Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2: Which smart doorbell is best for you?

Smart video doorbells are a great way to protect your home, whether you’re after a secure way of answering the door or simply a means by which to deal with couriers when you’re out and about. After years of being the only real choice, Ring now finds itself facing hefty competition. In the battle of Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2, which comes out on top? Let’s find out.

Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2 – Design and installation

Out of the two, it’s the Nest Hello that looks the best. Its rounded, lozenge-shaped body looks neat and tidy, and sits better outside of your house. It’s also more likely to fit on your door frame, thanks to the slimmer body.

Nest Hello doorbell

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is a chunkier, wider device, which protrudes significantly. I had problems fitting it on my doorframe and had to wall-mount the unit using the provided wedge to angle the doorbell down the front path.

Part of the reason for this variation in design is installation: the Ring Video Doorbell 2 has a battery, while the Nest Hello does not. This means that Ring’s doorbell can be installed anywhere without needing power. If you don’t have an existing wired doorbell and don’t want to pay to have one installed, then the Ring Video Doorbell is the only choice.

The removable battery is charged via a micro-USB cable, with a single charge giving you around six to 12 months of use, depending on usage. However, if you do have a wired doorbell, you can wire the Ring into place and run it from the mains instead. This has the advantage that you don’t have to remove the internal battery to charge, and that your existing chime rings when someone presses the doorbell.

The Nest Hello must be run from the mains, which will potentially require a new transformer powerful enough for the doorbell. This makes installation less flexible than the Ring, even where you have an existing wired doorbell.

Nest can take care of installation for you for an additional £100, however. The upside of going wired is that the Nest Hello is smaller and it has more powerful Wi-Fi. Once, the Nest Hello is hooked up, anyone pressing the button also rings your internal chime.

Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2 – Legality

Until recently, in the UK, if you recorded beyond the boundary of your property onto the public highway you’d technically have to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), paying a monthly fee. As of May 2018, the rules have changed and now consumers are exempt from this law, which is a good thing, as both the Nest Hello and Ring Video Doorbell 2 will most likely to this.

However, with both products, you still have to use them within the guidelines of the law. That includes making sure that you’re not overtly covering a neighbour’s property by angling your device so that you’re only really covering your own front garden. You’re also not allowed to put up images of anyone identified on the internet. Finally, you may have to disclose your footage to the police if footage recorded on your cameras could help fight crime.

Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2 – Features

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 has an optional plug-in chime, which lets you set your own doorbell tone. If you’ve opted for the battery installation, the chime is a good way of being able to hear a doorbell ring from inside.

The chime also acts as a Wi-Fi extender, boosting your network’s strength to the front door. Given that the Ring Video Doorbell 2 has comparatively weak Wi-Fi in my tests, the chime could well be needed.

With the Nest Hello, there’s no need for an internal chime. Instead, Nest has a clever chime adapter that’s wired in before your bell. This lets the Nest Hello cut the power to the chime, silencing it when you choose the Quiet Time mode.

If you don’t want to be disturbed, this is a great feature. The only minor issue at the moment is that Quiet Time can’t be scheduled, and you can only manually enable it for a set period (30, 60 or 90 minutes). And, as the Nest Hello is wired permanently, its Wi-Fi is far stronger than with the Ring Video Doorbell 2. In fact, I’ve not had drop-outs with this model.

Nest Hello chime

To save power for battery installations, the Ring Video doorbell has PIR motion sensors to trigger motion recording. From the app you can choose which segments of the sensor are active, helping reduce false positives from, say, a neighbour walking past your front door. You only get very basic control and at a certain point, movement will set the system off regardless of what moved past your door, animal, human or other. This is particularly true if you’ve got a small front garden, such as with many Victorian houses that open up practically onto the street.

Motion detection alerts are sent to your smartphone. If you have a Ring Protect cloud subscription (from £2.50 a month, or £25 if you pay yearly) clips are saved to the cloud, where they can be viewed for up to 60 days. The app is handy enough, but it doesn’t give thumbnails for events, so trying to find and save a specific clip is quite fiddly.

With the Nest Hello, you get more traditional security camera features, and the system has video-powered motion detection. Out-of-the-box this is fairly simple, but a Nest Aware subscription dramatically improves what the doorbell can do, including giving you 24-hour continuous video recording through which you can scroll back.

This means that the Nest Hello is a proper security camera, capturing everything that goes on in front of your home. And the app is brilliant, letting you effortlessly scroll through your history or use the Filter view to jump to a specific incident.

Prices start at £4 a month (£40 a year) for five days of video history, moving to £8 a month (£80 a year) for 10-day video history and a whopping £24 a month (£240 a year) for 30-day video history. The entry-level plan is the best option for most people and is worth the extra money from Ring’s plan because you capture everything. With Nest Aware you get discounts for each additional camera, starting at £3 a month for five-day video history.

The downside of continuous recording is the bandwidth consumed. According to Nest, a camera set to Low quality will typically use 50GB of data a month; on Medium it’s 150GB and on High it’s 300GB. In other words, you’ll definitely want a Nest Hello on a fast, unlimited connection. Ring, by comparison, uses bandwidth only when motion wakes up the camera or someone presses the button.

