Aqara Video Doorbell review: A battery-powered option for HomeKit

Cupertino, August 1, 2023

Benefits Sleek design Versatile power options Chime works well About the Aqara Video Doorbell G4 Color: Black Connectivity: 2.4 GHz, IEEE 802.11b/g/n Power source: Six AA 1.5 V LR6 batteries, wired, 12 V-24 V AC 0.2 A 50/ 60Hz 8V-24V DC 0.5A Resolution: 1080p Field of view: 162 degrees Smart Assistant support: Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant Weight: 0.36 pounds (without batteries) Dimensions: 5.6-inch L × 2.6-inch W × 1.2-inch D The Aqara Video Doorbell G4 is easy to set up, but you do need a telephone for this. If you plan on using it with anything other than HomeKit, you'll need to download the Aqara app. Even if you plan to use HomeKit, it may be worth downloading the Aqara Home app, as many of its settings and features aren't available in the Apple Home app. The doorbell comes with everything you need to set it up, including batteries for those planning on using it on battery power. There are two mounting plates, one of which is slanted. There is also the included chime, which is required and must always be connected to and near the doorbell for the doorbell to work. What we like The design is relatively sleek Credit: Reviewed / Christian de Looper The Aqara Video Doorbell has a compact and stylish design for your front door. I really like the overall design of the Aqara Video Doorbell G4. It offers a black and gray color scheme, with a large button and an LED light around that button to indicate status. It's modern and stylish, and I think it should look great next to any front door. The main drawback of the design is that the device is quite large and bulky. At 5.6 x 2.6 x 1.2 inches, it's larger than much of the competition, and part of that is to accommodate the six AA batteries. I definitely wish the device was rechargeable, or if it had a removable rechargeable battery instead of AA batteries. You could, of course, use rechargeable AA batteries, so that's not a big deal. It has wide smart home compatibility (including HomeKit Secure Video) Credit: Reviewed / Christian de Looper The Aqara Video Doorbell runs through the Aqara app and is compatible with smart home ecosystems such as Apple HomeKit, Amazon Echo and Google Home. Many of today's best video doorbells are pretty tied to a smart home ecosystem. Not so for the Aqara Video Doorbell G4. Many customers will buy this doorbell because of its HomeKit support, but the device also works with Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT. Aqara has even promised Matter support - although it's not available yet, so I couldn't test it. Aqara has the advantage of offering the only HomeKit video doorbell that's battery-powered, and if you're planning to use the device with other ecosystems, like Alexa or Google Assistant, there are frankly better options out there. But that doesn't stop me from appreciating the broad smart home support in general. This doorbell offers versatile power options In addition to versatile smart home options, the doorbell also offers versatile power options. Again, many will buy the doorbell to use as a battery-powered solution, but you can also plug it in or use both. In that case, it usually relies on wired power and then switches to battery power in the event of a power outage. However, it doesn't seem very logical to use the batteries as a backup. The doorbell relies on a connection to the chime for all of its functions, including communicating with the internet, recording locally, playing a sound when the button is pressed, and so on. If your power goes out, the chime will likely lose power too - so whether or not the batteries power the actual doorbell, the doorbell will become unusable unless you remember to plug it into a power supply. I don't know about you, but remembering to plug my doorbell into an external battery is pretty low on my list of things to do when the power goes out. Of course, if you can connect your doorbell to an uninterruptible power supply then it will work, but most people simply won't be able to use their doorbell if the power goes out. The chime works well Credit: Reviewed / Christian de Looper The Aqara Video Doorbell comes with a chime. The accompanying chime not only connects the doorbell to your smart home, it also works as, well, a bell. The speaker is quite loud and there are a few different tone options to choose from in the app. The bell has another useful feature: a microSD card slot. That means if you're not using HomeKit Secure Video, or even if you are, you can have the doorbell store footage locally. Given that Aqara already includes free cloud storage for the doorbell, it certainly didn't need to include a microSD card slot. But the fact that it did certainly makes the Video Doorbell G4 more appealing to privacy-conscious people. What We Don't Like The battery life may not be great Credit: Reviewed / Christian de Looper The Aqara Video Doorbell's battery life drains faster than other video doorbells I've tried. There's a reason why there aren't many HomeKit doorbells that run on batteries, which is that battery life is usually terrible. Without having had months to