Nest claims is seven times more powerful and three microphones with echo suppression and noise cancellation which 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).

Subscription-free isn’t something you’ll hear too often though when it comes to Nest Cams. 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 extra smarts that set Nest apart.

Essential reading: Nest Cam IQ Indoor vs Hive View

And cough up a fair bit unfortunately; Nest Aware doesn’t come cheap. It’s $10 a month for Basic (10 days of cloud storage), $30 for Extended (30 days), and you get 12 months for the price of 10 if you pay for a year upfront. But that’s just for your first camera. Subsequent cameras will cost you again – albeit not at full price. For that extra cash you’ll get 24/7 recording, sharing of clips and timelapses, activity zones and more intelligent alerts.

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. Obviously, the Nest app can ping you notifications as well – such as motion detection – and it can even help to tell the system when you are home or away based on your location. The Nest 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).

It’s that ecosystem that helps to make Nest the heaviest hitter in this bunch. Sure, some of the others can play nicely with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit (Nest does all but Apple’s platform too, by the way) but the whole Nest in-house system, combined with the expanded Works with Nest portfolio, makes it a superb all-in-one smart home setup.

The best features are reserved for people paying for Nest Aware, but there’s still enough on offer, at a decent price, to make the Nest Cam IQ Indoor a top smart security camera pick.

Oh, and there's Google Assistant built in too, so your Nest Cam doubles up as a little smart speaker.

Feature check: Indoor only. Storage from $5. Full HD streaming, 130 degree angle lens, night vision, three-hour snapshot history, person alerts, facial recognition, HD talk and listen, HDR and 4K close-up tracking.

the ambient verdict
Nest Cam IQ
The Nest Cam IQ is one of the most sophisticated and advanced home security cameras you can buy. Nest has been in the game a long time and it shows – not only does the IQ add a raft of killer features, but it also ties in brilliantly with your existing smart home system.
PROS
  • Full Nest ecosystem integration
  • HDR close-up tracking
  • Facial recognition
CONS
  • Expensive cloud plan
  • Quite a bulky design
  • Mains only – no wireless option

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

Amazon Cloud Cam

$119.99, Amazon

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 a host of features. There are trigger alerts for motion, sounds and people, the third of which will start recording if the camera detects a human walking into the frame. The sensitivity for this can be tweaked in the app too, which is just as well, as we found it a little too trigger-happy in testing.

Speaking of the app, the Cloud Cam requires a standalone one - you can't just boot up the Alexa app - but the Alexa integration is as good as you could hope. You'll get alert notifications on your phone as well as other Alexa devices include the Echo Show, Echo Spot, Fire TV and Fire Tablet. 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 or $69.99 a year, 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. Oh, and you'll need to be in a city that supports it.

the ambient verdict
Amazon Cloud Cam
The Amazon Cloud Cam is a pretty simple device. Without a subscription plan it's pretty spartan, but it gains a whole lot of functionality with a plan. Good quality video, easy setup and tight integration with Alexa make the Cloud Cam a worthy entry in the security cam game.
PROS
  • Tight Alexa integration
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Affordable
CONS
  • Alexa only
  • Pretty bare without subscription
  • Not good for outdoors


Best wireless home security camera

Arlo Pro 2

From $479.99, Amazon | arlo.com

The Arlo Pro 2 is a serious smart home camera, and one of the most feature-rich set-ups you can buy. Yes, the cost may seem prohibitive, but for the hefty price tag you get two wireless, weather-proof cameras and the hub – which actually represents fairly decent value against the Nest Cam IQ. And additional cameras can be added for $189.

It’s 1080p and produces excellent quality footage in daylight and low light. There’s night vision too, and while perfectly usable, this was the only area we felt lagged the competition. Positioning was key, but the picture suffered from blow outs if the IR was allowed to bounce back, so positioning was key.

Read this: A guide to choosing and using the best Arlo camera for you

What really struck us about the Arlo Pro 2 is its versatility. The cameras themselves are pretty slim and compact and suited to indoor and outdoor use. Yes, there are indoor cameras that blend into your home decor a lot better ­­– the Hive View being one – but it’s no-where near as powerful.

The Arlo Pro 2 is completely wireless, running off a lithium-ion battery that will last a couple of months between recharges via a USB-C cable. That’s a bit of a game-changer, and makes it a serious proposition, especially for outdoor use.

And that’s where the hub comes in. While it’s annoying to require a hub to be plugged into your router for a camera, the range of the Arlo 2 Pro is really impressive. We got great signal from the 802.11n hub throughout the garden, way beyond the limits of our Sky Q router.

And the extra features offer everything you need: motion and sound alerts, two-way audio and active motion detection areas within shot (that requires your cameras to be plugged in) are the main events.

Finally, data storage is a huge win. You get free storage from up to five cameras for a week – all accessible within the Arlo app. What’s more, the hub features a USB socket so you can store your clips offline if you wish – a win for data privacy.

