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8 best security cameras that give you ultimate peace of mind at home

·12-min read
No need for walls peppered with holes – these cameras are suitable for rented homes, too (Getty/The Independent)
No need for walls peppered with holes – these cameras are suitable for rented homes, too (Getty/The Independent)

Keeping track of your home when you’re not there is simple with a home security camera in or outside your property.

Connected cameras mean you can tune in to what’s going on in your house from wherever you are, whether that’s another country or another room.

You can log in on your phone, tablet or computer to see what’s going on, and the latest cameras can alert you if there’s a surprise presence, or tell you that your pets are in the bedroom again (despite the explicit warning you gave them before you went out).

We looked for cameras with speakers and microphones on them, so you tell your dog, or an intruder, to beat it. Facial recognition is a further plus, so you know your child is home from school or if the dog walker has arrived. There are even some that have alarms to scare the heck out of an unwanted visitor, say.

Some use monthly subscriptions to add extra features, or, for Apple users, HomeKit secure video saves footage to your iCloud account, thus avoiding a further charge. There are indoor and outdoor cameras so you can tailor your system to your home.

Read more:

We tested the cameras for ease of installation and set up, and whether or not you need a professional to help with either. Then we checked how reliable they were and if the notifications were useful (or just infuriating, because the system spotted a tree blowing, for instance).

The best security cameras for 2021 are:

  • Best overall: Google Nest cam indoor: £83.19, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best wireless security: Swann wire-free 1080p security camera: £93, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best picture quality: Arlo ultra: £358.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best subscription-free security: Netatmo smart indoor security camera and siren: £221.01, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for style: Hive view: £84.97, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best camera on a budget: Ring stick up cam: £69, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for easy installation: Canary flex: £189, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best battery life: Kami outdoor battery camera: £75, Amazon.co.uk

Google Nest cam indoor

Best: Overall

  • Subscription cost: From £5 per month with Nest Aware

  • Video storage: 30 days of events stored in the cloud

  • Smart home compatible: Works with Hey Google and Alexa

  • Two-way talk: Yes

  • Field of vision: 130 degrees

  • Camera quality: Up to 1080p HD

  • Extendable system: Yes

  • Siren: No

Google Nest also makes cameras which are less potent than its top-flight IQ models but are still excellent and have the same brilliant operating system, though the advanced camera sensor and facial recognition options of the more expensive models are missing. Even so, it’s smart enough to tell the difference between movement and a person, for instance (a Nest aware subscription is needed for this and other features – without the subscription you are restricted to seeing the last three hours of activity in the app).

It also has a microphone that can listen for sounds such as glass breaking. The magnetic base makes the cam versatile in terms of indoor placement, and the set up is as simple as on other models.

Read the full Google Nest cam indoor review

Buy now £83.19, Amazon.co.uk

Swann wire-free 1080p security camera

Best: Wireless security

  • Subscription cost: £4.95 per month. Free version available

  • Video storage: 60 days of cloud storage. Free version includes seven days of cloud storage and two days of local storage

  • Smart home compatible: Works with Hey Google and Alexa

  • Two-way talk: Yes

  • Field of vision: 180 degrees

  • Camera quality: Up to 1080p HD

  • Extendable system: Yes

  • Siren: No

This camera is battery powered so it’s especially easy to install, with the charge lasting for a couple of months and a solar-powered charger also available separately. It’s a neat device and has decent build quality and a strong magnetic mount – it’s waterproof so it works indoors and out. It’s easy to use and works well thanks to its wide-angle view. But it stands out for its very good level of storage service: clips are stored online free for seven days, along with face detection for up to 10 faces, again for free.

You can subscribe for £4.95 a month to extend this to 60 days, where extra features like vehicle recognition are added. Swann has a huge range of cameras so you can build as big or as small a system as is required.