test out the doorbell it's hard to judge how good or bad the battery really is here, but it looks like it's already at 60% within a week. Based on some comments from Redditors using the same doorbell, it's possible that the battery usage will decrease slightly. It's also common to check devices more often when you first get them, so the fact that I probably won't be checking the feed as often may help. Keep in mind that your mileage will depend on usage. However, the fact that I seemingly lost 40% in a week doesn't bode well for the doorbell's battery life. This could be a big enough problem to deter customers from buying the device if they use a non-Apple smart home ecosystem. But if you use HomeKit and need a battery-powered device, poor battery life is just something you'll have to deal with. There are restrictions on video recording Credit: Reviewed / Christian de Looper The Aqara Video Doorbell doesn't have a wide enough field of view to show packages at the door. The real benefit of this product has more to do with the features than the actual video quality. The video quality is certainly fine, and you can still see who's at the door. But it doesn't really go beyond fine. Perhaps my biggest issue with video quality is the fact that the field of view is relatively limited. Unlike many modern doorbells, which provide a field of view large enough to track both visitors and packages, this one won't be able to see your door. As someone who receives a lot of packages it would have been helpful to be able to see when they arrived. The other video-related issue is that to save battery, the device only records six seconds at a time. That not only interrupts actual recordings, but can also mean notification spam. For example, my wife once stood in front of the door chatting with a friend for a few minutes and I kept getting notifications on my Apple Watch during my tennis lesson. Credit: Reviewed / Christian de Looper The Aqara Video Doorbell has a resolution of 1080p. The basics around video recording are here. The image quality is sharp enough and the colors are bright enough. But in 2023, with growing competition, just getting the basics right isn't enough, and I'd bet that if we ever get a second battery-powered HomeKit video doorbell, it'll probably offer better image quality. The bell is required Credit: Reviewed / Christian de Looper The Aqara Video Doorbell will not connect to your existing bell and you will need to use the included bell option. I don't mind using the chime, but if you mind, you're out of luck. While the doorbell can be plugged into your existing power supply wires, your existing chime will unfortunately not ring. For most, that means a useless bell in their home, unless you're an owner who feels comfortable removing the existing bell from the house. The chime is required to ring the tone for your doorbell, and it is required as a bridge for the doorbell. The way this doorbell gets around HomeKit restrictions is that it's actually the bell that connects to HomeKit and then communicates with the doorbell. The doorbell itself does not connect to HomeKit. Fortunately, the bell doesn't look bad, and it's pretty thin too. Slim enough to where I've actually plugged it in and hidden it behind furniture - in my house the bell isn't even visible. Aqara notes that the chime should be connected near the doorbell itself, but I read that after connecting the chime to a completely different floor and two rooms away from the front door. I haven't had any problems with poor connectivity. Should you buy the Aqara Video Doorbell G4? Yes, but only if you need a battery-powered HomeKit doorbell. The fact is that the Aqara Video Doorbell G4 fills a niche that no other product has yet. My main smart home ecosystem is HomeKit and I am a renter. That means that even though I'm done testing the product, I'll keep the Aqara Video Doorbell G4 installed, at least until a better option comes along. I suspect there are plenty of other customers like me. That's not to say this is a bad product - far from it. I love that you can save footage locally and the device easily gets all the basics right. That's not to say it's pretty well designed and versatile in many ways. But the basics are not enough. If you're a HomeKit user looking for a battery-powered doorbell, this is the way to go...because it's the only option. However, if you're in the Google or Amazon ecosystem, it's worth considering another option like the Nest Doorbell (battery) or Ring Battery Plus. $120 at Amazon Reviewed's product experts have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Flipboard for the latest deals, product reviews and more. Prices were correct at the time this article was published, but may change over time. Meet the Tester Christian de Looper Contributor @cdelooper Originally from Australia, Christian has long had a passion for gadgets and consumer electronics. Christian has experience reviewing products in all areas of the consumer technology world and is committed to helping people find the best products for their lifestyle. View all reviews by Christian de Looper Check our work. 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