With a smart doorbell, your front door’s communication skills go from 1980s landline to 2023 smartphone. Combining a motion-activated camera with a microphone, speaker, and doorbell, a doorbell camera sends alerts to your phone to show you who’s calling without you having to open the door or even be at home. Whether you’re curled up on the couch, hard at work in your office, or sunning on a beach in the Bahamas, a smart doorbell camera keeps you in touch with what’s happening on your doorstep.
I have tested more than 30 video doorbells, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all — like a smartphone, it’s a personal choice — I have thoughts on which are the best of the best and which work well for specific use cases.
What I’m looking for
A nice design
This is on your front door, and it needs to look good and / or blend in.
Affordable (or free) video recording
All video doorbells must offer a live feed, but a cloud or local storage option for video recordings, so you can see visitors you missed, is important too. Some companies offer free local storage or some free cloud storage, but most require a monthly fee.
Good motion detection and alerts
Fast and accurate motion detection so you know when someone is at the door, plus smart alerts for people, animal, and vehicles to cut down on nuisance notification. The option to add custom motion zones helps with this, too. Some even offer package detection, which is always nice.
Good video quality
At least 1080p HD video with the option of HDR to help see faces clearer if your doorway is backlit. Color night vision is a bonus but not a necessity if you have a porch light.
Head-to-toe aspect ratio
If you’re concerned about keeping an eye on packages, a head-to-toe view will let you see the space in front of your door from top to bottom. There are uses for other aspect ratios, though, so read my FAQ for more on this.
Useful smart home integrations
Compatibility with the major smart home platforms adds features like having lights turn on on your porch when motion is detected or being able to unlock your front door while viewing a live feed from your doorbell. Also, compatibility with smart displays so you can have a video intercom for your doorbell.
An indoor chime
Some way of alerting you to the doorbell ringing inside your house (not just through your smartphone) is important, either through your existing doorbell chime or through a smart speaker or plug in chime.
Wired power option or removable batteries
I always recommend that if you have existing doorbell wires, use them; you’ll never have to worry about charging your doorbell (see my FAQ for more on this). Battery-powered options will do if there’s no way to wire; removable or replaceable batteries are important here — taking your entire doorbell down to charge it up every three months is a pain.
My most important advice is that if you have existing doorbell wires, use them. Wired doorbells are generally cheaper, work better, and are more compact, so they tend to look nicer.
If you don’t have wires and don’t want to pay for an electrician to run them, try using an AC power adapter (Ring and Google Nest sell their own; you can also find generic ones). But if all else fails, I’ve got a couple recommendations for good battery-powered buzzers. Just plan to pick up an extra battery when you purchase, or factor in removing it from your door every few months to charge it for a few hours.
Best doorbell camera
With 24/7 recording, facial recognition, reliable smart alerts, and some free video recording. Google’s newest wired doorbell is the best option for most people.
Video quality: 960x1280p, 6x zoom, HDR / Smart alerts: Person, package, animal, vehicle and facial recognition ($) Aspect ratio: 3:4 / Field of view: 145 degrees diagonal / Power options: Wired / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz / Storage: Cloud and local / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Alexa, Google, SmartThings
The Nest Doorbell Wired (2nd-gen) is one of only two video doorbells in this list that can record 24/7. Being able to scroll through a continuous timeline view of everything that’s happened at your front door is super helpful and means you won’t miss a crucial moment — even if something happens outside of motion-detecting range. This, along with a low price, good video quality, the ability to tell you who and what is at your door, and some free recorded video, make it the best doorbell for most people.
The Nest Wired is also the best video doorbell that works with Google Home, and the best for protecting your packages. Its proactive package watch feature tells you when a package arrives and sends another alert when it’s gone. In my testing, it worked very well.
Unlike most of the competition, Google doesn’t charge you for smart notifications. The Nest Wired will tell you if it’s a person, package, animal, or vehicle at your door for free. You also get free activity zones to cut down on unwanted notifications, and three free hours of event-based recordings, thanks to its local storage and local processing. You can, in theory, use this doorbell without paying a subscription.
