The first doorbell prototype was created by a Scottish inventor in 1817. They’ve alerted us to visitors both expected and unexpected for over 200 years. But in 2021 they’re becoming obsolete, superseded by superior technology, the smart doorbell. Also known as video doorbells, these nifty gadgets have a camera lens, speaker and microphone built into their front plate, combining a security camera and a doorbell all in one. When a visitor arrives at your front door, smart doorbells can transmit the video and audio they record to your phone, PC or tablet computer in real time.
The possibilities are truly exciting, but trawling through review after review searching for the best video doorbell is much less so. To help you out, we’ve done the digging for you and put together this guide to the best video doorbell for your home in 2021. Read on to learn more about how you can choose the best video doorbell for you and see a few of our favourite picks!
Do I need a wireless video doorbell?
Of course, you’re the only one who can answer that question, but if you’re on the fence about adopting this particular smart technology, there are lots of benefits you can enjoy from even the cheapest smart doorbell.
The most obvious reason is security for your home. With a video doorbell installed on your property, you can check to see who’s at the door without opening it. This is true of a standard peephole, but a smart doorbell works even better.
For one, the best smart doorbells are motion activated and can start recording as soon as someone approaches your front door. This evidence can be vital if the stranger has bad intentions. Many smart doorbells allow you to stream footage directly to a cloud computer service. This means if someone destroys or steals the doorbell itself, you’ll still have caught them in the act.
Security is one reason to invest in a Wi-Fi smart doorbell, but it’s far from the only one. Convenience is another! Most smart doorbells let you talk to someone at your front door no matter where you are in the world thanks to a two-way talk system. Expecting a package to be delivered but can’t leave work? With a smart doorbell, it’s no trouble!
How to choose the perfect smart doorbell
Picture quality is an important part of deciding which is the best video doorbell for you. You might think this is a simple choice: the more pixels the better, right? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. Yes, definition is important. If your wireless video doorbell turns someone's face into a pixelated mush then there’s little point in purchasing it. We recommend video doorbells with a resolution of at least 720p, which will display someone’s face clearly. Most of the smart doorbells you’ll find on this list have higher definitions than that, letting you make out small details, like car licence plate numbers, from further away.
But if you only consider video quality, you’re neglecting to consider some important information. One of these is aspect ratio. Simply put, aspect ratio is the difference between the width of the video and it’s height, expressed as a ratio. For example, most widescreen TVs have an aspect ratio of 16:9. This is perfect for watching films and shows, but would be terrible for a Wi-Fi video doorbell because it would cut off the top of your visitor’s head.
Instead, we recommend looking for an aspect ratio that’s as square as possible (a perfectly square video has an aspect ratio of 1:1). 4:3, which is a familiar ratio for anyone old enough to remember CRT televisions, is an excellent choice for smart video doorbells.
Field of View (FOV) is also something you should consider when buying a wireless video doorbell. FOV is how much of the world that the doorbell’s camera lens can see (also known as a viewing angle), expressed in degrees. If this is too abstract, imagine a cone spreading out from your video doorbell. The higher the FOV number, the wider the cone. Some cameras have a massive 180° FOV, which is a cone so wide it's actually a semicircle. The tricky thing about FOV is that the higher that number climbs, the more the edges of the video will be distorted. Want an example? Check out this photograph taken with a 180° FOV lens:
As you can see, the edges of the photo have become twisted. Very dada-esque, but not super useful for security cameras. If an intruder is captured on the edge of a super-wide FOV video, you might not make out their face clearly. There are a few ways to solve this problem (one of our hot picks later on has made the grade for their solution), but normally we recommend an FOV between 155 and 166 degrees for a good compromise between wide view and picture clarity.
Other features to consider
Let’s move beyond video for now and think about audio. In order to communicate with people on the other side of your door you’ll need two-way talk capability. This must-have feature is integrated into all smart doorbells, but it’s not an equal playing field. Some smart doorbells have special noise-cancelling technology built into their microphones. This eliminates background noise so you can hear your visitor’s voice clearly. This is an amazing bonus for anyone who lives near a busy street!
