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(Pocket-lint) - Three years after the launch of its first video doorbell, Nest Hello, Google-owned Nest has finally revealed a battery-powered option. While Nest Hello was - and remains - an excellent video doorbell, it isn't a solution for everyone given its hard-wiring installation requirements. That's why Amazon's Ring has been so successful as a competitor.

But for those where hard-wiring isn't an option, and who haven't flown the Google nest for Amazon, let us introduce the Google Nest Doorbell (Battery): a far more exciting doorbell than its matter-of-fact-name might lead you to believe.

But we have questions! What's the battery life like? What's the camera like? How does it compare to the Nest Hello? In this review we deep-dive into this battery-powered doorbell to reveal its positives and negatives.

Design and installation

  • Doorbell dimensions: 160 x 46 x 24.1mm
  • Battery power, hardwired possible too
  • IP54 dust- and water-resistant
  • Finish: white only

The Google Nest Doorbell Battery (yes, we're dropping those brackets in the product name from here on out!) shares similar design traits to the original Nest Hello, though it is significantly larger. Available in a white finish only this time round (in the UK anyway), rather than being black with white elements, the Doorbell Battery has a prominent black camera lens and housing at the top and a large white button at the bottom with an LED ring around it. 

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It's not subtle, which is part of its point, but we think it's a solid design that's eye-catching for the right reasons. There are soft curved edges at the top and bottom, a slim profile and a slim width - much slimmer than the likes of Ring and its signature cuboid design. In a nutshell: this Nest it won't look like an eyesore on the front of your home.

The Doorbell Battery has an IP54 rating for water and dust resistance, so a bit of sideways rain or general dust and dirt won't be a bother for it. The exterior is a hard plastic, though it is made from sustainable materials (hurrah, sustainability) and it has a matte finish - which we suspect will offer greater longevity than the Nest Hello's glossy finish.

In terms of installation, the Google Nest Doorbell Battery can be hardwired using existing wires - note this is not how we've set it up, so we can't comment on that installation in this review - or it can run from the built-in non-replaceable battery, which is charged via USB-C. If you go with the hardwire install then you can use an electronic chime, which isn't available when running on the battery.

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Setup is quick and simple though, with a step-by-step process in the Google Home app - not the Nest app - guiding you through. You'll need to drill holes in your wall or door though, so bear in mind that you'll need a drill with the necessary bits - or at least a friend who's got the goods and fancies helping you.

We used the supplied angled plate to mount our Nest Doorbell Battery, which gives a tilted angle that's best for our doorway, but you can also mount flat if that's better for your home. Just keep in mind not to lose the release tool, because you'll need it to remove the doorbell from the plate for charging.

Camera and hardware

  • 145-degree angle field-of-view
  • 1.3-megapixel colour sensor
  • 1280 x 960 video at 30fps
  • High dynamic range (HDR)
  • 3:4 aspect ratio
  • 6x digital zoom

The Google Nest Doorbell Battery comes with a 1.3-megapixel colour camera sensor that offers 6x digital zoom and a 145-degree angle field of view. 

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It's a lower-resolution sensor than the 3-megapixel sensor in the Nest Hello - and the difference in quality is noticeable when you compare the live feeds side-by-side. The Google Nest Doorbell Battery image quality isn't as clear, the colours aren't as true to life, and there is more image noise - you can see this in the images above (with the Nest Hello feed at the top and the Nest Doorbell Battery at the bottom).

That said, if you didn't have the Nest Hello to compare against the Nest Doorbell Battery, the video and image quality on the battery-powered doorbell is more than sufficient. You can see faces clearly, as well as what is going on day or night thanks to the high dynamic range (HDR) and night mode. It is worth noting that night mode is much better on the Nest Hello though - so if wired is an option for you, consider the Hello.

The Nest Doorbell Battery has a 3:4 aspect ratio, meaning it delivers a head-to-toe image of a person, along with any packages by the doorstep. By comparison, the Nest Hello has a 4:3 aspect ratio, so while it still offers a head-to-toe image, it offers a wider view than the battery-operated model. Basically, Google has turned the sensor sideways to make for a more practical product.

