The video doorbell is the gateway drug to the smart home. Simple to install, easy to use, and solver of a major pain point: answering your front door when you’re not home or don’t want to get off the couch. The question isn’t why should you get a video doorbell, the question is why wouldn’t you get a video doorbell?
From catching porch pirates in the act to telling the pizza delivery person to leave it on the doorstep or avoiding your nosey neighbour, a video doorbell is like voicemail for your front door.
Packed with smart tech, a video doorbell uses a combination of a camera, a motion sensor, a speaker and a microphone to see who is at your door (whether they ring the bell or not), record them and let you see and talk to them through your smartphone wherever you may be.
Of course, it’s also a doorbell, with a button for couriers to press so you actually know they’re there, which will ring both your indoor chime (if you already have a doorbell), your smartphone, and any smart speakers you have in the house. It can even show up on your smart TV, so you’ll never miss a visitor again. And, perhaps more importantly, you can make sure you miss as many visitors as you like.
So, if you’re looking to turn your basic buzzer into a high-tech home haven, read on for our top recommendations.
Which smart video doorbell should you buy?
The best video doorbell you can buy right now is the Google Nest Hello Video Doorbell (£229). With top specs and the most advanced features, the Nest Hello looks good, while delivering the smarts like (optional) facial recognition in buckets. The first time your Google Nest smart speaker says “your ex is at the door,” you’ll know it was worth the money.
View the Nest Hello Video Doorbell for £205 on John Lewis
If you want some impressive smart features with a side of privacy, consider the Netatmo Video Doorbell (£269): it looks fantastic, can recognise friends and family and stores everything locally for free. It’s the best HomeKit compatible doorbell.
View the Netatmo Video Doorbell for £269 on Apple
For those who want to do away with wiring, Ring is the best wireless video doorbell in the business, especially with its new Ring 3 Plus (£159) that tackles the “back-of-the-head” problem with a unique four second black and white pre-roll video. Whether it be a game of Knock Down Ginger or a potted plant thief, with this battery-powered digital butler watching over your front steps, you’ll never be left staring at an empty doorway again. On a budget? Go for the basic Ring (£89) model.
View the Ring 3 Plus for £159 on Amazon
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Nest Hello Video Doorbell
WIRED Recommends: The best video doorbell money can buy
Video quality: 1600 x 1200 HD, 8x digital zoom, IR Night Vision, HDR | Aspect ratio: 4:3 | Field of view: 160 degree horizontal | Power options: Wired | Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz | Storage: Cloud | Subscription fee: £5 or £ 10 a month | Size: 4.4 x 2.6 x 11.6 cm | Works with: Alexa, Google
With excellent (optional) facial recognition, top-notch video quality, speedy response times and a raft of other features, the Nest Hello (£205) from Google is easily the best smart doorbell money can buy – although it’s also one of the most expensive. What you’re getting for that extra hundred quid or so are some actually smart features – or as Google puts it a device that “makes other doorbells seem like dumbells”. Ha. Ha.
To be fair, they’re not wrong. This is a brilliant buzzer. It can send you an alert when you have a package waiting and if someone picks up that package. It can tell the difference between the DHL driver or the neighbour’s dog. It can announce on your smart speakers when your best mate is waiting outside – thanks to a facial recognition database that you curate in the Nest app. And it has pre-recorded messages can spit out phrases like “You can leave it there” and “no one can come to the door”. It’s the next best thing to a robot butler.
The Nest Hello also has very good video quality, with a detailed zoom and a 4:3 aspect ratio that lets you see your entire front doorstep. Plus, HDR imaging means that even if the sun is shining on your front door you can still see faces clearly.
It’s also the only video doorbell we’ve tested that offers continuous video recording – meaning you’ll never miss a moment of the action. It’s also the only one that can alert you to sounds too – including a dog barking.