You also need to consider whether you want to wire up your doorbell. Most video doorbells can run entirely from batteries, which is definitely convenient, but you also have to remember to charge or replace those power cells once they’ve run out of juice. Conversely, wiring a smart doorbell is a challenging and potential hazardous task. If you’re considering a wired video doorbell, you’re best off hiring a professional. Be careful when looking at products described as a wireless video doorbell, as this phrase might refer to the doorbell’s ability to transmit video wirelessly over Wi-Fi, not that it runs on batteries.
Other features to look out for are night vision and waterproofing. The best video doorbell for you will have both of these as standard. Look out also for smart home connectivity, which will allow you to control your smart doorbell with your voice and connect it to other smart home devices like automatic door locks. If you’d like to know more about other smart home choices, you’re in luck: We’ve written an entire buyer’s guide about the best smart home products here.
Finally, let’s talk about storage options. Every Wi-Fi video doorbell will connect straight to your phone to broadcast live, but some also allow you to save video to an installed memory card or keep recordings in the cloud. You might not always have access to your phone, so a capacious storage solution is a great backup. Cloud storage is highly dependent on which video doorbell you choose, so we’ll go into that in more detail when we examine the products themselves. Speaking of which, let’s check out our list now!
The best video doorbells on the market today
When it comes to picking out the best smart doorbell for your home, it all comes down to your needs and wants. With a plethora of features, functions and models to choose from, it’s unsurprising that entering the wonderful world of video doorbells can seem more like a minefield than an easy task. To help you make the right decision, we’ve gathered our top picks and put them all in the handy guide below. Browse our guide and prepare to discover the future of tech, today!
Pros: Balances price and performance, full HD sensor
Cons: Battery is difficult to charge, additional costs add up
We’re kicking off our list off with one of the top dogs of the smart home security world, Ring. Specifically, we’re talking about the 2nd Generation Ring Video Doorbell. There are lots of Ring doorbells to choose from (in fact there’s another on our list), but we’re starting with the company’s 2nd generation doorbell because it’s a great choice for the average user.
This video doorbell streams video in full HD 1080p, which is a big improvement over the 1st gen’s 720p camera. A reasonable 155 degree FOV means the view won’t be spoiled by distortion. Another bonus is that this Ring camera has a motion zones feature. This allows you to customise at what distance the motion sensor will activate the camera. Each of the four zones can be turned on or off independently, and you can tweak their values separately. Add to this an infrared night vision mode and great integration with Amazon’s Alexa smart home system and you’ve got a brilliant camera that won’t set you back that much compared to some of the video doorbells on our list.
So what’s the catch? There are two that give us pause for thought. The first is that in order to charge this wireless video doorbell you need to unscrew it completely from its mounting. It’s a minor problem but annoyingly inconvenient nonetheless. Second, to get the most out of this Ring camera, you’ll need to subscribe to the Ring Protect service. Without it, the camera will still stream live video to your phone, but you’ll get no cloud storage recording, and there’s no way to keep it on the wireless video doorbell itself. This subscription will cost between $3-$10 per month depending on which plan you go with.
Pros: Facial recognition, 2K video with HDR
Cons: Has to be wired into your home
The Amazon-owned Ring cameras might be the market leaders for video doorbells, but Google’s Nest products are right behind them. With our second choice, the Google Nest Hello Doorbell, they might just take the lead!
This smart doorbell is slimmer than its Amazon competitor and has a better image sensor. It records in 2K definition (twice the resolution of the Ring doorbell), has an FOV of 160 degrees and includes High Dynamic Range (HDR) image processing that gives you more detail in shadows.
What really puts the Google Nest Hello Doorbell in contention for best video doorbell is its powerful facial recognition technology. Every time someone appears at your door, the doorbell captures an image of their face. You can then assign names to those photos in the Google Nest Hello’s easy-to-use app. Combine this with a Google Nest smart home system and you’ll get audio alerts and notifications every time someone you know arrives at the door. It’s a great feature if you’ve got a busy social schedule, and the facial recognition will get more accurate over time as it processes more data.
