By Andy Bowen

The Best Home Security Cameras

In our experience testing 21 of the most popular home security cameras, we’ve discovered that splashy features don’t actually matter if the camera isn’t also functional and easy to use. For this second round of Reviews.com testing, we narrowed our list to nine standout options and did some hands-on testing for ease of use, mobile alerts, streaming quality, and two-way audio to find the best home security camera.

The 4 Best Home Security Cameras

Nest Cam Indoor

Best
Indoor

Google Nest Cam Indoor

Nest Cam Indoor
A high-quality camera that integrates with a variety of home security systems.
Pros
Strong integrations
Clear image quality
Versatile design
Two-factor authentication
Cons
Pop-ups
Notification management

Why we chose it

Strong integrations

This is true for all Nest products, but when you buy a Nest Cam, you’re buying into one of the most widely supported ecosystems in the home security business. ADT and Vivint both offer direct integration with the Nest Cam, and there are a variety of DIY systems (like Scout and Abode) that work with Nest as well. The Nest app also serves as a hub for the Nest Secure, Nest Thermostat, Smoke + CO Alarm, and the Nest Hello Doorbell. And it can control a small selection of third-party devices like Google Home, Philips Hue lights, and Rachio Smart Sprinkler. If you want to begin the journey to building a smart home, Nest products are for you.

Clear image quality

One of the reasons we chose this camera over its sister IQ version is because it offers the same image quality for live streaming, day, and night vision for $100 less. The real differences between the two boil down to the IQ’s higher-quality zoom functioning and facial recognition features, but if these don’t matter to you, you’re still getting a precise camera for the value in the Nest Cam Indoor.

home-security-camera-nest

Versatile design

The camera is well-built and surprisingly versatile. You can set it on a shelf, use a single screw to hang it on a wall or in a corner, or mount it on metal surfaces thanks to its magnetic base. Overall, we found it to be pretty sturdy and weren’t deterred by the wire, which lays on the ground and can be easily tucked away.

Two-factor authentication

After a seemingly rocky start in the security department in early 2019, it is important to note Nest does offer two-factor authentication. This means, for example, when you log in to check your live feed from a new device, Nest will send you a code to your phone to make sure it’s really you. According to our research, two-factor authentication is one of the easiest and most promising ways to mitigate security risks.

Points to consider

Pop-ups

We got really tired of seeing pop-ups reminding us about the Nest Aware paid account option. Unsurprisingly, other customers have the same complaint — going as far as asking how to remove the banners on Nest’s community forum. While the pop-up can’t be removed, if you’re planning on getting cloud storage to begin with, it won’t be a problem. Nest Aware offers three levels of monthly subscriptions priced per camera: 5-day video history for $5, a 10-day history for $10 and a 30-day history for $30. Adding other cameras will cost an extra 50% of the monthly price. Its free storage is only three hours, though, so we highly recommend a subscription. (Applies to all Nest Cams in this roundup.)

Notification management

It’s not difficult to find where and when motion was detected in the app, and if you choose to purchase a Nest Aware subscription, the Nest Indoor Cam will distinguish between people and motion by sending notifications accordingly. This allows you to parse through what could be a mere insect or possible intruder and pinpoint real threats faster. The downside: You can’t adjust your settings to receive “person” – only alerts. (You can set the Nest to send you alerts when no one’s home, all the time, and for every type of motion.)

When the time comes to check an event on the feed, you might have to do a bit of scrolling or “scrubbing,” if you want to use the Sightline feature (which is essentially a timelapse that stamps specific events). If you find Sightline annoying, you can always switch the view and check event history, which places motion events in small clips for you. (This feature applies to all Nest Cams.)

Nest Cam Indoor

Wyze Cam Pan

Best
Budget Cam

Wyze Cam Pan

Wyze Cam Pan
A smart surveillance camera that doesn’t cut any necessary corners, even at its friendly price point.
Pros
Core features for less
Customizable surveillance
Best free cloud storage option
Strong integrations
Cons
Lackluster night vision
Not ideal for standalone security

Why we chose it

Core features for less

This Wyze Cam comes with the crux of the bells and whistles other indoor-only cameras bring to the table without the hefty price tag, like the clarity of 1080p HD, two-way talk, a 360-degree horizontal and 93 degree vertical range of view, and an ability to follow motion in real time. Really, you’re not forfeiting any core functionalities by choosing this discreet surveillance camera over another $200 pick.