But three hours isn’t enough time to be particularly useful. And the $6 per month ($60 / year) Nest Aware subscription is expensive compared to single-camera subs from competitors. It does cover all your Google Nest cameras for less than competitor multi-camera offerings and adds 30 days of event-recorded video storage, plus Nest’s excellent Familiar Faces feature that tells you who is at your door, mostly reliably. If you want the 24/7 recording, however, you need to up it to $12 per month ($120 / year), but again this subscription applies to all Google Nest cameras you have.
The Nest Doorbell Wired is essentially the same as the Nest Doorbell Battery. It costs the same, has the same tech specs, and looks identical beyond a size difference. But there is one key hardware change: the Nest wired is a true wired doorbell, which means it runs directly off your existing doorbell wiring.
Because it’s wired, it can record continuously, which the battery version can’t. The wired power also means it’s faster and more reliable. Plus, as with all true wired doorbells, it catches more footage at the beginning of each event (about three to four seconds) — thereby avoiding the back-of-the-head problem many doorbells suffer from, where the camera takes too long to wake up to catch the visitor as they approach.
On paper, it doesn’t have the best specs; the Arlo and Ring Pro 2 look better technically. But you do get 960 x 1280 pixel resolution and a 6x digital zoom. And video quality is very good, thanks to some digital trickery. A 3:4 portrait aspect ratio and 145-degree field of view meant I could see my porch from top to bottom and a fair amount from side to side.
On-device AI makes the Nest speedy with notifications, and it delivers rich alerts to both your phone and watch. These are interactive, allowing me to press and hold the video to see a clip and activate one of the three pre-set quick responses. It’s also quick to call up live video.
Nest’s doorbells and cameras work with Nest smart displays and speakers to show and/or tell you who is at your door, and with Amazon Alexa smart displays to see and talk to your visitor. They also work with Samsung SmartThings, but there’s no native integration with Apple Home.
There are a few quirks. There’s no reliable way to snooze notifications from the doorbell, and if you use have multiple Nest speakers or displays, they’ll all announce your visitors. Not great if you have a Nest Mini in your kid’s nursery. It also doesn’t work with the Nest app, only the Google Home app.
The Home app is much improved, however, thanks to a big redesign that launched in May 2023. It handles video playback in particular much better than before. You can also now use a doorbell press to trigger an automation — such as turning on a light in the hallway.
Read my full Nest Doorbell wired review for more details.
Best wired doorbell camera for Alexa and Ring
The flagship Ring doorbell has the best video quality, good connectivity, and excellent motion detection. It works smoothly with Amazon Alexa, but is expensive, requires a subscription for most features, and doesn’t offer 24/7 recording.
Video quality: 1536 x 1536p, HDR / Smart alerts: Person, package ($) Aspect ratio: 1:1 / Field of view: 150 degrees horizontal, 150 degrees vertical / Power options: Wired / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz / Storage: Cloud and local (with Ring Alarm Pro) / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings
The Ring Pro 2 is more expensive than the Nest Wired, but its video is higher quality and much brighter. It has an ideal square aspect ratio for a full front porch view, speedy notifications, and impressively accurate motion detection using three separate sensors — radar, video analysis, and passive infrared. It also has a nice slim design and multiple faceplate options to fit your decor. Those features combine to make this one of the best video doorbells you can buy. But it doesn’t have any free video recording, there’s no option for 24/7 recording, and the smart alerts are limited to people and packages only.
The Ring Pro 2 is the best doorbell that works with Amazon Alexa and Ring’s security system and cameras, but it has little to no integration with other platforms, so it’s not a good option if you use another platform and want to add your doorbell to smart home routines. It does work with Samsung SmartThings, and integrating it into Apple Home can be done, but it requires extra hardware.