Sounds perfect, right? Almost. The only downside to the Nest Hello is that it can’t be powered by batteries, so it must be wired into your home’s electrical grid. This inflates the price of the doorbell considerably, as you’ll have to pay for professional installation. This hidden cost means that it’s actually one of the pricier products in this guide.
Pros: Onboard storage, low cost
Cons: Limited range, no information about the app
So far, you might be under the impression that smart doorbells are all triple figure investments, but that’s not strictly true! The Ranpo M7 Wi-Fi Doorbell is the first of three budget-friendly video doorbells that we’ve included in this guide. Despite costing less money, you can still expect a quality 720p HD video, two-way talk and night vision.
Unlike other, more expensive smart doorbells, the Ranpo M7 doesn’t have cloud storage. Instead, when its PIR motion sensor detects movement, it’ll send an alert to your phone and start streaming immediately. You can record video locally if you insert an SD card into the slot. It’s more limited than a dedicated cloud storage system, but you won’t have to worry about any subscription fees, allowing you to save even more money.
But budget products have to save money somewhere, and you’ll feel it in this video doorbell’s connectivity. There’s no option to integrate the Ranpo M7 with any smart home system. If you want voice activation and other customisation features, you’ll need to go with a more expensive Wi-Fi video doorbell. Additionally, we couldn’t find out any information about which app the Ranpo M7 uses, so we can’t tell you if it has lag issues or video dropoff problems. It’s a bit of a gamble, but for such a low price you won’t regret making it.
Pros: Smooth ethernet connection, full colour night vision
Cons: Rather expensive, requires installation
Now we move from one of the least expensive smart doorbells to one of the most costly. The Ring Elite is very expensive, but it’s also one of the most capable smart doorbells you can get your hands on right now, with a couple of killer features.
We’ve already mentioned how important night vision is when you’re looking for the best video doorbell. The Ring Elite takes this essential feature and makes it even better. Most night vision cameras can only provide footage in grainy black and white or shades of radioactive green, but this wireless video doorbell records at night in full colour. This isn’t about making things pretty. With full colour footage, it's easier to see someone’s face and discern fine background details.
Full colour night vision isn’t the only unique feature that this smart doorbell has up its proverbial sleeve. It’s also got its own dedicated ethernet port that plugs directly into your internet router, guaranteeing a solid connection. You won’t have to worry about your doorbell’s Wi-Fi signal being disrupted by interference from other sources.
As well as these unique benefits, you’ll also enjoy all of the positive features of the 2nd Generation Ring camera that appeared at the top of our list, so the Ring Elite is a truly exceptional wireless video doorbell. You’ll have to pay a lot for it, and that’s before installation costs. Because the Ring Elite needs a physical ethernet connection, it can’t run on batteries alone.
Pros: Automatic white balance and exposure adjustment, good night vision for the price
Cons: No cloud storage, limited app
Our next entry in our budget video doorbells class, the WT Smart Doorbell is another low cost smart doorbell that streams 720p video to your mobile device whenever its PIR sensor detects movement. Like the other budget friendly doorbells, the WT Smart Doorbell is limited to fairly basic functions. You can’t link it with other smart home devices and there’s no cloud storage functionality, but it does the basics rather well.
When the WT Smart Doorbell starts streaming or recording, it doesn’t keep its settings the same. It has software installed in its system that monitors key determiners of video quality and can adjust them instantly. It will modify the white balance, video gain and lighting exposure settings to reduce the graininess of your stream, ensuring you can always see clearly.
It also has excellent night vision, thanks to the six infrared lights that project an invisible spotlight onto the face of anyone who approaches your door in the dark. It’s not the most sophisticated item in this buyer’s guide, but if you’re looking for something cheap and dependable, this offering from WT might be the best video doorbell for you.
Pros: Both Ring cameras work well together, great for homes with gardens
Cons: Spotlight Cam Can be tricky to mount on brick, concrete or stucco, may be overkill for smaller homes
Experiencing deja vu? Don’t worry, it’s not a glitch in the matrix (at least we hope not), it’s that the 2nd Generation Ring camera has already appeared on this. So why have we included it twice? Because this time it comes bundled with a Ring Spotlight Cam.
