Best smart home security cameras: pick from these tested recommendations by our expert
Arlo, Ring, Wyze and more – the best smart home security camera doesn’t have to be creepy or complicated
Inviting an all-seeing smart security camera into your home – or at least, onto the outside of it – can be daunting, with so many factors going into your decision. Can you trust the company? Is it easy to set up? Do I need to hardwire it? If not, will it be annoying to charge? The heavy hitters in smart home security all have surprisingly different answers to these questions, and I’ve looked at a lot of what’s out there to figure out the best camera for a few different scenarios.
The Shortcut is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
➡️ How to pick the best home security camera
🔋 Not all cameras are battery-operated, though most companies have the option. If the best one for you calls for wiring, factor in your comfort level with this or the cost of professional installation.
👮 Do you want extra security features like professional monitoring? Not all cameras offer it, and there are differences between the ones that do.
🍎 Are you an Apple HomeKit user? If you want to be able to see the camera feed in the HomeKit app, your options are limited – and so is your resolution.
📦 How do you want videos stored? Some, but not all, home security cameras have local storage options, while most offer subscription-based cloud storage. What’s most important to you?
📶 How good is your Wi-Fi coverage? Depending on where you want coverage to go, you may need to upgrade your home Wi-Fi network.
🔏 Consider privacy, both your own and that of your neighbors – does the camera adequately secure your videos from prying eyes?
1. Arlo Pro 4
Best home security camera overall
✅ Arlo has both local and cloud storage available
✅ Great video quality
❌ Separate hardware support for both local storage and HomeKit integration
The Arlo Pro 4 is easily the best home security camera overall. In the areas of user-friendliness, feature set, video quality and reliability, it stands a clear head and shoulders above competitors’ cameras. Installing the camera is as easy as attaching its strongly-magnetic base to a wall with the included screw, then holding the back corner of the housing up to it until the magnet pulls it in. Its removable battery allows you to keep the camera rolling if you buy an extra battery and charger.
The camera itself is a 2K affair with a 160-degree field of view. It has an auto HDR toggle as well for more color range, which helps keep the image from washing out, but doesn’t generally seem to add a lot. Arlo offers a cheap, $2.99/month single-camera cloud video storage plan, meaning you you can use up to three cameras before needing to upgrade to the $9.99/month unlimited camera plan, making it one of the best values outside of something like the very cheap Wyze camera plans.
Finally, the Arlo Pro 4 offers basic HomeKit support, and even local storage, if you add one of several different hubs offered by the company, the most recent being the MicroSD card-supporting Arlo Base Station (past versions have USB ports to which you can attach an external hard drive). You’ll note, however, that Arlo does not support HomeKit Secure Video, so you won’t be able to store 10 days of video on Apple’s cloud backup service – but you can still view live video and use 2-way audio in the HomeKit app, and you’ll find the video feed loads much faster there than in the Arlo app (seemingly at some cost to battery life, in my experience).
2. EufyCam 2C
Best wireless home security camera for HomeKit
✅ Easy setup
✅ HomeKit Secure Video integration
❌ Requires a bridge
For people who’ve waded into the deep end of Apple’s ecosystem, the EufyCam 2C is the best wireless home security camera for HomeKit. It fully supports Apple’s iCloud-integrated storage plan, which means you can keep all your cameras’ data (if you subscribe to the 2TB iCloud plan) for as much as 10 days and take advantage of Apple’s object recognition features like person, animal, car and most importantly for many, package detection.
Outside of Apple’s system though, the EufyCam 2C holds its own as a great security camera with AI detection doesn’t go as far as Apple’s in terms of identifying what it sees, but offers other features like glass breakage detection and crying detection, presumably so you’ll be alerted, say, if your child is outside playing and gets hurt – I tried to test this, but I’m no actor and was unable to convince the camera I was crying.
Eufy offers integrated local storage in the Eufy HomeBase that’s required for this camera to function, which is nice, though it’s only 16GB, so it fills up fast. The company also has cloud storage plans with similar pricing to those of Arlo’s, but with a 10-camera limit on its $9.99/month plan, which won’t matter for most people, but isn’t as generous as Arlo’s, which has no camera limit. It’s technically compatible with a network attached storage device like a Synology DS220+.
3. Netatmo Outdoor Camera
Best wired security camera for local storage
✅ Multiple local video storage options
✅ Attractive, inconspicuous design
❌ Video quality isn’t the best
The Netatmo Outdoor Camera has been around for a while, but it’s still the best home security camera for local storage. What’s more, it’s attractive, doubles as a dimmable floodlight and, crucially, doesn’t look like a camera – a nice bonus if you want something that looks a little more natural jutting out of your house.
Netatmo differs from most of the smart home security cameras on the market today by not offering cloud storage (if you don’t count HomeKit Secure Video, which it supports) – instead, it’s all local. It ships with a 10GB MicroSD card inserted into its body, which you can remove and replace if you like. You can also store video locally on your network, either on a NAS or on a computer, using common protocols like FTP.
Installation is a little cumbersome (I recommend getting a second person to help) and getting it on your network requires showing the camera a QR code, which sounds simple but ends up being frustrating instead. That said, unlike many other smart security cameras offering local storage, this one still has smart notifications for people, vehicles and pets, with or without HomeKit integration.
4. Arlo Ultra 2
Best wireless security camera for local storage
✅ Fantastic video quality
✅ Easy installation
❌ Limited smarts without a subscription
If you’re starting from scratch and you want great video quality with minimal installation requirements, the Arlo Ultra 2 is a great option. Usually priced at about $479 for a 2-camera kit with the Arlo Smart Hub, it feels like one of the spendier options on this list, and it is, but you won’t find better video quality for less money, and when it comes to home security, that’s key.
The video quality of the Arlo Ultra 2 is easily the best of the cameras I’ve looked at, with surprisingly fine detail and great color, even in low light situations. It has a broad, up to 180-degree field of view that allows it to do automatic zoom and digital panning to follow things in its view (though this reduces the camera’s resolution to just 1080p).
The Ultra 2 requires an Arlo Smart Hub – that’s where you’ll put the MicroSD card for local recordings. Unfortunately, without an Arlo Secure plan, you’re left with basic, indiscriminate motion notification and recording, which can lead to a cluttered video library if your camera is pointed at a high-traffic area, with lots of animals and cars.
Published: November 29, 2022
Updated: December 28, 2022