The best security cameras make keeping tabs on your home from an app on your phone a breeze. But not all monitoring cameras offer the same level or quality of surveillance, and choosing the one that’s right for your house or flat can be a tricky business.
Our round-up of the best smart home security cameras is here to help. When you’re considering which smart security camera to buy, it shouldn’t be just down to pixel-count, or whether a camera looks nice on your bookshelf. There’s a lot more to take into account, while also ensuring you’re only investing in features you need.
Best security cameras – What to look out for
Some of the most popular features to consider when buying a security camera include night vision, face detection, location-based alerts and weatherproofing. You might also want to consider if it has an affordable cloud-based storage option for holding on to its footage.
Whether or not a camera has IFTTT integration is important for some buyers too, particularly if they’ve already dipped their toes in the smart home waters and are adding to their brood. A modular security system can work better for some people too, with separate motion sensors and sirens placed around the home to work in conjunction with a separate camera.
That’s why we’ve handpicked each smart security camera in our round-up for its outstanding range of features for every kind of budget and household. The Netatmo Presence claims to distinguish humans from animals (but lightens your wallet significantly in the process). A mid-price camera such as the Canary All-In-One even offers home air quality monitoring, going above and beyond the duties of your average security system.
We’ve tested dedicated security cams here, but another option is the Manything app, which can save your old phone from retirement by turning it into a monitoring camera. Manything can record to the cloud in 720p HD resolution, and now offers the ability to zoom into live or recorded footage.
But for purpose-built monitoring, look no further than the models below…
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- 1080p HD video recording at 30fps
- 2-way audio
- Night vision
- Motion and audio detection
- AC powered
- 24/7 cloud recording
The Netgear Arlo Q is a great one-stop solution for indoor home security. One of three cameras in Netgear’s surveillance range, this diamond-shaped camera is designed for easy use at home or in the office. It’s impressively small, with a stand to let it nestle discreetly on a bookshelf, and a wall mount for your preferred vantage point.
One feature we love is triggering automatic recording. You can set the camera to record for a specified length of time on each trigger – the default being 30 seconds – and you can choose whether to have it triggered by sound or motion. All clips are organised in a neat library in the app.
The quality of the footage that the Netgear Arlo Q captures is impressive. Images are detailed, vibrant and crisp in the day, and clear by night. The Night Mode can comfortably capture a large stretch of garden too. Super-easy to setup and manage and offering free cloud storage, it’s a no-brainer if you’re after smart and fuss-free home monitoring.
Buy now at PCWorld.co.uk from £119.97
At the time of the review the Netgear Arlo Q was available for £159
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- 720p and 1080p video capture
- 24 hours of free cloud storage
- Built-in battery
- Android and iOS apps
- Night vision
- Motion sensing
- Location-based notifications
- Subscription options available
The fuss-free Logitech Circle has come on leaps and bounds since we first reviewed it, with a slew of new features that set it a cut above budget rivals. A Day Brief feature in the app compiles highlights of the day to watch a glance, while an £80 per year subscription plan boosts its existing 24 hour storage limitations.
There’s an intuitive app for both iOS and Android, which makes use of location-based notifications to give you peace of mind while you’re away from home. A built-in microphone and speaker give you the option of chatting with the camera’s subjects while you’re out of the room, which makes it a reasonable option for a part-time baby monitor or pet watcher.
A couple of caveats worth noting are the lack of zoned activity monitoring or facial recognition, and a spot of temperamental night vision. If you’re after a good basic level of surveillance, though, this shouldn’t put you off. The Logitech Circle’s wide viewing angle, informative app and ease of use should keep most buyers happy.
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk from £129.99
At the time of the review the Logitech Circle was available for £160
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- 1080p 30fps video
- Activity Zones (with subscription)
- Built-in microphone and speaker
- 130-degree field of view
- 10- and 30-day video history (with subscription)
By far one of the best security cameras we’ve tested, the Nest Cam Outdoor offers painless installation, incredibly smart monitoring and a knockout design that actually makes smart security look stylish. The spotlight-esque camera perches on a versatile magnetic mount on the outside of your house, with an IP65 rating to withstand dust and showers.
The camera’s night vision is more than enough to see clearly to the bottom of a sizeable garden. There’s also noise detection, which will alert your device when there’s a loud noise like glass breaking. A built-in microphone and speaker gives you the option of talking to unwanted visitors, or simply chatting with the delivery man.
The only caveat is that you’ll have to pay for a rather pricey subscription free to get the most out of the camera. They range from £8 to £24 per month depending on how much video storage you’re after. If you’re happy to lay down the cash, you’ll get extra features like more advanced motion detection, the ability to set Activity Zones, and the option to save and download video clips. IFTTT integration gets the camera talking to your other smart devices too.