The downsides are you’ll pay monthly for all these goodies (and whether you actually need all of them is a matter for you and your conscience). While there’s a meagre three hours of free ”event snapshots” if you don’t subscribe, a Nest Aware plan really is a must. Starting at £5 a month you get cloud storage for your videos and all those smart notifications for packages people, animals, and noises, plus the option of 24/7 video recording.
Nest Hello is wired only – so you will probably need an electrician to set it up for you (it can be DIY’d, but only if you’re comfortable with electricity). In our years of testing of video doorbells, we’ve come to the conclusion that we will always recommend wired over battery-powered if you can do it. It’s so much more reliable.
Pros: Continuous recording; facial recognition; slimline; pre-recorded messages
Cons: Uses a lot of bandwidth
Price: £205 | Check price on John Lewis | Google | Currys
Ring 3 Plus
Best bang for your battery-powered buck
Video quality: 1080p HD, IR Night Vision | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Field of view: 160-degree horizontal | Power options: Battery-powered | Wi-Fi: 2.4 or 5 GHz | Storage: Cloud | Subscription fee: £2.50 a month or £24.99 a year (£8 a month of £80 a year for unlimited cameras) | Size: 12.8 x 6.2 x 2.8 cm | Colours: Satin Nickel, Venetian Bronze | Works with: Alexa
If you don’t have or don’t want to mess with wires, a battery-powered doorbell can get you most of the benefits of a smart doorbell, but you’ll deal with a bit more buffering and a lot more lag.
The best of the bunch is the Ring 3 Plus (£159), because of its pre-roll feature that effectively, if clumsily, deals with the common “back of the head problem” – where battery doorbells wake up too late only catching the back of someone’s head as they walk away.
The OG video doorbell now in its bazillionth iteration (seriously, there are 7 different Ring doorbells you can buy), Ring is the Kleenex of the front door surveillance world. The Amazon-owned company has got into some trouble that’s not to be sneezed at, though. Namely its cosy relationships with police forces in both the UK and the US, and some valid criticism over data handling and collection. Bear this in mind before buying a Ring doorbell, but also be aware they’ve addressed a lot of concerns and now have mandatory two-factor authentication and end-to-end-encryption of all its video footage.
And Ring really knows doorbells, packing in a tonne of features to make your front door watching experience smooth, easy, and effortless. There’s no artificial intelligence a la Netatmo and Nest to tell you exactly who or what is at your door, but it can tell you if it’s a person and customizable activity zones let you only be bothered when someone is actually at your door and not just walking by on the pavement.
There’s also excellent Alexa compatibility – see your front door on your Fire TV or screen-enabled Echo just by uttering “Alexa, show me the front door,” and have any Echo speaker announce visitors for you. It’s quite the moment when your whole house shouts “There’s somebody at the door!” for the first time.
Video is decent here, not the best but not the worst, and the option to toggle on HDR imaging will help make sure visitor’s faces aren’t in shadow. There’s also a much wider aspect ratio than any other doorbell cameras offer – handy if you have a nice open doorway, but wasted if you’re boxed in. It does mean you can’t see the doorstep itself, so you’re not going to be able to protect those packages.
The real bonus is the 4 extra seconds of black and white video that shows you what happened before motion was triggered. It’s grainy and jerky, but you do get the picture, and will see everything that happened as soon as motion started, unlike with most battery-powered buzzers that pick up a few seconds into the action.
As we’ve noted, the Ring 3 Plus is battery powered, which makes it a cinch to install – no electrician required. It also uses a removable, rechargeable battery making charging less of a chore. We found it would last about 6 weeks on a single charge. You can wire the buzzer to existing wiring but it is not a wired doorbell, the battery just uses the power to trickle charge itself. If you got wires, we say use ‘em and get a wired doorbell. (If you want to stick with Ring, the Ring Pro is the best hardwired option).
Unless you only want to talk to whoever is at your front door in real time, you’ll need to pony up for the Ring Protect Plan, which gets you 30 days of video storage for £2.50 a month and also covers some of the more advanced alerts and features.