Feature check: Indoor and outdoor.Free seven day storage. Full HD streaming, wireless, 130 degree angle lens, night vision, motion/sound alerts, two-way audio.

the ambient verdict
Arlo Pro 2
The Arlo Pro 2 is a top wireless indoor and outdoor camera boasting great range, superb battery life and great set of features. It's a great performer, whether you're looking for security or even for spotting wildlife in your garden. It's versatile – and performs in every situation. What's more, the free storage is a big win, and offsets that big price tag.
PROS
  • Great quality footage
  • Big wireless range
  • Good battery life
CONS
  • Not the best night vision
  • Expensive
  • Can't affect motion sensitivity


Best wireless home security camera

Hive View

$199, Amazon | hivehome.com

Most smart home cameras have one thing in common: they’re really obnoxious. Big glass eyes monitoring your every move, and that of your guests. “Welcome to my house, Big Brother is always watching”.

We say home cameras, because actually, not all smart cameras are used for security. Yes, keeping an eye on your property is great, but the idea is to stop people breaking in, not get a video of them doing it. That’s why most people use their home cameras for keeping up with what’s going on back at the ranch – checking the kids are home from school, making sure the dog isn’t napping on the brand new sofa, that the dog-walker dropped them back safely.

That’s where the Hive View comes in. Light on security features, it’s designed – literally – to fit into your home. The best designed smart home camera we’ve seen, it comes with a black/copper or white/champagne stand. It really blends in. Want the same kind of sleep Hive View look for the outdoor? Check out the recently announced Hive View Outdoor.

In terms of tech you get Full HD recording, with a 130 degree field of view, so you get a lovely wide view. Those are fairly standard specs across smart cameras, but that’s far from the theme when comparing with other rivals. The camera can also detach from its magnetic base to for an hour's recording completely wire-free.

Since we first tested the View Hive has added a two-way talk function, but there's no still image taking or facial recognition. You can set motion and sound alerts, but given Hive View can’t recognize people, it makes the notifications very basic. There’s no chance for it to tell you a specific person is home (and not notify you EVERY time they walk past the camera), or alert you to an unrecognized face in your home. That’s a real shame, as it diminishes the usefulness of Hive View.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. You get 24 hours of storage of saved video clips – generated exclusively by motion/sound alerts – free of charge, which is pretty neat. What’s more, at $199, the Hive View has an extremely attractive price point.

If you’re just looking for something you can manually check when you’re away from home, it’s a decent smart home camera which looks the business.

Feature check: Indoor only.Free storage for 24 hours, Full HD streaming, 130-degree angle lens, night vision

the ambient verdict
Hive View
A great-looking smart home camera with an attractive price and free playback of video clips for 24 hours – there's a lot to like about the Hive View. However, no facial recognition means that it's less powerful than rivals, and a lack of integrations (for now) is a black mark against its name.
PROS
  • Super stylish
  • Wire-free option
  • Some free storage
CONS
  • No facial recognition
  • No integrations
  • Motion and sound alerts basic


Best wireless home security camera

Ring Stick Up Cam

$179.99, Amazon

The new Ring Stick Up Cam is designed to work indoors and out, with an improved design to make it both look better and feel more sturdy. It's a much more versatile camera 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 at all 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 other good news is that they're both compatible with Ring's solar panel. For the battery model, you'll get three to six months, depending on how intensively you use the camera, while it takes five to ten hours to recharge.

The new cam is also 1080 HD (the last was 720p) 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, trouncing the competition to our eye, 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.

Feature check: Indoor and outdoor. 1080p HD recording, night vision, weatherproof, battery and wired versions.

the ambient verdict
Ring Stick Up Camera
The Ring Stick Up Cam comes with a powerful set of features and great video quality, including impressive night vision capabilities. If you're already a Ring user, this slips seamlessly into your setup, but if you're not it's a cinch to set up and get going, whether indoor or out.
PROS
  • Improved 1080p image with wide FoV
  • Wired and battery options
CONS
  • Google integrations are poor
  • Fee needed to view recorded footage


The best home security camera for your smart home

Logitech Circle 2

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

With 180-degree cover, the Circle 2 has the widest-angle lens of the lot. So, if you’ve an impossibly large space to monitor, then the Circle 2 might be the one for you. 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.

The standard mount it comes with can be a touch frustrating when it comes to getting a picture that’s straight, but the plug mount and window mount are strokes of genius. The first means you can put it straight onto a power socket without the need for cabling or finding a surface to place it on, and the second is a great way of monitoring the outside without having to use a drill to fix it to a wall. All in all, it makes the Circle 2 one of the most versatile we’ve used. We’ve been living with the wired version, though there is a battery-powered model on offer as well.

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 categorises 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 colours. That timeline is a joy to swipe through and most amusing of all is the Day Brief which it creates for you on demand. It’s a timelapse version of what’s been going down in front of the Circle that day and is particularly funny if you have children or pets. Probably not so 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.

The one area where Circle really wins is with iOS integration. It was the first security camera that tapped into Apple’s Home app (although there are now others, including one later on in this guide). There are certain advantages in having your Circle stream a little more front and centre on an iPhone. Telling Alexa to activate Circle is probably less useful given that Circle 2 does a decent job of geo-fencing and knows whether it needs to be on or off by itself.