Customizable surveillance

While our tester said it was relatively easy to manipulate the point of view from her phone, the device essentially moves to the left and right and stops in the middle — not in a full circle. It also makes a humming noise while panning. The scheduling functionalities made up for this particular woe, though, as our tester was able to program the panning/motion function to only run during the day while she was gone.

A panning function is really only helpful if the device follows motion accurately. To our tester’s surprise, the Wyze Cam Pan passed the test in most cases (except for when she ran really quickly past the camera). The green box surrounding the target also helps you easily identify what it’s following — on cameras without this feature, it can be difficult to discern what caused the motion (yes, sometimes it’s the wind).

Best free cloud storage option

Another impressive feature Wyze brings to the table is free, rolling two-week cloud storage. Other companies force you into paid subscriptions just to be able to store clips on the app. In fact, Wyze doesn’t even offer a paid subscription. Instead, you can purchase a Wyze SD card that will give you two days of HD video and about seven in SD. But if this doesn’t sound appealing, you can use Wyze free option and save any 12-second clips for future reference on your phone before the end of the two week mark.

Strong integrations

The Wyze Cam Pan works with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, and while the lack of Google Assistant integration makes it slightly more limiting than some other contenders, our tester said the IFTTT commands gave her as many basic automation options she was looking for in a camera. Our tester set motion alerts to automatically turn on and off when she left and entered the apartment (taken from her phone’s location data) with IFTTT.

Points to consider

Lackluster night vision

We had some trouble with the night vision on this camera, one of our testers noting “the night vision definitely had a lower quality, but everything that I wanted to see was still visible.” It turns out that we’re not the only ones — several people have expressed issues with Wyze night vision. In some reported cases, the LED lights weren’t working properly, so Wyze recommended a factory reset (which has and hasn’t worked). If this happens to you, we recommend reaching out to Wyze’s customer support via email or live chat.

Not ideal for standalone security (yet)

The Wyze Cam Pan isn’t the only camera that doesn’t come with a built-in siren, but since it doesn’t, it is important to refine your expectations for what it can do. Rather than using a siren to scare a burglar (or animal) away, you’re left with two-way talk only. These types of cameras are best for keeping tabs on the day-to-day and providing evidence when needed.

However, Wyze Labs is emerging as a player in the home security space, and might one day have the infrastructure necessary to support a full security system. You can already program your Wyze Cam to send alerts or start recording when a smoke alarm is triggered — and the company plans to go further. Slated to roll out in May 2019, Wyze Sense, a security kit complementary to a Wyze Cam, comes with a bridge that can host up to 100 contact motion sensors attachable to doors, windows, or anything that opens and closes. We plan to test this suite in the near future, but for $20, Wyze Labs is making a bold statement in the home security industry.

Nest Cam Outdoor

Best
Outdoor

Google Nest Cam Outdoor

Nest Cam Outdoor
A sleek and durable outdoor camera with crisp vision.
Pros
Good for surveillance and security
Sturdy design
Cons
Connectivity issues

Why we chose it

Good for surveillance and security

Again, we chose this Nest Outdoor Cam over its IQ counterpart because you’re really getting the same quality and core functionality for $100 cheaper (minus facial recognition and 4K imaging). This camera is perfect for a long driveway or to cover a decent amount of your front yard with its 130-degree diagonal field of view. Like most all Nest products, this camera also works with the Nest Secure home security system — so if an alarm trips, this camera will start recording footage whether it’s on or not.

Nest Cam Outdoor footage on the bottom half of the image.

Sturdy design

The Nest Cam Outdoor comes with a 15-foot cable that we had to drape over the top of a side door, but the excess length wasn’t a complete eyesore. In fact, it might even give you more placement flexibility. This camera pops into a magnetic base that allows you to adjust the point of view to easily and immediately fine-tune what you really want to see. The downside to this, however, is that it’s now easier to pull the camera off the side of your building, potentially making it vulnerable to tampering.

In terms of withstanding the elements, we originally thought the magnetic base would fail us in high winds, but surprisingly, the Nest Cam Outdoor held its own — even in the midst of an Appalachachian thunderstorm.

Points to consider

Connectivity issues

While we had virtually no trouble physically installing the camera to the side of our testing location, we did run into some issues with connectivity. In fact, we had to uninstall the camera and bring it back inside to attempt to reconnect it. This could have been attributed to our personal Wi-Fi setting, but according to Nest, the only router you should have issues with is a BT Home Hub 3 when it comes to cameras. This wasn’t nearly as painful as our time with the Netatmo Welcome — which worked fine until our tester unplugged it and tried a factory reset to get it working again. After 30 minutes of attempting to reconnect the Netatmo Welcome, our tester gave up.

