Smart doorbells allow you to keep an eye on the most easily accessible part of your home whether you’re inside or thousands of miles away. These WiFi-enabled gadgets are equipped with motion sensors, and can send a notification to your phone to alert you that someone is approaching your home.
A speaker and microphone system inside the smart doorbell allows you to communicate with the person you’re seeing, whether it’s a friend or stranger. If you want a little more peace of mind when you go to bed, or know that you can check in on your property while on vacation, the best smart doorbells are a wise investment.
How We Picked the Best Smart Doorbells
Methodology: Our recommendations for smart doorbells are based on research. Below are the factors we considered most highly when deciding which smart doorbells to include in this buyer's guide.
Camera Resolution: The resolution of a smart doorbell’s camera plays an important role in the clarity of the footage it’s able to record. All of the smart doorbells we’re recommending can record 960P (HD) or higher resolution footage. Having clean video is important whether you’re trying to figure out who’s on your property, or need to submit a video clip to the police after a break-in or other incident.
Field of View: A smart doorbell’s field of view determines how large of an area it can cover, which translates to how much of your property you can “see”. Smart doorbells with an ultra-wide view can catch people attempting to reach your home by walking up the rightmost or leftmost part of your property.
Night Mode: All of the smart doorbells we’re recommending are equipped with a night mode, which allows them to record clean-looking video in tough lighting conditions. This mode is triggered automatically once the sun goes down, so you don’t have to set a reminder to set it manually.
Local Storage: Some smart doorbells allow you to save the video clips they record when motion is triggered onto a memory card rather than on the cloud. The local recording setting may also allow you to record a continuous 24/7 video feed from the doorbell’s camera. The largest benefit to this video storage method is that you won’t have to pay a monthly fee to keep clips in the cloud.
Cloud Storage: All smart doorbells allow you to save video clips in the cloud, but typically charge a monthly subscription fee to cover the cost of hosting your data. These subscription services, which typically cost between $5 and $10 per month, usually come with additional benefits like discounts on future hardware purchases, or the ability to easily share video clips with others from within the smart doorbell’s app.
Best Smart Doorbells: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Eufy Security Dual Camera Video Doorbell
Why It Made The Cut: This smart doorbell’s sharp cameras and advanced sensors give it a leg up against the competition.
— Video Resolution: 2K
— Field of View: 160 degrees (bottom facing camera is 97 degrees)
— Local Storage Support: Yes
— Dual camera system
— Family recognition
— Military grade encryption
— Local storage is on the HomeBase
Eufy’s Dual Camera Video Doorbell is the only smart doorbell in this guide that features two cameras, and the addition of a second lens isn’t just a gimmick. The main camera can record video in 2K (better than HD) while the downward-facing one has a resolution of 1080P. The purpose for the second camera is to keep an eye on packages, or anything else on your porch like a bowl of Halloween candy. Other smart doorbells rely on optical tricks for that, but we prefer having a dedicated camera pointed down there.
The sensors inside Eufy’s Dual Camera Video Doorbell are equally impressive, and can scan for both motion and body heat to determine if it’s “seeing” a human or not. If you train it, the smart doorbell can use facial recognition to learn who your family members and other frequent guests are, and notify you when they’re at the door. Other smart features include the ability to alert you if a package hasn’t been picked up in several hours. Eufy is confident in its smart doorbell’s ability to perform these functions in any lighting conditions because its cameras support HDR (high dynamic range) which allows them to balance light and dark areas of what it’s recording more evenly.
The Dual Camera Video Doorbell can run on a battery — which needs to be charged every three to six months — or hardwired using existing doorbell wiring. Eufy says you’ll need a drill and screwdriver to perform the installation. We like that this smart doorbell can be installed at every home, and that you have the option to switch from battery power to a hardwired connection down the road if you choose (or if you move houses).
