Aqara E1 Camera: A Comprehensive Review for HomeKit Users

Cupertino, December 7, 2023

HomeKit Secure Video is a great solution or a terrible solution, depending on who you ask and depending on the day. No, it's not perfect, but I'm confident in it. It's the only camera recording solution I would ever allow in my home. I recently tested Aqara's new E1 camera, which includes support for HomeKit Secure Video. Since my first interaction with Aqara in 2020, I have been consistently impressed with the quality of the products the company brings to the market at an affordable price. I have never purchased a product from Aqara that did not do what it said it would do. Sometimes the user interface in the Aqara app isn't perfect, but overall the hardware solves the problem it wants to solve. The new Aqara E1 camera is no different. Unboxing and Setup

While the Aqara E1 camera supports HomeKit, it won't support it without first adding something to the Aqara app. Once you plug it in (requires a USB-A power adapter or USB-C if you bring your own cable), launch the Aqara app and add a new device. In my experience, the app found it immediately over Bluetooth using the Aqara MagicPair functionality. There is an Aqara QR code on the side of the camera. You scan it, and during the onboarding process you'll be given the option to add it to HomeKit, choose a room, name the camera, and choose your recording settings for HomeKit Secure Video. One of the things I really appreciate is that Aqara added Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 to the E1 camera. WPA3 is also supported.

HomeKit use

When you use the Aqara app, the E1 camera has a lot of functionality that HomeKit does not yet support. The E1 supports local recording with a microSD card of up to 512 GB, and it can also be backed up to NAS storage. With a micro SD card you also have the option to record 24/7. The Aqara Home app allows you to set a privacy-protecting viewing angle (for example: facing a wall or the floor) and activate Privacy Mode to rotate the camera to this angle and put it into sleep mode. Audio recording from the camera can also be turned off in the app. With HomeKit, you get a lot of functionality that Apple builds into the platform. You get cloud video recording through your iCloud+ subscription. Although Apple doesn't support 24/7 recording yet, the motion-based recording is quite reliable. The camera can also function as a motion sensor. Where this could be useful is that you can install the camera opposite an exterior door and set it to automatically turn on a light connected to HomeKit when it detects motion. In a sense, you get two HomeKit products in one.

Rounding out the Aqara E1 camera

It doesn't seem like there have been many new HomeKits cameras focused on HomeKit in recent years. As we look towards the end of the calendar year, it's great to see a new interior camera option for HomeKit Secure Video. The Aqara E1 is compact, has a 2K resolution, has pan and tilt in the Aqara app and makes optimal use of HomeKit and HomeKit Secure Video. For an indoor HomeKit camera, there's a lot to like. You can buy the Aqara E1 from Amazon or other retailers. FTC: We use monetized auto-affiliate links. More.

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