Arlo Security Cameras Review

Arlo's wireless security cameras pack a big punch under any conditions—indoors or outside and day or night.
Best value
Best balance of features
Arlo Pro 4
Arlo Pro 4
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Wide field of view
  • Icon Pros  Light
    1440p video (2K)
Best video quality
Arlo Ultra 2 camera
Arlo Ultra 2
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Ultra-wide field of view
  • Icon Pros  Light
    2160p video (4K)

Bottom line: Arlo's wireless cameras are hard to beat

Arlo was one of the first companies to release battery-powered security cameras way back in 2014, and its years of experience show in its latest products. Among these products is our favorite Arlo camera: the Arlo Essential Spotlight XL, which has a massive battery that lasts up to 12 months and doesn't require a base station.

This is good news for a brand that tends to be otherwise too pricey for most folks (but getting more affordable). Arlo backs up the cost with beautiful hardware that's easy to use and install. And it has some of the best video quality among security cameras.

Overall, we think that Arlo's wireless security cameras are a great choice, whether you want to keep an eye on package deliveries, check in with your pet, or welcome the kids home after school. Continue reading to find out what makes (and breaks) Arlo.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Attractive equipment
Pro Bullet Easy to install inside and outdoors
Pro Bullet Tons of battery-powered options
Pro Bullet Cloud and local video storage options
Pro Bullet Many affordable options
Pro Bullet 4K video quality on Arlo Ultra 2
Pro Bullet Free cloud storage on Arlo Q
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet 4K models are pricey
Con Bullet Required base station for some models
Con Bullet No one-pack starter kit for Arlo Ultra 2


Compare Arlo cameras

Best value Best balance of features Best video quality Best cloud storage Best for front door
Arlo Essential Spotlight XLArlo Pro 4 Arlo Ultra 2 Arlo Q Arlo Video Doorbell
Arlo Essential Spotlight XLArlo Pro 4Arlo Ultra 2 cameraArlo QArlo video doorbell camera
List price*
Cloud video storage
Local video storageRequires base stationRequires base station microSDN/A Requires base station
Video resolution1080p 1440p 2160p 1080p1536p (square)
Field of view130º 160º 180º 130º 180º
Power sourceWireless, optional solarWireless, wired, optional solar Wireless, wired, optional solarWired, optional Power over Ethernet (PoE)Wired
Base stationOptional(Arlo Smart Hub) Optional(Arlo Smart Hub) Arlo Smart Hub N/A Optional(Arlo Smart Hub)
Weatherproofing
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes

*Amazon.com list price as of 10/19/2020 at 3:10 p.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Our approach

We researched every Arlo security camera we could find before writing this review. This was a tall order because Arlo currently makes nine camera models. And Arlo's website often lists older, sometimes unavailable models alongside new models.

Next, we narrowed our list to include four of Arlo's latest models (released in 2019 and 2020) and the Arlo Q, which is somehow still available despite a 2015 release date. While not our primary focus, we also sprinkled some info about other Arlo cameras throughout our review for curious folks.

Finally, we looked for unique attributes that make Arlo worth buying over other brands. We also focused on user reviews, which paint a favorable picture of Arlo's products. For more information on how we rate products, check out our review methodology.

Similarities

Core features

While there are slight variations in the execution of Arlo's core features, every Arlo camera can do these things:

  • The Arlo app allows you to access and control your cameras using your smartphone.
  • Night vision uses infrared light so your Arlo cameras can see and record in the dark. Models like the Arlo Essential Spotlight, Arlo Pro 4, and Arlo Ultra 2 also have a bright LED light for color video at night.
  • Motion detection allows Arlo cameras to save battery power by recording only when there's motion in front of the camera.
  • Two-way audio allows you to speak with people near the camera, which is perfect for checking on the kids during your lunch break.

Wire-free installation

Battery-powered cameras are the rule at Arlo, not the exception. This means that the majority of Arlo's security cameras have a battery that lasts up to six months between charges—the Arlo Essential Spotlight XL lasts up to 12 months. Only the Arlo Q and Arlo Video Doorbell require a power cable.

By using a battery, there are practically endless places you can install an Arlo security camera outside your home like fences, trees, and sheds. We also like that the mounting hardware for Arlo cameras is easy to install, so you don't need to spend more than a few minutes placing your security camera.

Thumbs Up
Weatherproofing

All of Arlo's wire-free cameras are weatherproof. You can install them anywhere indoors and outdoors.

