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Nest Doorbell wired review: Hello again

An almost worthy successor to the excellent Nest Hello, the new Nest Doorbell wired is faster, smarter, and sleeker and has better video quality. But spotty behavior on 2.4GHz networks lets it down. 

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A gray Nest Doorbell on a brick wall
The Nest Doorbell wired is Google’s newest video doorbell.

The Nest Doorbell wired (second-gen) is the successor to the excellent Nest Hello, which has long been one of my favorite video doorbells. Like its predecessor, the $179.99 Nest Doorbell wired is one of the smartest buzzers you can buy. With Nest’s Familiar Faces feature, it can tell you not only when someone is at your door but who. It can also spot when a package arrives and when it’s removed. Plus, with 24/7 recording as an option, it doubles as a good security camera / wildlife watcher.

The Nest Doorbell wired is essentially the same device as the Nest Doorbell battery, which my colleague Dan Seifert reviewed last year. They cost the same amount, have the same tech specs, and look 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, and can record 24/7. The battery version can be hardwired but only to trickle charge the battery; even hardwired, it’s limited to motion-activated recording only.

Wires also decrease response time, as I discuss at length in my video doorbell buying guide. This holds true for the Nest wired, which pulls up a live feed within four seconds, about half the time of the battery counterpart. It also captures more footage at the beginning of each event (about three to four seconds).

Unfortunately, the Nest wired frequently disconnected from the app. This is a problem I’ve had with other Google Nest cams and one Dan encountered in his review. I’ll discuss this more in a bit, but in testing, the issues appear to be related to bouncing between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi channels.

Three video doorbells on a brick step
From left to right: The Nest Hello (aka Nest Doorbell wired), Nest Doorbell wired (second-gen), and Nest Doorbell battery.

The Nest Doorbell wired is the best-looking doorbell you can buy today. With a compact design and four color options — white, beige, dark green, and dark grey — it’s going to fit in with most exterior home colors. It’s a nice change from silver and black or black and white, which are pretty much the only other options for doorbells. (Ring does offer faceplates to help its doorbell blend in better, but they’re still dominated by a techie-looking black face.) The Nest battery has the same look but is almost twice as tall and slightly wide, so it stands out much more than the wired version, whose small size is nicely discreet.

Google didn’t upgrade the camera hardware in the Nest wired. It has the same 960 x 1280 pixel resolution and 6x digital zoom as the battery version, which is paltry compared to the 1600 x 1200 pixels and 12x zoom of the Hello. But video quality is significantly better than both the battery version and the Hello, thanks to some digital trickery. And while the field of view is narrower (145 degrees as opposed to 160), the 3:4 portrait aspect ratio means you see more of your porch, where packages are likely to land, although you see less side-to-side than with the Hello.

Close-up of the button at the bottom of the Nest doorbell
The Google branding is subtle, and the doorbell button is nice and large.
Shot of the rear of the Nest doorbell wired, showing the mounting hardware
The doorbell is hardwired only, and you install it by attaching your existing wires to the two screws pictured.

Night vision hasn’t improved, however; it’s just standard black and white and quite soft. I’d recommend either leaving your porch lights on or setting up a motion sensor to turn them on when someone approaches. I tested this, and the camera handles the switch between night vision and color vision very well.

On-device processing means I got rich alerts on both my phone and Apple Watch within a second of the UPS guy dropping the package on my porch. It even alerted me when the package was gone (because I picked it up), a fairly unique feature for a video doorbell. The rich alerts are also interactive, so you can press and hold to see a clip and activate one of three quick responses if the doorbell was pressed (these are preset — you can’t customize them).

Other smart alerts include people, animals, and vehicles. These worked very well and were almost always accurate, which is not the case for most other doorbells I’ve tested. I never once got a false positive alert from the Nest — its on-device AI is very good. These smart alerts help cut down on notification noise. Earlier Nest cameras would send me notifications all night when a spider was weaving its web over the lens, but Google has refined this on its newest models.

The first image is the Nest Doorbell battery; the second the Nest Doorbell wired. Clarity and brightness is much improved on the wired version.

The doorbell also comes with three hours of event-based recording at no charge, as it’s all processed on the device and doesn’t use cloud storage. While three hours sounds like a lot, it’s not that useful if something happens at your door in the middle of the night; by the time you wake up, the recording will have gone poof. 

Realistically, the $6 per month ($60 / year) Nest Aware subscription is needed to get the most use out of the doorbell. It adds 30 days of event-triggered video history, plus Nest’s excellent Familiar Faces feature (more on that in a bit). For $12 per month ($120 / year), you can bump it up to 60 days of history plus 10 days of 24/7 continuous video recording. Both plans cover unlimited Nest cameras.