All of the video recorded on the Dual Camera Video Doorbell is stored locally onto a second device called the Eufy HomeBase. We’d prefer the data was stored on the doorbell itself, as having an additional tech accessory in your house requires giving up some space and an outlet. That said, the HomeBase also acts as a speaker, which rings when someone pushes the button on your Dual Camera Video Doorbell. Eufy’s Dual Camera Video Doorbell would be worth recommending based on its two camera system alone, but it’s also packed with additional smart features you’ll actually use.
Best Budget: Arlo Essential Wired Video Doorbell
Why It Made The Cut: Arlo’s Essential Wired Video Doorbell has a technically-impressive camera we didn’t expect, given its modest price.
— Video Resolution: 1080P
— Field of View: 180 degrees
— Local Storage Support: No
— Wide field of view
— Phone alerts when it’s triggered
— Tall aspect ratio
— Requires existing wiring
— Local storage requires equipment
Arlo’s Essential Wired Video Doorbell has fewer bells and whistles than our other smart doorbell recommendations, but it has all the essential features at an attractive price. The 1080P camera inside this smart doorbell has a 1:1 aspect ratio, which basically means it’s designed to cover a far taller area than the widescreen cameras found in most smart doorbells. It effectively shows you the same area as the two-camera system in Eufy’s Dual Camera Video Doorbell, but at a lower resolution. The difference in video resolution tips that comparison in Eufy’s favor. Still, we’re impressed at Arlo’s decision to calibrate its camera in this way, since the point of using a smart doorbell is to see as large an area as possible.
The Essential Wired Video Doorbell has two limitations that may limit its appeal: It cannot run on a battery, and you need Arlo’s $150 smart hub to store your video clips locally. Failing to make that additional purchase will require you to sign up for an Arlo Secure plan, which starts at $2.99 per month and includes unlimited cloud storage. If you want to get additional Arlo security equipment, you’ll need to pay for an unlimited camera plan, which costs $9.99 per month.
These issues aside, the Essential Wired Video Doorbell is a great cost-effective way to secure your home. It’ll even give your phone a ring when someone pushes its button, so you won’t be able to miss them. Overall, you won’t find a better smart doorbell at this price, especially if you pick up a refurbished model, which can cost as little as $70 on Amazon.
Best Smart Features: Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
Why It Made The Cut: The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has smart features others simply cannot match.
— Video Resolution: 1540P
— Field of View: 150 degrees
— Local Storage Support: No
— Better-than-HD Camera
— People-only mode
— Alexa greetings
— Requires existing wiring
— No local storage
Ring ushered in the current smart doorbell renaissance, and its Video Doorbell Pro 2 is pushing the limits of what this type of device can do. The single camera on this smart doorbell has a resolution of 1536P, which Ring calls HD+. Ring, like Arlo, decided to use a camera with an aspect ratio that covers more vertical space, which is helpful if you want to keep an eye on packages. The smart doorbell’s sensors are sophisticated enough to determine whether a moving object is a person, and plot both their path and current location. If a thief tries to walk up to your place at a weird angle on the periphery of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2’s line of sight, it’ll still catch them.
Ring is owned by Amazon, so it’s no surprise that some of Alexa’s functionality is built into the device, namely the option to use “greetings” to meet people who come up to the door. The person will be able to say why they’re there, and that information will be relayed to you. This feature is exclusive to subscribers of the Ring Protect Plan, which costs $3.99 per month or $39.99 per year. This may seem harsh, but subscribing to that plan is the only way to view video clips recorded from this smart doorbell, as it contains no local storage. This seems antiquated these days, and we hope Ring’s next generation of smart doorbells support local storage.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2’s ability to distinguish people from other objects, map them in a 3D space, and “speak” to folks who approach your home are among the most sophisticated features we’ve seen in a smart doorbell. These assets, along with the smart doorbell’s high-resolution camera earned it a spot in this guide, but we eagerly await Ring’s next round of hardware.
Best Design: Google Nest Doorbell
Why It Made The Cut: Google’s Nest Doorbell is the best-looking smart doorbell we’ve ever seen.