Cloud video storage

You can view live video in the Arlo app anytime without a subscription, but Arlo gives you extra features and higher-quality video storage with its paid Arlo Smart plans. Here's a quick overview:

Without a planArlo Smart PremierArlo Smart Elite
Single-camera price
Multi-camera price(up to 5 cameras)
Cloud storage7 days‡ 30 days 30 days
Video resolutionUp to 1080p Up to 2K Up to 4K
Live video streaming
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Basic notifications
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Interactive notifications
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Advanced detection
Icon No  LightNo
People, animals, vehicles, packages, motion zones
People, animals, vehicles, packages, motion zones
e911 emergency calls(multi-camera only)
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of 10/19/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

‡While free video storage isn’t available on the Arlo Essential, Arlo Pro 4, Arlo Pro 3, Arlo Ultra 2, Arlo Ultra, or Arlo Video Doorbell, all other free features without a plan still apply.

A fascinating feature in Arlo Smart is the e911 emergency call service that comes with multi-camera plans. This clears a path for a quick police response to your home instead of your smartphone location during an emergency. It's not a substitute for professional security monitoring but can streamline 911 calls.

Notepad
Does Arlo record all the time?

You can subscribe to Arlo's Continuous Video Recording (CVR) plan to access 24/7 recording. It costs $9.99 per month for 14-day storage or $19.99 a month for 30-day storage. But CVR works only with select Arlo cameras using a wired power option: Arlo Ultra 2, Arlo Ultra, Arlo Pro 4, Arlo Pro 3, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Pro, Arlo Q, Arlo Q Plus, and Arlo Baby.

Smart home compatibility

Arlo boasts top-tier smart home compatibility with the best smart home platforms:

Some Arlo cameras also work with Samsung SmartThings and Apple HomeKit.

Differences

Video resolution

As Arlo cameras increase in price, they gain higher video resolution—while the core features such as wire-free installation and color night vision remain mostly the same. This is different from competitors like Ring and Google Nest, which tend to standardize resolution across cameras, regardless of cost.

By offering plenty of video resolutions, Arlo can cater to specific customer tastes. For example, a techie might buy an Arlo Ultra 2 for access to stunning 4K video. But a new parent can save a little cash by opting for the lower resolution of an Arlo Essential in nurseries and playrooms.

Light Bulb
Wider field of view

Arlo's more expensive models also capture more detail and cover more ground using a wider field of view. A high field of view usually distorts video, but Arlo's software corrects distortion better than most brands.

Base stations

We have a love/hate relationship with Arlo's hubs. We absolutely love that they improve battery life compared to security cameras that use only Wi-Fi. They also enable local video storage by connecting a storage device to the hub.

But base stations have a major drawback: cost. An Arlo Smart Hub accounts for around $100 of Arlo's starter kits' price—the same amount as the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery. This extra expense makes most brands a better value than Arlo since you can buy more cameras for less.

The number of cameras a base station supports depends on the camera type and subscription plan you have.

Here's a quick list of Arlo cameras that require a base station (not including many discontinued models):

  • Arlo Pro 3
  • Arlo Pro 2
  • Arlo Ultra 2
  • Arlo Ultra

Fortunately, Arlo sells some stand-alone cameras that don't use a base station:

  • Arlo Essential Spotlight
  • Arlo Essential Spotlight XL
  • Arlo Pro 4
  • Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight
  • Arlo Video Doorbell
  • Arlo Q

We recommend choosing a stand-alone camera if you want to save some cash. But the base station is the best way to record local video without a cloud subscription, which saves more money over the long run. Depending on the local storage capacity you have, you can start saving money in 2–4 months (compared to cloud storage).

Power sources

While most Arlo cameras use a battery for wire-free operation, some models also use an optional solar panel or power cable to supplement the battery. Two Arlo cameras don't use batteries at all: Arlo Video Doorbell and Arlo Q.

Arlo security camera reviews

Arlo Essential Spotlight XL: Best value

The Arlo Essential Spotlight XL is our new favorite camera from Arlo because it's a battery behemoth that lasts up to 12 months on a charge. Few wireless cameras match to this kind of performance—and the ones that do, like the Blink Outdoor, record short video clips instead of capturing an entire event.

This camera is also one of Arlo's most affordable, at around $150, since the camera doesn't require a base station, which adds a lot to the overall price of Arlo's high-end cameras like the Ultra 2 and the Pro 3.