A true wired doorbell, Ring Pro 2 has alerts for packages and people (but not for vehicles or animals), color night vision, dual-band Wi-Fi, and smart responses (which let your doorbell can talk to your visitor for you). The Ring app is excellent. There are pages of settings you can tinker with, and the timeline view to scroll through your recordings is very good.
The Pro 2 will work with existing doorbell chimes, plus Ring sells a plug-in Chime and Chime Wi-Fi extender that can help boost connectivity while providing a selection of fun doorbell tones. Of all the doorbells I tested, this had the best range and connectivity, and built-in, full-color pre-roll helps ensure you don’t miss any crucial action.
As with a lot of doorbell cameras, the Pro 2 can use Echo smart speakers to announce when there’s somebody at the door. Ring doorbells can also automatically pull up a live feed of your doorbell on an Echo Show or Fire TV-enabled television when someone presses the doorbell. This gives you an instant video intercom in your home — a super handy feature.
The downside is the Pro 2 is expensive, and you will need to pay for the Ring Protect plan (starting at $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year for 180 days of video storage) to view recorded footage and get smart alerts. This also adds an extra six seconds of pre-roll video, which, in lieu of 24/7 recording (not an option on any Ring doorbell), provides plenty of time around motion events to catch all the action. The digital zoom is good, but not the best on offer — Arlo wins that race with a whopping 12x.
The Pro does work with Ring Edge for local storage and processing of videos, plus the option of cellular backup. But you need a Ring Alarm Pro and Ring Protect Pro subscription for this ($20 a month, which includes professional monitoring), although compared to $12 a month for just video services with the Nest, it’s a pretty good deal.
Read the full Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 review.
Best battery-powered doorbell camera
The newest Ring doorbell adds better video quality, head-to-toe view, and speedy response times for a battery doorbell. It works great with Amazon Alexa and can record locally to a Ring Alarm Pro, but the battery still only lasts two months.
Video quality: 1536 x 1536p, HDR, color night vision / Smart Alerts: Person, package ($) Aspect ratio: 1:1 / Field of view: 150 degrees horizontal, 150 degrees vertical / Power options: Battery, wired trickle charge, solar / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz / Storage: Cloud and local (with Ring Alarm Pro) / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings
If you have no choice but to rely on battery power, the Ring Battery Doorbell Plus is the way to go. At $179.99, it’s a bit more expensive than my previous top pick for a battery doorbell — the Ring 4 — even though it looks identical. But you get head-to-toe video and better video resolution giving you a clearer picture of what’s going on at your door. That’s worth the extra $20.
Unlike the Ring 4, and like most other battery-powered doorbells, there’s no pre-roll. If catching people as they approach your door — not just at your door — is crucial for you, you might want to consider the 4. But the Plus also adds color night vision and, in testing, was more responsive than any other battery doorbell I’ve tested, pulling up a live view in under four seconds compared with upwards of 10 seconds for most others.
Battery life isn’t great, despite the name. It lasted two months with all the features turned on — except the extra-length recordings (default is 30 seconds, but it can go up to 120). This is about the same as the 4 and less than the Eufy Dual. You can tweak settings on either doorbell to reduce power consumption, but then you have to give up features like HDR (which makes it easier to see faces) and snapshot capture, which takes a picture every five minutes to give you a better idea of what’s been happening at your door.
On the plus side, Ring is the only company that does offer swappable batteries. The Plus uses the same $35 Quick Release ones as Ring’s battery-powered cameras. This makes it so much easier to keep your doorbell charged — just keep a second on hand charged and ready to swap in when you get low (they’re easy to charge with USB type-A cable, and one is included). Most other doorbells you have to fully remove to recharge.
But — as with all Ring doorbells — there are no animal or vehicle alerts, only people and packages (for a fee). It’s also 2.4 GHz only, which is a disappointment, although I didn’t have any connectivity issues in testing.
