The most powerful outdoor camera, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor can spot friend from foe and automatically tracks suspicious activity.
- Excellent video quality
- Powerful face-recognition
- High-quality cloud service with Nest Aware
- May need professional installation
- Scheduling doesn’t work with location detection
- Review Price: £329
- Activity Zones (with subscription)
- Built-in microphone and speaker
- 4K sensor
- Face recognition (with subscription)
- IP66 rated
- 130-degree field of view
- IFTTT, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support
With its 4K sensor, the Nest Cam IQ proved to be the best-quality indoor security camera I’ve tested. Now, with the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, the same quality and features come to a device for use outside.
With face recognition, which enables the camera to determine friend from foe, a cheaper Nest Aware subscription and flexible installation options, this is the ultimate security camera to monitor the outside of your home.
Design and build
- Looks great with its curved body
- You have to plug this model into an internal power socket, which may be tricky
- You’ll also need strong Wi-Fi where you place the camera
The current Nest Cam Outdoor, which is still available, was one of the easiest such devices to install, using a magnetic mount and a plug that could connect to an outside power socket. The downside was that the camera was easy to steal, and could be unplugged easily.
With the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, the installation has changed. While getting it in place is trickier, this model is far more difficult to tamper with or steal. As such, you may need a professional installation, details of which you can find on the Nest website.
There’s no external power option with this device, and the Cam IQ Outdoor has to have its power cable put through a hole in the wall and connected to an indoor power socket.
There are two options. The cable can be put through the rear of the mount, which screws to the wall, or it can be run partially outside and through the wall. The former is more secure, since it leaves nothing visible from the outside.
You get a whopping 7.5m of USB-C cable to run, so you shouldn’t find it too difficult to reach a powerpoint inside your home. It’s important to plug the cable in the right way round, as one end locks into position in the camera; there’s a switch to release it, should you need to unplug it.
Once the camera clips onto the mount, it can only be removed using the hex key in the box. This L-shaped tool fits in behind the camera, with a simple turn releasing the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor mount.
While it wouldn’t be impossible for a thief to remove the camera, it’s certainly more hassle and difficult to do, plus you’d catch them in the act. In terms of physical security, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a big step up from the old model.
Nest has also boosted the outdoor credentials of this model. It’s IP66 rated for complete waterproofing, and will operate at temperatures between -40C and +45C.
Once again, Nest has done a great job with the look and feel of this camera. Its clean white finish and sculptured body look fantastic and, importantly, it stands out enough to get a burglar’s attention, but not so much to ruin the look of your home. It helps that the camera is bigger this time, measuring 128 x 93 x 93mm; it weighs 568g.
There’s plenty of adjustment of offer, too: you can line it up and get the field of view you want. It helps that there’s a wide-angle 130-degree lens to easily cover the span of a front or rear garden.
- Facial recognition is shared between all Nest devices, helping improve accuracy
- The Nest app is excellent and makes it easy to find a clip
- You can save clips online and retrieve them later
Getting the camera working means turning to the Nest app, which is used to control all of Nest’s devices, from the Thermostat to any other cameras you have. The camera can connect to 802.11ac networks, which is handy, since you’ll need this speed of network to deliver the best-quality video.
The 4K camera sensor is the same as used in the Nest Cam IQ. As with that product, the footage is recorded at 1080p, but the higher sensor resolution has several advantages. First, video recorded at 4K and then down-sampled looks better than footage shot natively at 1080p. Secondly, a 4K sensor offers the same range of smart features that first came to the Nest Cam IQ.
Most importantly, you get a 4x zoom while maintaining the 1080p resolution, and there’s a further digital zoom for a combined total of 12x. With the Supersight technology, the camera can zoom in and follow any area of interest captured, providing a close-up view.
A six-core processor powers the camera, enabling it to do a lot of processing locally. This means that the camera can spot the difference between general motion and a person.
As with all Nest cameras, you can set a recording schedule, or have the Cam IQ Outdoor turn on or off automatically when you go out using Home/Away assist presence detection.
Frustratingly, using both a schedule and Home/Away assist can cause unpredictable results. For example, having a schedule to turn on your camera during the day will be overridden by you coming home. It should be that when you’re out, the camera is always on, regardless of schedule. Returning home should only turn off the camera if the schedule is also set to turn the camera off.
An integrated microphone and speaker allow you to talk to anyone you can see on the feed. The speaker is, according to Nest, 14x more powerful on this model. Certainly, it’s very loud and clear and will attract attention.
A three-microphone array sits inside the camera. Built-in noise cancellation makes recordings cleaner, but you can also enable sound detection from the app. With this turned on, the camera can warn you about dogs barking, people talking, or just other loud noises.
