A smart security device is an item of hardware that links up to your connected devices – i.e. your phone, tablet or computer – to help you monitor your property, family or pets. In this article, we’ve zoomed in on the most popular category of smart security devices: smart security cameras.
Some smart security cameras are indoor-only, while other options with appropriate weatherproofing can be used outside as well. We’ll make a note of indoor/outdoor compatibility in the key specs at the start of the review for each device.
Almost all smart security cameras need to be used with an app, running off the user’s phone, tablet, or in some cases, computer. Be sure to check your chosen security camera is compatible with your connected device and operating system before you buy.
How do smart security cameras differ from one another?
There are significant differences between smart security cameras in terms of both hardware quality and software capabilities. You’ll noticed this in things like a camera’s video quality, in the supplementary features offered (e.g. two-way talk via an in-built mic and speaker, night vision, video recording), and in the price you pay. This article will introduce you to a diverse range of options, representing the breadth of the smart security market.
How to choose a smart security camera
This is primarily a question of where, what and who you need to monitor. If your aim is to secure an entire property, a weatherproof outdoor camera would be your best bet, as this will enable you to track anyone who approaches the building. You may also be able to tap into deterrence features such as automatic sirens and two-way talk.
Indoor security cameras can also be useful for crime detection and prevention, particularly if placed near an entrance point or an area where valuables are stored. Furthermore, indoor cameras with live playback and motion detection can keep you updated on people’s movements in the house while you’re away – a useful capability for people who spend a lot of time away from children, pets or vulnerable relatives.
There’s only so much space one camera can watch, so we’d urge you to think carefully about placement, aiming outdoor cameras at entrance points and indoor cameras in places where their viewpoint is maximised, i.e. in the corner of a room. You may find you need two or more security cameras to cover all the areas you need to, in which case we’d advise spending conservatively on your first camera.
Best for: All-round software and hardware performance
Key specs – Size: 31.9(H) x 71(W) x 71(D) mm; Location: Indoor or outdoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa; Extras: Secure cloud storage with smart, customised motion alerts, wall mounting hardware
First off, we’d like to say how smartly boxed the Circle 2 is. Foregoing the “unboxing”-based theatrics so common in today’s tech packaging, it simply presents its camera in one box, and all the mounting hardware and charging equipment in a second box, making setup especially accessible. You come to appreciate these things once you’ve reviewed a load of smart security cameras!
The Circle 2 has some novel mounting options, including a plug mount for your power sockets and a window mount, so you can set it up in a variety of locations with ease. Do be aware that the set-up process differs somewhat depending on which option you choose though. Its rechargeable battery makes it far easier to install outdoors than alternative options that need to stay plugged into the mains (make sure it’s installed in an accessible place, so you can recharge as required).
As seems to be typical of Logitech products, the camera works perfectly. Its app, meanwhile, is a cut above, with clever features such as “day briefs”, which stitch together automatically captured motion clips from throughout the day. If you plan on covering more area than one camera can manage, check out the two-camera bundle also available via the link below – you’ll just need to change the option in the drop-down box.
If you’re looking for a user-friendly camera fit for normal security needs, this would be our top recommendation.
Best for: Combining cleverly with other smart home devices
Key specs – Size: 137.5(H) x 88(W) x 88(D) mm; Location: Indoor only; Night vision: Yes; Video resolution: Up to 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Extras: Smartphone alerts, combined actions with other smart devices
The Hive View is an outstandingly well-finished product, with a weighty base and a stylish stand, which allows you to tilt the camera up or down in search of your desired viewpoint. It records automatically whenever it detects sound or motion, creating a daily archive of events that updates in real time in the Hive app. You can also check in on the camera via live stream.
Where the View gets really smart though is when it’s linked up to other Hive products to create chains of actions. We linked it to the Hive Active Light to turn the light on when it detects motion – precisely the sort of advanced smart home functionality we’ve come to expect of Hive’s products.
Currently, this product offers 24-hour video playback for free or 30-day video playback from £3.99 per month. Available in two colours.
Best for: An aesthetically pleasing, wall-mounted option for outdoor use
Key specs – Size: 122(H) x 66(W) x 66(D) mm; Location: Outdoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: Up to 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Extras: Smartphone alerts, combined actions with other smart devices
Like the indoor-based Hive View, the View Outdoor is a solidly built, smart-looking device that will only enhance the appearance of your home – this is our recommended option for those aesthetes among you who have reservations about adding a security camera to the façade of the building.
