Arlo Pro 4 Review

We put the Arlo Pro 4 through weeks of testing to see if it deserves the best wire-free security camera title.
Best wire-free camera
Arlo Pro 4
Arlo Pro 4
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • Excellent 2K video quality
  • No base station
John Carlsen
Staff Writer, Security & Smart Home
Read More
Published on March 05, 2021

The Arlo Pro 4 is our pick for the best wire-free security camera on the market, thanks to 2K video resolution, supreme smart home integration, affordable cloud storage, and no base station. It's not a cheap or perfect camera, but we think it strikes the best balance of advanced features and price compared to other high-end cameras like the Nest Cam IQ indoor and the Ring Spotlight Cam.

We're confident that it's a great option for folks looking for a high-end outdoor camera.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Excellent 2K video quality
Pro Bullet Color and infrared night vision
Pro Bullet Affordable cloud storage
Pro Bullet No base station
Pro Bullet Smart home integration
Pro Bullet Tons of adjustable settings
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Pricey camera and accessories
Con Bullet Battery life doesn't match claims
Con Bullet No free video storage
Con Bullet Some video lag
Con Bullet Sometimes-confusing settings

Arlo Pro 4 at a glance

Best wire-free camera
Arlo Pro 4
Price*
$199.99
Cloud storage (30 days)
Resolution
1440p (2K)
Night vision
Color/infrared
Smart home compatibility
Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit †, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings

*Amazon.com list price as of 03/05/2021 at 11:00 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.
† Requires optional base station.

What's in the box

Arlo Pro 4 in the box
  • Arlo Pro 4 camera
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Magnetic charging cable
  • Wall mount and screw kit
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Video monitoring decal

Video quality and recording options

Video quality

The Arlo Pro 4 has great video quality, thanks to a 1440p (2K) video resolution, which is better than the 1080p on most other security cameras. Videos were clear with a lot of detail, making it easy to identify objects, animals, and people in the frame.

One of the Arlo Pro 4's best features is its night vision in color and infrared modes. The color night vision uses a built-in spotlight to light up subjects near the camera when there's motion. It's useful for getting a little more detail, but it's not as discreet as the infrared night vision setting.

We noticed a delay between an action and when it shows up during a live video stream. The delay depended entirely on our internet bandwidth, so you shouldn't have problems with a speedy internet connection.

Compare Arlo Pro 4 video quality in different lighting environments

Light Bulb
Custom spotlight settings

You can customize the spotlight's brightness and behavior to suit your needs. We like that the light can flash or pulsate as a warning (even better with Arlo Pro 4's built-in siren). Still, the constant light setting is also helpful for lighting your path at night.

Field of view

We appreciate the Arlo Pro 4's 160º field of view, which is much wider than a typical security camera (around 130º on average). Such a broad perspective outdoors means less cameras needed for an area like a backyard—saving you money and hassle.

Although the field of view is great for capturing a lot of detail, you can adjust it in the app to 125º or 110º—both of which can work well for recording video indoors.

There's also an option to automatically zoom and track people moving in front of the Arlo Pro 4, which is more helpful outdoors when subjects are farther from the camera. We prefer to turn this setting off indoors because it can be jarring with closer objects.

Compare Arlo Pro 4 fields of view

Adjustable video brightness

You can adjust the brightness of the video for different situations. While the camera's night vision performed best with maximum brightness, a lower setting during the day helps avoid washing out the video's color.

Unfortunately, the brightness doesn't automatically adjust as needed, so we recommend choosing a medium brightness so you don't need to change settings often.

Recording options

To record video with the Arlo Pro 4, you can switch between five settings:

  • Disarmed turns off all recording, but you can still record videos when viewing a live stream.
  • Armed allows the camera to record video whenever there's motion.
  • Schedule records video only during specific times.
  • Geofencing activates other recording modes based on your location.
  • Custom mode allows you to adjust when the camera records.
My Arlo Arming Modes

Arlo's arming modes

Arlo Smart subscription

Most of the Arlo Pro 4's best features are available only when you pay for an Arlo Smart Premier subscription. Fortunately, Arlo has one of most affordable cloud storage plans around and holds its own against offerings from Ring and Nest.

