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The best video doorbell camera to buy right now

We pick the best brainy buzzers for keeping an eye on people, packages, and anything else that comes across your front porch.

Illustration by Kristen Radtke

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Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge, Shutterstock

With a smart doorbell, your front door’s communication skills go from 1980s landline to 2023 smartphone. Combining a motion-activated camera with a microphone, speaker, and doorbell, a video doorbell sends alerts to your phone to show you who’s calling without you having to open the door or even be at home. Whether you’re curled up on the couch, hard at work in your office, or sunning on a beach in the Bahamas, a smart doorbell camera keeps you in touch with what’s happening on your doorstep.

I have tested more than 30 video doorbells, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all — like a smartphone, it’s a personal choice — I have thoughts on which are the best of the best and which work well for specific use cases.

If you're new to the world of video doorbells, read my rundown on what to look for in a video doorbell at the end of the guide. But my most important advice is that if you have existing doorbell wires, use them. Wired doorbells are generally cheaper, work better, and are more compact, so they also tend to look nicer. There’s more on why wired is the way to go further on, too.

If you have existing doorbell wires, use them

If you don’t have wires and don’t want to pay for an electrician, try using an AC power adapter (Ring and Google Nest sell their own; you can also find generic ones). But if all else fails, I do have a recommendation for a good battery-powered buzzer; just plan to pick up an extra battery when you purchase, or factor in removing it from your door every few months to charge it for a few hours.

The best doorbell cameras for 2023

Best video doorbell camera overall

Nest Doorbell Wired (2nd-gen)

Video quality: 960x1280p, 6x zoom, HDR / Smart alerts: Person, package, animal, vehicle and facial recognition ($) Aspect ratio: 3:4 / Field of view: 145 degrees diagonal / Power options: Wired / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz / Storage: Cloud and local / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Alexa, Google, SmartThings

Nest Doorbell (wired)

$18028% off

With 24/7 recording, facial recognition, reliable smart alerts, and some free video recording. Google’s newest wired doorbell is the best option for most people.

The Nest Doorbell Wired (2nd-gen) is the only video doorbell in this list that can record 24/7. This, along with good video quality, the ability to tell you who and what is at your door, and some free recorded video, make it the best doorbell overall for most people. It’s also the best video doorbell that works with Google Home. Its proactive package watch feature worked very well (it tells you when a package arrives and sends another alert when it’s gone), and I really like the ability to scroll through a continuous timeline view of everything that’s happened in front of my door. (This is very helpful for keeping track of my neighborhood possum!)

Unlike most of the competition, Google doesn’t charge you for smart notifications — it will tell you if it’s a person, package, possum (well, animal), or vehicle at your door for free. You also get free activity zones to cut down on unwanted notifications and three free hours of event-based recordings, thanks to its local storage and local processing. You can, in theory, use this doorbell without paying a subscription.

But three hours isn’t enough time to be particularly useful. And the $6 per month ($60 / year) Nest Aware subscription is expensive compared to single camera subs from competitors. It does cover all your Google Nest cameras for less than competitor multi-camera offerings and adds 30 days of event-recorded video storage, plus Nest’s excellent Familiar Faces feature that can tell you who is at your door, mostly reliably. If you want the 24/7 recording, however, you need to shell out $12 per month ($120 / year), but again this subscription applies to all Google Nest cameras you may have.

Close-up of the button at the bottom of the Nest doorbell
The Nest wired has four color options and more discreet branding than most doorbells.

The Nest Doorbell Wired is essentially the same as the Nest Doorbell Battery. It costs the same, has the same tech specs, and looks identical beyond a size difference. But there is one key hardware change: the Nest wired is a true wired doorbell, which means it runs directly off your existing doorbell wiring.

Because it's wired, it can record continuously, which the battery version can’t. The wired power also means it’s faster and more reliable. Plus, as with all true wired doorbells, it catches more footage at the beginning of each event (about three to four seconds) — thereby avoiding the back-of-the-head problem many doorbells suffer from. (Where the camera takes too long to wake up to catch the visitor as they approach.) 

