The best smart doorbell cameras

Smart technology meets home security.

If you want to see who's on the other side of your door without having to get up and look yourself, then the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the best choice for almost everyone. It lets you screen (and record) visitors and keep an eye out for package deliveries. Motion and ring alerts to a smartphone are typically fast, audio and 1080p video are clear, and the Ring 2 can be powered by either standard doorbell wiring or a removable rechargeable battery.

About this guide

This guide was written by Rachel Cericola, Jon Chase and Stacey Higginbotham, editorial staff of Wirecutter (New York Times group) and republished by CHOICE. The products are independently selected. This test was conducted in the United States and was originally published on the Wirecutter website. You can read it here in its original version. Photo: Michael Hession

Top pick: the best doorbell camera

Ring Video Doorbell 2

It sends fast alerts and has 1080p video recording with affordable video storage plans. It also has adjustable motion sensitivity and can work off of battery or AC power.

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 performs like a cross between a modestly aggressive guard dog and a trusty digital butler. 

In addition to notifying you – audibly and via smartphone – of activity, it records all motion events to the cloud, letting you view those recordings (as well as live video) on your phone or computer any time. 

It's also compatible with a good number of smart-home devices, platforms, and monitored security systems. Though video recording and storage require a subscription, the fees are downright cheap compared with the competition.

ring video doorbell 2

Photo: Michael Hession

The Ring Video Doorbell 2, the most versatile of Ring's line of doorbell cams, is easy to install and can be powered either by your existing doorbell wiring or with an included, removable rechargeable battery. 

Ring's smartphone alerts are consistent and fast, and recorded video always looks crisp and bright. 

Though a Ring Protect subscription is required in order to view and store video clips, the fee is cheaper than any other doorbell's subscription. 

Ring was acquired by Amazon in 2018. Its products remain widely compatible with other smart-home gear, should you want to expand or connect it to your existing setup.

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is admittedly bulky compared with the other picks, but because of its wide, 160-degree field of view and included wedge base (for angling the doorbell to one side, if necessary), it should work with almost any doorway. 

Though the Ring 2 is compatible with wired mechanical or digital chimes, Ring also offers a plug-in Wi-Fi Ring Chime that can act as a substitute ringer or as an addition, which is an especially convenient option for large homes.

Installation on a test doorframe was uneventful, as was setup with the companion Ring smartphone app. 

The app provides quick access to a chronological list of every recorded event, which you can filter by type for easier navigation. Clips can be viewed, saved to your smartphone, or sent via email. And if you want to alert your neighbours to a potential package thief or rogue dog-poop deliverer, you can send an alert in the Neighbours tab, which will notify other Ring owners nearby.

ring video doorbell 2 sample

A sample of the HD video captured by the Ring Video Doorbell 2.

In testing, doorbell-trigger alerts consistently popped up on a smartphone within 5 seconds. Tapping the notification can take you to the app or you can choose in the app settings to have your phone immediately open a widescreen live video view, which speeds things up. 

Communicating with visitors through the app was also easy, with sharp video and clear two-way audio. (Oddly, you have to press a hang-up button to end communication, otherwise the Ring app will continue to stay live and record – even if you switch to another app and lock your phone.)

ring doorbell 2 on table

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 can be powered using existing doorbell wires or with an included rechargeable battery that pops out easily and charges within a few hours. Photo: Michael Hession

The app lets you tweak motion-detection range and choose specific areas to monitor in order to reduce the number of nuisance alerts. 

Another layer of control is dubbed Smart Alerts, which uses AI to process motion within the camera's field of view to further eliminate false positives. If you're aware of something generating false alerts, you can toggle the setting to choose to receive more or fewer notifications. 

The short walkway used in this test didn't allow for enough time for motion detection to kick in as people were approaching the door, though it did capture visitors at the door. And when using the highest sensitivity setting, the Ring generated too many false positive alerts. (Testers believe that homes with longer, more typical walkways will fare far better.) 