Without a planArlo Smart Premier
Single-camera price
Multi-camera price
(up to 5 cameras)
Cloud storage
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  Light30 days
Video resolutionN/AUp to 2K
Live video streaming
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Motion and audio notifications
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Smart notifications
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightPeople, animals, vehicles, packages, motion zones
e911 emergency calls
(multi-camera only)
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of 03/03/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Free video storage isn’t available on the Arlo Pro 4, but all other free features without a plan still apply.

Features included with Arlo Smart Premier

  • Arlo's cloud storage keeps video clips for up to 30 days before deleting them. This is usually more than enough to download important clips you want to keep longer.
My Arlo Library

Arlo's cloud storage organizes your clips by date on the Library tab

  • Activity zones allow you to specify areas the camera should ignore when tracking motion. These help focus the camera on high-risk areas like doors, hallways, and windows. These are easy to set up, but the controls can be imprecise on smartphone screens, so using a tablet or logging into your Arlo account on a web browser is a better option.
My Arlo Activity Zones

Here are Arlo Activity Zones as they appear on a web browser.

  • E911 allows you to contact the police near your home instead of your smartphone's current location—it's especially helpful when you're on vacation. Be careful with this feature because you can't deactivate it once you set it up. This might make some folks nervous that they'll accidentally tap the e911 button and get a false-alarm fine from the police.
  • Smart notifications can help you identify a person, animal, or vehicle. Unfortunately, they weren't always accurate during our tests—at first, they alternated between dubbing the cat a person and animal, but became more reliable over time (with the camera farther away).
Notepad
Arlo Smart Elite

Arlo has a cloud storage plan we didn't list here—Arlo Smart Elite. It is the most expensive Arlo plan and adds 4K video storage, which is applicable only on Arlo Ultra security cameras. We don't recommend it for Arlo Pro 4.

Battery life

The battery life on the Arlo Pro 4 is quite good for a wireless camera but decreased by around 50% over a couple of weeks. We suspect that part of this decrease was an unreliable Wi-Fi router that dropped connection multiple times a day, which likely made the Arlo Pro 4 use more power trying to reconnect.

Still, we don't think it's possible to get a full six months out of the battery like it says on the box—even under more stable conditions.

Arlo offers three power management options in the video settings menu:

  • Best Video uses more power to provide better video quality.
  • Optimized tries to balance power consumption and video quality.
  • Best Battery Life uses less power at the expense of video quality.

Our first two weeks of testing used the Optimized setting, so we look forward to seeing how the camera performs in the Best Battery Life and Best Video settings as we continue testing in the next couple of months.

Your rechargeable battery will likely be partially charged before setup, but we recommend topping off the charge during and after setup before mounting your Arlo Pro 4.

Thumbs Down
No power adapter included

Keep in mind that the unit doesn't come with a USB power supply for the charging cable, so you need to provide your own to charge the battery. We first attempted to charge it via a laptop USB port, but the computer popped up a message saying there wasn't enough power for the camera.

Mobile app and notifications

There are plenty of customization options in the mobile app, so we spent an hour or so tweaking settings and familiarizing ourselves with the app. Overall, the app has an intuitive interface, but not all of the settings are easy to find at first glance. Arlo divides many settings across multiple menus, especially ones for individual devices. You’ll get the hang of it after a day or two.

Live video feed

The live video feed in the app is easy to use and has a lot of helpful controls along the bottom. With these controls, you can record video, take a photo, turn on the spotlight, turn on the audio, and use two-way audio to talk with people through the camera's speaker.

My Arlo Live Video Feed

Here's the Arlo Pro 4 live video feed with controls along bottom.