Specs-wise, it’s not the best on paper — the Arlo and Ring Pro 2 look better technically. But you do get 960 x 1280 pixel resolution and a 6x digital zoom. And video quality is very good, thanks to some digital trickery. A 3:4 portrait aspect ratio and 145-degree field of view meant I could see my porch from top to bottom and a fair amount from side to side.

On-device AI means the Nest is speedy at sending notifications and can deliver rich alerts to both your phone and watch. On iPhone, these are interactive, allowing me to press and hold the video to see a clip and activate one of the three pre-set quick responses. As long as it gets along with your Wi-Fi router, the Nest is also quick to call up live video. (In testing on an Eero network, it struggled to work reliably on the 2.4 GHz network, but when I switched to a Google Nest Wifi Pro router, it worked seamlessly).

There are a few quirks, there’s no reliable way to snooze notifications from the doorbell, and if you use any Nest speakers as indoor chimes, it's all or nothing; you can’t choose which one announces your visitor, not great if you have a Nest Mini in your kid’s nursery. It also doesn’t work with the Nest app, only the Google Home app, which is still cumbersome.

However, I've been testing the new Home app and can confirm that it handles video much better. It also lets you use a doorbell press to trigger an automation — such as turning on a light in the hallway. You can sign up for the app’s public preview (which I strongly recommend doing).

Nest’s doorbells and cameras work with Nest Hub smart displays and speakers to show and/or tell you who is at your door and with Amazon Alexa smart displays to see and talk to your visitor. They also work with Samsung SmartThings, but there’s no native integration with Apple Home.

Read my full Nest Doorbell wired review for more details.

The Ring Pro 2 is expensive but has excellent video, an expansive field of view, and lots of useful features for keeping tabs on your front porch.
The Ring Pro 2 is expensive but has excellent video, an expansive field of view, and lots of useful features for keeping tabs on your front porch.

Best wired video doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 

Video quality: 1536 x 1536p, HDR / Smart alerts: Person, package ($) Aspect ratio: 1:1 / Field of view: 150 degrees horizontal, 150 degrees vertical / Power options: Wired / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings


The flagship Ring doorbell has the best video quality, good connectivity, and excellent motion detection. It works smoothly with Amazon Alexa, but is expensive, requires a subscription for most features, and doesn’t offer 24/7 recording.

The Ring Pro 2 is the best video doorbell money can buy, thanks to excellent video quality (1536p HD, higher resolution and brighter than Nest’s), an ideal square ratio for a full front porch view, speedy notifications, and impressively accurate motion detection (using three separate sensors — radar, video analysis, and passive infrared). It also has a nice slim design (just 1.9 inches wide and 4.49 inches tall) and multiple faceplate options to fit your decor.

It’s also the best doorbell that works with Amazon Alexa, but steer clear if you use almost any other smart home platform (the only other one it works with directly is Samsung SmartThings; integrating it into Apple Home can be done, but requires extra hardware and expertise that’s out of the scope of this guide).

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has a compact design and the option of swappable faceplates for a different look.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has a compact design and the option of swappable faceplates for a different look.

A true wired doorbell, Ring Pro 2 has package and people alerts (no vehicles or animals — sorry, possum), color night vision, dual-band Wi-Fi, and smart responses (where your doorbell can talk to your visitor for you). The Ring app is excellent. There are pages of settings you can tinker with, and the timeline view to scroll through your recordings is the best by far.

The Pro 2 will work with existing doorbell chimes, plus Ring sells a plug-in Chime and Chime Wi-Fi extender that can help boost connectivity while providing a selection of fun doorbell tones. Of all the doorbells I tested, this had the best range and connectivity, and built-in, full-color pre-roll means you never miss any action.

Ring doorbell cameras can stream to Amazon Echo Show smart displays, and show the feed automatically if someone presses the doorbell.
Ring doorbell cameras can stream to Amazon Echo Show smart displays, and show the feed automatically if someone presses the doorbell.

As with a lot of doorbell cameras, the Pro 2 can use Echo smart speakers to announce when there’s somebody at the door. Ring doorbells can also automatically pull up a live feed of your doorbell on an Echo Show or Fire TV-enabled television when someone presses the doorbell. This gives you an instant video intercom in your home — a super handy feature.