Other features include pre-recorded quick replies and the option to set a motion alert schedule, plus live view and two-way audio. You need a Ring Protect Plan for recorded video, as well as people-only mode, which cuts down on unnecessary alerts and package alerts. Both of these were very accurate in testing. A subscription starts at $3.99 a month. Home and Away features are also behind the paywall, which makes it fiddly to turn off your cameras when you’re home without coughing up some cash.
The Plus also works with Ring Edge, a local storage and processing option that requires a Ring Alarm Pro smart hub and a Ring Protect Pro subscription ($20 a month). This also adds cellular backup through its Eero Wifi system, so it can keep your doorbell online if both the power and internet go out.
The Plus can announce visitors on Echo speakers and automatically pull up a two-way audio / video call on an Echo Show. It won’t work with your existing chime unless you wire it (which also trickle charges the battery), but Ring sells a plug-in chime.
Best budget doorbell camera
Blink’s Video Doorbell is the best if you’re looking a budget-friendly buzzer that offers motion-activated recording and alerts, night vision, two-way audio, and up to two years of battery life.
Video quality: 1080p / Smart alerts: none / Aspect ratio: 16:9 / Field of view: 135 degrees horizontal, 80 degrees vertical / Power options: Wired or battery / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz / Storage: Cloud or local with a Sync Module / Subscription fee: $3 a month / Works with: Amazon Alexa
The Blink Video Doorbell is the best option for a cheap doorbell with no ongoing fees. And while it works as a wired doorbell, it’s also a good option for a battery-powered buzzer, as it can go up to two years on two AAs. I don’t love this doorbell, as video and audio quality are not great, but it’s cheap, it gets the job done, and that battery life is phenomenal.
The Blink lacks a lot of bells and whistles (no smart alerts or quick replies, only 1080p video, and a standard 16:9 aspect ratio), but the basics are here — motion-activated recording (with a max of 30 seconds), alerts, live view (with caveats), night vision, motion zones, and two-way audio. If you want to pay $50 (often less) to have a camera at your door and be done with it, get the Blink.
I only recommend buying the Blink with its wireless hub, the Sync Module 2.
The biggest selling point for Blink is the feature that makes its similarly inexpensive security cameras so attractive: up to two years of battery life on two AA lithium batteries. The company has developed a super energy-efficient chip that will power its cameras longer than any other doorbell I’ve tested. (I managed almost a year with very heavy use).
Uniquely for a battery-powered doorbell, the Blink can also be a true hardwired doorbell. When wired, it will activate an existing chime (something neither the sub-$100 Ring nor Wyze doorbells can do) and provide constant power — not just trickle charge. This means it can wake up faster than a battery-powered buzzer and catch your visitor as they arrive. Wiring also adds on-demand two-way audio and live view (otherwise, you can only see the stream if there’s a motion event at the doorbell or someone presses the buzzer.)
The lack of an on-demand live view on battery power would be a deal-breaker, but I only recommend buying this doorbell with its wireless hub, the Sync Module 2, which also facilitates on-demand live views plus adds free, local storage. (You can get a live view with a subscription, too, starting at $3 a month). The extra $35 for the Sync Module 2 should pay for itself compared to a monthly subscription, and for a total of $85, this is still less than Wyze or Ring’s similar offerings (you will also need a USB stick to store the videos on).
The Blink comes in white or black and, because it uses AA batteries, isn’t as huge as most battery-powered doorbells, making it a more discreet option. It is a giant pain in the neck to install, however; make sure to follow the video instructions Blink provides closely to save a lot of frustration.
The biggest drawbacks are lower video quality and poor audio quality (it can be staticky, and it’s push-to-talk — not full duplex), short recording length, and no smart alerts. The app is also a bit tricky to navigate. It doesn’t work with Google Home, but it works great with Alexa, and you can see a live view on Echo Show devices and use any Echo speaker as an indoor chime.