As mentioned, daytime video quality is very good, much improved over the dark image of the Nest battery. HDR imaging means that even with bright sunlight behind me, you can still make out my face in my test videos. Compared side-by-side with its closest competitor — the $250 Ring Pro 2 — it fared well, although the Ring had more artificial brightness, which makes seeing faces easier.

The audio quality is also good. Voices come through clearly and with a richer tone than the Ring Pro 2, which has a slight echo. It also has full duplex audio, so I could talk to visitors as if on a phone call rather than walkie-talkie style.

Notifications arrived super fast, but there is still no option to schedule notifications, only to pause them when Nest “senses” you’re home (which it can do through your phone and other Nest devices you own). Most of the time, the live feed opened within four seconds, and there’s a handy “rewind” button to tap to quickly go to the beginning of the event that triggered the alert. This is a nice feature. With other doorbells, you have to choose between going to the live view or seeing the recorded video. Here, I could easily see both.

Screenshots from two doorbell cameras
The screenshot on the left is from the Nest wired; the one on the right is from the Ring Pro 2. The Ring image processing has more brightness making the face clearer.

The event opens in a timeline view, which I could scroll back through to see past footage — with events highlighted in blue. However, scrolling through this was laggy and fiddly. Tapping on Full History is an easier way to see what’s been going on at your door, as it shows GIFs of each interaction, which I could tap on for the full video. Here you can also filter by type of event.

However, there was an occasional significant delay in pulling up the live feed in the app. Sometimes it took up to 10 seconds, and others, it timed out completely. I also had multiple times when I couldn’t retrieve a recorded event, the app saying, “This video isn’t available yet. Check back later.” On the plus side, checking back later did often result in the video appearing. While that might be helpful if you were tracking down a package thief, it’s not great if you wanted to talk to the person while they were at your door.

The problems only occurred when the doorbell was on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi

I narrowed this issue down to connectivity. The problems only occurred when the doorbell was on 2.4GHz; when it was on 5GHz, everything was smooth and flawless. I am running an Eero Pro 6E mesh Wi-Fi network with the main router just 10 feet from the front door. By rebooting the doorbell, I could get it on the 5GHz channel, but after a day or two, it would fall back to 2.4GHz. The long-term fix here — aside from splitting 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands into separate SSIDs, which my Eero system can’t do — would be installing an additional Eero node (or maybe an Echo Dot) closer to the front door. But it’s frustrating that the doorbell can’t work reliably on 2.4GHz. 

Screenshot showing canned responses available when long-pressing the rich notification
When the doorbell is pressed, you can send a quick response right from the notification.

The Nest wired has two standout features no other doorbell can compete with, and if you want both of these, I recommend you buy this doorbell. Those are Familiar Faces and 24/7 continuous video recording.

Familiar Faces detection learns to recognize people that come to your door. You have to do some manual training in the app, but after using it for a few weeks, it quickly starts learning and is impressively accurate. Now, when someone approaches my door, I don’t even have to look at my phone as my Nest speaker will announce my daughter by name or say “UPS is at the front door doorbell.” It is important to go into the app and tag the faces it’s found every now and then, though. I discovered this after the doorbell kept telling me that “The Pest Guy” was at the door whenever my husband came home (this did not amuse him). The app had once incorrectly tagged a picture of my husband as The Pest Guy and had run rampant from there.

Apple Home offers a similar familiar faces feature on compatible doorbells with its HomeKit Secure Video service (these currently include Logitech and Wemo’s doorbells). But in my testing, Google’s version was significantly more accurate.

Test footage from the Nest Doorbell wired.

The other big feature here is 24/7 recording. Whether you need it is a personal choice, but I know whenever I switch out my doorbell for one that can’t record continuously, I miss it (I test a lot of video doorbells). But now that so many doorbells have improved their pre-roll features — which adds to the recording a few seconds of video from before the motion was detected — it’s less essential. The Nest wired gets about four to five seconds of pre-roll footage without paying for continuous recording.

Of course, the doorbell plays excellently in the Google Nest ecosystem. The integration with Nest Hubs is very good: it automatically pulls up a live view and lets me talk to the visitor. The doorbell live view also works with an Echo Show, but I had to ask Alexa to show me the camera after I heard the doorbell.