The downside is the Pro 2 is expensive, and you will need to pay for the Ring Protect plan (starting at $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year for 180 days of video storage) to view recorded footage and get smart alerts. This also adds an extra six seconds of pre-roll video, which, in lieu of 24/7 recording (not an option on any Ring doorbell), provides plenty of time around motion events to catch all the action. The digital zoom is good, but not the best on offer (Arlo wins that race with a whopping 12x).

Read the full Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 review

Best budget video doorbell

Blink Video Doorbell

Video quality: 1080p / Smart alerts: none / Aspect ratio:  16:9 / Field of view: 135 degrees horizontal, 80 degrees vertical / Power options: Wired or battery / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz / Storage: Cloud or local with a Sync Module / Subscription fee: $3 a month / Works with: Amazon Alexa


Blink’s Video Doorbell is among our favorites if you’re looking for one that’s budget-friendly and offers motion-activated recording and alerts, night vision, two-way audio, and up to two years of battery life.

The Blink Video Doorbell is the best option for a cheap doorbell with no ongoing fees. And while it works as a wired doorbell, it's also one of the best options for a battery-powered buzzer, as it can go up to two years on two AAs.

The Blink lacks a lot of bells and whistles (no smart alerts or quick replies, only 1080p video, and a standard 16:9 aspect ratio), but the basics are here — motion-activated recording (with a max of 30 seconds), alerts, live view (with caveats), night vision, motion zones, and two-way audio. If you want to pay $50 (often less) to have a camera at your door and be done with it, get the Blink. 

I only recommend buying the Blink with its wireless hub, the Sync Module 2.

The biggest selling point for Blink is the feature that makes its similarly inexpensive security cameras so attractive, up to two years of battery life on two AA lithium batteries. The company has developed a super energy-efficient chip that will power its cameras longer than any other doorbell I’ve tested. (I managed almost a year with very heavy use). 

Uniquely for a battery-powered doorbell, the Blink can also be a true hardwired doorbell. When wired, it will activate an existing chime (something neither the sub-$100 Ring nor Wyze doorbells can do) and provide constant power — not just trickle charge. This means it can wake up faster than a battery-powered buzzer and catch your visitor as they arrive. Wiring also adds on-demand two-way audio and live view (otherwise, you can only see the stream if there’s a motion event at the doorbell or someone presses the buzzer.)

The lack of an on-demand live view on battery power would be a deal-breaker, but I only recommend buying this doorbell with its wireless hub, the Sync Module 2, which also facilitates on-demand live views plus adds free, local storage. (You can get a live view with a subscription, too, starting at $3 a month). The extra $35 for the Sync Module 2 should pay for itself compared to a monthly subscription, and for a total of $85, this is still less than Wyze or Ring’s similar offerings (you will also need a USB stick to store the videos on). 

With the Blink you’re saving hundreds of dollars over some competitors

The Blink comes in white or black, and because it uses AA batteries, isn’t as huge as most battery-powered doorbells, making it a more discreet option. It is a giant pain in the neck to install, however; make sure to follow the video instructions Blink provides closely to save a lot of frustration.

The biggest drawbacks are lower video quality and poor audio quality (it can be staticky, and it’s push-to-talk — not full duplex), short recording length, and no smart alerts, plus the app is a bit tricky to navigate. It also doesn’t work with Google Home, but it works great with Alexa, and you can see a live view on Echo Show devices and use any Echo speaker as an indoor chime.

Best video doorbell for any smart home platform

Arlo Essential Wired Doorbell

Video quality: 1536x1536p, 12x zoom, HDR / Aspect ratio: 1:1 / Field of view: 180 degrees horizontal / Power options: Wired / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, Apple Home (with an Arlo Hub)

Arlo’s Essential Wired Video Doorbell installed on a front door.

Arlo’s wired video doorbell has excellent video quality, wide smart home compatibility, extensive smart alerts, and a square aspect ratio for spotting packages. It suffers from some connectivity issues, requires a subscription for recorded video, and doesn’t have 24/7 recording but does include a pre-roll feature.

