Shop the 8 Best Smart Cameras Out There (and Which One to Pick For Your Home)

Shop the 8 Best Smart Cameras Out There (and Which One to Pick For Your Home)

We outline the pros and cons of the best WiFi camera systems available today—and help you decide the best fit based on your needs.

Installing cameras in your home—for security, safety, or just to keep an eye on things while you’re away—used to be an expensive, complicated prospect involving wiring, electricians, and ugly white boxes all over your property. Today, WiFi cameras have changed all that. 

WiFi cameras are small, inexpensive, easy to set up, and can stream video directly to your phone, computer, or laptop. They can be used as a standalone device, or integrated into a whole smart home system. No longer just for security, they allow you to answer the door from the comfort of the couch, check in on your puppy or family members from work, or communicate via an in-home intercom system. 

Keep reading for an overview of the best smart home camera systems out there—and recommendations based on your specific needs.

A connected camera, like the Netatmo Welcome, can be unobtrusively placed in your home for security and family communication.

WiFi cameras boast a number of features that make them more useful than the traditional, closed-circuit TV cameras once used for home security.

  1. An internet connection does away with a complicated storage and viewing system set-up in your home: view footage on any device you like, from anywhere you like. 
  2. Advanced software with artificial intelligence in some models allows for alerts to be sent when noise, motion, or even specific people trigger the camera. 
  3. You can set zones for motion and sound alerts, so you’re only alerted to activity in certain places, and not every time a car drives by the house. 
  4. Cameras only record when there’s something happening, so no need to scroll through hours of blank footage. 
  5. Built-in microphones not only capture audio, but also let you talk to whoever is in your home.

WiFi cameras can can be used as security devices both inside and outside your home, and are excellent for talking to visitors when you're not there.

Best For the Truly Smart Home: Nest 

Nest Cam IQ Indoor is a security camera, intercom, and Google Assistant smart speaker—all in one.

Nest’s suite of WiFi cameras is one of the most robust, offering two indoor models, two outdoor models, and a truly excellent video doorbell. Where Nest stands out among the competition is in its deep integration with a variety of smart home systems (especially its own products, which include a thermostat, door lock, smoke alarms, and a security system—but also with Google, which owns Nest). 

Additionally, it works well with Amazon’s Alexa, and you can easily call up a video feed on an Alexa or Google device with a screen. It’s only missing piece of the smart home puzzle is the lack of integration with HomeKit, Apple’s smart home system, but its iOS app works very well. 

What We Love About It

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is fully weatherproof and tamper-proof. But you'll need to buy an adapter kit if you want to plug it into an outdoor outlet.  

Nest’s IQ camera range—featuring an indoor and outdoor camera, and a video doorbell—all use artificial intelligence to recognize faces. This means your camera can tell you when it sees people it knows, or when it spots an unfamiliar face. Both the indoor and outdoor IQ models also have close-up tracking, and will zoom in automatically on whatever triggered it. 

One of our favorite features is that Nest cameras can be set to turn off as soon as you arrive home, meaning you needn’t worry about your privacy being compromised. Finally, the indoor IQ Cam also doubles as a Google Home smart speaker, which can set timers, play music, answer questions, and do other helpful things 

Things to Know

Nest cameras are wired only, stream in 1080p, offer a 130-degree field of view, night vision, and high definition two-way audio. Its outdoor cameras are IP66 weatherproof, and Nest charges to view past events from your video feed starting at $5 a month.

To buy Nest Cam IQ Indoor, click here.

To buy Nest Hello Doorbell, click here.

Best For Simplicity: Hive 

Hive Indoor is a WiFi camera that complements a home's decor, coming in two colors, black/copper or white/champagne. Hive Outdoor is a new weatherproof security camera with two-way audio and 8x digital zoom.

Hive offers two cameras: an indoor and outdoor model. The Hive View indoor is particularly impressive as it’s designed first as a smart home camera, second as a security camera (although it has plenty of security features). What we mean is it doesn't look like a big, bulky white camera; its elegant design will fit in with most decor, coming with a black/copper or white/champagne stand. 