Read the full Swann wire-free 1080p security camera review

Buy now £93.00, Amazon.co.uk

Arlo ultra

Best: Picture quality

  • Subscription cost: £3.99 per month

  • Video storage: Local and cloud storage

  • Smart home compatible: Works with HomeKit, Alexa and Hey Google

  • Two-way talk: Yes

  • Field of vision: 180 degrees

  • Camera quality: 4K, 1080p HD

  • Extendable system: Yes

  • Siren: Yes

The Arlo ultra is one of the most advanced systems around thanks to a 4K camera that can stream content at the resolution it’s capturing it. Unlike many systems, you can also save content locally thanks to the microSD memory card slot (cards sold separately). To stream locally saved data, though, you have to be on the same network as the camera. It’s easy to install the Arlo and to add extra cameras to your setup, though the price mounts as you do: a three-camera kit costs around £900. The camera can work outside, too, as it’s weather-proof.

Like the Swann camera above, it attaches magnetically and is battery powered. There’s also a bright, built-in spotlight, which is motion-activated, to deliver colour video at night. As with other cameras here, a subscription is needed to make the most of it, though the first year’s service is included in the cost of the machine.

Buy now £358.99, Amazon.co.uk

Netatmo smart indoor security camera and siren

Best: Subscription-free security

  • Subscription cost: No monthly fees

  • Video storage: Footage stored locally on SD card

  • Smart home compatible: Works with HomeKit, Alexa and Hey Google

  • Two-way talk: No

  • Field of vision: 130 degrees

  • Camera quality: 1080p HD

  • Extendable system: Yes

  • Siren: Yes

This is one of the best-looking cameras: a small column of gold aluminium with an elegant design. It comes with a separate siren – you can also choose to add extra sensors to make this a full security system. Unlike some cameras, there are no ongoing fees to Netatmo. You can either save footage to the memory card supplied or save videos online if you have a personal Dropbox, say.

As well as alerting you if an intruder is spotted (the siren, at 110 decibels, is loud) it can use its facial-recognition feature to send you a message when the kids get home from school, for instance. You can also buy the camera part of this setup as a standalone device for £169.99.

Buy now £221.01, Amazon.co.uk

Hive view

Best: For style

  • Subscription cost: £3.99 per month. Free version available

  • Video storage: 30 days of cloud storage with subscription. 24 hours for free

  • Smart home compatible: Works with Hey Google

  • Two-way talk: Yes

  • Field of vision: 130 degrees

  • Camera quality: 1080p HD

  • Extendable system: Yes

  • Siren: No

The Hive view looks pretty slick and comes in two colourways: black and copper or white and champagne. Its great looks come from the fact it’s been designed by Yves Béhar. The cube contains the camera and can be removed from the stand if you prefer, though only for an hour as that’s how long the battery inside lasts when it’s been disconnected.

It works with other Hive products like the company’s thermostat and lights, all controlled from the same app. As well as spotting movement, it can detect sounds and proved smart and capable. Video is stored online for 24 hours – a £3.99 monthly subscription lets you store more and for longer periods.

Buy now £84.97, Amazon.co.uk

Ring stick up cam

Best: Camera on a budget

  • Subscription cost: £2.50 per month

  • Video storage: 30 days of cloud storage

  • Smart home compatible: Works with Alexa

  • Two-way talk: Yes

  • Field of vision: 110 degrees

  • Camera quality: 1080p HD

  • Extendable system: Yes

  • Siren: Yes

This battery-powered camera, now in its third-generation model, comes from great security company Ring. It is simple and effective. It even has a spirit level so you can make sure it’s sitting straight. A mains version is also available (with a slightly wider field of vision), but the battery can last a little over a month between charges. Because it’s weather-resistant, you can use it indoors or out. As with other cameras, a subscription is needed for access to its full functionality.

Read the full Ring stick up cam review

Buy now £69.00, Amazon.co.uk

Canary flex

Best: For easy installation

  • Subscription cost: £7.99 per month. Free version available

  • Video storage: 30 days of cloud storage

  • Smart home compatible: Works with Hey Google and Alexa

  • Two-way talk: Yes

  • Field of vision: 116 degrees

  • Camera quality: 1080p HD

  • Extendable system: Yes

  • Siren: No

Like several of the cameras here, the flex is easily installed as its battery means there’s no need for a mains connection, though you can connect it to the power if you wish. It’s straightforward to set up and image quality is good, though not a match for some of the other cameras we tested. Two-way talk is only possible with a premium subscription that costs £79 a year. The magnetic base lets you attach the camera in a variety of positions, so it’s easy to point it precisely. It works outdoors and in and comes in black or white finishes.