It’s similar in design and function to its sister product, but with some unique attributes designed for outdoor use, including a relatively loud speaker volume enabling two-way talk in even relatively noisy conditions, and a watertight plug connection where the micro USB port meets the cable. It taps into the same integrated actions as the Hive View, linking up to other Hive devices with functions such as lighting and heating.
Everything you need to install the View Outdoor is in the box, including wall plugs, cable clips and grommets. If that strikes you as a daunting list of components, we’d advise you to get the camera installed by a professional.
The View Outdoor does not have a remote panning function, and at 130°, its viewing angle doesn’t quite live up to some competitors, such as the Logitech Circle 2 (180°). If you angle the camera carefully, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue – but do bear it in mind if you need to cover a wide area.
Best for: Supreme quality
Key specs – Size: 128(H) x 93(W) x 93(D) mm; Location: Outdoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Extras: Motion tracking, familiar person recognition
For those willing to push the boat out, this camera offers a higher calibre of smart security than all the rest. Firstly, there’s the build quality of the camera itself – a large, weighty device, resistant to the heaviest rain and to extreme temperatures beyond anything ever recorded in the UK (operating range: -40°C to +45°C). It’s rounded off attractively with a coloured light encircling the edge of the camera – a symbol of Nest’s IQ range.
As wired outdoor cameras go, it’s relatively easy to install, with a long, tough power cable running through the camera’s base and into the property. You can achieve an angled view using the camera’s rotating base and adjustable hinge.
But the best thing about the IQ Outdoor is the experience of using it. Its image quality is excellent, especially its highly impressive night vision. Motion event notifications appear on your app promptly when the camera sees someone – it automatically follows the person’s movements – and most remarkably of all, it can use facial recognition to tell whether a person is familiar or not, so you can set it to notify you only when an unfamiliar person is in view.
Best for: Stylish security, indoors and outside
Key specs – Size: 46(H) x 110(W) x 46(D) mm; Location: Indoor or outdoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: Up to 1080p; Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit; Extras: One-touch emergency services call button in-app, magnetic base
The pill-shaped Canary Flex could well be the panacea for all your home security woes. It’s a massive step up in product design from most other smart security cameras on the market, with a neat, minimal design and a bright blue status light declaring this device that little bit swankier than the average alternative.
The Flex works indoor or out, provided it’s in range of your Wi-Fi, either wired or wire-free, provided it’s sufficiently charged. It has some clever features, such as recording only when it recognises a human being, rather than motion more generally. This means you won’t have to survey the local avifauna while you check back footage in the Canary app.
One slight drawback to the Canary Flex is that you’ll need to pay a relatively expensive monthly membership fee of $9.99 (roughly £7.80) per month to access its full video playback functionality. However, as this is a particularly desirable and effective device, you may deem it deserving of the extra outlay.
Another interesting feature of the Canary Flex is a one-touch button to call the emergency services in-app, though for obvious reasons we couldn’t try this out.
Best for: Advanced features at a reasonable price
Key specs – Size: 100(H) x 100(W) x 90(D) mm; Location: Indoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Extras: MicroSD compatibility for continuous storage
The Internet PT Camera from smart home security brand Ezviz gets more impressive the more you use it. During setup, it’s a little fiddly, requiring the entry of QR scans or serial numbers. Interestingly, it sets up its Wi-Fi connection by means of soundwave.
Once you’ve got it going, it turns out the Internet PT Camera is comfortably one of the best indoor cameras available for this sort of price, with nifty capabilities including automatic motion tracking and remote-control pan and tilt in its live video view.
This camera may not look as swanky as some of its competitors, but it does seem relatively robust and stable. If you have pets or children and are worried about your camera getting knocked over and/or mauled, this could be a safest bet.
Best for: An indoor-mounting camera with a tiny footprint
Key specs – Size: 70(H) x 70(W) x 70.6(D) mm; Location: Indoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: Super HD; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Extras: MicroSD compatibility for continuous storage
This higher-end option from Ezviz is a great choice for flexible indoor surveillance. It looks presentable and robust in its gold-trimmed silver casing, with a supremely neat footprint that’s ideal for subtle placement in the corner of a room.
The Pano Indoor’s key selling point though is its range and quality of vision, based on the capability to monitor panoramically with its fisheye lens. Monitoring can be split into two or four focus zones, which makes it easier to track specific areas of your space. It’s a little bit like having four cameras in one room.
Choose the ez360 Pano Indoor for indoor surveillance with maximum flexibility and minimal intrusiveness.
