The Best Smart Doorbells 2018 – Buyers Guide

A considerable number of home accessories and appliances now have smart varieties which are connected to the internet and give you remote access, and one of the most useful is the video doorbell camera.

They allow you to see who has rung your doorbell as an extra security measure. The live video feed is sent to your connected smartphone, where you receive a notification.

Most will allow you to have a two-way conversation with the visitor too, either to ask them who they are or to leave instructions with a delivery driver if you can’t make it to the door or have nipped to the shop. Much more secure than putting a note on the door for everyone to see or trying to guess where it has been left.

Getting the right one for your needs is an important security step. If you’re looking to upgrade your home security to include a smart video doorbell, take a look at our reviews of the best to buy this year:

The Best Smart Doorbells – Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Nest Hello Video Doorbell
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Nest Hello Video Doorbell
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  • Works With: Alexa/Google Assistant. iOS/Android/Windows
  • Power: Wired
  • Picture Quality: HD
Readers Pick: Ring Video Doorbell 2
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Ring Video Doorbell 2
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  • Works With: Alexa/Samsung SmartThings/Wink/IFTTT. iOS/Android/Windows/MacOS
  • Power: Rechargeable Battery/Wired
  • Picture Quality: 1080p HD
Top Battery Powered: Accfly Video Doorbell
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Accfly Video Doorbell
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  • Works With: iOS/Android
  • Power: Rechargeable Battery
  • Picture Quality: 720p HD

Best Smart Doorbells

Nest Hello Video Doorbell

Able to send an alert to your smartphone whenever the doorbell rings, or when it detects somebody on your property, the Nest Hello smart doorbell is a great addition to any home security system and perhaps the best choice for the real security-conscious.

One of its selling points is that it can tell the difference between a person and something else. A lot of doorbell camera fans state that it can be annoying to constantly get motion notifications due to things such as the washing blowing in the wind or a cat going past, so this ability is welcome.

It gives you a full view of the area, from head to toe. This lets you see if any parcels have been left on your doorstep, or if something such as a charity bag has been collected. Through the Nest app, you can have a two-way conversation with visitors as well. Or, select a choice of pre-recorded greetings.

For an added extra each month, a Nest Aware subscription can further tell the difference between regular guests and strangers. If you have a Google Home smart speaker, this could come in handy as it can announce who is at the door without you checking the video footage.

There is live stream ability, so you can always check in on the camera should you be away and want to see if everything outside is still okay. Thanks to night vision and three-hour event history snapshots, you are on top of it all whatever the time.

The Nest Aware plan can also record and store up to 30 days worth of history, in case you have missed anything or want to revisit something suspicious. Unlike some other doorbells which only turn on when there’s motion or the bell is pressed, the Nest records and saves footage 24/7, and can tag clips based on movement or people.

We like

  • Facial Recognition for extra cost
  • 24/7 continuous recording and access
  • Comes with everything needed to fit and install
  • Very clear footage

We disike

  • Facial Recognition is sometimes unpredictable
  • Some extras come at a price
  • Overall price of item and installation

Final Verdict

The only true rival we found to Ring's cling on the market, and well-worth the extra money if you can afford to part with it.

+ Specifications

  • Works With: Alexa/Google Assistant. iOS/Android/Windows
  • Power: Wired
  • Picture Quality: HD

+ Downloads

Nest Hello Video Doorbell User Manual

Download

Ring Video Doorbell 2

The Ring range of doorbells are perhaps the best-known, and this model is one of the leading varieties regarding the combination of price, ease of use and the features available straight out of the box.

There is 1080p HD video footage, so there will be no difficulty in working out who everyone is who comes to the door. There is also two-way conversation ability, allowing you to ask all the questions and leave the instructions you could wish.

It comes with motion sensors too, so you can get a notification if there is anyone on your property before they ring the doorbell. This can be adjusted to focus on particular zones to let you see movement in the most important areas of your property.

