The best video doorbells mean missed deliveries or being caught out by cold callers are a thing of the past - they have a built-in camera and will send an alert to your smartphone when someone is at your doorstep. They let you see and speak to whoever is at your threshold through an app, even if you’re not at home. They’re also useful if you struggle to get to the door quickly - as you’ll be able to tell the caller to wait a little longer.
As well as letting you interact with anyone on your threshold in real-time, video doorbells can double as the best home security cameras, detecting motion in its field of view and storing footage of the activity, which can either be viewed at the time or at a later date.
They’re available in both mains-powered and battery-operated versions. The former will trigger an existing chime in your home, but are likely to require professional installation as working on your home’s wiring may be beyond your DIY skills. Battery-operated models are fitted with rechargeable batteries and can be installed with little DIY-expertise making them an ideal option for renters.
You can use a video doorbell without a subscription - but if you miss an alert, you won’t be able to review the footage at a later date. To get the most out of a video doorbell, we’d recommend you subscribe to a monthly service that as well as ensuring you can review video recorded by the doorbell after it has occurred, also enables smart features – such as being able to identify the source of motion detected by the doorbell – and set activity zones so you’re only notified about motion in these areas.
If you can hang on until Amazon Prime Day 2021, which is just around the corner, we're expecting to see some hefty savings on Ring Video Doorbells, many of which are likely to be matched by other retailers, too. Amazon has been known to significantly reduce even recently-released devices for Prime Day, so the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 and Ring Video Doorbell 4 could both see a price cut. Google has also been known to discount its rival smart home products at the same time as Amazon, so the Nest Hello may also see some substantial savings.
UPDATE: Ring has announced a new version of its original video doorbell. The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is an incremental update, which as before, stores four seconds of video captured before motion detection was activated (pre-roll), to help you identify exactly what triggered the alert, but it’s in color rather than black and white.
The Ring Video Doorbell 4 went on sale in the US on April 28, in the UK on May 5, and in Australia on May 6 and is priced at $199.99 / £179 / AU$329. We’ll be putting it through its paces very soon, so check back for our full review.
The best video doorbells you can buy
In our opinion, Arlo’s first video doorbell is the best available on the market right now. If you already have other Arlo devices, then it's a no-brainer; if not, then it should still be top of the list of considerations. Slim and stylish, it displays super-detailed footage. Thanks to the camera’s 180-degree field of view and 1:1 aspect ratio, you can view the full length of the person at your door, including any packages on the ground by their feet.
This is a mains-powered unit, so we’d recommended it’s professionally installed, but Arlo do offer a battery-powered version called Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free. Rather than send a notification to your smartphone when someone presses the doorbell, Arlo makes a video call over Wi-Fi instead. Just answer the call to speak to and see whoever is at your door. Through our time testing, we found this process far faster than having to open an app on receipt of a notification, and then waiting for it to connect to the doorbell.
You’ll need to subscribe to the Arlo Smart subscription to get the most out of the doorbell, including features such as being able to go back and view who was at the door if you missed the call, and giving callers the chance to leave a message for you. Prices start from $2.99 / £2.49 / AU$4.49
Read our full review: Arlo Video Doorbell
Ring’s almost top-of-the-range video doorbell comes a close second to its Arlo rival - with footage that’s just as detailed and in the same 1:1 aspect ratio so you can see the full length of anyone on your doorstep and any packages they might have with them - although, at 150 degrees, it is a slightly smaller field of view than Arlo’s rival doorbell offers.
Where it betters its rival is with colorized night vision. The camera takes areas of ambient light within its field of view and applies a simulated color to them – tinting the sky blue, for example. It doesn’t create a full-color picture, but in our time with the product, we certainly found that it made night-time footage easier to decipher.
To get the most out of the Ring Doorbell Video Pro 2 you’ll need to subscribe to the Ring Protect service, whose features include the ability to review who was at the door if you missed the alert. The price is similar to Arlo’s service, starting from $3 / £2.50 /AU$4 per month.
Full integration with Amazon Alexa means you can use an Echo speaker to announce a doorbell press and converse with whoever is on the doorstep, rather than using your smartphone. If you’re in the US, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 even lets Alexa “answer” the door for you, taking a message as part of its Alexa Greetings feature.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 doesn’t come cheap, and if you're on a budget, it's worth considering its predecessor, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, which is still available through some outlets. While it doesn’t have as high a resolution or a 1:1 aspect ratio, it’s still a good wired doorbell.
Read our full review: Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
The Nest Hello video doorbell sports a similar rounded black-and-white design to the Arlo Video Doorbell. However, where it differs is that not only will it let you view who’s at your door, it will even attempt to identify them through facial recognition.
The Familiar Face function captures the face of all who approach your door, letting you assign names to those you know in the app. So, the next time they arrive at your door, the app will offer up a notification identifying them. The more times a person visits, the bigger the library of shots, thus enabling the facial recognition to improve over time.
