Video doorbells – also known as doorbell cameras, and smart doorbell cameras – are big business, and it’s easy to see why. They ring, like your old doorbell, but the best video doorbells also stream (and can record) live video and audio to your smartphone. You can see who’s calling without getting up from the couch; and speak to neighbours, couriers or unwanted visitors from wherever you happen to be, whether that’s the kitchen, at work or the other side of the world.
Like a home security camera, a video doorbell provides your first line of defence by alerting you to what’s happening outside your home. But there’s a lot of choice and a few things to consider before choosing the right doorbell camera for you.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST VIDEO DOORBELL
Firstly, you’ll need to decide whether you want a wired version, or a wireless video doorbell that runs on batteries. Wireless smart doorbells are normally a little easier to install, but you run the risk of depleting batteries, and they tend to be bulkier, too. Secondly, consider video resolution. Footage captured at 720p is perfectly adequate, but 1080p will be sharper and more detailed. And check that the doorbell camera you’re looking at has night vision.
Also, will you be able to hear your video doorbell at home if you don’t have your smartphone with you? Not all doorbell cameras come with a chime included: you may have to buy one separately, so factor this into the cost.
Other features to look out for – aside from two-way communication – include motion sensor technology (ideally with the ability to differentiate between people, animals and vehicles); face recognition technology; Alexa support; and the ability to work with smart lighting, locks and other smart home tech. For the latter, you’ll need IFTTT (If This Then That) support. Finally, consider storage. Some video doorbells offer local video recording via a memory card; many offer cloud storage, for a monthly fee.
The tech is constantly improving and getting better, so we’re constantly revising this list. Here are the very best video doorbells you can buy…
THE BEST VIDEO DOORBELL CAMERAS RIGHT NOW
1. RING VIDEO DOORBELL 2
The best video doorbell overall with a wide range of features
Ring is one of the companies responsible for driving the video doorbell market, and it’s so good at it, Amazon acquired Ring in 2018 – so of course you can control this video doorbell via Alexa. It does just about everything you could want from a wireless video doorbell and then some.
So, it can alert you to motion and noise, record audio and video, and enable two-way conversations as well. The doorbell camera records at 1080p, and can run from a wired mains connection or a rechargeable battery (so it can go just about anywhere on the door). Bear in mind that the Chime Pro door chime will cost you extra if you want it. And if you’d like to keep your videos in the cloud rather than just watching footage live, it’s extra again – although at £25 a year, it’s reasonable.
It’s not so much that Ring has features that other video doorbells don’t have, it’s that Ring does everything better than most of its competitors.
2. NEST HELLO
A superb video doorbell with the best motion detection
As Amazon picked up Ring, so Google picked up Nest, and now has a great wireless video doorbell of its own: the Nest Hello. A lot of the features here (1080p video, night vision, a 160-degree field of view) match those that Ring offers, but Nest does them all just as well on the whole.
Where the Nest Hello does have a slight edge is with Google’s AI-powered motion detection system: it’s smarter at spotting the difference between a person and anything else, and can identify friends and family too, sending special prompts for those you know.
Like Ring, Nest also makes you pay if you want to keep your video doorbell recordings in the cloud, rather than just tuning in live whenever there’s a button press or a motion alert. The price is higher though: a Nest Aware subscription plan will set you back £80 per year. The Nest is slightly bigger, too.
3. RING VIDEO DOORBELL PRO
The best video doorbell if you’ve got a bit more cash to spend
The Pro is slightly smaller and a little more aesthetically pleasing than the Ring Doorbell 2, while the faster 5GHz Wi-Fi standard is supported. If you do opt for the Pro model you can draw out custom activity zones yourself as well.
All three Ring video doorbells in this list offer 1080p HD video recording, but the Pro doesn’t give you a wireless installation option – it has to be hardwired. It’s really down to what you need and how much you want to spend.
4. BYRON WI-FI VIDEO DOORBELL
The best doorbell camera if you don’t want to pay a storage subscription
Byron has been making doorbells for a long while now, so its foray into smart, wireless video doorbells comes with a guarantee of quality and heritage – even if the Byron Wi-Fi Video Doorbell itself isn’t quite as sleek and stylish as some of its rivals.
All the key functionality is here ready and waiting for you to utilise, including two-way audio and companion apps that run on your smartphone and tablet. The video feed is 1080p HD and there’s even motion detection as well.
There are two versions of this video doorbell: one that connects to your existing doorbell wiring; and a cheaper wireless option with 720p video. And there’s no subscription to pay – you save recordings to the included memory card or link them to a service like Dropbox.
5. RING DOOR VIEW CAM
A peephole-mounted video doorbell for renters and people in apartments
Another Ring doorbell, but this one is definitely worth a place in our best video doorbell list. The Ring Door View Cam is particularly good for anyone renting accommodation, because it fits simply over an existing peephole, with no drilling required.
Again, you’ve got 1080p HD video and two-way audio, as well as the very solid Ring app, so whichever Ring camera you decide to get from this list, you shouldn’t be disappointed. Alexa support is included, as you would expect.
From built-in knock detection to night vision, it’s another impressive option from Ring. It’s also possible to set privacy zones that the doorbell won’t pry into – in case your neighbours are worried about you spying on their shrubs, for example.
6. ARLO AUDIO DOORBELL
The best smart doorbell if you don’t need video
Spot the deliberate mistake: the Arlo Audio Doorbell, as the name suggests, doesn’t offer integrated wireless video doorbell functionality – so it isn’t a doorbell camera. However, we’re huge fans of Arlo gear, and we think it’s worth including because you can combine it with an Arlo security camera,
In terms of functionality, you can have two-way conversations with whoever is calling at the door, and get alerts straight to your phone when your doorbell goes off. If you’re in a rush or busy, you can set up some customised quick replies.
You get rolling seven-day cloud recordings included for the price, and when we say you can pair this with an Arlo camera, it’s more than a workaround – it’s an official feature supported by Arlo.
7. MAXIMUS VIDEO DOORBELL
This video doorbell will keep your deliveries safe – once it’s on sale
Unveiled at CES 2019 earlier this year, the Maximus Video Doorbell brings something new to the party by throwing two cameras into the mix – one to look your doorstepper in the face, and one to look at the packages being left down at foot level, just in case they get pinched.
Keeping an eye on packages seems to be one of the primary reasons people pick up video doorbell cameras in the first place, so Maximus might be on to something here. You get all the standard features included too, like motion sensor alerts and 1080p live video streaming.
You can control the doorbell with an app on your phone as well as with Alexa or Google Assistant, and you can view the live stream and the last two hours for free. Some details are still to be confirmed, as the Maximus model isn’t launching until later in 2019, but this is one to watch.
8. NETATMO SMART VIDEO DOORBELL
Another video doorbell on the way, the Netatmo will just require a one-off payment
Another of the new crop of gadgets that appeared at CES 2019 – which means you won’t be able to buy it until later in the year – the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell instantly caught our eye because of the brand name it had (Netatmo makes some of our favourite smart home kit).
There’s video and audio recording of course, and motion sensing alerts, and even people detection. You don’t get a battery option though – this is a video doorbell you have to plug in, wires and all. You get 1080p video quality and night vision too for those evening callers.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the Netatmo Video Doorbell is that you get all the features for your up-front payment, with no subscription required: video can be archived to a memory card, an FTP address, or a linked Dropbox account, so take your pick.