Best doorbell camera that works with any smart home
Arlo’s wired video doorbell has excellent video quality, wide smart home compatibility, extensive smart alerts, and a square aspect ratio for spotting packages. It suffers from some connectivity issues, requires a subscription for recorded video, and doesn’t have 24/7 recording but does include a pre-roll feature.
Video quality: 1536x1536p, 12x zoom, HDR / Aspect ratio: 1:1 / Field of view: 180 degrees horizontal / Power options: Wired / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, Apple Home (with an Arlo Hub)
If you use more than one smart home platform, are looking for something that’s outside the Google or Alexa ecosystem, or are put off Ring due to its Neighbors app or controversial police partnerships (it’s worth noting you can opt out of both those), the Arlo Essential Wired Doorbell is a great all-around choice.
For less money and with more features than the Ring Pro 2, Arlo’s video doorbell adds native Apple Home support and works very well with Google Home; Arlo’s doorbell is one of the few non-Google cameras you can view live feeds from in the Google Home app. It also works with Amazon Alexa. But note it doesn’t support HomeKit Secure Video, and you will need to pick up the Arlo SmartHub ($100) to integrate with Apple Home.
If you are already using Arlo cameras or its security system, this is an easy add. It also has smart alerts for people, packages, animals, and vehicles, a handy square aspect ratio, and a 180-degree field of view that gets the whole porch. Plus, it has the same high video resolution as the Pro 2.
There is also a built-in siren for scaring off a package thief or neighborhood cat and a backup battery (it only lasts for a few minutes). Courtesy of its wired nature, it has a pre-roll that captures your visitor as they approach. Arlo’s wire-free option doesn’t have this and suffers from that back-of-the-head problem.
However, the Arlo is not as fast or reliable as the Nest Doorbell Wired. It isn’t as quick to send alerts or pull up a video feed and struggled when placed farther from the router. If you don’t have a good Wi-Fi signal at your front door, the Arlo isn’t for you. And there is no option of a chime Wi-Fi extender as with the Ring Pro 2, and it only works over 2.4 GHz — both the Ring Pro 2 and Nest Wired can use 5 GHz.
A subscription plan is pretty much a necessity since, without it, all you get is a live view. Starting at $3.99 a month paid annually ($4.99 monthly), Arlo Secure adds smart alerts, automatic geofencing to turn your camera off when you arrive home, 30 days of rolling cloud video storage, interactive notifications, quick responses, and activity zones. (Ring doesn’t charge for activity zones.) But there’s no option for 24/7 recording, which is available on Arlo’s non-doorbell security cameras.
Arlo’s doorbells cost less and offer more but aren’t as reliable
The Arlo is a nice-looking doorbell and comes in all-black or black with white trim. It works with your existing chime and can use Amazon Echo or Google Nest smart speakers to notify you of a visitor; plus, Arlo sells its own plug-in chime with a choice of ringtones for $50.
Finally, a unique feature about the Arlo doorbell I really like is that when someone presses the button, the notification arrives like a phone call — as opposed to a pop-up. This makes it less likely you’ll miss a visitor, plus the doorbell will prompt them to leave a message if you do.
Best doorbell camera without a subscription
This battery-powered video doorbell features two cameras to catch both packages and visitors, as well as local storage, package alerts, facial recognition, and compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Video quality: 2K HD, 4x zoom / Smart Alerts: Person and packages, facial recognition Aspect ratio: 4:3 / Field of view: 160 degrees horizontal / Power options: Battery, wired trickle charge / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: none / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home
If you don’t want to pay any monthly fees but want a feature-packed doorbell that records footage for free, the Eufy Dual is the best, thanks to a second camera at the bottom that records the doorstep. But it’s very expensive.
There’s no charge for smart alerts that spot people and packages, and innovative AI features are free, too. These include facial recognition and “Package Live Check Assistance,” which frames any packages in a blue box and collects recent events around the delivery for quick viewing, and an Uncollected Package alert, which has the doorbell check for packages at a designated time, alerting you if you forgot to pick something up.