Testers also appreciated the option to mute motion detection directly from your phone's notifications for 30 minutes or an hour. This is useful if, for example, you're getting bombarded by nuisance alerts because someone is cutting the lawn and triggering the camera every few minutes. 

In 2019, Ring plans to debut Person Detection features and other new Smart Alerts for its battery-powered models, which should help to mitigate these problems and improve the overall experience.

ring doorbell 2 motion zones

You can fine-tune the motion zones on the Ring Video Doorbell 2 to avoid false alarms.

A unique feature of the Ring ecosystem is Ring Neighbors, a sort of social network that alerts other Ring owners of suspicious activity in your neighbourhood. Once you select your neighboyrhood zone, which can be a radius from about 150m up to 8km, you get a feed in the app of reported events from other Ring owners in your locale. If another Ring owner near you experiences something fishy, they can post a message, a photo, or a link to a video right from their app to instantly share it with others in your area; you receive a notification on your smartphone. It's a sort of neighbourhood watch 2.0, and it's especially useful for people who live in areas where package thieves run rampant.

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is also compatible with a number of smart home devices and platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Google Home (for audio announcements and voice control only – no video), IFTTT, Kwikset Kevo, Kisi, Lockitron, Wemo, Wink, and Works with Nest, as well as monitored home-security systems like ADT, LockState, and SmartLink. 

Adding an Echo Show or Echo Spot lets you call up a live view of your doorstep by saying "Alexa, show Ring". This is a great way to check on motion alerts or see what's going on outside, but you can't interact through the Echo speaker.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The Ring is bulky – it's nearly double the width of the Ring Pro or the Nest Hello – so it may be more difficult to find a good mounting location on some doorframes.

After The Intercept published a story alleging that Ring allowed some employees access to users' videos, the company provided Wirecutter with a statement explaining that all of the recordings in question had either been publicly shared (through the company's Neighbors feature) or their use had been agreed to in advance by customers via specific written consent. Ring said that these videos had been accessed by employees as part of its product development program. Additionally, Ring noted that policies are now in place to ensure its customers' privacy and security. "We take the privacy and security of our customers' personal information extremely seriously," said a Ring representative. "We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems, and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behaviour, we will take swift action against them."

Wirecutter followed up with several requests for a deeper explanation of how Ring handles customer video, and in particular whether it is encrypted when transferred from the camera to Ring's servers and then stored, as is the process with our other pick, Nest Hello. Ring responded but, as of the end of February 2019, had not offered to fully clarify those issues. The company has however published a blog post that more clearly explains how its opt-in Neighbors service handles user recordings, as well as any potential involvement with law enforcement.

As a general rule, anyone buying a video camera (or any internet-connected device) that relies on cloud-based storage like Ring's models should carefully read the user agreement, being sure to confirm how their recordings will be handled and who can view them. Unfortunately, there's no real way for consumers to confirm what employees or contractors of a manufacturer do with videos they have accessed, even if for legitimate use.

The blanket recommendation for buyers is to pay attention whenever you agree to terms of service for any product – the agreements may be wordy, but you'll always want to look out for any clause where you might be authorising the use of your personal data in any way.

Also great: slimmer, but no battery

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

If you can hard-wire your doorbell and need (or want) a smaller one, this is the Ring to get.

Testers like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro for all the reasons we like the Ring 2. Additionally, it has a much slimmer and sleeker design that will fit in more doorframes and includes the option for customised motion-detection zones. However, it's more expensive and requires a hardwired connection to your home's doorbell system in order to function – its slimness comes from dropping the Ring 2's battery pack. 

The only other difference is that it uses video analysis for motion detection in addition to infrared. This means you're less likely to get bothered by false triggers from waving tree branches and shadows.

ring doorbell pro

Photo: Rozette Rago

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro stands out from the Ring 2 for its smaller size and more granular motion-detection options. You can also connect it to a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, whereas the other Rings can use only 2.4GHz. 