What We Love About It

Besides its elegant look, we love that you can lift the camera off the stand for completely cord-free recording for up to an hour, making it easy to capture moments in your home without having to pull out your smartphone. Both of Hive’s cameras can distinguish between people and animals and will automatically zoom in when they detect activity. 

Hive Indoor can be removed from its stand to record completely cable-free for up to an hour.

Things To Know 

Hive’s indoor and outdoor cameras both have 1080p live streaming, two-way talk, motion and sound detection, night vision, and 24 hours of video recording for free. If you want more that 24 hours of recording, you can pay a subscription fee of $4 for a month’s worth of video.

To buy Hive View, click here.

To buy Hive View Outdoor, click here.

Best For Whole Home Security: Ring 

Ring's new Stick Up Cam camera can be placed indoors or outdoors, has battery-powered or wired versions, comes in white or black, and can  charge with a solar panel, making it a very versatile option. 

If you want to surround your home in a Ring of security, Ring has a camera for your every need. One of the few companies to offer truly cord-free video monitoring, Ring has three camera models, two of which come in battery-powered options, so you can place them anywhere you want. 

Best known for its video doorbell, which also comes in battery or wired versions, Ring’s new Stick Up Cam can be placed indoors or outdoors, and its flexible mount allows easy and versatile installation. The spotlight and floodlight cameras are designed for outdoor use and can light up the exterior of your home when they detect motion, a great security feature. 

What We Love About It

Battery-powered options for most of its cameras give you a wide range of flexibility, but we really love the optional solar panel that keeps your cameras charged for longer. Also, the outdoor cameras have built-in sirens you can activate through the app. 

Things To Know

Ring Floodlight Camera has two bright floodlights that activate on motion and a loud siren built in for extra security.

Ring cameras are always on, you can’t manually switch them off in the app, although they only record when motion is detected. To play back video you need a subscription, starting at $3 a month. Ring cameras offer 1080p HD recording, night vision, two-way talk, and motion and sound detection. 

To buy Ring Spotlight Cam Solar, click here.

To buy Ring Floodlight Cam, click here.

Best For the Front Porch and Privacy: Netatmo 

Netatmo Welcome is designed not to look like a security camera.

Netatmo’s elegant outdoor camera is designed to replace your porch light, giving you a bright floodlight and a camera all in one. Its indoor camera is equally well designed, and won’t look out of place or intimidating on your entryway table. A recent video doorbell addition rounds out this system’s offerings, and it’s one of the only camera systems that integrates with Apple’s HomeKit. 

Netatmo's system includes a video doorbell, an indoor camera, and an outdoor camera with a floodlight. The range is compatible with Apple's HomeKit.

What We Love About It 

Netatmo cameras know when it sees you or your family members versus strangers and can be set to only record when strangers are detected. This makes it a much more private camera, and coupled with the fact that it stores all its footage locally and not in the cloud, it’s a great camera system for someone concerned about keeping their home off the internet. It also doesn’t charge any monthly subscription fees. 

Things to Know

Netatmo's outdoor camera replaces an existing outdoor light for easy installation.

All Netatmo cameras have infrared night vision, record in 1080p, there are no monthly fees and the outdoor camera can distinguish between people, cars, and animals up to 65 feet away.

To buy Netatmo Presence, click here.

To buy Netatmo Welcome, click here.

Best For Controlling Your Door: August 

One of the most useful features of a smart home is controlling your front door. The combination of a smart door lock and a video doorbell lets you see, answer, lock, and unlock your door from anywhere. 

August is a pioneer in this space, and was one of the first to offer a smart door lock and video doorbell duo. The combination of the two is an excellent way to manage entry to your home. With just one app you can see who is at your front door, talk to them, and even let them in. 

August's new August View video doorbell is slimline, so will fit on most doors, and has a variety of faceplates to fit with your decor.

August has just announced a new video doorbell, which really ups the style stakes over the last iteration. The August View is a slimline, battery-powered doorbell, so you can stick it anywhere you need to without worrying about wiring. It also comes with eight different faceplates: four metal faceplates (satin nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, satin brass, midnight gray) and four colored faceplates (black, red, blue, and white), easily matching with your decor.