Important Note: In late 2022, Eufy suffered some security vulnerabilities, which the company was not transparent about. We temporarily removed our recommendations while the company worked on a fix. While the security flaws appear to have been resolved, the company’s lack of transparency is something to consider before purchasing a Eufy camera. You can read more about the issues and Eufy’s solutions here.
However, as a battery-powered doorbell, the Dual has the same problem as others. No pre-roll footage means you may not see the person as they approach your door, only when they’re in front of it or walking away. But its onboard machine learning, AI-powered smart alerts, and motion detection that uses both PiR and radar mean no false alerts. And those two cameras give you a blind-spot-free view of your front door area, one in 2K and the other in 1080P.
Battery life is good, better than the Ring Plus, lasting about three months based on my testing (it claims 3 to 6 months). But you must take the whole doorbell down to charge, which is a pain.
Read the full Eufy Dual doorbell review
Best wired doorbell camera for Apple Home
The Belkin Wemo doorbell works with HomeKit Secure Video and detects people, packages, animals, and vehicles. It’s fast and reliable but there is no 24/7 recording and you need an Apple Home hub and iCloud plan for recorded video.
Video quality: 1200x1600p, HDR, 5x zoom / Smart Alerts: Person, packages, facial recognition Aspect ratio: 3:4/ Field of view: 178-degrees vertical, 140-degrees horizontal / Power options: Wired / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: $0.99 a month, iCloud / Works with: Apple Home
The new Wemo Video Doorbell from Belkin is the best doorbell that works with Apple Home. Fast, secure, and with support for HomeKit Secure Video, the Wemo has a decent 1200 x 1600 HD video stream with HDR and a circular view that shows you the whole porch, although with a rather discombobulating fish-eye effect. But it’s better than the other good HomeKit option, the Logitech Circle View.
The Wemo is easier to install than the Logitech. Both share the same simple software setup. (Thanks to relying entirely on the Apple Home app — there’s no compatibility with the Wemo app). The doorbell recognizes multiple motion events (people, packages, animals, and vehicles) and can also identify faces and announce exactly who is at the door on a connected HomePod or HomePod Mini. You do need one of these (or another HomeKit hub such as an Apple TV 4K) to use the Wemo, and adding in that cost, if you don’t already have one, makes this an expensive doorbell.
The Wemo is very, very quick. Button push to a notification to pulling up live video is under five seconds.
While daytime footage was good, night vision isn’t, and I had some issues with it missing motion events and sending false alerts for people due to its reliance on pixel-based motion detection (others use PIR and radar detection). However, the Wemo was very, very quick, with the speed from a button push to a notification to pulling up the live video being under five seconds. It’s even quicker if you use the interactive notification on your device (through which you can talk to the visitor). And that speed makes up for some of its failings.
The main reason to go with Wemo is for HomeKit Secure Video, Apple’s service that stores recorded video securely in your personal iCloud account. Additionally, video is processed locally on a HomeKit hub for the smart alerts, and only recorded video is sent to iCloud. However, there is no local storage option or 24/7 recording, and you have to pay for an iCloud Plus plan (starting at 99 cents per month) to view any captured clips.
All things considered, it’s the best option for a wired Apple Home-compatible video doorbell right now.
Read my full Wemo Video Doorbell review for more details
Best battery-powered doorbell camera for Apple Home
The Aqara G4 is an inexpensive HomeKit Secure Video doorbell that also works with Alexa and Google Home. It’s powered by batteries, wires or both, and offers 24/7 local recording. But a 16:9 aspect ratio and poorer video quality let it down.