As well as boosting recording options, Nest Aware makes customisation easier, too. It adds in Activity Zones, so you can choose which part of the image you want to use for motion detection, cutting down on false positives. Neatly, you can tell Nest to only notify you when a person is detected, so you don’t receive alerts when the neighbour’s cat walks across your drive, for example.

Nest Hello zone notifications

Person detection works in-camera, but with a Nest Aware subscription, you also get facial recognition, which shares its database with other compatible Nest products such as the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. This lets the Nest Hello notify if it’s spotted someone familiar. Facial detection is very powerful. At the start Nest will make some mistakes, but you can merge faces where Nest thinks it’s spotted different people, helping to train the system. A few months in and we find that Nest Hello is incredibly accurate in spotting people, whether they’re wearing a hat, sunglasses or have their hair in different styles.

Nest Hello merge faces

Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2 – Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, Works with Nest and IFTTT

Both Nest Hello and the Ring Video Doorbell 2 have Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support. With Alexa, you can display the video feed from either doorbell on an Echo Show. However, neither Ring nor Nest lets you answer a call or talk to whoever is at the door via the voice assistant.

Google Assistant support lets you cast the video from either product to a ChromeCast; again, you can’t answer a call or talk to anyone. The Nest Hello has an additional feature: Google Home notifications. If you have a Google Home or Google Home Mini and someone presses your doorbell, your smart speaker will announce that someone is at the door. You can’t answer the door, however, so you’ll still need to grab your phone.

With the launch of the Google Home Hub, the Nest Hello now sends alerts direct to the smart display. The screen fires up and you can see who’s at the front door. At the moment, the only option is to Ignore the caller, and you can’t answer the door. However, a future update will let you use quick repsonses and answer the call. Still, as it stands, being able to see who’s at the door before you either go and answer it or pick up your phone is very useful. Cleverly, any Google Smart Display will work with this feature, including the Lenovo Smart Display 10″. Amazon is working on a similar feature for the Ring doorbell and the Echo Show.

Google Home Hub Nest Hello

If you use SmartThings, Ring is the best choice for you, as it integrates into the smart home system. There’s no control over the system, but you can use the Ring’s motion sensor to trigger other events, which is neat.

Nest has its own Works with Nest system, which are a series of automatic rules designed to control supported smart home products. For example, if you have Philips Hue bulbs, Works with Nest can automatically turn on your lights when it’s dark and a camera, including the Nest Hello, spots suspicious movement. Using the Home/Away mode tracking, Nest can also turn your lights on and off when you’re away, mimicking the appearance of you being at home. Works with Nest is a neat and completely automated system

Both companies have IFTTT channels, so you can build your own smart home rules. With the Nest Hello, you can trigger other smart home devices when motion or a sound event is noted, but there’s currently no trigger for a ring press. Ring has a similar selection, with Triggers for when there’s a new ring or when motion is detected.

Related: Amazon Alexa guide

Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2 – Performance

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 has to wake itself up, connect to Wi-Fi and then notify your phone that someone is at the door. All of this takes time, particularly if you don’t have strong Wi-Fi at your door. I’ve had a couple of instances where an eager courier is already leaving my front door before I could answer.

Since the Nest Hello is always connected to Wi-Fi, it’s a little quicker to respond, typically taking around 10 seconds from a bell press to notify your phone. I found that my phone was noticeably quicker to connect to the Nest Hello than it was the Ring Video Doorbell.

Once connected, the Nest Hello uses a portrait video mode, which makes it easier to use on your phone. Ring uses landscape mode, so you have to physically turn your handset, which is less convenient.

In terms of being able to talk to the person on the other side of your door, both products offer similar call quality. Nest has one minor advantage with its pre-defined responses, which you can select from the app or even your Apple Watch. Responses such as “You can leave it”, to tell a courier to put the package down, or “We’ll be right there” are quite terse, but give a quick way to respond.

Nest Hello responses

Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2 – Video quality

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 has a Full HD landscape resolution, while the Nest Hello has a 1600 x 1200 portrait resolution with HDR. Side-by-side, there isn’t much between the two, with both producing clear and detailed video, where you can spot individuals clearly enough. Below you’ll see sample shots from both devices – Nest Hello first and then the Ring Video Doorbell 2.

Nest Hello Daytime sample

At night, both devices turn on their IR lights, clearly illuminating people that come to the door. Again, there isn’t much in it, with both doing their intended job well.

Nest Hello nighttime sample

Nest Hello vs Ring Video Doorbell 2 – Which one should I buy?

The Nest Hello is the best smart doorbell  I’ve reviewed. It’s powerful, has excellent video and the 24-hour recording adds additional security to your front door. Its main downsides are that the doorbell needs to be permanently installed, and it’s quite expensive at £229 by itself and £329 with professional installation.

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 isn’t to be ignored, though. It’s great value at £179, gets all of the basics right – and for homes where you don’t or can’t have a wire to the front door, the battery option makes it a far more flexible option. And, it’s a better choice for those who don’t have so much to spend on a smart doorbell.