Buy now £189.00, Amazon.co.uk

Kami outdoor wire-free camera

Best: Battery life

  • Subscription cost: From £5 per month

  • Video storage: Seven days of cloud storage

  • Smart home compatible: Live view on Google Nest and Echo Show

  • Two-way talk: Yes

  • Field of vision: 140 degrees

  • Camera quality: 1080p HD

  • Extendable system: Yes

  • Siren: No

Like other battery-powered models, this camera is simple to install, and although the battery needs to be recharged, it should work for three to six months at a time. A microSD card slot means you can store content locally, or via the internet thanks to Kami Cloud, which costs from £5 a month and saves seven days’ history. Although this camera lacks many of the advanced features of its rivals, the price is sweet.

Buy now £75.00, Amazon.co.uk

Home security cameras FAQs

What are the key features I need to look out for?

Once you’ve worked out exactly what you want your camera for, you can assess whether you need a high-resolution model, for instance. If you want night vision, then most products can oblige, but only one or two have night vision in colour, which is usually achieved by having a light attached to the camera. You may want something unmissable, to deter intruders, or unobtrusive, if it’s for an indoor room.

Facial recognition is a nice extra – the Netatmo smart indoor security camera, for instance, can send you a message naming who has just arrived at the house, if it recognises them. This is less alarming than a message saying “intruder spotted in the hallway”, for instance. Though you should expect to pay a subscription for extra features like this.

How important is full HD?

A basic camera may suit if you just want to check on the dog, but a higher-resolution image could be useful in the event of an intrusion, should you want to share the footage with the police.

Do I need one that has a paid subscription?

If all you want to do is check in, then no – but in most cases it’s useful to be able to see what happened yesterday. The Nest app is simple to use and can help you confirm when that flower pot was last seen, for instance. Most companies offer short-term as well as long-term subscriptions, so only signing up for the two weeks you’re away on holiday is an affordable expense.

Is it best to record online or save footage to the device?

Both have their value. The benefit of offline is that if a burglar steals the camera, or breaks it, the footage is safe in a remote server.

Will my dog set the camera off?

Almost certainly, yes. Like many alarm systems, you can restrict which parts of the room or garden you want to receive alerts about, but dogs are resourceful.

Why is a connected security camera important?

Most cameras come with an app and this is crucial if you want to be able to see live transmissions. Arguably, this is the most informative thing about the camera, as it can tell you in real time that you left a window open or that your neighbour is watering your plants as you asked them to. (It’s polite to tell your neighbour where the camera is and that they will be filmed.)

Can a connected camera be hacked?

It can, and there have been examples of some of the biggest camera companies falling victim to this. Google Nest, for instance, now has two-factor authentication to enhance security, meaning to access what the camera sees you need to enter a code sent to your phone by text.

How good does my internet need to be?

This is a good point. If you have more than one camera and they are high definition, there are two factors to consider.

First, if you have a set data allowance, it can hit that ceiling quite quickly. Four HD cameras led to several gigabytes of data traffic in just a few days of our testing.

Second, most of us know what the download speed of our internet is, but, for cameras, the upload speed is crucial, too. Too slow and you’ll be waiting for the app to show you what’s going on, or the footage could be jerky.

The verdict: Home security cameras

The Google nest cam indoor is the ultimate home security camera, as long as you’re happy with the added cost of the excellent Nest aware subscription. The Swann wire-free 1080p security camera and Kami outdoor battery camera are both more basic but offer real value.

Voucher codes

For offers on home security cameras and other home tech accessories, try our discount code pages:

Want more smart tech for your home? Check out more of our reviews

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