Motion and audio alerts

The Arlo Pro 4 was almost too effective when we first tested motion alerts. We picked a window frequented by our test cat—a deluge of notifications prompted us to disable notifications until we found a way to reduce motion sensitivity.

The motion sensor in the camera works independently of the video settings. We adjusted it in the Device Utilities menu under Motion Detection Test. After lowering the sensitivity (under 50% in our case), the notifications were less frequent, tracking only large movements.

Arlo can also send audio alerts when the camera detects sound, but you'll likely never use the audio-only setting. The default arming mode uses motion and audio detection, and there's not much reason to use them separately.

Checklist
My Arlo online portal

You can also log into the My Arlo portal in a browser to control your cameras and change settings. It has the same features as the Arlo mobile app but with a slightly different layout for computer screens. It's definitely worth using if you want to set up activity zones.

Smart home compatibility

Arlo has some of the best smart home compatibility among security cameras, which extends to the Arlo Pro security cameras. Out of the box, you can expect Arlo Pro 4 to work with four smart home platforms: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings. By linking your Arlo account to one of these platforms, you can make your camera work alongside other smart devices.

Light Bulb
Apple HomeKit compatibility

If you buy the optional base station, Arlo Pro 4 gains smart home compatibility with Apple HomeKit.

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Arlo Pro 4's functionality with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant is essentially identical. The most convenient feature is viewing a live video feed on a smart display like an Echo Show or Google Nest Hub. We especially like this for spying on the cat while working or checking on the kids in the yard.

If you don't have a smart display, you can also watch a livestream on your TV using a Fire TV or Chromecast device, which are compatible with Alexa and Google smart speakers, respectively. Having a larger screen is a big bonus, and you can check your cameras between episodes to see if the kids are asleep.

You can arm and disarm the camera using voice commands or routines. This is great for when you're out of the house. Here's a routine you might try: set the camera to arm motion recording when you lock the front door and leave for the day.

IFTTT and Samsung SmartThings

IFTTT and SmartThings give you a little more flexibility in using your Arlo camera—mostly with how you set up routines to control devices. IFTTT is great for connecting Arlo to other devices and services that usually wouldn't work with your smart home system. A good example is using other security cameras like Wyze and Ring with Arlo. This frees you up to use a variety of cameras for your home without sticking to one brand.

The best part about pairing Arlo with SmartThings is that you can link it to other sensors in your home. It helps the camera know to start recording if there's motion just outside the front door or if a window opens that's just out of the camera's view.

Setup, installation, and accessories

Setup

Setting up the Arlo Pro camera is straightforward and uncomplicated:

  1. Download the Arlo app and create an Arlo account.
  2. Put the battery in the camera.
  3. Connect to Wi-Fi.
  4. Adjust settings to fit your needs.

We had some trouble connecting the Arlo Pro 4 to Wi-Fi because it wouldn't recognize the 2.4GHz mode on our network, which normally uses a 5GHz frequency. For a workaround, we connected the camera to a guest network that runs at 2.4GHz (though we didn't have any problems when setting up on a different router a couple of weeks later). Overall, this minor snag didn't diminish the camera's better qualities.

Installation

Installation is also relatively easy, thanks to a simple magnetic mount that attaches to a wall with a single screw. We recommend finding a wood stud for a little extra stability.

If the magnetic mount doesn't work out, there's also a spot on the camera's back to attach to a standard tripod or a universal security camera mount.

Arlo Pro 4 on Tripod for Testing

We mounted Arlo Pro 4 on a tripod for our tests.

Accessories

Arlo makes some useful accessories to help you maximize your camera's potential, but they are costly considering what you're paying for:

The most outrageous prices are Arlo's proprietary magnetic charging cables, which cost more than double what a comparable USB cable would. We can bet that Arlo makes a hefty profit on its accessories in addition to its already expensive cameras.