Pros: Removable battery; pre-roll; good Alexa integration
Cons: Bulky; no Google or HomeKit; no built-in siren
Price: £159 | Check price on Amazon | Argos | John Lewis
Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell
The best HomeKit doorbell (and it’s fee-free)
Video quality: 1080p, 5x digital zoom, IR Night Vision, HDR | Aspect ratio: 9:16 portrait | Field of view: 140-degree diagonal | Power options: Wired | Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz | Storage: Local or Cloud | Subscription fee: None | Size: H 13.5 W 4.5 D 2.9 cm | Works with: HomeKit
This Netatmo bell is the equivalent of the mysterious exchange student who set your sixth form ablaze. Super stylish, intensely private, and effortlessly chic, the Netatmo Doorbell (£269) has a lot going for it.
In addition to a striking, modular silver/black/grey design that will look good on mid-century mod mansions (but maybe not on Nan’s bungalow), this camera keeps everything locked down. There’s no cloud storage whatsoever, video is recorded locally on an included microSD card, and while it has some of the best features of the Nest – facial recognition, custom alert zones – you don’t have to pay any monthly fees.
It’s also in an exclusive club: HomeKit. One of the only video doorbells to work with the similarly privacy focused Cupertino company, the Netatmo can be controlled via the Home app or using Siri. Just ask Apple’s assistant to show you who’s at your door and get a live feed on your iPhone. It can chime on any HomePods you have, too, as well as pop up a video of your visitor on connected Apple TVs.
We actually preferred using the doorbell with Netatmo’s own Security app – which has a unique notification feature that alerts you at least three times to someone at your door, then pops up a “Missed Call” notification if you didn’t answer, handy for making sure you don’t miss the Ocado shop.
A few quirks include a very narrow field of view – although it’s super tall so you won’t be missing any vertical action, and the fact that the Netatmo only records people – not all motion. This may seem like a benefit, but sometimes it’s nice to know which cat is patrolling your porch.
Handily, thanks to that local storage, even if your Wi-Fi goes down it will still record anyone at your door for you to play back once you’re online again.
Pros: HomeKit compatible; no fees; stylish design
Cons: No Google or Alexa; expensive
Price: £269 | Check price on Apple | Amazon
Ring Video Doorbell
The best budget doorbell
Video quality: 1080p HD, IR Night Vision | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Field of view: 160 degree horizontal | Power options: Battery-powered | Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz | Storage: Cloud | Subscription fee: £2.50 a month or £24.99 a year (£8 a month of £80 a year for unlimited cameras) | Size: 12.65 x 6.17 x 2.21 cm | Colours: Satin Nickel, Venetian Bronze | Works with: Alexa, Google
If you like the idea of the Ring and its bells and whistle but aren’t too bothered about the pre-roll or removable battery, save some pennies and get the basic Ring (£89) buzzer.
It packs in all the same features, uses the same great Ring app, and has the same iconic silver and black look, but is a bit slimmer as there’s no removable battery. Instead, you have to take the whole doorbell down to charge it (easier than it sounds) or invest in a clunky, and frankly ugly, solar power panel to keep it powered up for longer.
There’s also no HDR Imaging or 5 GHz Wi-Fi compatibility and being battery-powered it will miss a few moments of action as its motion sensor wakes up the battery and tells it to get to work. But if you’re on a budget, this basic Ring can’t be beat. That is until Ring’s newest wired doorbell crosses the pond. The company recently announced a baby buzzer that’s a teeny tiny version of its high-end wired Pro doorbell, but that will only cost £49.
