Buying a video doorbell camera answers one of the biggest questions of the smart home: if someone calls at your house and you’re not there to answer, did they call at all?
With a smart doorbell, they’re connected straight through to your smartphone or video device within the home. You can get a live video feed and see who’s calling, and use two-way audio to speak to them.
This can make dealing with deliveries a lot easier (“chuck it over the fence”, “put it in the garage”) and enables you to keep tabs on who’s calling. It’s also a lot more natural than just using a smart home camera.
Below, we’ll run you through our pick of the best smart video doorbells. We’ll then explore some of the things you need to know before buying your first smart doorbell.
Jump to the information you need
The best smart video doorbells
There are now heaps of “smart” doorbells you can buy, but we’ve been busy testing – separating the heroes from the zeroes – to bring you this guide. Here are our top picks.
Our top pick of smart doorbells right now, Ring Video Doorbell 2 works superbly well, is available globally and you won’t have to worry about cables, given that it works via a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. If you do have wires hanging out of your door frame, you can still attach them to ensure you don’t have to recharge.
The build is a bit big and bulky in order to hold that big battery and we wouldn’t say Ring is the most aesthetically pleasing doorbell on the market.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 features a full HD 1080p camera with a 160-degree field of view, which is fairly standard. The feed is only 15fps, so it can be a bit choppy at times, but it’s a doorbell, not your holiday video. Two-way audio and 1080p streaming works out of the box, but if you want to watch back recorded motion and rings you’ll need a plan. Basic costs $30 per year.
You’ll also need to purchase a Chime, if you want to hear the doorbell in the house. Of course, it’s optional, as you have your phones, a noise from the Ring unit itself, plus you can have your Echo speakers announce when someone is at the door.
The standard Chime plugs into a mains socket; the Chime Pro works as a Wi-Fi extender to mitigate issues in your home, and this might be a necessity for those with patchy signal.
Our one beef is the charges for storing video, and we’d like to see 24 hour playback thrown in for free. Otherwise, Ring is a superb system that comes highly recommended.
What we love
- Easy to install
- Removable battery
- 1080p streaming
What we don’t love
- Bit of a bulky design
- No Ethernet option
- Cloud storage costs extra
Check out our full Ring Video Doorbell 2 review.
Buy now: nest.com | $229
While we marked down Ring 2 for being big and bulky, the Nest Hello is slim and good-looking. When it comes to standard features there’s the 1600 x 1200 HD video at 30fps that’s nice and clear, with HDC to make things easier to see at night. It’s also set up at a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than 16:9, which will help you see people head to toe.
Where the Hello shines with its smart features. You have quick replies that you can select from the app, that can do things like tell your UPS deliverer to set the package at the door, there are also motion, sound, person and package alerts at your disposal.
If you’ve got the $5 monthly Nest Aware subscription, there’s also facial recognition, which will learn the faces of people who frequent your place the most and let you tag them in the app. If you’ve got a Nest Cam IQ or Google Home, they’ll even announce them.
There’s a wireless chime in the box, which is good, but you’ll still need a wired connection to work this one – that might stump some people. Nest Pro installation is recommended, though it will cost you a couple of hundred dollars or less depending on how much work your home needs done.
Overall, the Nest Hello is a great choice for those who want to put the smart in smart doorbell. It’s got high-end features like facial recognition, pre-recorded responses, and full 24/7 video streaming (not just clips that start recording based on motion or sound). But it’s also expensive, from the upfront cost to installation to the Nest Aware subscription.
What we love
- Facial recognition
- Small and sleek
- Pre-recorded messages
What we don’t love
- Needs to be wired
- Some niggles with app
Check out our full Nest Hello review.
A unique entry into the doorbell space, the Ring Peephole Cam previously called the Door View in the US) fits in the peephole of your door – making it a great option if you can’t install a wired doorbell or drill holes into the outside of your home.
Battery-powered, this Ring has the easiest install, taking under five minutes as there’s no wiring or drilling. Once installed you get nice, clear, full HD video, with a 155-degree angle view (slightly narrower than its big brother Ring 2), and nighttime infrared recording.
All the standard Ring features – motion sensitivity controls, a snooze alert option, and privacy areas – are here, plus the Ring cloud plan for storing and playing back video, and Alexa integration (no Google Assistant or HomeKit).
A new feature is knock detection that catches people who don’t ring the bell. However, there’s no option to set activity zones and we found the video to be slightly jerky, unless we turned on HDR, which reduces battery life.
Essential guide: Everything you need to know about Ring
Speaking of batteries, you’ll be charging this three or four times a year so you might want to buy a backup battery, plus pick up a Ring Chime (or Chime Pro if you need to extend Wi-Fi to your front door), as you won’t hear the noise out of the small speaker inside your home.
The biggest drawback of the Ring Door View Cam is actually its biggest advantage – its unique positioning. Because it’s in the door, when you open the door you lose the video footage of your front doorstep, instead you get a nice view of the side of your head.