Arlo Essential Spotlight XL isn’t as affordable as the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery or the upcoming Wyze Cam Outdoor. Still, it comes with everything we love about Arlo cameras like a spotlight for color video at night, easy mounting on practically any surface, and Arlo's outstanding support for smart home devices.

The Essential XL doesn't have any wired power options to enable continuous video recording, but we think the trade-off of a bigger battery is worth it—though the big battery makes for a big camera.

For potentially limitless battery life, you can buy a solar panel accessory so you don't have to take it down for recharging as often. It also lacks the automatic tracking of the Pro 4 and Ultra 2, so it's harder to follow the action in a video.

Light Bulb
Arlo Essential Spotlight

Although it's only a few months older than the XL, the Arlo Essential Spotlight was the company's first truly affordable wireless camera, costing only $130. If you're fine with half the battery life of the XL, this camera is a good way to save a few bucks.

Arlo Pro 4: Best balance of features

Best balance of features

It's worth noting that the Arlo Pro 4 fits perfectly between the Arlo Essential and Arlo Ultra 2 when it comes to features.

We absolutely love that Arlo ditched the base station and required two-pack on the Arlo Pro 4, which was a major issue we had with the Arlo Pro 3. This helps bring the price down to around $200 per camera and is less of a barrier for new customers wanting something a bit more powerful than the Arlo Essential.

The crisp 1440p resolution (2K) is better than most 1080p security cameras on the market but not as detailed as Ultra's superior 4K video. The field of view is another area where Arlo Pro 4 shines. Its 160º field of view is wide enough to watch over more area than the Essential—but again, it’s not as capable as the Ultra 2.

While the battery life on the Pro 4 can last up to six months, we think the Arlo Essential XL is a better wireless camera with a bigger battery and a lower price. Overall, we think the Arlo Pro 4 is perfect for folks who want a happy medium between average and overkill.

Thumbs Up
Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight

The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight (about $250) is much less discreet than the Pro 4 because it sports a super bright LED floodlight that's perfect for outdoor locations.

Arlo Ultra 2: Best video quality

Best video quality

The Arlo Ultra 2 is the best 4K Ultra HD security camera on the market. It's the only completely wireless camera that records 4K video that we've come across so far. This gives it an edge over competitors because it's just as easy to install as Arlo's other battery-powered security cameras.

We're also big fans of its ultra-wide 180º field of view which pairs perfectly with the 2160p video resolution to capture more detail. This means you can zoom in on the video to identify intruders or spot discrepancies without the image getting too pixelated. Arlo also uses some clever programming to remove fisheye distortions caused by the 180º lens.

The biggest disadvantage of Arlo Ultra 2 is its price. Because this camera requires a base station, you need to already own a compatible Arlo Smart Hub or buy a kit that includes the base station. Sadly, the base station only comes in a kit with a two-pack of cameras instead of a single camera.

Another flaw of the Arlo Ultra 2 is that you need to pay 50%–60% more to store 4K video in the cloud using the Arlo Smart Elite plan. But you can subscribe to the cheaper Arlo Smart Premier plan if you don't need 4K video with this camera.

Arlo Q: Best cloud storage

Best cloud storage

The Arlo Q lacks the wireless portability of the company's best cameras but outperforms them in one key area: cloud storage. Because the Arlo Q is one of Arlo's older models, it still qualifies for free 7-day cloud storage, making it a great alternative to local storage and paid subscriptions.

We also like this camera because it's very affordable, you don't need a base station, and you don't need to charge a battery. Unfortunately, it doesn't have local storage, making it wholly reliant on an internet connection to work properly.

For an alternate power source and local storage, check out the Arlo Q Plus, which uses a Power over Ethernet (POE) cable. POE eliminates the need for a Wi-Fi connection, which is very useful if you already have a crowded Wi-Fi network.

Notepad
Arlo Baby

Although any Arlo camera can watch over a nursery, the Arlo Baby sports an adorable design with baby-specific features like crying alerts, air sensors, a colored night-light, and a music player. Unfortunately, many baby monitors are a better value.

Arlo Video Doorbell: Best for front door

Best for front door

The Arlo Video Doorbell has the fewest placement options of any Arlo security camera, but it's one of our favorite smart doorbells because it comes with a wide field of view and a quick reply feature that helps you chat up visitors more easily. It also doesn't require a base station unless you want local storage.