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In terms of other hardware, the Nest Doorbell Battery has a speaker and microphone on board for communicating with those who've rung the bell. The mic offers noise cancellation, which is actually great for when you are speaking to someone as everything is kept lovely and clear.

Features and software

  • Talk and Listen
  • Quick Response
  • Chime (when wired)
  • Recording when power cut
  • Motion/People/Animal/Parcel/Vehicle alerts without subscription

The Nest Doorbell Battery comes with a host of features, all of which work well. Talk and Listen allows you to communicate with someone at your door through the Google Home app. There's less delay than with the Nest Hello, probably because processing takes place on the device rather than through the app. 

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There's also Quick Responses through the Google Home app, which enables you to send a preset message to the person at your door if you are unable to answer. These messages aren't customisable though so you are restricted to the three offered. It's much like what Ring offers with Quick Replies.

You can use the Nest Doorbell Battery with an electronic chime - but this only works when you hard-wire install the doorbell. Otherwise, you rely on notifications to your smartphone - which have a couple of seconds delay - or you can use the Visitor Announcements feature if you have a Google or Nest speaker in your home.

The Visitor Announcements feature will see devices like the Nest mini, Nest Audio, Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max alert you when the doorbell is pressed and someone is at the door. In the case of the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max, the live feed of the doorbell will appear on the screen too.

One of the great things about the Google Nest Doorbell Battery is that you don't need a Nest Aware subscription for person, motion, parcel, animal or vehicle alerts - and you get three hours of video event clip history stored too. The doorbell will also continue recording in a Wi-Fi outage or power cut.

However, you do need a Nest Aware subscription if you want to take advantage of Familiar Face detection. Like Nest Hello, the battery-operated model learns familiar faces and allows you to name them, which in turn will then see Visitor Announcements telling you, say, "Grandma is at the door", for example.

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The Google Home app experience isn't as streamlined as the Nest app though - and that's probably our biggest complaint with this doorbell, given you cannot use it with the Nest app at all. Google Home is clunkier, and features are a little harder to access, though once you figure out where things are, it's straightforward enough to use.

Battery performance

  • Six weeks life per charge approximately

We tested the Nest Doorbell Battery for a month before writing this review as we wanted to find out what the battery performance was like. The remaining battery at the time of writing was at 34 per cent, which it claims would offer a further two weeks of use.

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Based on our experience, a day of use eats around two per cent battery life, so in total you'll get around six weeks of use before you need to get that USB-C cable out to recharge it. 

This is actually better than we anticipated, and while there is no option to have a spare battery ready to clip on when the charge runs out - as there is on Ring models - it's not too much drama to give it a top-up. Just keep an eye on battery levels, as shown in the app, then pick a convenient time when you're home to recharge.

Verdict

The Nest Doorbell (Battery) is a great video doorbell and a perfect addition to a Google-powered smart home. It works brilliantly with the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max, but more importantly, it offers a great set of features and good quality video - although not quite as good as the wired-only Nest Hello.

The Doorbell Battery looks more modern than the wired Nest Hello, though, and it's significantly easier to install thanks to its battery-powered proposition. However, you can't install a Chime to sound out - as you can with battery-powered Amazon Ring doorbells - and therefore have to rely on the Google Home app or Nest products for alerts.

For those looking for a battery-powered video doorbell, the Nest Doorbell Battery is an excellent choice with more subscription-free features than its Amazon competition. For those with the option for a hard-wired install, however, we'd still choose Nest Hello for its better quality (or Ring Pro 2 if you're on Team Amazon), even if design-wise the Nest Doorbell Battery has the edge.

Also consider

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Nest Hello

Though not as nice in terms of design, the Nest Hello delivers excellent image and video quality - superior to the Nest Doorbell Battery. It does require wiring in and it is more expensive, but you get continuous video recording.

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Ring Video Doorbell 4

Amazon's competitor isn't as smart in terms of design as the Nest Doorbell Battery, but it has a good feature set, delivers good quality pictures, and it too is battery operated.

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Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free

Another battery-operated option, this alternative comes with a nicer design that's closer to the likes of the Nest Hello. It offers great video quality and decent battery life too.

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Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 4 October 2021.