It doesn't include a battery, so it requires a hardwired connection to your home's doorbell system. 

Although its field of view is slightly smaller than that of the Ring 2, if your doorframe requires a smaller device and you have the wiring to support it, this is the doorbell cam to get for basic monitoring and alerts. Video recording requires the same subscription as other Ring doorbell cameras.

The Ring Pro delivered fast, consistent performance, sending smartphone notifications almost immediately after pressing the doorbell. Whether on Wi-Fi or a cellular network, it typically took less than 2 seconds to establish the video connection. After being triggered, the doorbell did need a slight reset time before it would send a notification again, which averaged about 5 seconds.

The Ring Pro missed only one or two button pushes during testing. It missed several of the motion-detection events when people walked by the doorbell, though adjusting the sensitivity zones and range improved this.

The Ring Pro lets you curb nuisance motion alerts slightly differently than how it's done on the Ring or Ring 2. It detects motion through video analysis, in addition to an infrared sensor, and lets you set up granular fields of motion using the app. Some apps use zones, but the Ring Pro pulls up the camera image in the app and lets you draw the areas where you want the camera to track motion. This makes it easier to exclude things like the road or a blowing tree branch. 

Testers found motion detection and notification to be excellent, arriving about one second after the motion event triggered the doorbell. It did send the occasional false positive generated by a tree branch blowing in the wind, or a shift in the light, but with the granular motion settings testers were able to mostly eliminate those. 

It also lets you set times of day when motion notifications should (or shouldn't) happen. The camera's night vision is credible with or without exterior lighting. 

In 2019, Ring plans to debut Person Detection features and other new Smart Alerts for its battery-powered models, which should help to mitigate nuisance alert problems and improve the overall experience. 

Though Ring was acquired by Amazon in 2018, its products remain widely compatible with other smart-home gear, including Amazon Alexa, Google Home (for audio announcements and voice control only – no video), IFTTT, Wink, and Works with Nest, among others.

Upgrade pick: for better security

Nest Hello

Around-the-clock video recording with AI-powered motion detection and facial recognition make the Hello a great home-security option, but it's overkill for just watching your door.

Nest's Hello is the slimmest and most advanced DIY doorbell cam in this test and the one to get if security is your primary concern. 

Unlike most smart doorbells, it records and stores video 24/7 (Ring doorbells only record when motion is detected). 

For easy access, Nest's cloud service also automatically tags clips that include motion or people, using facial recognition software to learn and identify who is coming and going – although this feature wasn't very reliable in testing. 

This comprehensive approach comes with an elevated subscription price however.

nest hello

Photo: Michael Hession

The Nest Hello has 24/7 video recording, sophisticated facial recognition, and customisable motion detection, all of which make it a better option if security is your primary concern. 

Whereas every other camera we tested waits to be activated by a button press or detected motion, the Hello is a visual vacuum that records 24/7. All of that video is sent to the cloud, where it is analysed (more on this in a moment) and stored, and can be accessed for a length of time based on your subscription.

nest hello sample

Video from the Nest Hello is bright and crisp, though the Hello's advanced features require a Nest Aware subscription.

The Nest app lets you tweak the Hello's settings, including toggling chimes on and off, adjusting volume and status lights, and configuring integration with other compatible devices. (Annoyingly, setting up motion-detection zones requires that you log in to your Nest account using a Web browser, rather than using the app.) The app is also where you access Hello-captured video: whenever you open the app, it displays a snapshot of what your Hello sees; tap the image to almost instantly pop into live video. 

No other camera in the test streams video so quickly, and the quality is excellent (though surprisingly not CSI level; license plates that can be clearly read using a smartphone camera are indecipherable when video is zoomed).