Of all the video doorbells reviewed here, the Nest Hello records footage at the lowest resolution. Nevertheless, we still found the image detailed enough to see exactly who was at the door.
As is the case with most video doorbells, a subscription will be necessary to get anything more than the basics. Nest Hello will save video clips of detected motion and people from the past three hours, but footage older than that will be deleted unless you subscribe to Nest Aware, which costs from $5 / £5 / AU$9 per month.
Read our full review: Google Nest Hello
Ring’s battery-powered smart doorbell has a larger footprint than the Video Doorbell Pro, but it continues to offer many of the same great features. The battery is removable, too, which means you don’t have to take the entire doorbell off the wall to recharge it either.
Images cover the same 160-degree field of view and, just like its more expensive sibling, the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus records clear Full HD footage, and even stores the four seconds of black-and-white video recorded before the motion detection was activated, to help you identify exactly what triggered the alert.
As with other Ring doorbells, subscribing to Ring Protect will ensure you can access all of the smart features, including being able to review who was at the door at a later date, if you missed the original alert. Prices start from $3 / £2.50 /AU$4 per month.
There’s full Amazon Alexa integration, too. If you have an Amazon Echo in the house, then you can set it to announce when the doorbell is pressed, or when motion is detected, and converse with the person at your door through the smart speaker – but it doesn't work with Google Assistant and HomeKit.
Read our full review: Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus
Of all the models here, Eufy’s video doorbell records footage at the highest resolution. As such, footage is extremely detailed, and a 4:3 aspect ratio means you can pretty much see the full length of the person on your doorstep.
Also notable with this doorbell is that it isn’t necessary to sign up for a monthly subscription to get the most from the Eufy Video Doorbell 2K. Rather than video being stored securely online, up to 16GB of footage – around two week’s worth – can sit on the bundled base station, so there’s no on-going cost. But the base station does need to be connected to your wireless router using an Ethernet cable, so make sure you have a spare port.
In our tests, we found colors in the footage were more subdued than with rival doorbells, and the video could lose detail in very bright situations – but it excelled in darker settings.
Unlike Ring's battery-operated doorbell, the battery in Eufy’s unit isn’t removable. As such, you’ll have to physically unmount the camera to recharge the battery for around six hours every six months.
Read our full review: Eufy Video Doorbell 2K (Wireless)
Ring’s cheapest doorbell is a wired doorbell camera that is currently only available in the US and Australia, although it will go on sale in the UK in May. Just like other Ring video doorbells it records footage in Full HD but has a slightly narrower 155-degree field of view.
That said, this is such a small difference, we found you didn’t lose much from the picture and it’s a more than acceptable compromise to keep the price so low.
The Full HD color footage recorded the doorbell camera looked clear and detailed, and while video recorded after dark was in black and white rather than color, it was still easy to see.
There’s no option to use this Ring Video Doorbell on battery power, and to make installation as simple as possible, it will stop any existing chimes you have in your home. This means they won’t sound when the doorbell is pressed - if you want an audible alert in your home to signal someone’s at the door, you’ll need to either link the doorbell to an Amazon Echo Smart speaker, if you have one, or purchase the Ring Chime ($29.99 / £29.99 / AU$59) or Ring Chime Pro ($49.99 / £49.99 / AU$79).
You’ll need to subscribe to Ring Protect to review who was at the door if you missed the original alert, but it also offers other smart features such as being able to set zones so you’re only alerted about activity in these areas. Prices start from $3 / £2.50 /AU$4 per month.
Read our full review: Ring Video Doorbell Wired
How we test video doorbells
To compare the best video doorbells we review the quality of the footage they capture both during the day and at night. We also judge the sound quality of the video, as well as when conversing in real-time with someone on the doorstep.
We also assess the ease of installation, and if relevant, the battery life, along with the how simple the app is to navigate, and the benefits offered by any subscription services, such as secure storage for footage, and handy features designed to identify what triggered a motion alert and reduce unwanted notifications about activity in the doorbell’s field of view.
How do video doorbells work?
Video doorbells work in much the same way as home security cameras, by connecting to your home Wi-Fi and sending a notification to your smartphone if motion is detected. You can log in and view a live feed from the camera, and even converse with whoever is at your threshold. Alternatively, you can ignore the notification and review the footage at a later date.
The higher the resolution of the doorbell’s camera, the more detailed the footage recorded. In addition, some video doorbells offer a wider field of view so you can see the full length of the person at the door, and any packages they may have with them. Find out in more detail how do video doorbells work in our article.
Do video doorbells work with Alexa (and other voice assistants)?
Most video doorbells now offer voice integration. This means you can set up a compatible smart speaker in your home to announce when someone is at the door, and converse with them through it. You can also create automations with some of the best smart home devices; for example, you can set your smart lighting to switch on if the video doorbell detects motion, in a bid to deter any unwanted visitors to your property. A handful of video doorbells work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit; others only work with one or two of these voice assistants.
- Check out the best ring video doorbell deals and prices