Fortunately for Arlo, its accessories have excellent user reviews and durability. Other than wall mounts, use caution when buying third-party Arlo accessories, which could void your warranty or damage your camera. Still, it looks like there are some viable alternatives on the market if you don't want to spend $50 for a spare battery.

Customer service

Arlo provides an impressive number of articles on its support website that explain practically every feature in detail. We found it easiest to use the search bar for navigation. If you don't find an answer in the support section, you can jump over to the Arlo Community forum for another self-serve support option.

Between the support site and forum, you have plenty of resources. In the rare instance where you need direct help, you can contact Arlo over live chat or open a support case.

We're big fans of Arlo's customer support approach. It provides comprehensive information to troubleshoot problems or learn about features without talking to an Arlo representative.

Bell
Arlo phone support

Arlo has a phone support option, but this is available only to paying subscribers or within 90 days of purchase. While it's disappointing that this service isn't free, we think that phone support works mostly as a last resort when other support materials don't cut it.

How Arlo Pro 4 compares to the competition

Best wire-free cameraBest cloud storageBudget outdoor pickBest battery lifeHigh-tech pick
Arlo Pro 4Arlo Pro 4
Ring Stick Up Cam BatteryRing Stick Up Cam
Wyze Cam Outdoor Starter BundleWyze Cam Outdoor
Blink Outdoor
Nest Cam IQ IndoorNest Cam IQ Indoor
Price*
Resolution1440p (2K)1080p1080p1080p1080p
Field of view160º130º110º110º130º

*Amazon.com list price as of 03/05/2021 at 11:00 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Final word

If you want the best balance of features and price in a high-end security camera, Arlo Pro 4 is hard to beat. We love its video quality and endless settings because you can customize the camera to your liking without much fuss.

At $200, it's a bit more expensive than most folks probably want to spend on a security camera, and the battery won't last six months (contrary to Arlo’s claim). Still, we think that Arlo Pro 4 is a great choice for high performance where a cheaper camera might struggle. Head over to our wireless security camera review to see how it compares to other top products—or see where it fits into Arlo's lineup on our Arlo Camera Review.

How we reviewed

We installed an Arlo Pro 4 and tested it in a variety of situations to gauge these traits:

  • Video quality and recording options
  • Arlo Smart subscription plans
  • Battery life
  • Mobile app and notifications
  • Smart home compatibility
  • Setup, installation, and accessories
  • Customer service
Arlo Pro 4 SafeWise Test Cat

No security camera test is complete without a helper—Cloud is one of SafeWise's trusty test cats.

While we tested the camera for about two weeks before writing our review, we plan to continue testing over the next few months to see how it performs in the long term—especially battery life. Find out more about how we test and review products in our testing methodology.

FAQ

Unlike the Arlo Pro 3, Arlo Pro 4 can connect directly to your Wi-Fi network, so using an Arlo SmartHub base station is optional. Adding a base station has three main advantages: better battery life, local video storage, and Apple HomeKit compatibility.

  • Improved battery life because the Arlo Pro 4 uses a more efficient radio frequency (than battery-hungry Wi-Fi) to communicate with the base station. The base station handles the Wi-Fi connection more effectively since it has a power cable instead of a battery.
  • Local video storage is possible because the base station has a port for a USB flash drive (or microSD slot depending on the model) for storing videos outside of the cloud.
  • Apple HomeKit compatibility on the Arlo Pro 4 works only when there's a base station. This is a popular smart home platform for folks that use iOS devices.

Yes, live streaming, audio notifications, and motion notifications all work without an Arlo Smart Premier subscription.

The subscription's paid features include video storage, activity zones, e911, and smart notifications (person, animal, vehicle, package, and smoke alarm detection).

If you connect the Arlo Pro 4 to a base station, you can add local video storage in lieu of cloud storage.

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Disclaimers

*Amazon.com list price as of 03/05/2021 at 11:00 a.m. (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

†Google, Google Nest, Google Assistant, and other related marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over eight years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.