The last year has collectively seen us spend more time in our own homes than perhaps at any point in the last decade. During lockdown, with our ability to leave the house curtailed, it has inevitably led to us ordering more online, getting more takeaways and having more people call at our doors in general.
For many, this has led to the decision of upgrading existing home security systems to reflect a modern and changing world, meaning smart or video doorbells. These not only allow notifications to be sent to your phone but give you the ability to screen callers at the door before you answer or let them in.
Acting as the ultimate in-home gatekeepers, most video doorbells provide an opportunity to interact directly with people outside, and many we tested also have motion detection features which provide pre-warning of any immediate threat.
The camera and audio quality tends to be good, and many of the video doorbells with subscription options have the ability to save recorded files on the cloud, which is an excellent security feature for peace of mind should the worst happen and you get broken into.
But when it comes down to picking the right doorbell for you, the options could be overwhelming. If you have a doorbell installed at your home already, many of these devices will wire into your existing system and there tends to be good guides out there to do this yourself, including all the equipment you need in the box. For those less-inclined to do the work themselves, there are a number of battery-powered options which are systems that connect and go – they just attach themselves to your wifi and your door, and they’re ready to use.
Personally, we found that the battery options were the best bet for those with apartments, smaller houses and people who want something that’ll work out the box. We’d recommend finding guides online on how to install the wired ones yourself, as some can be incompatible with a range of existing systems, so it’s wise to double check before you make your purchase. For larger houses, locations in which wifi won’t reach or multi-device setups, we’d recommend the slightly more complicated but more reliable “always on” wired approach.
Here are our recommendations for some of the best video doorbells on the market at the moment.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The best video doorbells in 2021 are:
Best wireless video doorbell – Ring 3: £159, Ring.com
Best for a busy street – Ezviz DB1C smart video doorbell: £119.99, Argos.co.uk
Best night-vision – Arlo AVD1001: £179.99, Currys.co.uk
Best budget video doorbell – Toucan wireless: £89.95, Amazon.co.uk
Best for Google Home – Google Nest hello: £164, DIY.com
Best for HomeKit – Netatmo smart video doorbell: £260.37, Amazon.co.uk
Best without subscription – Eufy 2K: £179, Amazon.co.uk
Ring video doorbell 3 plus
Best: Wireless video doorbell
Video Quality: 1080p HD
Field of View: 160 degree horizontal
Dimensions: 128mm x 62mm x 28mm
Subscription: £2.50 a month or £24.99 a year
One of the more well-known options comes from Ring, a brand which offers a range of video doorbells to suit most needs and housing configurations. We liked the quality of the 1080p HD video on the Ring video 3 plus, and the clarity of the two-way talk was excellent. It also has a clever feature which records four-seconds of video automatically before the detection of a “motion event” – meaning that you have a recording of somebody before you even get a notification or they ring the bell. It’s one of the more expensive options, but certainly one of the better and more proficient.
Buy now £159.00, Ring.com
Ezviz DB1C smart video doorbell with human detection
Best: For a busy street
Video Quality: 1080p HD
Field of View: 170 degree vertical
Dimensions: 128.3mm x 46.3mm x 19.3mm
Subscription: £5.99 per month
The home security experts at Ezviz impressed us with this excellent smart doorbell, with AI-capability that works by using person-detection to ensure the bell isn’t triggered needlessly by animals walking by, for example. We liked this option as it was one of the simpler video doorbells on the market, compatible with both Android and iOS, functional over both wifi and mobile internet and easy to install and connect up to your devices.
Buy now £119.99, Argos.co.uk
Arlo AVD1001 video doorbell
Best: For night-vision
Video Quality: 1536p HD
Field of View: 180 degree horizontal
Dimensions: 4.4cm x 3.3cm x 12.7cm
Subscription: £2.50 per month
When somebody rings the Arlo doorbell, you immediately get a call to your phone alerting you of their presence, which makes it a lot harder to miss those all-important deliveries. If you’re not in, you can even record pre-ordained messages to quickly reply to people who come calling. It’s weather-resistant and like others on this list, also comes with a night mode which makes it easier to see who’s at the door at night. The Arlo smart service is available, which extends the features and keeps your recorded clips for 30 days, but this is a subscription option.
Buy now £179.99, Currys.co.uk
Toucan wireless video doorbell
Best: Budget video doorbell
Video Quality: 1080p HD
Field of View: 180 degree wide-angled
Dimensions: 16.4cm x 16.2cm x 7cm
Subscription: Free to use. £2.99 a month and £9.99 a month options available
One of the more affordable options on this list, we liked the Toucan wireless video doorbell for its simplicity, ease of use and the fact that it’s battery-powered, so you can mount it just about anywhere you need. It also has an impressive 180-degree field-of-view, meaning you can see the spots that other doorbells miss. Again, pre-recorded options are available for people knocking at the door, as there’s a premium subscription too, but we’d be happy without that and using out the box. Others on this list perhaps offer better motion detection, but this is a good option for the price.