Arlo Pro 2

Best
Wireless Security Camera

Arlo Pro 2

Arlo Pro 2
A discreet, wire-free camera for both indoor and outdoor use.
Pros
Smart, versatile design
Added security features
Video storage options
Helpful notifications
Cons
Hub required
Not all features work wire-free

Why we chose it

Smart, versatile design

If you’re not a fan of clunky wires or don’t have the facilities to hide them, the Arlo Pro 2 is the only pick in our lineup that offers surveillance monitoring completely wire-free. The camera itself is discreet and easily hidden — it packs a punch without taking up too much surface area. Along with two cameras, you’ll get a Base Station that will need to be connected to your router via an ethernet cable and placed at 300 feet from the cameras, as well as wall and outdoor mounts.

Added security features

The lack of wires didn’t completely hinder this camera’s performance when it comes to image clarity (1080p, 130-degree viewing angle). Our tester didn’t mount or take the cameras outside but was pleased with the versatility and amount of motion-sensing customizability. With Arlo Smart plans, your camera can distinguish between vehicles, people, packages, and animals — the type of artificial intelligence recognition that can really help you weed through what’s a false alarm and what isn’t.

You can also decide what you want to trigger an alarm (100-decibel siren included in the Smart Base). Depending on the motion (or sound) setting you choose, the Arlo Pro 2 will send you mobile or email alerts when an alarm is triggered. You can also select how long you want the Arlo Pro 2 to record a certain event (10-120 seconds) — but if you want to plug it in, you can get non-stop recordings to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

Video storage options

Prior to this second round of Reviews.com testing, the Arlo Q landed a top spot for the best free cloud storage. Compared to our Wyze Cam picks, this is no longer true, but seven-day cloud storage in a market known for proving scant amounts of video storage (motion- and sound-triggered clips) is pretty noteworthy. Additionally, you can plug a USB drive into the base for added backup storage

Helpful notifications

With Arlo Smart plans, you can receive “rich notifications,” which essentially send you pictures of events without having to unlock your phone. Most companies opt to send text-only alerts with a brief description of what’s going on, requiring you to open your phone and do some more digging. Our tester tried this on her Apple Watch and found the feature helpful but not quite as practical with her 10-lb. dog constantly tripping the motion sensor. Instead, she was able to receive sound-only alerts.

If you want higher-quality imaging:

If you like Arlo and have the cash to spend, the Arlo Ultra is a more advanced indoor/outdoor version of the Arlo Pro 2. The Arlo Ultra comes with a high resolution 4K video that lets you zoom without sacrificing clarity, and a 180-degree field of view that comes without the awkward fisheye distortion. We haven’t tested this one yet, and while we’re excited about its features we feel as though you can still get a quality surveillance/security camera in its sibling model right now (for the price).

Points to consider

Hub required

The wireless aspect is certainly attractive, but the hub is wired and may or may not limit where you can place your cameras. Our tester, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment, didn’t have issues with placement, but if you live in a larger home with multiple floors the 300-foot range base-to-camera range might be pose a problem.

A note on battery life:

After eight days of use, our tester said the Arlo Pro 2 cams still had full battery lives. This is impressive, but if you place the camera in an area with high traffic (or position it to constantly record), it could drive down the battery. Arlo says you should be able to get four to six months of normal usage without having to charge your camera — something to be mindful of.

Not all features work without wires

In order to enable the 3-second Look Back feature, which shows you what happened three seconds before a certain motion was detected, you have to plug the camera into the AC power. If you want to create activity zones in the app for your camera to focus on specifically or utilize 24/7 CVR recordings, these features also require the camera to be plugged in.

Others to Consider

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is an impressive camera with some of the most advanced features on the market: 1080p, facial recognition, and a 4K color sensor with 12x digital zoom (this means you won’t lose any image quality by zooming). Needless to say, the image quality is consistently impeccably clear, even at night in Nest’s black and white hue. Unlike its sister Nest Outdoor Cam, it’s also pretty tamper-resistant with its sturdy base (and hidden wiring option, which you can choose to undertake). Overall, though, we didn’t feel like these features could quite justify the price right now. The familiar face alerts can be helpful, but Nest says it does take a few weeks for the algorithm to fully recognize certain people.