All Nest speakers can be set to be a chime for the doorbell (it also works with your existing doorbell chime). The downside here is it’s all or none. You can’t select which speakers will make the announcement (they say, “Someone is at the front door doorbell”), and they don’t all do it at exactly the same moment. This can make for a very noisy few seconds if you have multiple Nest speakers in your home unless you set some to Do Not Disturb mode.

Despite the name, the Nest doorbell doesn’t work in the Nest app. It’s only compatible with the Google Home app. I’ve had a lot of issues with the Google Home app and how it handles video (you can read all about it in my review of the Nest Cam indoor), but recent updates have made viewing live and recorded footage better, and there are more features coming, according to Google

Photo of a hand holding the Nest Doorbell, attached to the wiring harness but detached from the hardware mount
Installing the Nest Doorbell wired is straightforward, and it comes with wire connectors and an angled mount. You also have to wire a puck into your existing doorbell chime.

I’m looking forward to having the option to add a doorbell press as a trigger for automations in Google Home (so you could have your hallway light turn on when someone presses it, for example). There’s no option yet to use the camera’s motion-sensing as a trigger, but you will soon be able to schedule the camera to turn on and off.

The app also has good settings for creating and naming activity zones and setting different alerts for each one. I set it up to alert me when people, packages, and animals appear right in front of my door but not to bother me if they were spotted farther away — this is essential if your door faces the sidewalk unless you want to be notified any time anyone walks past. The doorbell will still record these events, just not alert me about them.

If you’re looking to upgrade from a Hello, which could be almost five years old now, this is a good replacement, and it has the exact same mounting holes, so you won’t have to muck up your front doorframe. While I still think the Hello is a good doorbell, it doesn’t have vehicle or animal detection, though it can alert you to sounds (which the new Nest doesn’t). You do have to subscribe to Nest Aware for any smart alerts. Additionally, the Nest app is getting creaky (Google has said it’s now just in maintenance mode). And while Google has said older cameras will move over to the Home app, there’s no timeline yet. If you can pick up the Hello for under $150, I wouldn’t try and talk you out of it (it’s $130 on Amazon right now).

Two screenshots of the Nest app. On left, a still from a recording of a delivery person dropping off a package; on the right, a “Package seen - person” notification showing that the camera sensed a person, a package, and motion.
The Nest Doorbell can send alerts for multiple events simultaneously; here, it’s alerting me to a person, package, and motion at the door.

I still think the Ring Pro 2 has better video quality. But Nest’s smarts are better and more reliable: it can tell you who is at the door and is more accurate at identifying people than Ring, which frequently thinks my neighbor’s cat is a person. 

Outside of Amazon and Google, the Arlo wired doorbell is a good choice for a similar price ($150). It has all the same smart alerts for people, packages, animals, and vehicles, though it lacks facial recognition or continuous video recording. It works very well with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa and has support for Apple Home, though without HomeKit Secure Video, and it requires an Arlo Hub. It also has a higher video resolution (1536p HD, the same as Ring Pro 2), a wider 180-degree field of view, and a better digital zoom — up to 12x. You do have to pay at least $3 a month for smart alerts and recorded video if you don’t already have an Arlo Secure subscription. 

For no fees and totally local recording, Eufy Wired is a good, inexpensive option. It has limited smart alerts and doesn’t work with existing chimes, but it comes with its own plug-in chime, and it records in up to 2K resolution, with all footage stored locally — so no required fees to view recorded video. If you want smart alerts, Eufy has said the Eufy Wired will work with its AI-powered HomeBase 3 (which is only sold as a package with two Eufy 3 cameras). This will add facial recognition, pet, and vehicle alerts to the camera. Currently, it can only tell you if it sees a person or other motion. It also has a horizontal aspect ratio, so it won’t catch packages on your porch.

With Nest, you do get three hours of free event recording, so you can skirt the monthly subscription fee and still see who was knocking at your door. Plus, the smart notifications for pets, people, packages, and vehicles are also free, unlike Ring or Arlo. However, as noted, you’ll probably find yourself wanting more than three hours of event history, so the savings are negligible. Both Arlo and Ring offer web views for their cameras, which Google does not, although it has said a web portal is coming soon. 

While Google doesn’t have a stellar reputation for sticking with its hardware products, I believe it is invested in its Nest smart home products and that its cameras will continue to improve. The Nest Doorbell wired is a very good product and an almost worthy successor to my favorite Nest buzzer, the Hello. But until the connectivity bugs are worked out and the Google Home app sees its promised upgrades, I would only recommend buying this if you have an excellent 5GHz Wi-Fi signal by your front door.