Thanks to the night-vision sensors, security is made 24/7. And it is weather resistant too, so you can still see if anyone happens to be on your property on the darkest, stormiest nights.

Whether you are halfway around the world or just upstairs with the kids, receiving notifications and checking on the comings and goings in your home has never been easier.

If you would like to record and securely store all the footage it has taken, you can purchase the Ring Protect Recording Plan from an extra £2.50 per month. You get a free 30-day trial of this cloud service to see if it really will come in handy.

It is supplied with a quick-release rechargeable battery pack so you can give it a boost without removing the entire item, or simply connect it all up to the wiring. Charges last around a month.

There is the option to purchase with a chime for an extra cost, or with an Echo Dot.

We like

  • Comes with two interchangeable faceplates
  • Battery is rechargeable

We disike

  • Need to pay for Cloud footage storage

Final Verdict

There are extra costs involved, but in terms of the camera we would feel most secure using, this tops the list and seems the most reliable.

+ Specifications

  • Works With: Alexa/Samsung SmartThings/Wink/IFTTT. iOS/Android/Windows/MacOS
  • Power: Rechargeable Battery/Wired
  • Picture Quality: 1080p HD

+ Downloads

Ring Video Doorbell 2 User Manual

Download

Netvue Vuebell Doorbell Camera

There is no denying that the Vuebell is one of the most compact and stylish models on the market, so much so that it barely even looks like a doorbell.

It gives users a 185° horizontal and 120° vertical camera view of their outside area and sends the 720p video straight to their smartphone. You can also check up on the view in real time, not just when somebody rings the bell or motion alert is activated if you like to make sure everything is looking good.

Talking of motion detection, you can set the time periods for this to be working and identify particular motion zones, so you are always in control of the security the doorbell provides. The general pick-up zone is between 3 and 5 metres.

There is also 10-metre infrared night vision capability, so your home can be secure 24/7. There is the usual two-way conversation ability too, and up to 20 users can access the same camera at any one time, so it is perfect for those packed households.

But there are some significant improvements which need seeing to.

Firstly, it isn’t waterproof which isn’t great for an outdoor item on sale in the UK. Another issue is that it is very unclear where to press; we found people pressed the camera rather than the blue illuminated bell, which could become problematic if you have deliveries or visitors regularly who you don’t want to miss. The sound was not great in windy conditions, and the night vision was poor compared to the other options.

It is a good price compared to a lot of the others on the market, but as the original Ring model becomes more dated, you may find that spending a bit more on that ends up being more reliable.

We like

  • Design
  • Good daytime video quality

We disike

  • 5GHz WiFi not supported - 2.4GHz WiFi connection needed
  • Poor customer support and instructions
  • A lot of extras require a subscription

Final Verdict

Not the best, but for something which is entry-level and acts more as a deterrent than a security hub it is maybe worth a try. Other reviewers have heaped quite a bit of praise on it over in the US.

+ Specifications

  • Works With: iOS/Android/Windows. Alexa
  • Power: Wired
  • Picture Quality: 720p HD

+ Downloads

Netvue Vuebell Doorbell Camera User Manual

Download

Accfly Video Doorbell

For anybody who feels that video recording and access to older files is one of the most important factors for their new doorbell and is wary of having to pay for subscriptions to have this privilege, the Accfly has you sorted.

Embedded inside is a 16GB SD memory card which keeps old footage on record for easy access. No connections to online clouds; it is simply there when you need it. Video looping automatically overwrites the oldest video files to make room for new footage.

There is a chime included so you can have the sound as well as smartphone notifications, which makes it slightly better value than the first generation Ring bell which is around the same price.

The three levels of sensitivity basically act as a time delay, so if there is a certain amount of motion in a given period, it will trigger a notification. Set it to pick up a cat running past or the washing blowing in the wind, or only when a salesman/delivery driver is clearly stood at your doorstep.

The overall unit is quite large in size and heavy, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it just makes it feel more secure and durable. If you want something which is noticeable as opposed to hidden away, then it is ideal.