For users outside the Google or Alexa ecosystem or those who may be put off Ring due to its Neighbors app or controversial police partnerships (it’s worth noting you can opt out of both those), the Arlo Essential Wired Doorbell is a great choice. For less money and more features than the Ring Pro 2, Arlo’s video doorbell adds native Apple Home support and works very well with Google Home; Arlo’s is one of the few non-Google cameras you can view live feeds from in the Google Home app. It also works with Amazon Alexa. But note it doesn’t support HomeKit Secure Video, and you will need to pick up the Arlo SmartHub ($100) to integrate with Apple Home.

The Arlo has smart alerts for people, packages, animals, and vehicles, a handy square aspect ratio, and a 180-degree field of view that gets the whole porch. Plus, it has the same high video resolution as the Pro 2. 

There is also a built-in siren for scaring off a package thief or neighborhood cat and a backup battery (it only lasts for a few minutes). Courtesy of its wired nature, it has a pre-roll that captures your visitor as they approach. Arlo’s wire-free option doesn’t have this and suffers from that back-of-the-head problem.

However, the Arlo is not as fast or reliable as the Ring Pro 2 or the Nest Doorbell Wired. It isn’t as quick to send alerts or pull up a video feed and struggled when placed farther from the router, in a spot where the Ring worked fine. If you don’t have a good Wi-Fi signal at your front door, the Arlo isn’t for you. And there is no option of a chime Wi-Fi extender as with the Ring Pro 2, and it only works over 2.4 GHz.

As with Ring, a subscription plan is pretty much a necessity since, without it, all you get is a live view. Starting at $3.99 a month paid annually ($4.99 monthly), Arlo Secure adds smart alerts, automatic geofencing to turn your camera off when you arrive home, 30 days of rolling cloud video storage, interactive notifications, quick responses, and activity zones. (Ring doesn’t charge for activity zones.) But there’s no option for 24/7 recording, which is available on Arlo’s non-doorbell security cameras.

Arlo’s doorbells cost less and offer more but aren’t as reliable

The Arlo is a nice-looking doorbell and comes in all-black or black with white trim. It works with your existing chime and can use Amazon Echo or Google Nest smart speakers to notify you of a visitor, plus Arlo sells its own plug-in chime with a choice of ringtones for $50. 

Finally, a unique feature about the Arlo doorbell I really like is that when someone presses the button, the notification arrives like a phone call — as opposed to a pop-up. This makes it less likely you’ll miss a visitor, plus the doorbell will prompt them to leave a message if you do.

Best video doorbell without a subscription

Eufy Video Doorbell Dual 

Video quality: 2K HD, 4x zoom / Smart Alerts: Person and packages, facial recognition Aspect ratio: 4:3Field of view: 160 degrees horizontal / Power options: Battery, wired trickle charge / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: none / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home


This battery-powered video doorbell features two cameras to catch both packages and visitors, as well as local storage, package alerts, facial recognition, and compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

If you don’t want to pay any monthly fees but want a feature-packed doorbell that records footage for free, the Eufy Dual is the best — thanks to the addition of a second camera at the bottom to show the doorstep alongside the approach to your front door. But it’s very expensive. 

Important Note: Eufy recently suffered some security vulnerabilities, which the company was not transparent about. We temporarily removed our recommendations while the company worked on a fix. While the security flaws appear to have been resolved, the company’s lack of transparency is something to consider before purchasing a Eufy camera. You can read more about the issues and Eufy’s solutions here.

A battery-powered doorbell (with the option of wiring to trickle charge the battery and use an existing chime), the Eufy Dual doesn’t charge for storing video on the included HomeBase 2 (16GB provides up to 90 days of clips). If you already have a Eufy HomeBase 2, you can buy the Dual for $200. If you  There is a wired version, which is $50 cheaper, but we’ve not tested this model yet.

There’s no charge for smart alerts that spot people and packages, and innovative AI features are free, too. These include facial recognition and “Package Live Check Assistance,” which frames any packages in a blue box and collects recent events around the delivery for quick viewing, and an Uncollected Package alert, which has the doorbell check for packages at a designated time, alerting you if you forgot to pick something up. 

However, as a battery-powered doorbell, the Dual has the same problem as others. No pre-roll footage means you may not see the person as they approach your door, only when they’re in front of it or walking away. But its onboard machine learning, AI-powered smart alerts, and motion detection that use both PiR and radar mean no false alerts. And those two cameras give you a blind spot-free view of your front door area, one in 2K and the other in 1080P.