Video quality: 1080p / Smart Alerts: Person, facial recognition and person, facial recognition, packages with HSV, / Aspect ratio: 16:9 / Field of view: 162-degrees horizontal / Power options: Wired or battery / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz / Storage: Cloud and local / Subscription fee: 7 days free cloud storage or $0.99 a month with iCloud / Works with: Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home
If you don’t have the option of wiring and / or you really want 24/7 video recording, then Aqara’s G4 is a good option for Apple Home users. It’s the only battery-powered doorbell that’s compatible with Apple Home, and it works with HomeKit Secure Video. It runs on six standard AA batteries and can be hardwired to support 24/7 video recording (through Aqara’s app, though, not in Apple Home). It’s jam-packed with features, but it seems best suited for people who live in multi-family buildings — its landscape aspect ratio means it can’t really see packages at the doorstep, and it’s not particularly weather-resistant.
At $120, it’s the least expensive HomeKit option and pairs with the Aqara U100 smart lock (which also works with Apple Home and Home Key) for a nice, fully Apple Home-compatible setup on your front door — if you are good with the black, techie look of these products, that is.
The downsides of this doorbell include a 16:9 aspect ratio (a problem if you want to see packages on your porch), no HDR imaging, which delivers pretty bad video quality, and a finicky Chime box that has to be plugged in inside and near the doorbell. That Chime also houses a microSD card, which is required for 24/7 recording. Unfortunately, the G4 can’t ring an existing electronic chime, but the Chime box is plenty loud, and you can customize the heck out of the sounds,
The G4 shares all the same HSV features as the Wemo, including smart alerts for people, packages, animals, and vehicles, facial recognition and the option to announce who is at the door on a connected HomePod or HomePod Mini (you need an Apple Home hub to use this in HomeKit). It responded just as fast as the Wemo to doorbell rings and motion alerts, but I’ve had some connectivity issues. Plus, occasionally, I got an overheating warning while testing in May, and I live in South Carolina — so I am concerned about how this is going to hold up to the summer heat.
A benefit over Wemo and the other HomeKit Secure Video options is that Aqara does have its own app, and that app has a ton of innovative features, including custom ringtones for different people, a voice changer, and the option to have your smart home devices react depending on who is at the front door.
The Aqara app is also where you access 24/7 video, a really nice feature to have, especially for free — Nest charges $12 a month for it. The implementation here is spotty, and video quality is not great, but it will do in a pinch.
The Aqara doorbell works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, unlike the Wemo, which can only be set up through the Apple Home app. Aqara has said it will be updated to support Matter when (and if) the new smart home standard works with video cameras.
Read my full Aqara Video Doorbell G4 review for more details
Other doorbell cameras I tested
I’ve tested dozens of video doorbells, and many popular models didn’t make the cut here due to relying on battery power. If you can’t hardwire a doorbell, you will suffer from the back-of-the-head problem. The Ring Video Doorbell 4, with its preroll footage, is the only one that successfully navigates this issue (when using battery power).
The standard Ring Video Doorbell (2nd-gen) misses those first few moments and has to be removed to charge. Same with the Google Nest Doorbell Battery, which had connectivity issues that were a major pain point in testing. The Wyze Video Doorbell Pro has some impressive features for its price, and if you hardwire it, you do get pre-roll video, but it has a 5-minute cooldown period between recordings unless you pay for a subscription — an inexcusable amount of time that negates its offer of “free recording.” We also tested the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free, which does have a removable battery but doesn’t work with Apple Home, as its wired counterpart does, and takes too long to wake up to catch the visitor as they approach.
The Wyze Video Doorbell Pro has a 5-minute cool-down period between recordings unless you pay for a subscription.
As for other wired options, the Ring Video Doorbell Wired is a truly budget buzzer at just $60, but it won’t work with your existing chime and doesn’t draw the same amount of power from those wires as the Ring Pro, making it generally less reliable. Without HDR, its video quality is spotty, and its sister brand Blink just beats it to the Best Budget spot in terms of features — including better battery life and free local storage options. Granted, the Ring can record for longer than 30 seconds and has package detection, but you have to pay for those features.
The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell has some interesting features, including entirely local storage (to an included microSD card) and free person recognition. It also works with Apple Home (but not HomeKit Secure Video), but a weirdly narrow field of view and poor video quality let it down — not to mention that $300 price tag.