Still, you get all of the features and reliability that we’ve come to expect from Ring, in a package that can be installed in a matter of minutes. For those that can’t fit a regular doorbell or that aren’t allowed to drill holes, there’s nothing that works this well.
What we love
- Fast and easy installation
- Fast response and clear audio
- Detailed Full HD video
What we don’t love
- No Google Assistant support
- Privacy zones don’t prevent recordings
- Camera moves with door
Read our full Ring Peephole Cam review.
The RemoBell S stands alone in this roundup for one simple reason: it’s cheap. At $99 it’s an absolute bargain – but how does it stand up to the above competition? That depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re after an inexpensive video doorbell that can show you who’s outside and store recordings, the RemoBell S does the trick.
But as we put it in our full review: “…if you’re a smart home geek who loves to integrate all your devices, or you appreciate a well-thought-out app and want more advanced features, such as person detection and sound notifications, then the RemoBell isn’t going to excite you.”
The RemoBell S does lack several of the bells and whistles you’ll get with its pricier competitors, but here’s what you will get: two-way talk, HD (1536×1536) video, night vision, motion zones, push notifications, live viewing and, best of all, three days of free video storage.
Not bad, right? Especially that last point; Ring, Nest and August will all make you pay for a similar recording allowance. There are no indoor chime bundles with the RemoBell S, but you can purchase a Remo Digital Chime separately for $29.
A better app and some improved video recording would bump up our rating. And while it lacks higher-end features, like facial recognition, digital zoom and full integration with your smart home, it’s an inexpensive and solid solution to add voicemail and caller ID to your front door.
What we love
- Three days free video storage
- Fast response & good two-way talk
- HD video for under $100
What we don’t love
- Fish-eye video
- Spotty notifications
- Sound out of sync
Eufy offers a great balance between excellent value for money and exceptional performance, and it does it all without any monthly cloud storage fees – as it stores your video locally.
We love the responsiveness of this doorbell – there’s no waiting for endless buffering, and the video quality is excellent, serving up 2K (2560 x 1920) resolution with HDR technology for clearer images, and offers a 160-degree field of view and 4:3 aspect ratio – totally comparable to Nest’s Hello.
Person detection means you can choose not to be bombarded with notifications when trees sway in the wind or a cat or car crosses by your front door, and quick responses let the doorbell do the talking for you, you can even create custom ones.
It’s slightly more expensive than our Budget Pick, the Remo S Bell, but it comes with an indoor Chime (you have to buy one separately for the Remo), and its performance is better – especially on the software side. Notifications are super speedy and the app is polished and very user-friendly.
The downsides? No decent smart home integration beyond basic Alexa and Google Assistant integration (you can view your doorbell feed from their screen-enabled devices and Alexa can act as your indoor chime). There’s also none of the high-end features such as face recognition or being able to trigger other cameras around your home, and no integration with smart door locks.
What we love
- Free, local video storage
- Indoor chime included
- Super quick alerts
- Excellent video quality
What we don’t love
- No smart doorlock integration
- No continual recording
- No HomeKit
- 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi only
Read our full Eufy Doorbell review.
If you’re sold on the idea of a smart doorbell and are now looking at the cold reality, there are a few key considerations.
Wired vs wireless
The first is how the doorbell is connected. If you’re replacing an existing doorbell on the front of the house, which is wired in, you’re already winning. Most video doorbells are designed to support this system, and you can wire them in using these connectors, and ignore the need for batteries forever.
Read this: A beginner’s guide to smart home wiring
If you don’t have a wired set up, you’re going to be limited. You can either wire in a doorbell, which is less than ideal: chasing home electrics back to a junction box, installing a transformer to step down the power, finding somewhere to chase the wire and then drill through your doorframe. Or you can buy a battery-powered version.
But choice here is extremely limited, and only Ring and August (with its new View doorbell) offer respite for cable-challenged doorbell installers.
The next consideration is cloud storage and accessing recorded motion and rings. While answering a ring at your doorbell is part and parcel of the smart doorbell experience, watching video back of missed calls or detected motion usually (but not always) comes at a price.
This can cost in excess of $25 per year, and is an ongoing cost for having a doorbell, not something that everyone wants to enter into.
Smart lock integrations
Increasingly, smart doorbells aren’t just being used to screen callers, but to let the person in. That could be a cleaner, dog-walker or tradesperson – but this requires the doorbell to work together with your door.
For example, Nest’s Hello doorbell plays nice with the Nest x Yale smart lock, and the companion app will let you both see who’s at your door and unlock it simply.
As for Ring, it now has integration with Z-wave locks from Schlage, Kwikset, Yale, and others, which means that you can now unlock your door from the Ring app if you have the two paired.
What about HomeKit?
HomeKit has been painfully slow to feature on any smart doorbell. The Robin ProLine is the only one to offer it right now, as Netatmo has unfortunately postponed its HomeKit-friendly doorbell to later in 2020.
However, with the arrival of HomeKit Secure Video we hope this will soon change, as there’s an incentive for both Apple and smart home companies to make it work. Netatmo says its Smart Video Doorbell will support Secure Video whenever it finally arrives.