Battery life is good, better than the Ring 4’s, lasting about three months based on my testing (it claims 3 to 6 months). But you must take the whole doorbell down to charge, which is a pain.

Read the full Eufy Dual Doorbell review.

Ring Video Doorbell 4

Best battery-powered video doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell 4 

Video quality: 1080p / Smart Alerts: Person and packages, facial recognition Aspect ratio: 16:9Field of view: 160 degrees horizontal, 84 degrees vertical/ Power options: Battery, wired trickle charge, solar / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings

Ring Video Doorbell 4

$22027% off

The Ring 4 is the best battery-powered doorbell, thanks to three low-powered cameras that capture full-color pre-roll footage. It works well with Alexa and can be wired to trickle charge the battery, but it doesn’t work with your existing chime and can be slow to pull up a live view.

If you have no choice but to rely on battery power, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is my top pick. With good, clear 1080p HD video and the option of HDR, if your porch is backlit, night vision, and dual-band Wi-Fi, the Ring 4 has a lot to offer. However, there are two significant issues: the battery barely lasted a month in my testing, and its 16:9 aspect ratio gives you a wide, rectangular field of view that is too short to show your whole porch (as the Ring Pro 2 can). 

Three low-powered cameras capture four seconds of color pre-roll footage

But, the reason it’s my top battery-powered pick is it’s the only one I tested that won’t miss your visitor arriving, thanks to three low-powered cameras that capture four seconds of color pre-roll footage. It also uses a removable rechargeable battery, so it’s easy to have an extra on hand to swap out. (Many other battery-powered models require you to take the whole thing down to charge).

The Ring 4 uses a removable, rechargeable battery.
The Ring 4 uses a removable, rechargeable battery.

The Ring 4 uses the excellent Ring app, and you can turn on snapshot mode to automatically take a picture every hour, 14 minutes, or five minutes for a better idea of what’s been happening at your door. You need a Ring Protect Plan for this and to enable people-only mode, which cuts down on unnecessary alerts. A subscription plan starts at $3.99 a month and adds 180 days of cloud storage for videos, plus useful rich notifications that show a snapshot of the video on your lock screen. This is helpful as the Ring 4 can take a while to bring up a live view (a problem with most battery-powered doorbells).

Free quick replies, which can be set to play automatically, are also handy. I recommend setting up the “Hi! We’ll be right there” to keep your visitor around a bit longer while you wait for the app to load. As with all Ring Doorbells, the Ring 4 can announce visitors on Echo speakers and automatically pull up a two-way audio/video call on an Echo Show. It won’t work with your existing chime unless you wire it (which also trickle charges it), but Ring sells a plug-in chime.

A close-up image of a doorbell camera.

Best video doorbell for Apple Home

Wemo Smart Video Doorbell 

Video quality: 1200x1600p, HDR, 5x zoom / Smart Alerts: Person, packages, facial recognition Aspect ratio: 3:4/ Field of view: 178-degrees vertical, 140-degrees horizontal / Power options: Wired / Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: $0.99 a month, iCloud / Works with: Apple Home


The Belkin Wemo doorbell works with HomeKit Secure Video and detects people, packages, animals, and vehicles. It’s fast and reliable but there is no 24/7 recording and you need an Apple Home hub and iCloud plan for recorded video.

For a doorbell that works with Apple’s Home smart home ecosystem, the new Wemo Video Doorbell from Belkin is the best choice. Fast, secure, and with support for HomeKit Secure Video, the Wemo has a decent 1200 x 1600 HD video stream with HDR and a circular view that shows you the whole porch, although with a rather discombobulating fish-eye effect. But it’s better than the other good HomeKit option, the Logitech Circle View.

With rich notifications in HomeKit, you can talk to a visitor from your lock screen.
With rich notifications in HomeKit, you can talk to a visitor from your lock screen.

The Wemo is a wired doorbell (there are no battery-powered HomeKit options, although one from Aqara is coming soon), but it is easier to install than the Logitech. Both share the same simple software setup. (Thanks to relying entirely on the Apple Home app — there’s no compatibility with the Wemo app). The doorbell recognizes multiple motion events (people, packages, animals, and vehicles) and can also identify faces and announce exactly who is at the door on a connected HomePod or HomePod Mini. You do need one of these (or another HomeKit hub such as an Apple TV 4K) to use the Wemo, and adding in that cost makes this an expensive doorbell. 