As with previous Nest cameras, the Cam IQ Outdoor is heavily reliant on a Nest Aware subscription to unlock the most powerful features.
Fortunately, with the launch of this camera, Nest has created a new entry-level plan that gives you 30 days of video history for £5 a month, although you don’t get continuous recording any more. Instead, you just get clips.
It’s important to point out that Nest Aware can still give you 24-hour streaming if you pay more, with all footage saved to the cloud. If anything happens on your property, you don’t have to hope that a motion clip was triggered, as you will have the footage.
It’s fair to say that Nest Aware remains the best cloud storage system for security cameras. Nest’s app is excellent, letting you smoothly scroll through alerts. Thumbnails in the timeline let you view triggered events, and you can jump to a particular day using the calendar view. Alternatively, there’s an event view mode, where you can scroll through and jump to triggered events.
Events and even clips – where you set the start and end times – can be downloaded and saved, preserving any evidence that you might have.
With an outdoor camera, in particular, it’s important to be able to cut down on false alerts, which is where Activity Zones come into action. These let you configure the areas of the image you monitor (or ignore).
Nest Aware will automatically detect doors, drawing a zone around them, but you can add your own. Annoyingly, this has to be done in the web app, as the mobile app still doesn’t support Activity Zone creation.
Now, Nest Aware lets you set which notifications you get by zone: none, motion, person detection, or motion and person. That’s great, as you can cut down on false alerts, and monitor key areas for people, ignoring all other motion.
If you have everything turned on, then you still shouldn’t be bothered by too many alerts, as the motion detection is excellent. Small movements – such as foliage blowing in the wind – don’t trigger the camera, avoiding a bombardment of alerts.
Face recognition is just as brilliant here as on the Nest Cam IQ. That’s no surprise, since Nest uses Google’s amazing face-detection algorithms, which power Google Photos. As the camera spots new faces, you can tell the camera whether or not you recognise them, naming those you do.
Any faces recognised by your Nest Cam IQ are carried over, so you can start the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor with a built-in library of friends and family.
Detection is excellent during the day, with the camera displaying a high hit rate; it was able to identify me with and without glasses on. At night, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor didn’t always pick me up, triggering a default ‘person’ alert.
There’s a chance that the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will think that one person is two different people. Now, you can merge faces as one person to solve the problem.
Notifications change depending on whether the Cam IQ has spotted a person it knows or a stranger. There’s no way to tell the camera to only warn you about people it recognises, which is a feature that I’d like to see in a future update.
Supersight remains as impressive here as on the Nest Cam IQ. The automatic tracking and following are brilliant, letting you see the suspicious activity clearer. Smartly, you end up with two 1080p video streams: the tracking version and the full panned-out version. Switching between the two views is simple, too.
Audio alerts worked well, too. General outside noises didn’t trigger anything, but the camera soon picked up me having a conversation outside.
- Clear and sharp video during the day, although there are true 4K cameras that look better
- IR at night makes the picture a little softer but quality is very good
Video quality is excellent and by far the best-quality outdoor camera that I’ve reviewed. Many cameras obscure details, particularly when dealing with a lot of foliage, but the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor gives super-sharp images, right into the image. Every detail is easy to spot, and I found fantastic detail in people’s faces. You’ll have no problems identifying individuals in the footage here.
Drop into the Live View, and the zoom is impressive, with a true 4x zoom using the camera’s sensor. If you want to see what’s going on close-up, then this is the camera for you.
At night, the camera lights up with 850nm IR LEDs. These provide a clear image and light a good distance: far enough away to catch people before they get too close to your home. Details are a little softer, but impressive nonetheless, with faces easy to make out.
IFTTT support lets you trigger other devices when your camera spots motion or hears a sound. Having the ability to build your own rules in this manner is neat.
Google Home and Amazon Alexa support are integrated, letting you show footage from your camera on your Chromecast, Echo Show or Echo Spot. You can’t do much more than this, but either option can be a neat way to see what’s going on.
Should you buy it?
Security cameras are a good defence against thieves, acting as a deterrent first, and then as a means of providing evidence. Nothing does the job as well as the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. For the former, the neat body attracts attention and warns burglars away; for the latter, you get the highest-quality video of any outdoor security camera available.
It used to be at this point that the big caveat of the price of Nest Aware would rear its head. This is no longer the case: the £5-a-month subscription is very competitive. No other system provides the same level of recording or features.
That said, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is far from cheap for the device itself. The old Nest Cam Outdoor is considerably cheaper, while our guide to the best outdoor security cameras has some newer models to pick from.
Still, if you want the quality video with the best cloud service, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the camera to buy.