Buy now at Electrical-Showroom.co.uk from £158
At the time of the review Nest Cam Outdoor was available for £159
- Full HD video recording
- Night vision and motion sensor
- Location-based alerts
- Air quality, temperature and humidity monitoring
- iOS and Android apps
- 90dB alarm
The Canary All-In-One Smart Home Security Camera is a trustworthy addition to your smart home-security setup. Standout features include location-based alerts, an in-depth app, and environmental data that keeps tabs on air factors such as temperature, air quality and humidity. That means the camera could pick up a fire, or detect if your heating has failed, but Canary is quick to point out that it’s by no means an alternative to a smoke detector.
Also hard to ignore is a whopping 90dB alarm to ward off intruders – an ungodly racket best heard from afar, which is how any good alarm should be.Thanks to an infra-red lap, the camera produces brilliantly clear night vision footage, showing detailed images of unwelcome faces.
You can rig up between one and four cameras on your network and operate them from multiple devices. The lack of SD card slot does mean you have no choice but to subscribe to one of Canary’s pricey subscription plans, however. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, Netatmo Welcome and Samsung SmartCam are better options.
Buy now at JohnLewis.com from £159.95
At the time of the review the Canary All-in-One Smart Home Security Camera was available for £160
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- HD camera
- 16GB memory card included
- Dropbox and FTP support
- Claims to detect people, cars or animals up to 20m/65ft away
The Netatmo Presence is a weatherproof outdoor camera that claims to be able to tell the difference between humans, cars and animals, then react accordingly. For the most part, it works well, but we did experience some occasional confusion, mainly when the camera thought cats were humans, which wasn’t ideal on a heavily cat-populated street.
In the app, you can choose individual zones to keep tabs on in the camera’s field of view, giving you the option of blocking out the pavement, road or areas beyond your garden. There’s sound recording, which does a good job of picking up doorstep conversations, and superb video quality does justice to the hefty price tag.
Other redeeming features include Dropbox and IFTTT integration for extra smart home fun, letting you add the Netatmo Presence to your existing family of smart devices. Netatmo doesn’t demand a constant subscription on top of the price in order to save your footage, which is a rare and welcome gesture in the current home security market.
Buy now at Maplin.co.uk from £249.99
At the time of the review Netatmo Presence was available for £249.99
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- Full HD camera
- Motion detection
- Mobile access
- Certified for outdoor use
The Ring is a security camera with a difference: it’s also a doorbell. But it’s not just a doorbell with a lens, because it’s app connected. If somebody rings the bell while you’re out, you can talk to them using your phone. For potential intruders, that’s a great way to pretend you are home. For deliveries, it means no more ‘you were out’ cards.
It’s not limited to people ringing the bell, either – the motion sensor can automatically pick up anybody loitering outside your home with its wide 160-degree lens, and catch burglars breaking and entering.
You can even adjust the camera’s sensitivity and reach, to avoid picking up passing cars. A clever first line of defence – the only catch is that cloud storage isn’t free, but it won’t break the bank.
This is the second iteration of Ring and it comes with some significant improvements, including improved battery charging, Full HD video (up from 720p) and interchangeable faceplates to make if far more flexible than the original Ring.
At the time of the review Ring Video Doorbell 2 was available for £170.
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- 4K sensor
- Face recognition (subscription required)
- 130-degree field of view
- Two-way microphone
- 10- and 30-day video history
The Nest Cam IQ is arguably one of the smartest security cameras going. It has a 4K sensor, can track individuals automatically, has a microphone and speaker, and has face recognition built in. It also costs a heck of a lot of money – so is it worth it?
In short, yes. In terms of pure image quality, the Nest Cam IQ is one of the best security cameras we’ve tested, offering sharp, clear and detailed images, even when you zoom in. Night mode is good too, lighting up murky images without issue, while face detection (subscription required) is quick and accurate so you can be notified of who Nest Cam IQ has spotted.
It’s also one of the easiest to configure and has the most flexible and easy-to-use stand, so you can position it exactly where you need it. Nest Aware is just about the best security cloud subscription service too, providing an effortless (if pricey) way to scroll through your hours of security footage.
At the time of review, the Nest Cam IQ was available for £299.99.
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- 1280 x 720-pixel sensor
- 2440mAh removable battery
- Night vision
- Free 1GB cloud storage (for up to five cameras)
The Arlo Pro is Netgear’s high-end, weather-proof and fully wireless camera. It requires a minimum initial outlay of around £300 for a single camera and a base station, but once it’s set up it’s a dependable and easy-to-use addition to your home security arsenal.
It works alongside all other Arlo products (like the Arlo Q earlier in this round up) and while it’s certainly expensive, if you have a large property and want to keep an eye on animals outdoors, or need a cam that can be moved around frequently, it’s brilliant.
It offers a 720p sensor and wide-angle 130-degree lens, which turns on automatically when motion is detected by its IR sensor. Its video quality is good, night mode clear and battery life outstanding – we had it set to the lowest sensitivity to prevent false positives, but we were still impressed to see it still at around 50% after four months of use.
Downsides are few – the app can be fiddly, and video can start recording a little too slowly, but place it somewhere with good line of sight and you won’t find this an issue.
At the time of review, the Netgear Arlo Pro was available for £300.