The Wemo is very, very quick. Button push to a notification to pulling up live video is under five seconds.

While daytime footage was good, night vision isn’t great, and I had some issues with it missing motion events and sending false alerts for people due to its reliance on pixel-based motion detection (others use PIR and radar detection). However, the Wemo was very, very quick, with the speed from a button push to a notification to pulling up the live video being under five seconds. It’s even quicker if you use the interactive notification on your device (through which you can talk to the visitor). And that speed makes up for some of its failings. 

The main reason to go with Wemo is for HomeKit Secure Video, Apple’s service that stores recorded video securely in your personal iCloud account. Additionally, video is processed locally on a HomeKit hub for the smart alerts, and only recorded video is sent to iCloud. However, there is no local storage option or 24/7 recording, and you have to pay for an iCloud Plus plan (starting at 99 cents per month) to view any captured clips.

All things considered, it’s the best option for an Apple Home-compatible video doorbell right now.

Read my full Wemo Video Doorbell review for more details.

Other video doorbells tested

The Netatmo, Arlo, Logitech, and Wemo video doorbells are among the doorbells I’ve tested.
The Netatmo, Arlo, Logitech, and Wemo video doorbells are among the doorbells I’ve tested.

I’ve tested dozens of video doorbells, and one of the main reasons many popular models didn’t make the cut here is down to relying on battery power. If you can’t hardwire a doorbell, you will suffer from the back-of-the-head problems unless you pay more for the Ring Video Doorbell 4 with its extra cameras.

The standard Ring Video Doorbell (2nd-gen) misses those first few moments and has to be removed to charge, the same with the Google Nest Doorbell Battery, whose connectivity issues were also a major pain point in testing. The Wyze Video Doorbell Pro has some impressive features for its price point, and if you hardwire it, you do get pre-roll video, but it has a 5-minute cool-down period between recordings unless you pay for a subscription — an inexcusable amount of time that negates its offer of “free recording.” We also tested the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free, which does have a removable battery but doesn’t work with Apple Home, as its wired counterpart does, and takes too long to wake up to catch the visitor as they approach.

The Wyze Video Doorbell Pro has a 5-minute cool-down period between recordings unless you pay for a subscription.

As for other wired options, the Ring Video Doorbell Wired is a truly budget buzzer at just $60, but it won’t work with your existing chime and doesn’t draw the same amount of power from those wires as the Ring Pro, making it generally less reliable. Without HDR, its video quality is spotty, and its sister brand Blink just beats it to the Best Budget spot in terms of features — including better battery life and free local storage options. Although the Ring can record for longer than 30 seconds and has package detection (but you have to pay for those features).

The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell has some interesting features — including entirely local storage (to an included microSD card) and free person recognition. It also works with Apple Home (but not HomeKit Secure Video), but a weirdly narrow field of view and poor video quality let it down, that and the $300 price tag.

Other Apple Home options we tested include the Logitech Circle View Wired, which, while fast, is expensive, only works with Apple Home and frequently dropped off my Wi-Fi network.

There's a new breed of doorbells built into smart door locks. I’ve tested the Lockly Vision Elite and the Eufy Security S330 Video Smart Lock, and both are very expensive and work better as door locks than doorbells. But if you have a specific need for this device (i.e., you have nowhere else to put a doorbell camera), then they are useful for at least seeing up the nose of whoever is at your door, if not much beyond that.

There are a variety of video doorbell designs, but shades of gray and black are most common.
There are a variety of video doorbell designs, but shades of gray and black are most common.

What to look for in a doorbell camera

Besides an attractive design, a good video doorbell camera needs top-notch motion detection, the option of smart alerts and motion zones, affordable (or free) options for storing recorded videos, good quality video with HDR to help if your doorway is backlit, and useful smart home integrations, such as viewing the live doorbell feed on a smart display. 

It should also have some way of ringing inside your house (not just through your smartphone) and, ideally, can capture the space in front of your door from top to bottom so that you can see packages and people equally well. 