In addition to the standard username and password system for logging in, Nest also offers far more secure two-factor authentication (2FA), which requires you to input a special one-time-use code, received via email or text, to access your camera and recordings. (2FA is already a requirement to use Apple HomeKit, but Nest is the only smart-home manufacturer we know of that offers it for its own devices.) Though it's an optional step, we highly recommend it: To enable 2FA, go into the Nest app's settings, tap Account, Manage Account, Account Security, and then 2-step verification. 

During the test, the Hello sent a smartphone alert within seconds of a doorbell press, and Google Home announced "Someone is at the door." The Hello is also the only model with built-in canned responses ("You can leave it" or "We'll be right there") that you can trigger right from your phone notifications in lieu of speaking with whoever rang your doorbell. Some visitors might be surprised by the interaction, but  it's a useful feature and one that will expand in capabilities.

The app also offers easy access to a persistent timeline of recorded video, with motion events and doorbell triggers highlighted; tap a still image and within 10 or 20 seconds the video downloads from the cloud. Curiously, the Hello doesn't record your voice when conversing with a visitor (or interloper), so recordings of interactions have only half the conversation. It's hopeful this will be fixed with a software or firmware update.

nest hello on table

The Nest Hello is about half the size of the top doorbell camera pick, which might make it an easier and less obtrusive fit on your doorframe. Photo: Michael Hession

The Hello's ability to detect faces is both intriguing and useful, because it can personalise smartphone alerts as it learns familiar faces. None of the Ring cameras have this feature. The learning process does require a bit of work on your part: whenever a human comes into view, Hello generates a Person alert. The next time you use the app, you can scroll through snapshots of faces the Hello has recorded and either label them, merge them with existing Familiar Faces, or delete them. Hello differentiates between faces and other objects really well (it mistook a hubcap for a face, but only once), though after a week or so of training it was still learning to consistently recognise family members. 

You can also integrate the Hello with Google Home speakers (and only Google Home speakers) to announce when a familiar face comes into view or rings the doorbell. (This brute-force facial-recognition dragnet presents some ethical issues, because all of the images of the faces the Hello collects and you label are beamed to the cloud to be digested by AI, without asking the subject for their consent.)

Hello's motion detection is still a work in progress. With the required Nest Aware subscription, the Hello sends your video to the cloud, where it is digested to better hone its abilities to detect motion and sound patterns. That's nifty in theory, but test installation produced a firehose of motion events – nearly 1700 on one particular day. To make that manageable, you can restrict alerts to Person and Familiar Faces, as well as mute alerts for "cool down" periods between alerts for an indeterminate amount of time that Nest doesn't specify – an unfriendly support choice and all the more so for a device that involves home security. Even if you turn off alerts, you still have a full record of everything that goes down at home hovering in the cloud, another feature unique to the Hello.

nest hello motion detection

The Nest's motion detection and facial-recognition features are a work in progress. At left, the camera captured more than 1700 events in a single day. At right, a hubcap is recognised as a person.

This comprehensive approach to video recording also comes at a cost in terms of bandwidth: when capturing high-resolution video, the Hello uses around 300GB of data per month – roughly a third of the entire typical monthly allotment of data from internet providers like Comcast. Other doorbell cameras, including all Ring models, use data only when they are being accessed through the app, detecting motion, or are recording an event, which means they'll be much less of a drain on your internet service.

Budget pick: a reliable, low-cost option

Ring Video Doorbell

You get all the basic features, powered by battery or wire and at a budget price, but lower-quality video and audio.

The audio quality and 720p video of the original Ring Video Doorbell are noticeably worse than what you get from the Ring 2 and Nest Aware – it's fine for monitoring your door but less useful for security. However, it costs about half the price of those doorbells, and it still has the basic features that any connected doorbell should have, including motion detection, video and audio recording, and the option to see (from your smartphone or tablet) a live view of who's at your door, day or night. And because it can run on batteries, it's easy for renters to install, though recharging is a hassle, and notifications are slightly slower on battery power. Like the Ring 2, it requires a subscription to store videos for later viewing.

ring video doorbell

Photo: Rozette Rago

The original Ring Video Doorbell, the predecessor to the Ring 2, captures video that maxes out at 720p, so identifying someone from a distance is more difficult than with the Ring 2 and Ring Pro. It also has noticeably worse sound quality than the Ring 2. And although it can be hardwired or used with a battery, recharging the original Ring requires removing the entire doorbell for most of the day, a tedious chore. 

