Pocket-lint is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(Pocket-lint) - Video doorbells are essential to any smart home. Not only can they provide an instant look at door-knockers and allow you to speak to them directly, but they also double up as excellent security devices. With a top smart doorbell, you'll never miss the action at the front of your house.

The main thing you'll need to decide when buying a video doorbell is whether you want a wired option or a battery-operated option. If you go for wired, then you'll likely need to get an electrician to install it - especially if you don't have an existing wired doorbell. The battery-operated options can just be mounted to your door, but you'll need to charge the battery or buy a backup battery to switch over to when the juice runs out.

There are a number of fantastic options available on the market, but it's worth considering that each company has different subscription options, as well. You'll need to factor this into the overall cost - particularly if you want to view historical video doorbell recordings. 

POCKET-LINT VIDEO OF THE DAY

If it all sounds a little confusing, don't worry, that's where we are here to help - and why we have a dedicated FAQs section full of things to consider before you buy.

Since the Pocket-lint editorial team continuously tests and reviews smart doorbells - both battery and wired - we're also here to give you an idea of the best options out there. Read on to discover the video doorbells we currently recommend.


Best Video Doorbells in 2022

  1. Ring Video Doorbell 4
  2. Google Nest Hello (wired)
  3. Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
  4. Google Nest Doorbell Battery
  5. Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free.

Our Top Picks: Video Doorbells

Pocket-lint Best video doorbell 2021: Top smart doorbells to buy photo 12

Ring Video Doorbell 4

squirrel_widget_4440190

For

  • Great quality pictures
  • Fully customisable

Against

  • Motion settings are more complex than necessary
  • Ring Protect subscription needed

The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is our top pick video doorbell and it's battery-operated, allowing for easy installation.

Its design isn't as sleek as the wired Nest Hello or the Nest Doorbell Battery, but it has a great feature set and its outer casing can be customised, which is a neat touch.

It also offers customisable motion controls, coloured pre-roll to capture events before they happen - delivering good quality footage throughout. Put simply, it's a comprehensive package, 

You'll want to pick up a Chime or Chime Pro in order to hear a ring throughout your home, and likely one of the two tiers of Ring Protect subscription, too, since this is a requirement for those who want access to 30-day history. 

Video doorbells we also recommend

There are a number of video doorbell options out there, many of which are excellent for different types of users. So, while we have our top choice, this might not suit everyone - especially those that specifically want a wired option, or those that prefer Google Assistant over Amazon Alexa.

We think our top pick is currently the best option in terms of price, features and performance, but there are four other models we highly recommend checking out. 

Pocket-lint Best video doorbell 2021: Top smart doorbells to buy photo 3

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2

squirrel_widget_4241185

For

  • Superb head-to-toe viewing angle.
  • Distance-based Motion Detection

Against

  • No Chime included
  • Can't learn people's faces

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is another hardwired option, and it's got plenty of features, along with a good wide-angle view and decent quality footage. 

It doesn't offer facial recognition like the Nest Hello, and you'll need to buy a Chime or Chime Pro separately, but the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is an excellent choice for those after a wired option.

There are some great features on board, still, like distance-based motion detection and the ability to choose a different faceplate. 

However, as you'll have come to expect, you'll need a Ring Protect subscription to access some of the top-tier features.

Pocket-lint Best video doorbell 2021: Top smart doorbells to buy photo 1

Google Nest Hello (wired)

squirrel_widget_142313

For

  • Excellent video and image quality
  • Great facial recognition

Against

  • Expensive with installation 
  • Wired install won't suit everyone

The Nest Hello is a brilliant video doorbell, but it is wired, so it may not be right for every home.

For those who can accommodate a wired variant, the Hello has some great features, including facial recognition, HDR imaging and a lovely, premium design.

Video and image quality are excellent, integration with Google Smart Displays is great and facial recognition works well. It's not cheap, but it is worth it.

Just keep in mind that you'll need a Nest Aware subscription to take advantage of some of the more premium features, such as boosting the video event history from standard three hours to 30 days or beyond.

Pocket-lint Best video doorbell 2021: Top smart doorbells to buy photo 4

Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free

squirrel_widget_3808069

For

  • Great video quality
  • Good battery life

Against

  • Needs a subscription to get all features
  • Bulky build

Arlo's Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is a great option for those that like the flexibility the Ring Video Doorbell 4 offers, but the slimmer design of the Nest Hello.

It's bulkier than it looks from the front, but it offers great video quality, easy setup and integration with Arlo's wider system.

Just be aware that, as with pretty much every video doorbell, you'll have to subscribe to Arlo Secure in order to get the most out of it. For the Wire-Free model, that means gaining access to at least 30 days of cloud storage.