Best for: Changing the way you greet callers at your door
Key specs – Size: 117(H) x 26(W) x 43(D) mm; Location: Outdoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Extras: Two-way talk with pre-set messages
Neatly styled, remarkably useful and highly likely to arouse envy and interest from your neighbours, the Nest Hello is our favourite video doorbell on the market.
Installation can be a trifle tricky – something Nest is quite open about – so you may need some help from a professional on that front. Once it’s up-and-running though, your approach to visitors will be changed for the better from there on out.
Where to start on the advantages of the Nest Hello? We love its two-way audio function, which allows you to converse with whoever arrives at the door. There are plenty of other devices capable of doing this, but the Hello is optimised with extras including pre-set responses such as “we’ll be right with you” or “we can’t answer the door”, so you can respond to callers with a few taps of your smartphone. Add familiar face recognition into the mix, and there you have the DNA of a surpassingly smart doorbell.
£101.14 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: The planet
Key specs – Size: 217(H) x 159(W) x 155(D) mm; Location: Indoor or outdoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Extras: Solar panel, SD card recording
Here’s the ideal smart security device for those who wish to protect everyone’s home – as in, Earth – as well as their own property. The Reolink Argus 2 can link up to a Reolink Solar Panel, enabling you to power your home surveillance with green energy.
After a few fiddly moments during setup of the camera itself, we found the Argus 2 a joy to use, with an excellent app and good video quality.
The solar panel is the star of the show here though, connecting simply to the camera via a waterproof USB connection. It works in all weathers, around the clock – whenever there’s solar energy to capture.
Best for: Giving trespassers a fright
Key specs – Size: 150(H) x 85.8(W) x 71.6(D) cm; Location: Outdoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Extras: Integrated 100dB siren and strobe light
The ezGuard looks, to our eyes, a little like a sci-fi version of what tech ought to look like. It has some pretty threatening features to match, including outstandingly clear night vision of up to 30 metres and an inbuilt 100dB siren and strobe light, which can be triggered remotely or set to activate when motion is detected. Other standout features are the ezGuard’s crystal clear audio recording – aided by noise reduction tech – and its reliable Wi-Fi connection via dual antennae.
If we were criminals trespassing on someone’s property, this is the last camera we’d want to see on the premises.
Best for: Tech and build quality of the highest order
Key specs – Size: 229(H) x 279(W) x 152(D) mm; Location: Outdoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: HD; Smart compatibility with: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT; Extras: 110dB siren, two ultra-bright LED floodlights
The Ring Floodlight Cam is one of the most specialised devices featured in this article, integrating a security floodlight with a high-quality security camera.
It’s simple to install, provided you have an existing floodlight connection set up where you need the camera to be positioned, i.e. on the front, back or one of the sides of your property. If that’s the case, you can connect it to your existing 100-240V wiring using the installation kit included.
Ring has trumpeted the Floodlight Cam as “the world’s most advanced floodlight”, and on the strength of our testing, that seems a credible claim. Besides providing excellent video footage and top-notch two-way audio, activated via a call button in its live view, it boasts advanced features including zonal motion detection and light scheduling. The camera can be set to record automatically whenever it detects motion, and can be watched back via the app at all times.
Take care with its siren though, it goes off at a startling 110Db – a volume roughly in the ballpark of a Led Zeppelin gig!
If you’d like your outdoor smart security device to be that little bit smarter, this product would be our recommendation.
£143, John Lewis
Best for: Great performance at a decent price
Key specs – Size: 73(H) x 73(W) x 114(D) mm; Location: Indoor; Night vision: Yes; Resolution: 1080p; Smart compatibility with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Extras: Two-way talk, wall mount
With motion-triggered auto-recording and in-app alerts, night vision and high-quality video recording, the Nest Cam Indoor gives you all the functionality the average domestic user will likely require, at a far more manageable price than some of its competitors.
If you’ve already owned a Nest camera, you’ll be aware that this is a brand that knows how to finish a product. The Nest Cam Outdoor is robust, elegant and pleasing to be around, from its soft, rounded power plug to the hard metal plate that can be used to screw it to the wall. You won’t find this sort of quality any cheaper.
Our ibuys experts give impartial advice on a range of products after testing them in real-world conditions. We may earn a small amount of revenue if you buy something through one of our links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Prices are correct at the time of publishing but may vary slightly afterwards. If you would like to suggest a product to test or have a question related to ibuys, please email us on [email protected]