Still, it's half the price of newer models, and like the Ring 2, it has effective motion detection and the capability to stream live video. Its price and power options make it an especially good option for renters or anyone who just wants to stick it to the outside of a door and avoid fiddling with wires. Like all Ring doorbells, it requires a subscription to record and review video.

If you're hard-wiring the Ring to your home, installation is straightforward, and the batteries act as an always-charged backup. If you use the Ring with only battery power, however, things get a bit more complicated: you'll need to remove the entire device for recharging, a process that takes up to half a day. And PCMag's John R. Delaney wrote that the Ring battery lasted for only about two-and-a-half months on a charge – though, as a gadget reviewer, he does receive a lot of packages, so it's possible his Ring was in use more than one would be in most homes.

When using the battery, you must also buy an accessory called Chime, which replicates the function of a mechanical doorbell, if you want to hear a doorbell inside your home without relying on phone notifications.

Like the Ring 2, the original Ring has effective motion detection, using an infrared sensor that detects body heat, so tree branches and shifting shadows don't trigger false alarms. Cars, however, will set it off, so if your home sits close to the street, you'll want to refine the motion sensing. 

As with its more advanced sibling, the Ring 2, you can control motion-based notifications according to how sensitive you'd like the camera to be and where you'd like the detection to stop. So, again, if your doorbell is close to the road, for instance, you can dial back the number of feet the motion detector monitors. 

Toggling Smart Alerts lets you tell the camera to track repeated, similar motion and alert you when it's finished. This feature comes in handy if kids are playing in the front yard and you want to mute repeated notifications. In 2019, Ring plans to debut Person Detection features and other new Smart Alerts for its battery-powered models, which should help to mitigate these problems and improve the overall experience. 

Ring was acquired by Amazon in 2018, but the company's products remain widely compatible, so you can integrate them with smart devices and platforms such as Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, and Wink. Testers used the Ring with a Wink Hub to create a recipe that turned the porch light on when the Ring detected motion at night. It had about a 5-second latency, but it worked.

Who are smart doorbells for?

Smart doorbell cameras are for anyone who wants to be able to screen their visitors the way we do phone calls using caller ID. They also serve a valuable security function by recording video of whoever or whatever comes to your door or crosses your walkway, whether it's a courier dropping off a package or the sorts of miscreants who like to pilfer them.

These devices let you monitor your entryway whether you're in the bath, in the backyard, or on holiday 5000km away. They replace your existing doorbell with one that bundles a ringer button, camera, microphone, speaker, and several sensors. When triggered by motion or a ring of the button, a smart doorbell camera will notify you (via audible chime and smartphone notifications) and stream live audio and video to your phone or tablet, letting you hear and see your visitors. You can even talk with those visitors or, in the case of solicitors, send them on their way.

Doorbell cameras also serve a valuable security function by recording video of whoever or whatever comes to your door or crosses your walkway.

Installing an all-seeing eye on your front door necessarily raises issues of privacy – both yours and your unwitting neighbours'. The companies that make these cameras have access to your recordings, and so it's incumbent upon you to take a few minutes to understand their terms of service and privacy policies. And when installing a camera you may be restricted in how it can be used by state or federal law. 