Pocket-lint Best video doorbell 2021: Top smart doorbells to buy photo 11

Google Nest Doorbell Battery

squirrel_widget_5815018

For

  • Clean, modern design
  • Great feature set
  • Good battery life

Against

  • No spare battery option
  • Google Home app not as fluid as Nest app
  • Quite a big unit

The Google Nest Doorbell Battery is the company's answer to the hassle-free setup of Ring's offerings, featuring a lovely solid and sustainable design, as well as excellent integration with Google Home. 

As its name suggests, it's battery operated - though can be wired too, making for easier installation than the Nest Hello. The downside there is that it doesn't deliver quite as good video and image quality, and also doesn't work with a chime when battery operated.

There are some great features onboard this video doorbell, though, including familiar face recognition (with a Nest Aware subscription), as well as plenty of features without a subscription too, such as three-hour video history.

The Google Nest Doorbell Battery is an excellent video doorbell that offers more subscription-free features than Ring and works brilliantly with a Google-powered smart home. For instance, you won't need an additional chime if you have a speaker or display from Google Nest, since this will pass through callouts.

Other products we considered

To choose the best video doorbell on the market to recommend in this guide, the Pocket-lint editorial team spend countless hours researching and reviewing the different models. Several factors are considered, including consumer reviews, our own experiences, brand quality and value for money. 

Like our other buyer's guides, we like to keep our list of recommendations fairly short, but there are still other options to consider - some that might be better suited to you and your home. Some are older models, but you may find them better value for money, albeit with fewer features.

How to choose a video doorbell

There are plenty of video doorbells to choose from, ready to keep your property secure and alert you when someone's there, wherever you may be. Here's how to pick the one that's right for you.

Is video doorbell camera resolution important?

The higher the resolution, the greater the level of detail in the footage, and the chance that features like facial recognition will be useful. Additionally, some cameras have a wider field of vision than others, which is worth checking out so you know exactly what you'll get to see.

Note that video doorbells use a lot of data, so if your Wi-Fi is slow, you may not see the benefits of a pricier camera with higher-resolution video.

Wired or wireless - which is best?

Wired means there's no battery to run flat, while wireless means installation is significantly easier – just mount the doorbell in the right place and you're done. But you will need to recharge the battery, sometimes as often as every couple of weeks.

Wired installation isn't always tricky, as, in most cases, the doorbell wiring is already in place. Unsure about doing it yourself? Factor in the cost of an electrician.

Do video doorbells need a smart hub to connect?

Some video doorbells connect to a hub that plugs into your broadband router, while others connect wirelessly to the router. Both work well, but the hub-free system takes less space. On the other hand, if you're building a complete smart home system, you may need a hub to link them all together.

While video doorbells usually work independently, a hub can mean greater versatility. So, for instance, when the doorbell spots movement, if it's in the same set-up as a smart light, you could program it so the light comes on at the same time.

Typically, this comes down to whether you already own a compatible Alexa or Google Assistant hub - and you should naturally factor this into which doorbell brand you opt for. 

Do you need a chime?

If you're opting for a wired doorbell, it will typically connect to the wiring for your existing bell, so the chime is already there. If you're going down the battery-powered route, or if the current chime isn't compatible, you will need to buy a separate chime to actually hear when someone's at the door.

What can a smart video doorbell actually do?

There are plenty of features available, but these are a few you should check for.

Can you edit what part of the camera view it responds to? If you're getting notifications every time a car passes the end of the drive, that will get old quickly.

Does it have facial recognition? This is ideal if you want a quick message to confirm that the person on your doorstep is the dog walker or your child arriving home from school.

Does it have night vision? Is that in colour or black-and-white?

Does it record when it sees someone nearby rather than just when they actually press the doorbell?

Do video doorbells need a subscription?

In most cases, to get the absolute maximum out of your video doorbell, you'll need to stump up for a monthly or yearly subscription. Without a subscription, you'll still get notifications when the doorbell rings, but the camera may not store footage online, or not for as long.

Some extras, such as facial recognition, or the capability to tell the difference between a person or a parcel, cost extra, too. Many subscriptions at least let you cancel at any time, so you might choose to subscribe for the extra features just in the months in which you're going on holiday, say.

More about this story

Every smart video doorbell in this list has been tested extensively in real home scenarios, just as you would use them in everyday life.

As part of our ongoing doorbell reviews - as well as for this buyer's guide - we're always comparing the latest and greatest picks against one another.

With video doorbells, there are plenty of considerations when ranking and rating different options. Design, features, privacy, performance, subscriptions and value are all taken into account individually with each device.

As ever, it's difficult to provide a list of recommendations to suit everybody's needs, but we do focus on the above areas and the opinions of the experts on the Pocket-lint team in order to do our very best in this regard.

What we always try to avoid when delivering these picks are hard-to-understand spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide a concise review that gives you an idea of what each camera is like to use. Our verdicts are brief, but this is purely in the interest of brevity. Rest assured all the things on this list have been fully tested.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Editing by Luke Baker.