Wyze Cam V2

Others to Consider

Wyze Cam V2

This camera — and Wyze in general — could very well be a disruptor in the home security camera market. At only $20, this camera provides virtually all the features its $200-$300 competitors provide (minus facial recognition). It’s more compact than the Wyze Cam Pan, and it doesn’t offer the expansive 360- degree horizontal field of view. Other than that and a lack of Google Home integration, Wyze cams are seriously tough to beat.

Ring Stick Up Cam Wired

This camera is extremely versatile and boasts a wider field of view than its siblings at a 150-degree horizontal range. The motion zones are easy to manage and help drive down the amount of useless alerts. You can also choose to receive alerts for people only and schedule when to receive and disable motion alerts (again, if you have wandering animals). A nice feature in its own right, but we’d still sometimes get notifications when our cat was actually the culprit.

Upon installation, Ring will ask you to enter your location. This helps the app tailor a feature called Neighbors to your surroundings. Basically, you can receive updates on crime via your neighbors, as people will post videos of packages getting stolen off their front porches or cars being broken into. You can post about your own experiences to inform your neighbors as well. This camera also comes with a built-in siren (that’s pretty underwhelming and not quite as loud as we thought it would be). The siren isn’t triggered by motion, but you can activate it in the app after seeing suspicious activity on the live stream.

While this is a decent, user-friendly camera worth considering, there are a few reasons we couldn’t give it a top spot. For one, the two-way talk audio clarity was decidedly poor. By this, we mean we actually thought there was something lodged in the camera obstructing the sound when we first tried it. (There wasn’t.) Ring also offers the least amount of free cloud storage in this roundup. Without a Ring Protect plan, you won’t be able to see any recordings of motion at all after the 30-day free trial period, and Ring cameras don’t enable continuous recording without actively choosing to enable “Live View.” You will receive mobile alerts without a subscription, but if you don’t catch the action on the live feed immediately, you won’t have any proof of the instance.

Lastly, Ring has faced serious backlash in early 2019 when The Intercept reported the company lacked sufficient privacy measures, leading to hacking and unwarranted viewership. Ring responded by saying employees didn’t have access to live streams, and that all recordings were “sourced exclusively from publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors app,” according to a statement Ring released to L.A. Biz. Ring’s privacy notice states that the company protects personal information by maintaining “administrative, technical and physical safeguards,” but we plan to update you on any movement we see in this sector.

Amazon Cloud Cam

Others to Consider

Amazon Cloud Cam

The Amazon Cloud Cam one of the cheapest cameras we tested — both for an individual camera and for running a multi-cam system. It’s $120, and most of our other picks retail around $200. Outfitting your home with two Cloud Cams would only be $40 more expensive than a single camera from another brand. Plus, you won’t have to pay for that extra camera on the subscription. For $7 per month, you get seven days of cloud storage for three cameras. You can sync those with Amazon’s Alexa, too. If you aren’t too invested in the construction quality, or are unsure if you need cameras at all, Amazon’s Cloud Cam lets you test out surveillance at a low price.

That price cut came with a small sacrifice in quality: We found the plastic Cloud Cam was pretty flimsy. If you’ve got it resting on a counter, there’s a good chance your cat could swipe it off. However, the discounted price didn’t seem to affect the internal mechanics — we saw crisp live feeds similar to the Nest Cam Indoor.

The Cloud Cam app is pretty standard, and we received alerts in near record-time. Unlike the Nest, however, you can’t scroll through the stored footage (it’s not continuous). You’ll only have access to the captured motion clips — no timelapse of events leading up to and after the detected motion. However, those motion clips were nearly too frequent: The camera seemed to have peripheral vision and would alert us to motion too often — like when we’d walked behind the camera or our shadow cast across the camera’s view. If you don’t mind a few extra notifications, the Cloud Cam is great for affordably outfitting a home with a couple cameras.

Canary Flex

Others to Consider

Canary Flex

The Canary Flex is a sleek, $116, pill-shaped device that doesn’t exactly look like a camera, but can be used both indoors and outdoors. You can unscrew the Flex from its wall mount with a few twists and then tote it wherever you want — as long as there’s a Wi-Fi connection for video recording. But even that limitation goes out the window if you buy a 4G LTE base from Verizon, which comes with its own data plan. We didn’t test the LTE base, but we can attest to the Flex’s battery life capabilities. It has a rechargeable battery, so you can place it without worrying about plugging it in. After more than 18 hours, the battery was around 50% and still going strong. And with its 360 degree swivel base, you truly can place it anywhere. If you want a camera that has the ability to work both indoors and outdoors — or the consistency of having the same exact camera inside and outside your home — this is a solid choice.