In most homes with a powered doorbell, you can simply swap out your old doorbell button for a smart one, using the existing wiring; a few models – including one of the above picks – can also run on rechargeable batteries. One practical issue some homeowners will face is having an inadequate power transformer, a device that reduces your home's 230-volt electrical service to a lower (and safer) voltage. Though most smart doorbells claim to work with the standard 16-volt transformer found in most homes with a wired doorbell, some are rated for 16 to 24 volts and may require installation of a custom power unit to work properly. If you install a smart doorbell and hear humming, or the doorbell chime doesn't sound right, your existing transformer is likely the issue. If you're not comfortable or knowledgeable about home wiring, best to hire an electrician.

smart doorbells

From left: Original Ring, Ring 2, and Nest Hello. Photo: Jon Chase

What to look forward to

In April 2019, Wirecutter started testing the August View, a battery-powered doorbell camera, and experienced a number of performance issues, which have been reported by The Verge, CNET, and Tom's Guide. On April 26, August announced it was suspending sales of the View due to these issues and began offering refunds.

In May 2019, Wirecutter is expecting to test Tuya Smart's AI Video Doorbell. The device can be used alone or in conjunction with the company's upcoming security system. The doorbell will include facial recognition, which is stored locally, so it can be used offline and without the need for a network/cloud connection.

TP-Link will launch the KD100 Kasa Video Doorbell sometime in mid-2019. The hardwired option promises a 2K sensor, HDR, face recognition, and a Do Not Disturb mode with prerecorded responses. There's also a Take and Zoom feature, which can zoom in on motion and track it on-screen (similar to our outdoor camera upgrade pick, the Nest IQ Outdoor).

When it's released in the second half of 2019, Wirecutter will take a look at the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell. In addition to free video storage via the included microSD card and/or your personal Dropbox/FTP account, the hook on this 1080p-capable model is that it will be compatible with Apple HomeKit.

Later this year, we can expect the Ring Door View Cam, a battery-powered peephole camera that may appeal to apartment dwellers or anyone who wants to steer clear of a drill.

Expected in spring 2019, the Maximus Answer DualCam Video Doorbell is a 1080p smart doorbell that supports HDR video and has two cameras to keep an eye on both people and packages. Other features include a 155-degree field of view, prerecorded and customised messages, and support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Blink announced a video doorbell back in 2017. There's still no release date for the device, but it's apparently still in the works. Wirecutter reached out to Amazon, Blink's parent company, and a representative said the company has decided to make some changes, based on customer feedback.

The competition

6 how we pickedSome of the popular doorbell camera models tested over the years. Photo: Rozette Rago

Wirecutter's previous pick, the SkyBell HD, gives you a week's worth of free video storage, but the doorbell's large size and some reliability issues resulted in it being pushed out by the Ring 2, which costs the same and requires only a very small subscription fee. The SkyBell HD has a 30-second reset time between alerts, which could result in your missing some action. There have also been an alarming number of complaints about connection issues with SkyBell cameras.

The SkyBell Trim Plus, the newer, slimmer sibling of the SkyBell HD, was a solid contender due to its modest size, ability to integrate with other smart devices, and seven days of free video-recording storage. Like with the SkyBell HD, owner reviews also note frequent connection problems.

Getting the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro is a no-brainer if you already have SimpliSafe's security system, if not, then skip it. It can be used with or without a subscription and delivers alert notifications when motion is detected or someone pushes the bell. Recordings and video storage are only available with a subscription. It includes a built-in chime, which was out of sync with the testers' existing one – and it can't be muted. Daytime 1080p images were fine, but faces were washed out during nighttime viewing. Also, testers found motion detection to be very sensitive, even on the lowest setting, triggering every time a truck or larger car would drive by 40 feet away from the front door.

Wirecutter tested the August Doorbell Cam Pro and liked its Hindsight function, which prerecords video before motion is triggered. But in  testing, the August didn't work with the home's existing 16-volt doorbell transformer; testers found a number of similar complaints from owners. The Cam Pro also doesn't work with digital chimes or wireless plug-in chimes, which means some homeowners might conceivably need to upgrade their transformer and their chime just to use this model.