Even though it is 720p, it is still clear enough, and the sound is good. It essentially has everything of the original Ring, including the occasional long delays between action and notification. The additional chime may sway you, though.

We like

  • Motion sensitivity settings
  • App is simple to use and offers good control
  • Can add additional users (entire household can view with their own smartphone)

We disike

  • No charger included
  • Battery power level seemed a bit off

Final Verdict

A good entry-level doorbell if you want to get to grips with it all without delving into extra subscriptions and Cloud storage.

+ Specifications

  • Works With: iOS/Android
  • Power: Rechargeable Battery
  • Picture Quality: 720p HD

Ring Video Doorbell

If you’re after a smart doorbell camera under the budget category, takes things back to basics but is still worthwhile, then the original first generation Ring is a great bet. It doesn’t even seem that dated despite the range of latest models.

It has most of the features which are seen as a must. You can view or speak to visitors using your smartphone, and there are motion sensors to take care of anybody who doesn’t ring the doorbell, but you want to keep an eye on.

The removable rechargeable battery means a quick and simple set-up, or you can install it to your pre-existing wired doorbell for use with an audible bell.

There are four finishes available – Venetian Bronze, Polished Brass, Antique Brass and Satin Nickel – so you can choose the one which fits your decor and general look the best.

Concerning the negatives, there are a few signals which suggest it is an early model. Connectivity was a bit unpredictable even when tested with high broadband speeds, and there was sometimes a bit of a delay between receiving the notification that someone was at the door and them actually arriving. Not great if you’re getting a parcel delivered and you only catch them as they’re leaving when they think nobody is in.

If crystal-clear picture quality, ultra-reliability and a slimline design are a must then going with a later Ring model will be the best bet. But for something under £100 and having a doorbell camera for those ‘just in case’ moments is a priority, then it is a great budget bet. And, it is a well-known brand if you’re bothered about that kind of thing.

We like

  • Price
  • Choice of colours
  • Audio is clear

We disike

  • Speed of notifications
  • Motion sensor is either poor or ultra-sensitive (no in-between)

Final Verdict

Despite being the original older model, it was still ahead of its game and is still great for anyone not bothered about all of the latest fancy extras

+ Specifications

  • Works With: iOS/Android/Windows
  • Power: Rechargeable Battery/Wired
  • Picture Quality: 720p HD

+ Downloads

Ring Video Doorbell User Manual

Download

RING Video Doorbell Pro with Chime

Complete with a chime so you can’t miss the notifications if somebody is at the door, this Ring package has everything you need to get started. Plus, it is much more sleek than the original or Ring 2 models.

Firstly, the camera covers a full 180° view which is slightly more generous than a lot of others which usually sit at about 160°, so you have a complete view from side to side. The full HD 1080p recording quality also allows you to look back at all of the footage clearly, and there will be no confusion as to who is stood on your doorstep.

There is an IR LED sensor so it will still work perfectly when it is dark. It is also weather resistant, so a bad shower of rain won’t see it become entirely useless.

The chime can connect to the doorbell wirelessly which is great to cut down on the amount of installation and wiring needed. Through the app, you can adjust the volume and switched to ‘do not disturb’ if you have a sleeping little one or a pet who is easily startled.

It requires an existing hardwired doorbell or professional installation from an electrician, so it isn’t for anyone who wants an easy process.

We like

  • Slimmer and more modern-looking than Ring 2
  • Can set custom motion sensor area

We disike

  • Price for additional extras is a bit steep
  • Needs a really strong WiFi connection

Final Verdict

Good clear pictures and we like the addition of the chime, plus it looks smart and works very efficiently if your WiFi is good.