Buy now £89.95, Amazon.co.uk
Google Nest hello video doorbell
Best: For Google Home
Video Quality: 1600 x 1200 HD
Field of View: 160 degree horizontal
Dimensions: 4.4cm x 2.6cm x 11.6cm
Subscription: £5 or £10 a month option
Although it’s one of the most expensive, this is one of the most comprehensive video doorbell options out there, with, as you’d expect from Google, top-of-the-range technical ability and some smart features that stand out. The facial recognition feature is good, as is all the usual stuff like video and sound quality, but we really liked the parcel notification feature and the continuous recording, which means you’ve essentially got a built-in security camera, too. You have to pay for the privilege however, as this is all stored on a Nest cloud account which is £5 a month.
Buy now £164.00, DIY.com
Netatmo smart video doorbell
Best: For HomeKit
Video Quality: 1080p HD
Field of View: 140 degree diagonal
Dimensions: 13.5cm x 4.5cm x 2.9cm
One of the more stylish models we tested, we really liked the look of this doorbell. We also appreciated that it stores everything on to a micro-SD card, so you don’t have to keep an active subscription to cloud services. It plugs directly into Apple’s HomeKit framework, fully compatible through Siri, as well as other devices plugged into the network or Netamo’s own security app.
Buy now £260.37, Amazon.co.uk
Eufy 2K video doorbell
Best: Without subscription
Video Quality: 2560p x 1920p
Field of View: 160 degree 4:3 aspect ratio
Dimensions: 14cm x 5.4cm x 2.8cm
This is a great battery powered device with 2K HD video and a simple self-installation, making it a great option for people who are looking for a simple/no-fuss setup. The quality of the video is sharp, and we also liked the fact that it stores all of your recording locally (so no expensive subscriptions) and that it has the option to automatically shut the camera off when you are at home so you don’t get endless hours of footage of your own movements. The only downside we found is that it has to be removed from its location in order to charge, but the battery does last a long time.
Buy now £179.00, Amazon.co.uk
Video doorbells FAQs
Do video doorbells work with Alexa?
Most popular video doorbells are compatible with Alexa and Amazon Echo devices. For the most seamless setup and experience, Alexa users should consider choosing a Ring doorbell. Ring is also owned by Amazon, and so the functionality between the devices is more reliable than with a third-party video doorbell.
Video doorbells list which voice assistants and smart home setups they’re compatible with. Look out for the “Works with Alexa” badge, the “Works with Hey Google” (or “Works with Nest”) badge, and the “Works with Apple HomeKit” badge.
Wondering which voice assistant is best? Check out the 11 best smart speakers for use around the home.
Is there a monthly fee for a video doorbell?
Most of the best-selling video doorbells don’t store recordings locally, but upload their footage to the cloud. This makes them more secure — as an intruder would be unable to access and destroy the evidence — but to cover the cost of storing and viewing these recordings a monthly subscription fee is charged.
Many video doorbells work without a subscription, either by deleting footage after a short while, only allowing live audio and video feeds, or by storing their recordings locally. The Eufy 2K video doorbell (£179, Amazon.co.uk) is the best video doorbell without a subscription.
How do I install a smart doorbell?
Battery powered video doorbells are easier to install than their wired counterparts, and can usually be secured to a wall or door using the supplied anchors and some basic tools.
Installing a wired video doorbell requires a basic knowledge of wiring. Each doorbell will have a slightly different installation, so follow the instructions carefully. If you’re not confident, book an electrician to do the job.
Both the Google Nest Hello video doorbell (£164, DIY.com) and the Ring video doorbell 3 (£159, Ring.com) can walk you through the process using their accompanying apps, which have clear step-by-step instructions based on the type of setup you’ve got.
Some general tips to bear in mind. Take a picture of your old wiring before you begin so you can put things back the way they were if needed. And switch off the power at the fuse box before you start working (though if you need us to tell you that, you should probably call an electrician).
Do you need an electrician to install a Ring video doorbell?
Like changing a light fitting or rewiring a plug, installing a video doorbell does not require a certified electrician to carry out the work.
This doesn’t mean installing a video doorbell is a simple or safe task. While there are easy to follow guides online, if you want to be absolutely sure the doorbell is properly installed, it’s worth calling in a professional. Most electricians will be very familiar with the leading brands of video doorbell and can carry out the work quickly and without fuss.
Do all doorbell cameras need wifi?
Not all video doorbells need wifi, but most do. Some video doorbells have sim cards and operate on mobile data networks.
The Ring video doorbell 3 (£159, Ring.com) requires a stable wifi connection to work. If your internet goes down you’ll no longer be able to see the live camera feed in the app, store any footage or be notified when a visitor arrives.
Wired video doorbells, such as the Google Nest Hello video doorbell (£164, DIY.com), will continue to work like a traditional doorbell even if you lose wifi.
The verdict: Video doorbells
While we recognise that having another piece of technology connected to your smartphone won’t be for everybody, we also think that video doorbells are a useful addition to your home, especially in this era of more home deliveries in the current climate. In summary, we liked the battery-operated versions, as they appeared to be adequate for most homes, connected simply to existing wifi setups and could be installed in a matter of minutes.
The wired ones tended to be more complicated and expensive, and we would perhaps consider these for larger homes or to integrate into existing home security setups. Our favourite was the Ring 3, however we also recognise that the Google Nest Hello doorbell is on paper the best doorbell on offer provided you have the capacity and wherewithal to install.
For the latest discounts on video doorbells and other smart home offers, try the links below:
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