It's not as affordable as the Ring Video Doorbell or as advanced as the Nest Hello. But it still manages to fill a niche between its two biggest competitors by offering e911 emergency calls and video with a square aspect ratio.

Check out our full Arlo doorbell review to learn more about the Arlo Video Doorbell.

Arlo accessories

Solar Panel Charger

Arlo sells a variety of solar panel charges depending on the Arlo wireless camera you have. These are a great way to improve battery life in locations where you normally need a ladder to reach. It's also nice for places where power cables can't reach.

Arlo Security Light

The Arlo Security Light uses a motion sensor to activate a spotlight outside your home. When it detects motion, it can trigger Arlo camera recordings for improved video quality.

It works on its own too with a unique LED light that can shine or flash in different colors. This is something that no other motion detector light does. It comes with a Wi-Fi adapter but is incompatible with Arlo's other hubs.

Arlo Audio Doorbell and Arlo Chime

  • The Arlo Audio Doorbell adds a battery-powered doorbell to regular Arlo security cameras that use a base station. It still uses two-way voice to communicate with visitors but lacks a built-in camera.
  • The Arlo Chime is an accessory specific to the Audio Doorbell, which doesn't require an existing doorbell in battery-only mode.

Although these are nice add-ons to an Arlo camera system, the Arlo Video Doorbell is the better option because it doesn't rely on an extra camera or base station.

Learn more in our Arlo doorbell review.

Notepad
Local recording on non-base station cameras

The Arlo Essential, Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight, and Arlo Video Doorbell also work with a base station (if you buy one separately) to enable local video storage.

Final word

Arlo's camera selection is diverse, and each model brings a lot to the table, but we think the Arlo Essential Spotlight XL is the best choice for most folks. It's long-lasting, affordable, and weatherproof, making it ideal for any location in or out of your home.

It doesn't have free video storage, but thankfully Arlo's plans are very competitive with Ring and Nest on price.

Still, we recommend other Arlo cameras if you have the budget or simply want better video quality. Feel free to browse our FAQ below or visit our wireless security camera review to learn more about Arlo and how it compares to other brands.

Arlo security camera FAQ

Yes, every Arlo camera comes with features that work without a subscription:

  • Live video viewing
  • Basic notifications
  • Two-way audio
  • Local storage (for cameras that use a base station)

Most Arlo cameras can record free video using one of two methods:

  1. Every Arlo camera that uses a base station can record local video when you connect a USB drive or microSD card to the base station.
  2. All of Arlo’s earliest cameras (many of which are still available, like the Arlo Q) come with free seven-day video storage that doesn’t require a subscription. But newer cameras like the Arlo Essential, Arlo Pro 4, Arlo Video Doorbell, and Arlo Ultra 2 come with a free trial for cloud storage.

Although local storage still saves videos without the internet, you can’t view video with the app, view live video, save videos to the cloud, or adjust settings without an active internet connection.

To view local video without the internet, you must connect the USB drive or microSD card to a computer or set up Direct Storage Access using the Arlo app. Direct Storage Access connects the base station to your home Wi-Fi network so you can view footage as long as your phone is on the same network.

Arlo says the cameras’ max range is up to 300 feet away from the base station as long as you have direct line sight. This distance decreases with each object (ceilings, walls, trees, furniture) between the camera and base station.

  1. All you have to do is download the app to your smartphone (Android or iOS).
  2. Once you install the Arlo app, you enter your email address and set up a password.
  3. Arlo sends a verification email to your inbox, and once you click the included link, you’re ready to go.

From the app, you can access recordings and live video, conduct two-way communication, change settings, and zoom or digitally pan the camera.

Arlo makes it easy to add users:

  1. Go into the Arlo app, access Settings, and select Grant Access.
  2. Next, select Add and enter the name and email address of the person you want to add.
  3. After the person activates their verification link, they can use the Arlo app to access the camera.
  4. You can decide what kind of rights each user has.
  5. If you have more than one camera, you can select which users have access to which cameras.
Bell
Arlo Go doesn't need Wi-Fi

Arlo Go uses a cellular LTE connection to access the internet, but you must buy it through a mobile provider like Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile. Despite its portability, we think Arlo's other wireless cameras are better choices for most folks.

Related articles


Disclaimers

*Amazon.com list price as of 10/19/2020 at 3:10 p.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 Assistant, and other related marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist with over seven years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech. Before joining SafeWise in 2020, John was an editor for Top Ten Reviews specializing in home security and the smart home.