+ Specifications

  • Works With: iOS/Android/Windows
  • Power: Wired
  • Picture Quality: 1080p HD

+ Downloads

RING Video Doorbell Pro with Chime User Manual

Download

Help and Resources

Smart Doorbell Buying Guide

What You Should Look Out For

The main aim of a video doorbell is for you to see who is at the door, so make sure you get one which has good camera quality of at least HD standard. 1080p is the clearest, but this usually only comes with higher more expensive models.

Another point to look out for is motion sensors, which will notify you if there is any movement outside. Not everybody rings the doorbell, especially if they are acting suspiciously, so this adds an extra level of security. Try to get one with adjustable sensors, so things such as cats/cars going past don’t notify you.

The Nest Hello doorbell has facial recognition so the notifications can tell you who is at the door before you even view the footage, which would be great for anyone with a busy home.

Price

Prices generally start at just under £100 and increase to over £200.

From our reviews, video doorbells seem to be an item which paying more means better quality. None of those reviewed was 100% perfect, but those at the higher end of the scale were more reliable, had more features, and you got more for the money.

Doorbell cameras are no substitute for proper home security, but they can be a valuable part of your setup so spending that bit more will give a better peace of mind.

Battery or Hard Wired?

Both are usually the same cost, but there are pros and cons of each.

Battery doorbells are the easiest to install but don’t connect to your installed chime as easily. If you want to be able to hear the ring as well as see the notification on your phone, you will probably need to purchase an additional chime.

A hard-wired doorbell will usually require a visit from an electrician, which obviously comes with additional costs and work. But there would be no worries about batteries running out at critical moments.

Operation With Other Smart Devices

You can link some smart doorbells with other items around your home to create a secure hub. If the doorbell rings and it is nighttime, you could arrange for your lights to come on in response. If you are inside the house and usually have the door unlocked, you can arrange for the door to secure if you have a smart lock. Look for a doorbell equipped with IFTTT if this appeals.

The Nest range will also be beneficial in this case as it works with an entire network of smart appliances.

Durability

This is a product which will be mounted on the outside of your home all year round. You want a smart doorbell which can put up with rain, wind, cold, heat, sunlight and everything else that the weather throws at us.

Try to look for a bell which is waterproof or think about keeping it in an enclosed shelter.

FAQs

Who Are The Biggest Video Doorbell Brands?

Ring are the market leaders, and Amazon has just bought them so expect them to cling on to the crown for a long while to come. Nest have emerged onto the market more recently, and are the real serious competitor to Ring’s rule.

Other companies which specialise in home security, such as Yale, have similar items on the market such as digital door viewers, so expect them to emerge with a video doorbell in the near future.

Doorbell cameras are more popular in the USA than the UK at the moment, and some leading brands over there include the Zmodo, RemoBell, SkyBell, and August Doorbell, which could be available at home soon.

Does A Doorbell Camera Store The Footage?

Some do, but this usually comes at a premium. Nest and Ring charge extra to store the videos taken, and many of the other companies also have plans in place.

It could be an essential feature to have, as if you miss a notification that someone has pressed the button, you may want to view the footage at a later date.

Some cameras have SD card capability, but they are usually the more unknown brands so you may have to miss out on something such as video quality or reliability if you go with these.

Will A Smart Doorbell Prevent Break-Ins?

Not directly, but it does allow you to see who is at the door and act accordingly. If it is a stranger or someone acting suspiciously you could deter them, making it unlikely they will come back. Or, just the sight of the doorbell may put them off.

Smart doorbells are not a guaranteed prevention, though. Still ensure windows and doors are locked, and you have no valuables on show. Other smart security options may also be beneficial.

Do I Need A Particular Broadband Speed?

Most smart doorbells will require at least 1Mb/s upload speed for the video to work. Some more technical models may need over 2Mb/s, so check the specifications.

You can check your speed with an online tester before you buy and make any relevant adjustments.

Can I Unlock My Door With A Smart Doorbell?

As of yet, not exactly. You may be able to purchase a lock which you can open remotely should there be somebody at the door you would like to let in, but there is no way to make a direct link.

Nest and Ring are apparently working on such an item, however.