— Video Resolution: 960P
— Field of View: 145 degrees
— Local Storage Support: No
— Object detection
— Sleek design
— Free cloud storage
— No local storage
— So-so camera resolution
Smart doorbells have become popular because of their functionality, but this model from Google proves you don’t have to entirely give away style for substance. The smart doorbell comes in four understated colors that are designed to blend in with the color of your house. Aesthetics aren’t everything, but there’s no denying the fact that many smart doorbells reduce the curb appeal of your home. You should expect nothing less from the company who designed the Pixel phone and Nest Audio speaker.
If you look beneath the doorbell’s exterior, you’ll find a 960P camera and an audio system that allows you to communicate with the people at your door. We wish the camera’s resolution was higher, but the smart doorbell’s HDR support means you should at least get video with colors that aren’t blown out or underexposed, which would make details difficult to make out. The camera has a 3:4 aspect ratio so it’ll be able to capture a lot of vertical space, so you can see your porch.
The Google Nest Doorbell has enough AI to distinguish between objects (packages, plants, moving vehicles etc.) and people, and will notify you accordingly. If you’ve put off getting a smart doorbell because you live on a busy street and are worried about getting notifications on your phone each time somebody drives by your place, this should alleviate those concerns. You can set up the Google Nest Doorbell as a wired or battery-powered smart doorbell. If you go the wireless route, Google says you’ll have to charge its battery every six months or so. We applaud Google for that, but are disappointed this smart doorbell doesn’t have a local storage option. It’ll upload all the video clips to the cloud, and you’ll need an optional Nest Aware subscription to view them, which start at $6 per month, or $60 per year.
If you want a beautiful-looking smart doorbell and don’t mind paying a subscription fee each month, the Google Nest Doorbell is the one to get.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart Doorbell
Other security equipment: If you want your smart doorbell to be part of a larger whole-home security system with cameras, be sure to check out the other hardware offered by the same company. You can mix and match security equipment such as smart locks from different manufacturers, but it’s always easiest to manage a system when everything comes from one company.
Q: Do people steal Ring doorbells?
Yes, but it’s extremely difficult. First, the thief would need to detach the smart doorbell from your house, which would take enough time that someone would be alerted to their behavior before they finish. Additionally, the doorbell would be recording the entire incident, so there would be evidence of the thief’s misconduct. If your Ring smart doorbell is stolen, the company has a procedure wherein you can get a free replacement.
Q: Is a smart doorbell worth it?
Yes. If you own a home, a smart doorbell should be a key part of your security system. It’s important to have a camera outdoors, so you can catch people trying to break in before they get into your home. Additionally, smart doorbells are easy to see, which means they act as a great deterrent for would-be criminals.
Q: Can I have a smart doorbell in an apartment?
Yes. If you own your apartment, it’s possible to install a battery-powered smart doorbell directly onto the door. This is typically a no-go for renters, unfortunately.
Q: How do I responsibly dispose of my old smart doorbell?
If you're replacing an older smart doorbell with one of our recommendations, we recommend reading our guide on how to responsibly dispose of e-waste.
Q. Can the police request footage from my smart doorbell without a warrant?
It depends. Some smart doorbell companies do allow the authorities to gain access to video clips captured by your device whether they have a warrant or not. Most companies do not have this policy.
Final Thoughts on Smart Doorbells
Smart doorbells feel like a piece of technology that would be a little too nerdy to go mainstream, but the success of companies like Ring have proven that this isn’t the case. These cameras are easy to install, replace a “dumb” gadget people are already famiilar with, and provide legitimate utility rather than the promise of making your life easier.
This trend has led to fierce competition in the smart doorbell space, and pushed companies to provide substantive year-over-year improvements to their hardware. The cameras inside smart doorbells are able to capture higher resolution video in even more challenging conditions than they were only a few years ago, and more battery-powered models are available than ever.
Despite this continual improvement in the smart doorbell space, companies have been surprisingly good about continuing to support older hardware with software updates. At the very least, you’ll be able to review and download video clips from within the company’s app for several years. The only reason you’re typically going to have to upgrade to a new smart doorbell is to get a hardware feature that wasn’t available when you got your current one.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
Share This Article