The best video doorbells put an end to missed deliveries – or being caught out by cold callers – by alerting you through your smartphone when someone is on your doorstep, enabling you to see and speak to them through an app.
Connecting to your home Wi-Fi, video doorbells work in much the same way as the best home security cameras. They provide a real-time video feed, while also recording short video clips, when motion is detected. Then, if activity is detected, a notification will be pushed to your smartphone, enabling you to log in and view the live feed, 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, cameras that offer a wider field of view will enable you to see the full length of the person at the door, and any packages they may have with them.
Smart doorbells are 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 can be installed with little DIY-expertise. An ideal option for renters, these units are fitted with a rechargeable battery – but note that this will mean that the doorbell is out of action when the battery is being recharged. How quickly the battery depletes will depend on how often the doorbell is pressed, how much motion it detects, and how many times the real-time video feed is viewed.
What's more, 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. 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.
To get the most out of a video doorbell, you’ll need to subscribe to a monthly service that enables smart features – such as being able to identify the source of motion detected by the doorbell – and set activity. For the majority of video doorbells listed below, the monthly subscription ensures you can go back and review video recorded by the doorbell after it has occurred.
The best video doorbells of 2021: ranked
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. 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
The Arlo video doorbell also offers support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, so it can be used to trigger automations via other smart devices in your home.
Read our full review: Arlo Video Doorbell
- Check out what everything we know about Ring’s next video doorbell; the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
Ring’s top-of-the-range video doorbell comes a close second to its Arlo rival. While its recorded footage may not be as detailed as that captured with the Arlo Video Doorbell, we certainly didn’t have any problems seeing who was at our doorstep with the Ring Video Doorbell 3. This unit offers a smaller, 160-degree field of view, which means you won’t see the full length of the person at your door, and there’s a more pronounced fisheye effect on the footage compared to Arlo’s offering. On a positive note, the unit is slimmer than other such doorbells in Ring’s range, which should make it easier to find a place for it outside on or beside your door frame.
Where it betters its rival is with colourized 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 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, and to set motion zones, so you’re only notified about activity in the areas you’ve specified. The price is similar to Arlo’s service, starting from $3 / £2.50 /AU$4 per month.
You get full integration with Amazon Alexa, too, so 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 even lets Alexa “answer” the door for you, taking a message as part of its Alexa Greetings feature.
Read our full review: Ring Video Doorbell Pro
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 – and the two-way talk function worked flawlessly to enable us to converse with callers, too.
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.
Not surprisingly, Nest Hello works best with Google Assistant-enabled smart speakers, since it is a Google-created device, announcing who’s at the door and displaying the doorbell’s live view on a TV with a Chromecast connected. It offers limited Alexa integration, such as letting you view the doorbell’s live feed on a TV using a Fire TV stick, and there’s no support for HomeKit whatsoever.
Read our full review: Google Nest Hello
Ring’s latest smart doorbell has a larger footprint than the Video Doorbell Pro, but it continues to offer many of the same great features, as well as the versatility of being mains-powered or battery-operated. 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 it’s more expensive sibling, the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus records clear Full HD footage. However, it's the only Ring doorbell at present to offer the ‘pre-roll’ feature, which 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)
- Check out the best smart home devices 2021