What We Love About It

The View has 1440p resolution, which should provide more detail than the standard 1080p. It also offers motion alerts anytime someone approaches the doorstep (they don’t have to press the button), live video streaming, and a high definition zoom. 

Things to Know

The August View video doorbell comes with free, five-second video previews. You can always view live streams and talk to people at your door, but for more history you’ll need to sign up for a subscription plans for 15 or 30 days of recordings, pricing for which hasn't been announced. The View will be available at the end of March.

To buy August View, click here.

Best for Under $50: Wyze

The Wyze Cam camera is the least expensive indoor WiFi camera option.

For the budget-conscious who still want all the great features of a WiFi camera, Wyze offers two excellent options—although they are indoor only. The Wyze Cam and Wyze Cam Pan are both under $30 and offer motion and sound detection and 1080p video, and the Pan will automatically track movement in your home. Both work with Alexa, and can show your video feed on any screen-enabled Alexa.

What We Love About It

Wyze is the cheapest camera you can buy that is also backed by a reputable company and completely secure. Wyze Cam Pan lets you rotate the camera 360 degrees to see all the corners of your home, something no other camera currently offers. 

Things To Know 

This camera has 1080p video, free cloud and local storage, motion and sound detection, two-way audio, and night vision. The Pan adds motion tracking, pan and tilt, but both cameras will only work on 2.4 ghz networks.

To buy Wyze Cam, click here.

To buy Wyze Cam Pan, click here.

Best for Outdoor Security: Arlo 

Arlo's outdoor cameras are battery powered and come with magnetic mounts, making moving and adjusting them simple. 

Arlo’s wide range of cameras gives you flexibility, customization, and best of all, completely cord-free options. Arlo Pro 2 is the company’s flagship product. A battery-powered, fully-weatherproof outdoor camera that can be mounted anywhere, the Arlo Pro 2 is ideal if you have a large space to cover, especially further from your house. 

It comes with its own hub/bridge, which helps extend the range it can cover; plus, colorful camera skins will blend the devices into your landscape. Wired indoor cameras, a baby monitor, and a new audio doorbell that can pair with your cameras mean you can cover every inch of your home. 

What We Love About It 

Battery power means greater flexibility, and optional solar panels plus excellent range let you keep your whole property under surveillance. It also integrates with Amazon Alexa, so you can view your camera stream on a screen-enabled Alexa. 

Things to Know

Arlo cameras offer 1080p night vision; its outdoor line is weatherproof and provides 7 days of free video storage. Battery power limits its recording capability slightly, and it doesn’t record continuous motion, but will send clips.

To buy Arlo Pro 2, click here.

To buy Arlo Baby Monitor, click here.

Best for the Amazon Household: Amazon Cloud Cam 

You can use any Alexa with a screen as a two-way calling device in your home, or Amazon's new Cloud Cam can work for communication and security.

Got an Alexa already? Amazon’s new Cloud Cam is a great, inexpensive camera perfect for a family already invested in Amazon’s ecosystem. Offering most features you need in a WiFi camera, it does require a subscription for setting motion zones. 

Another good option if you're more interested in communication than security is one of Amazon’s Alexa devices with a screen (the Spot or Show). These are good for two-way calling within the home or without. Using Alexa's app on a smartphone you can "Drop In" or video call an Alexa Show or Spot, and communicate with those in your house easily over video—ideal for families where children don't have smartphones yet. 

Amazon's Cloud Cam has a lot of great features that work with its Alexa system, but you do have to pay for some features that are free on other devices. 

What We Love About It 

Cloud Cam and Alexa speakers with the new Guard feature enabled use artificial intelligence to detect specific sounds such as glass breaking, a baby crying, a dog barking, or a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm. 

Things To Know

The Cloud Cam has 1080p video, night vision, two-way audio, and sound and motion alerts. Watch, download, and share the last 24 hours of motion alert video clips for free, or for longer starting at $7 a month. You also need to subscribe for the advanced audio detection and to set specific motion zones.

To buy Amazon Cloud Cam, click here.

Related Reading: 

4 Smart Home Upgrades You Can Make in a Weekend

Start Your Smart Home For Under $200       


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