Besides robot vacuums and smart lights, the smart video doorbell is probably the best-selling smart home category. The Ring Video Doorbell pioneered the space. Since then, dozens of companies have released their own devices, with the best video doorbells from companies like Anker (eufy), Arlo, and Wyze.
We think that the video doorbell should be one of the first smart home devices you buy. They’re handy, and their ubiquity makes them quite visible to criminals. Thanks to motion detection with live video and two-way audio, you can hear, see, and talk to whoever is at your door. Some models even include a siren to scare intruders away.
In higher-end models, artificial intelligence allows the doorbell to distinguish between motion you need to be alerted to — like people, packages, or vehicles — and a swaying tree branch or some other false alarm. Video recorded is captured and stored for later viewing or review, typically with a subscription plan.
We’ve had the chance to test video doorbells from various manufacturers and explain our choices for the best video doorbell cameras below. But first, we’d like to answer some common questions on doorbell cameras we receive from readers.
Can I use a Ring Video Doorbell without Ring Protect?
Ring video doorbells (and other manufacturer’s models) don’t need a subscription to operate. However, you will be extremely limited in what you can do. Typically the free service only sends a notification when a doorbell press occurs and allows you to see live video. You will need to subscribe to Ring Protect or whatever service comes with your doorbell for recorded video. We have Ring Video Doorbells and cameras and find the Ring Protect service worth the cost.
How much is the cloud storage subscription for my video doorbell?
This depends on the device and most charge for cloud storage on a per device basis. This can be anywhere from $3 to $6 per device (Ring and Arlo are the cheapest). Most require this service to view video clips from motion detection events. We highly recommend purchasing the premium service; the experience is much better.
Do video doorbells get stolen?
It does happen, but most criminals know that stealing the doorbell doesn’t stop it from recording. So, we wouldn’t worry too much. And some, like the Ring Video Doorbell, even have a replacement program if this happens to you.
How long is recorded video stored with my cloud storage?
Most video doorbells store video for anywhere from 30 to 60 days with a subscription. However, you may be limited to a very short period without a subscription, sometimes as little as 24 hours.
Best Video Doorbells
Ring Video Doorbell
While there are quite a few alternatives these days, we still highly recommend the Ring line and the new Ring Video Doorbell 4. The latest version features color pre-roll, which means you’ll be able to see up to four seconds of video before motion is detected, and customizable motion detection zones to prevent false alerts. We have the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus (the first with the pre-roll feature, but black and white) and find these features extraordinarily useful.
We understand if the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is a little more than you’d like to spend. The latest Ring Video Doorbell, made in 2020, is our pick for the best affordable video doorbell. While the video quality isn’t as good as other doorbell cameras, it’s one of the cheaper options and does well. If you have existing doorbell wiring, opt for the Ring Video Doorbell Wired instead. You’ll be happier with the video quality.
But if you can, splurge on the Ring Video Doorbell 4. It also supports 5GHz Wi-Fi networks, resulting in better performance when viewing live video. With improved battery life, you should get several months of battery life out of a single charge. All Ring devices come with a 30-day trial of Ring Protect, which offers video storage for up to 60 days.
eufy Security Video Doorbell 2K and Arlo Essential Video Doorbell
Eufy’s Video Doorbell 2K is the best video doorbell in terms of picture quality and is one of the highest-rated doorbells on Amazon right now. The Arlo Video Doorbell is the best video doorbell for those looking for smarter notifications: it can differentiate between motion due to people, vehicles, and even packages on your front step.
However, you don’t necessarily need to spend a ton of money to get a good video doorbell. The Wyze Doorbell is the best video doorbell for budget-conscious users, costing just a fraction of its competitors. With 1080p video (with plans to support 2K video in a future software update), a unique 3:4 “head to toe” aspect ratio, it’s an excellent option for those looking for a cheap alternative to the more expensive video doorbells.
Wired vs. Wireless Video Doorbells
So should you choose a wired video doorbell or go with a battery-operated (wireless doorbell)? It comes down to your situation. If you have a wired doorbell at your front door already, a wired video doorbell is the smartest choice. Wired models by far offer the truest “HD video” or any smart doorbell. However, not everybody has that option, so a battery-powered video doorbell is going to have to suffice.
In our experience, expect to have to charge your video doorbell at least every three or so months and more frequently during colder months. The advantage of wireless video doorbells is that they’re much easier to install. For the wired option, you need to be comfortable with removing your existing wired doorbell and working with the low-voltage doorbell wiring to install your new video doorbell. It’s not too tricky, but it can be a little bit intimidating.
Choosing the best video doorbell
We recommend purchasing a video doorbell early on in your smart home build-out, as it is one of the most useful smart home devices to own. However, you might also want to consider what other devices you plan to buy, as we recommend sticking with the same brand for both your smart cameras and your doorbell. This way, all your video feeds are in the same app.
If you can replace your current doorbell, it might be worth it to purchase the wired versions of these video doorbells over the battery-powered versions. This way, they are continuously powered, and we’ve found the video quality to be better, too. Some models, such as the Ring Video Doorbell 4, allow you to choose how you power your doorbell.
We also recommend a doorbell with a wide field of view. The wider the field of view, the more you’ll be able to see with the doorbell. Unfortunately, the Wyze Doorbell has a narrower field of view due to its 3:4 video aspect ratio, which might not be the best solution for large front porches.
What to Consider
There are a few factors that we recommend you consider when shopping for a video doorbell.
- Does it play well with other smart devices? Most doorbell cameras these days do, but some may work with one platform and not the other. We recommend looking for devices that support both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. If you own Apple devices, then HomeKit support will also be helpful.
- How long does it take to send motion alerts or notification of doorbell presses? Read through customer reviews to see people’s experiences, especially if you’re looking a a doorbell cam that’s not on our list.
- What’s the quality of the night vision? Night vision is very important, and if you can find it color night vision is even better.
- Does it have person detection or package detection? This can be very helpful to keep porch thieves at bay (and get to your packages before they do). Motion detection is important too, as well as if users get a lot of false alerts.
- Does it have local storage? This isn’t common in video doorbells — but could be helpful if the power goes out.
How we test video doorbells
We compare the top video doorbells to see which one is right for you. We look at video quality both during the day and at night, looking for crisp video without lag, and test the two-way audio functionality of the device. Does motion detection work as expected? Other important factors include installation difficulty, the companion smartphone app, any necessary subscription services, and build quality too.
To ensure our reviews are accurate, complete, and honest, all smart doorbells included in our lists are tested in the same environment. This allows us to select the best doorbell cameras in a way that is far to both the manufacturer and you, the reader.