Blink XT2

Others to Consider

Blink XT2

Amazon purchased Blink in 2017, making them another part of Bezos' vision quest, and a nice addition to Alexa's growing list of compatible smart home brands.

The second generation of 2016’s Blink XT camera, the XT2 offers improved motion detection, two-way talk, and elongated battery life. It features both Amazon Alexa and IFTTT compatibility, and works with tons of popular smart home devices. While its video clarity, motion detection smarts, and storage capacity aren’t industry-best, it provides a high-tech experience without the need to hardwire the device or pay for monthly cloud storage.

Guide to Home Security Cameras

How to find the right home security camera for you

Research cloud storage options

For a monthly fee, you can unlock storage plans that range from 10 days to 60 days. That subscription may also come with desktop streaming, continuous storage, and custom modes.

Camera Packages
Nest Cam
  • 3 hours free
  • 5 days for $5
  • 10 days for $10
  • 30 days for $30
Wyze
  • 14 days free
  • MicroSD card-supported
Netgear Arlo
  • 7 days free
  • 30 days for $10.75
  • 60 days for $15.75

All prices monthly. Storing footage from multiple cameras may require upgraded plans.

Prioritize reliability

A reliable camera will give you high quality video on both LTE and Wi-Fi connections. We also evaluated how shaky the live feeds were during use, noting how many times we had to wait for each one to buffer to clear up a distorted feed. With this testing in mind, it’s also important to realize your Wi-Fi signal and range will have an impact on your camera’s reliability. Before choosing a home security camera, check your internet upload speeds against the minimum required for your camera of choice to ensure they’re aligned. Otherwise, you might run into slow loading speeds and connectivity issues.

Consider integration

A home security camera will help keep your home safe, but if you want to amp up your level of protection you may want to consider a home security system and other home automation devices. Before purchasing a home security camera, research if it integrated with home security systems or gadgets like smart thermostats, smart locks, and smart lights. If you’re interested in added more security, check out our review of the Best Home Security Systems.

Home Security Camera FAQ

How many security cameras do I need?

How many cameras you need will depends on your security goals. If you live in an apartment with one main entryway, you’ll likely only need one for your front door. If you live in a house with multiple doors and windows on your first floor, it’s worth considering additional cameras. You’ll also want to think about whether you want an indoor security camera safeguarding your home’s interior or simply to keep an eye on pets while you’re away.

What are wireless home security cameras?

While the name might imply they’re wire-free, wireless home security cameras traditionally require wired power. This means they’ll also still need to be positioned near an outlet. The reason they’re “wireless” is because they transmit footage via Wi-Fi rather than an ethernet cable. Some wireless home security cameras are also wire-free, but this isn’t always the case. Check the fine print before committing to a wireless camera if what you really want is wire-free.

What’s the difference between an indoor security camera and an outdoor security camera?

Chances are if you purchase an indoor security camera it will not be equipped to handle the demands of outdoor surveillance. Outdoor security cameras must be able to withstand severe weather conditions and crisp night vision to see beyond the shadows and detect suspicious activity. Indoor security cameras should still have night vision, but don’t need to be built for sweltering Florida summers or freezing Minnesota winters.

The Best Home Security Cameras: Summed Up

Nest Cam Indoor
Wyze Cam Pan
Nest Cam Outdoor
Arlo Pro 2
Best Indoor
Best Budget
Best Outdoor
Best Wireless Indoor/Outdoor
Works with:
Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT
Amazon Alexa, IFTTT
Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT
Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT
Price
$128
$29.99
$199
$380
Free storage
3 hours
14-day folling
3 hours
7 days
Resolution
1080p
1080p
1080p
1080p
Field of view
130 degrees
360 horizontal
130 degrees
130 degrees
Integration with home security systems/offers security features
Security
HTTPS, TLS
HTTPS, TLS, AES 128-bit encryption
HTTPS, TLS
AES-128 bit encryption, TLS, HTTPS
Two-way talk
Person alerts/detection
✔ (with subscription)
X
✔ (with subscription)
✔ (with subscription)
Facial recognition
X
X
X
X

More Home Security Reviews

A home security camera isn’t the only way to protect your home. Check out more reviews on products and services that will help you achieve your security goals:

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