In the previous version of this guide, a number of tested doorbells didn't match the performance of the eventual picks. That includes the original August Doorbell Cam; the HeathZenith Notifi; and the RemoBell. Testers also skipped several models due to pricing, poor reviews, or a seeming abundance of fraudulent reviews. These included the DoorBird.

The research

This guide was written by the editorial staff of Wirecutter (New York Times group) and republished by CHOICE. The products are independently selected. This test was conducted in the United States and was originally published on the Wirecutter website. You can read it here in its original version.

Testers used each doorbell outside for several days, leaving pairs of the most promising models outdoors for head-to-head testing of motion detection and image quality. To get a sense of how quickly and consistently they could send notifications, testers timed motion and bell notifications, as well as how long it took to establish a video and voice connection. They repeated these tests over both Wi-Fi and their phone's LTE connection with both Android and iOS smartphones.

All of the devices tested proved capable of performing their base function – letting homeowners monitor who is at their front door – but all of them also had shortcomings of some variety. The most common issues involved slow notifications (more than 10 or so seconds), stalled or choppy video streaming, and difficulty adjusting motion detection to avoid nuisance alerts.

Wirecutter takes security and privacy issues seriously and investigates as much as possible how recommended companies deal with customer data. As part of the vetting process, Wirecutter has confirmed all of the security and data privacy practices behind product picks and reported any issues you should consider before buying.

Wirecutter focused exclusively on smart doorbell cameras you can install yourself, rather than higher-end models that are part of a larger security system. They also consulted reviews from a number of professional sources, including CNET, Tom's Guide, PCMag, and Digital Trends, as well as owner reviews and comments found on Amazon and community and support forums.

In order to be considered, doorbells needed to have all of the following:

  • Self-installation ready: Some higher-end models are a part of larger security systems, but testers focused on DIY models that didn't require an additional security or automation system. Anyone who can replace a light switch can install one of our contenders.
  • Smartphone alerts and remote live-view video: Once someone rings your doorbell or moves within its motion-detection range (see the next item), it should alert you and let you view a live video feed on your phone.
  • Motion detection: The doorbell camera should be able to detect movement at a good range from your door. This is especially handy for package drop-offs, but it also allows the doorbell to double as a security camera for your entryway, even if no one rings the bell. Some cameras let you tweak the motion-detection area and sensitivity so that you aren't constantly alerted to, say, motion on the footpath. Some can even recognise humans versus general movement.
  • Cloud storage for clips: All but one of the models tested requires an ongoing subscription to access previously recorded video beyond a very small window of time. If you're counting on a doorbell camera for security, such a subscription is an essential investment.

Testers also considered a few features that are nice to have, but not totally necessary:

  • Smart-home integration: Integration with other smart devices and platforms can be useful but not absolutely necessary. For example, some products allow you to use smart speakers such as the Echo Show as video displays or a Google Home as an intercom.
  • Battery support: Not everyone has the wiring necessary to install a video doorbell, so battery-powered models are convenient for many people, especially renters.
  • 1080p HD video: All the models tested have at least 720p resolution, but options with 1080p video are preferred. A higher resolution means you're more likely to capture the most important details and be able to recognise faces.

Over the past two-plus years Wirecutter has considered about a dozen doorbell cameras and then installed and tested eight models extensively. Testers also try to keep recommended picks in frequent use for long-term testing as they consider new contenders.

  1. Megan Wollerton, Ring Video Doorbell 2 review, CNET, July 7, 2017
  2. John R. Delaney, The Best Video Doorbells for 2019, PCMag, September 14, 2018
  3. Megan Wollerton, Nest Hello review, CNET, March 17, 2018
  4. John R. Delaney, Ring Video Doorbell 2 review, PCMag, February 13, 2018
  5. Mike Prospero, Best Video Doorbells of 2019, Tom's Guide, February 22, 2019
  6. Gia Liu, The Best Video Doorbell Cameras for 2019, Digital Trends, December 13, 2018
© 2019 Wirecutter Distributed by The New York Times Licensing Group

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