Pros: Cheaper; smaller; easy to install
Cons: Have to remove to charge; no pre-roll
Price: £89 | Check price on Amazon | Argos | Currys
Eufy Security 2K Video Doorbell
Best video in a battery-powered buzzer
Video quality: 2K (2560 x 1920), IR Night Vision, WDR | Aspect ratio: 4:3 | Field of view: 160 degree | Power options: Battery-powered | Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz | Storage: Local or cloud | Subscription fee: £2.99 for 30 days or £29.99 a year | Size: 14 x 5.4 x 2.8cm | Works with: Alexa, Google
If you just don’t want to give Amazon or Google any more of your money or your data but want a decent battery-powered buzzer, the Eufy 2K Video (£135) is an excellent option. It has superb 2K video that delivers crisp clear images, with tonnes of detail, and brilliant colours, with excellent night vision to boot.
We also love that it stores all its video on an included hub, no cloud required (although you can opt for pay-per-view cloud-stored footage if you want). And that hub also doubles as an indoor chime for your doorbell, while fixing some of the buffering and lagging issues we have with all the battery-powered bells we tested. The Eufy was easily the fastest to “answer” a ring – pulling up a live feed in under 2 seconds compared to close to 10 seconds on the Rings.
It has the same aspect ratio and field of view as the Nest, meaning you see some porch, but not all the way down the street. There are also customizable activity zones and the option to only alert you when it spots a warm-blooded body (this wouldn’t be good during the Zombie Apocalypse). But the best bit are the pre-recorded responses: With Eufy you can record your own. Oh… the endless hours of fun!
We really like that the Eufy cameras can shut themselves off when you’re home – using the location of your phone to figure that out. This means you avoid endless up-the-nose shots of you opening the front door.
It works with both Google or Alexa to stream footage to your smart screens and announce visitors and its battery is a beast – lasting at least 3 months before needing to be charged. But that’s half of what’s promised (6 months) and you have to find a spot on your router for that hub. Like the Ring Plus 3 you can hardwire this bell to trickle charge that battery, but as we’ve said, if you’ve got wires don’t go with a battery-powered doorbell.
Pros: Long battery life; free local storage; speedy; indoor chime included
Cons: Have to remove to charge; no pre-roll; requires a hub; no built-in siren
Price: £135 | Check price on Amazon | Eufy
Arlo Video Doorbell (wired)
A Nest lookalike for less
Video quality: 1536x1536p, 12x digital zoom, IR Night Vision, HDR | Aspect ratio: 1:1 | Field of view: 180 degree horizontal | Power options: Wired | Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz | Storage: Cloud | Subscription fee: £2.5 a month (£7.99 a month for up to five cameras) | Size: 4.4 x 3.3 x 12.7 cm | Works with: Alexa, Google (and HomeKit if you have an Arlo Hub)
For the big-tech adverse looking for a seriously smart doorbell, the wired Arlo Video Doorbell (£180) will fit the bill. The Arlo can tell the difference between people, animals, packages, and vehicles, has a unique square aspect ratio that gets your whole doorway, top to bottom (and some of the sides too for good measure), all while offering up superb video quality (better than Nest’s, and only slightly worse than Eufy’s).
The Arlo is the only doorbell we’ve tested that has a built-in siren, so you can scare off that potential package thief with a loud blast rather than by screaming into your phone, and it has a built-in backup battery in case the power goes out.
The doorbell camera syncs up seamlessly with Arlo’s other security cameras in the excellent Arlo app, which also uses geofencing or scheduling to turn your cameras off when you don’t want them recording. Even though it’s hardwired, it did suffer from some lag and buffering when watching a live view. We also had some issues with the two-way talk and not being able to hear people clearly.
Arlo also has pre-recorded messages on tap (“We’ll be right there” or “Not interested”) just like Nest Hello and a style and design ethos that … one could say … looks just like the Nest. There is no option of continuous video recording though, and no local storage. To get any use out of this buzzer you have to sign up for Arlo Smart (from $2.50 a month), there’s nothing but live view and motion alerts without it.
Pros: Smart alerts; geofencing; built-in siren
Cons: Some audio problems; subscription fee essential
Price: £180 | Check price on Amazon | Arlo | John Lewis