All in all, it’s a very decent low-cost option. It’s maybe not the sexiest to look at and you’ll want to fork out for one of the alternative mounts but all the features are there, including Full HD video recording.

Feature check: Indoor and outdoor.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.

the ambient verdict
Logitech Circle 2
The debut HomeKit smart camera, the Circle 2 ticks a lot of boxes for people looking for their first smart home security camera. It works seamlessly inside and out and the partner app is a breeze to use.
PROS
  • HomeKit enabled
  • Super wide angle 180 degrees
  • Fully weatherproof
CONS
  • Mounts are a bit fiddly
  • No scheduling on the app
  • Accessories inflate the price


Best wireless home security camera

Canary Flex

$169, Amazon | canary.is

Canary cams don’t look like cams, and that shouldn’t be underestimated. Whether we’re talking about the comfort of your guests or camouflage so that your cleaner/burglar doesn’t realise that they’re being watched, it’s a very useful thing that people don’t feel like they’re getting surveilled at all moments round at your pad.

Designed to work inside or out, the Flex has a stonking battery life, and a mount with one of the strongest magnets you’ll find which ensures that you can put the Flex, like the name suggests, absolutely anywhere. There are also additional ones you can buy, such as a mount for the soil, so that you can really stick the Flex where no one is going to spot it and have it poised in the foliage like some Viet Cong boobytrap.

Those features alone make it a very compelling choice. As with the Nest, the app experience is also very satisfying. It’s a case of good design that flows all the way from the hardware through to the software UX. It’s a hackneyed expression but it’s all very Apple-like. It also has a better system for knowing whether you’re home or not which involves using your phone’s GPS as well as your mobile’s Wi-Fi. The result is that it’s accurate to the front door level. It also has a Night Mode which can override your location according to when you tell the app that you normally go to bed and wake up. That way, it’s armed while you’re asleep even though you might be home.

Where we were less impressed is with notifications. It gets them right but it took a hell of a long time to present us with the video clips from each alert. Many times it never managed to load them up at all, and that’s at odds with the Live View which it didn’t seem to have a problem with. The quality of the footage itself was perfectly reasonable, although it should be noted that streaming is 720p, despite the 1080p sensor.

One of the biggest bugbears with Canary is what you get with the basic package or, more to the point, what you don’t get. Unless you pay a subscription, you can’t use the two-way talk feature and you can’t download any videos. You do at least get a day’s worth of storage and all the smart detection features. That said, there’s no activity zones or facial detection available with the Flex. If you jack it up to $9.99 per month, though, you’ll get everything you need. In fairness to Canary, having a free service at all is relatively costly for them. They’re not a company like Google, Netgear or Logitech that can subsidise this kind of thing, or even leverage back-end systems that already exist.

While the Flex is more portable, wire-free and weatherproof, we’re not convinced that it’s quite as complete a package as the older Canary All-in-One, which just seems a bit more refined. And, even though we understand the need for careful pricing, having to pay for two-way talk and downloads doesn’t feel right.

Better smart home integration would also be welcome – currently the only official support is for Google Assistant; you’ll have to use Wink or IFTTT to get some Alexa action. HomeKit compatibility is coming soon, we’re told.

Feature check: Indoor and outdoor. 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).

the ambient verdict
Canary Flex
The Canary Flex is a decent option for people not wanting to have obvious smart cameras on show in or outside their house. It’s feature rich enough to do the job, and the quality is good, but it does fall short of its rivals in many areas.
PROS
  • Discreet design
  • Great long battery life
  • Easy to move around
CONS
  • Only 720p streaming
  • Notification delays
  • Two-way talk is additional cost


Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

The best home security camera for your smart home

$349, Amazon | nest.com

A second entry for Nest, but the Google-company is probably the biggest player in the business so we'll allow it. And, of course, it makes the cut because it's an awesome outdoor camera - albeit 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 recognising and tracking people around your property.

It's noticeably bigger than its Indoor equivalent and the non-IQ Outdoor Nest Cam. But potential burglars will definitely notice it - measuring in at 12.8 x 9.3 x 9.3cm.

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) colour sensor, with 12x digital zoom and enhance, close-up tracking view and a 130° diagonal viewing angle. Like the Indoor variant, the camera actually zooms in and follows people around automatically and you'll also 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. When you talk through the Cam IQ Outdoor, the RGB light around the edge will also glow blue – much as it does when using Google Assistant on the IQ Indoor. Google's Assistant isn't built in – 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 with Alexa and an Echo device with a display.

The IQ Outdoor has an IP66 weatherproof rating – which means -40°C to 45°C (-40°F to 113°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.

Feature check: Outdoor only. 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.

the ambient verdict
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Nest's top outdoor camera is one of the stand-out performers in an ever-growing market - even though many of the features that set the IQ apart come at an additional cost. Those quibbles aside though, if you're looking for the most feature-rich camera on the market, tied into a superb ecosystem, then the Cam IQ Outdoor is a top choice.
PROS
  • Packed with intelligent tracking tech
  • 12x HDR zoom
  • HD 2-way audio
CONS
  • Expensive
  • The best features cost more
  • Installation requires DIY skills

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