We’ve already extolled the virtues of the 2nd generation Ring, but the Spotlight Cam is an excellent product on its own. This camera also streams high quality 1080p video, will connect to Alexa systems and can upload it to the Ring Protect cloud service. It also comes with a pair of very bright LED spotlights. These don’t just provide illumination but act as a deterrent.
This smart Wi-Fi video bell bundle is perfect if your home has a garden at the rear or backs onto an alley. While your Ring video doorbell protects the front of your home, the Spotlight security camera can keep watch over the other entrance.
While great for large homes, it’s wasteful to buy this bundle if you only need to keep watch in one direction. For example, if you live in a flat, buying an additional camera won’t help you much, as a smart doorbell on will be enough to see visitors approaching from any angle.
Pros: 166 degree FOV motion detection, IP55 water resistance
Cons: No motion control settings, almost too sensitive
The ZASelect Video Doorbell Camera 2020 is the last of our budget smart doorbells. It has many of the same strengths and weaknesses of the WT Smart Doorbell and the Ranpo M7, but with two key differences that mark it out as special.
The first is its superior water resistance. While most budget cameras have a water resistant that caps out at IP54, this smart doorbell is tested up to the IP55 standard. Without getting too technical, the IP55 rating means that it should withstand lashing rain without worry - a vital feature for any doorbell. It also has a 166 degree field of view, one of the widest in this entire guide, let alone budget video doorbells.
The weakness of the ZASelect doorbell is that’s PIR sensor is rather sensitive, and can’t distinguish between objects moving in front of it and people. Combine that with a wide FOV with no ability to adjust the sensitivity profile in its app, and this Wi-Fi video doorbell can be very easy to trigger. If you position it in the wrong place it can very easily be triggered by movement outside your neighbour’s home or passing traffic.
Pros: Superior object recognition, 180 degree FOV, 1:1 aspect ratio, intelligence alerts
Cons: Most distinguishing features are locked behind a subscription, hardwire only
The last product in this guide for buyers is the Arlo Video Doorbell. Arlo isn’t as well-known as Google or Amazon, but this camera is making waves in the smart home community thanks to its great package of features.
Speaking of packages, this Arlo machine could be the best video doorbell at recognising them. It’s all down to Arlo’s sophisticated object recognition software, which not only detects faces but also identifies animals, parcels and even traffic. This means less false alarms being sent to your phone. For example, you can set this wireless video doorbell up to only trigger alerts when it detects people or to prioritise packages if you’re expecting something in the mail.
We mentioned earlier that a 180 degree field of view was great in theory but could lead to problematic distortion. It seems that the Arlo Video Doorbell has solved that problem, thanks to its pursuit of a truly square 1:1 aspect ratio. While there’s certainly some curving going on, the aspect ratio means that the distortion is limited. It doesn’t look natural, but you won’t have any trouble to understand what’s going on in the frame.
Another amazing and unique feature is the intelligent alert. If you open up the Arlo app and see someone trying to break into your home, you can hit a panic button to trigger the alert. Depending on which setting you use, the intelligent alert can blast a loud siren from the Arlo’s speaker system or call your local police department. This feature could very well make it the best video doorbell for the security conscious.
Like many of the more advanced smart doorbells, the Arlo Video Doorbell doesn’t take batteries and must be wired by a professional. That’s certainly a disadvantage, but it’s not Arlo's only problem. Like most video doorbell providers, Arlo offers a cloud storage service for an additional fee. However, what’s different is that Arlo locks most of their best features behind this subscription. Without shelling out extra every month, you won’t have access to the doorbell’s alert system or its smart detection algorithm.
Ready to go smart?
If this selection hasn’t convinced you of the awesome power of smart doorbells, be sure to check out our extensive range of doorbells. As well as their old-fashioned analogue cousins, you’ll find plenty more video doorbells to tempt you. There are many more great products on OnBuy that will help keep your home more secure, including security cameras and locks, latches and keys.
Of course, if you link your smart doorbell with a smart home system, you can unlock extra features by combining it with other features. From lights to thermostats, you’ll find plenty of other options on OnBuy, all courtesy of our verified sellers!
Please note: The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.