Other Apple Home options we tested include the Logitech Circle View Wired, which, while fast, is expensive, only works with Apple Home and frequently dropped off my Wi-Fi network.
There’s also a new breed of doorbells built into smart door locks. I’ve tested the Lockly Vision Elite and the Eufy Security S330 Video Smart Lock, and both are very expensive and work better as door locks than doorbells. But if you have a specific need for this device (e.g., you have nowhere else to put a doorbell camera), then they are useful for at least seeing up the nose of whoever is at your door, if not much beyond that.
FAQ: Smart doorbell cameras
Wired vs. wireless doorbell cameras: what’s the difference?
Wired video doorbells use existing doorbell wiring attached to a doorbell transformer and chime box to provide continuous power, so they don’t need to be recharged. Most won’t work when the power goes out, but some have small batteries to keep them going for a few minutes in the event of a power outage. If you don’t have existing wiring, you can use an AC power adapter (Ring and Nest sell their own; you can also find generic ones).
Battery-powered doorbells, also known as wireless doorbells, are powered by a rechargeable battery. Because they don’t have continuous power, they have to wake up first when they detect motion before starting to record. This often results in a clip only catching the back of the person’s head as they walk away, which is not super helpful if you’re concerned about porch pirates. True wired doorbells don’t have this problem, and most will reliably catch all the action.
Many doorbells that advertise themselves as wireless and run on a battery can also be hard-wired to your existing doorbell wiring. But these are not “true” wired doorbells. Your home’s electrical power isn’t powering them. Instead, in almost all cases (Blink being the only exception), the battery is being “trickle charged” by the power from the doorbell wiring. This means that without any extra features, they simply don’t react as quickly as true wired doorbells. It’s science, people.
What is aspect ratio on a doorbell camera, and why is it important?
Aspect ratio is arguably more important than video resolution when it comes to video doorbells. This spec tells you what shape of video you will get, whether it’s top-to-bottom or side-to-side, whether you’ll see your doorstep and the whole of the visitor or just a head-and-shoulders shot. Common aspect ratios include 4:3, 3:4, 16:9, and 1:1.
Aspect ratios are always written with the horizontal number first. If the first number is smaller than the second number, then the image will be taller than it is wide, or “portrait orientation.” If the first number is larger than the second (as in 16:9), then the image will be wider than it is tall, or “landscape orientation.” If both numbers are the same, as in 1:1, it will be a square view.
My recommendation is to go for a square view when possible, but if you have a wide porch area — and would like to see people approaching from the left or right, as well as straight on — a 4:3 or 16:9 might suit you better.
How to install a video doorbell camera
Battery-powered doorbells are easy to install and generally just require screwing the mounting bracket to the area around your door. Some come with the option of tape strips, so you don’t even need to get out the screwdriver.
Wired doorbells require a bit more effort. And while you can choose to pay around $100 for a professional to install it, if you have existing doorbell wiring, it’s a simple job.
I’ve written a step-by-step guide to installing Ring video doorbells, but, in general, the steps for any wired doorbell involve the following:
- Turn off the power to your doorbell wiring
- Locate your indoor chime and connect the chime power connector that came with the doorbell (this helps to facilitate power to the new doorbell)
- Remove your old doorbell
- Attach the mount for your new doorbell using screws or double-sided tape (some have the option of an angled wedge to get a better view of the person in front of the door)
- Attach the doorbell wires to the connector screws on the doorbell
- Attach the doorbell to the mount, either with screws or by snapping it on
- Turn the power back on
Pro tip: Before installing any doorbell, download the manufacturer’s app and check the instructions — some cameras need to be paired to the app before mounting them.
Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge
Update: Wednesday, June 28, 2023: Added a new category for battery-powered Apple Home doorbell and a new recommendation for best battery-powered doorbell as well as updating details throughout.