Another important feature is how the doorbell is powered. My unequivocal recommendation is that if you have existing doorbell wires, use them. Buy a true wired doorbell camera, and you never have to worry about charging your doorbell. Plus, recordings will catch your visitor arriving, not just leaving. The main downside is that if the power goes out, you won’t get any recordings.

Most doorbells can be wired to existing doorbell wiring, but only true wired doorbells are powered by your home’s electricity. Battery-powered doorbells are just trickle-charged when wired.
Most doorbells can be wired to existing doorbell wiring, but only true wired doorbells are powered by your home’s electricity. Battery-powered doorbells are just trickle-charged when wired.

Wired vs. wireless doorbell cameras: what’s the difference?

Wired video doorbells use existing doorbell wiring attached to a doorbell transformer and chime box to provide continuous power, so they don’t need to be recharged. Most won’t work when the power goes out, but some have small batteries to keep them going for a few minutes in the event of a power outage. If you don’t have existing wiring, you can use an AC power adapter (Ring and Nest sell their own; you can also find generic ones). 

Battery-powered doorbells, also known as wireless doorbells (a misnomer, as all video doorbells connect wirelessly to the internet), are powered by a rechargeable battery. Because they don’t have continuous power, they have to wake up first when they detect motion before starting to record. This often results in a clip only catching the back of the person’s head as they walk away, which is not super helpful if you’re concerned about porch pirates. True wired doorbells don’t have this problem, and most will reliably catch all the action.

Many doorbells that advertise themselves as wireless and run on a battery can also be hard-wired to your existing doorbell wiring. But these are not “true” wired doorbells. Your home’s electrical power isn’t powering them. Instead, in almost all cases (Blink being the only exception), the battery is being “trickle charged” by the power from the doorbell wiring. This means that without any extra features, they simply don’t react as quickly as true wired doorbells. It’s science, people.

The Blink Video Doorbell has a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The Blink Video Doorbell has a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has a 1:1 aspect ratio.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has a 1:1 aspect ratio.

What is aspect ratio on a doorbell camera, and why is it important?

Aspect ratio is arguably more important than video resolution when it comes to video doorbells. This spec tells you what shape of video you will get, whether it’s top-to-bottom or side-to-side, whether you’ll see your doorstep and the whole of the visitor, or just a head-and-shoulders shot. Common aspect ratios include 4:3, 3:4, 16:9, and 1:1.

Aspect ratios are always written with the horizontal number first. If the first number is smaller than the second number, then the image will be taller than it is wide, or “portrait orientation.” If the first number is larger than the second (as in 16:9), then the image will be wider than it is tall, or “landscape orientation.” If both numbers are the same, as in 1:1, it will be a square view.

My recommendation is to go for a square view when possible, but if you have a wide porch area — and would like to see people approaching from the left or right, as well as straight on — a 4:3 or 16:9 might suit you better.

Installing a wired video doorbell camera involves connecting a chime power kit to your indoor chime box to help power the camera.
Installing a wired video doorbell camera involves connecting a chime power kit to your indoor chime box to help power the camera.

How to install a video doorbell camera

Battery-powered doorbells are easy to install and generally just require screwing the mounting bracket to the area around your door. Some come with the option of tape strips, so you don’t even need to get out the screwdriver. 

Wired doorbells require a bit more effort. And while you can choose to pay around $100 for a professional to install it, if you have existing doorbell wiring, it’s a simple job.

I’ve written a step-by-step guide to installing Ring video doorbells, but, in general, the steps for any wired doorbell involve the following:

  1. Turn off the power to your doorbell wiring
  2. Locate your indoor chime and connect the chime power connector that came with the doorbell (this helps to facilitate power to the new doorbell)
  3. Remove your old doorbell
  4. Attach the mount for your new doorbell using screws or double-sided tape (some have the option of an angled wedge to get a better view of the person in front of the door)
  5. Attach the doorbell wires to the connector screws on the doorbell
  6. Attach the doorbell to the mount, either with screws or by snapping it on
  7. Turn the power back on

Pro tip: Before installing any doorbell, download the manufacturer’s app and check the instructions — some cameras need to be paired to the app before mounting them.

Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Update: Wednesday, March 1, 2023: Added new recommendations and a section discussing other doorbells we tested.