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Nest Cameras Review

Which Nest is best? We review Nest’s suite of indoor and outdoor cameras.
Written by | Updated June 1, 2020
indoor nest security cameraNest Indoor
  • Wall mount
  • Discreet design
  • Easy setup
  • Wall mount
  • Discreet design
  • Easy setup
Nest IQ cameraNest Indoor IQ
  • Google Assistant built in
  • Noise and echo suppression
  • 6-core processor
  • Google Assistant built in
  • Noise and echo suppression
  • 6-core processor
Nest Outdoor
  • 24/7 livestream
  • Two-way audio
  • 360-degrees rotation
  • 24/7 livestream
  • Two-way audio
  • 360-degrees rotation
Nest Outdoor IQ cameraNest Outdoor IQ
  • High-grade weatherproofing
  • Tamper-resistant design
  • Close-up motion tracking
  • High-grade weatherproofing
  • Tamper-resistant design
  • Close-up motion tracking

Our recommendation: Nest IQ Indoor and Outdoor

There’s a lot of family resemblance between the Nest Cams, but the Indoor and Outdoor Nest IQs win overall—that is, if you’re willing to spend the money.

Both the Indoor and Outdoor Nest IQ cams are expensive, but they come with features like these:

  • Facial recognition
  • Person Alerts
  • Cloud storage

The standard Nest cams still get love too. Both the Nest Indoor and Nest Outdoor deliver a smooth livestream and clear audio and video. But you need a Nest Aware subscription to get these extra bells and whistles.

Learn more about the Nest cam family in this in-depth review.

Nest now requires two-factor authentication

In order to combat hackers, Nest is now using two-factor authentication (also called 2FA). It's a security measure you've probably already used for online services.

Rather than signing into your Nest account with a single password and username, 2FA sends a verification code to your email or phone that you later plug into the login page. If an unverified user tries to get in, you'll know quickly.

While you'll need to go through the 2FA process each time you log into your Nest account, this additional security measure is worth it.

Nest family similarities and differences

All four Nest cameras are beautifully designed and deliver quality live video streaming to the mobile app.

Nest Family of cameras

The whole family of Nest cameras reunited. From left to right: Nest Indoor, Nest Outdoor, Nest Outdoor IQ, Nest Indoor IQ

Similarities

Each Nest camera has 1080p resolution, two-way communication, and a wide 130-degree field of view.

The whole Nest family uses the Nest App, and cameras will send motion alerts when they see large moving objects and people, livestream to the mobile app, and work out of the box in minutes.

Differences

What’s the main difference between IQs and standard Nest cams? Extra features and smoother operation.

For example, the indoor and outdoor Nest IQ cameras have stronger zooming abilities and Nest Aware features—but the standard cameras need a monthly subscription for the smart features.

Nest camera comparison

Model
Price
Cloud storage
Facial recognition*
Time-lapse video
Weatherproof
Person alerts
Motion tracking
Learn More
Nest Indoor
Nest Indoor IQ
Nest Outdoor
Nest Outdoor IQ
$199.99 $299.99 $199.99 $399
With Nest Aware Yes ✓ With Nest Aware Yes ✓
With Nest Aware Yes ✓ With Nest Aware Yes ✓
With Nest Aware Yes ✓ With Nest Aware Yes ✓
No X No X Yes ✓ Yes ✓
With Nest Aware Yes ✓ With Nest Aware Yes ✓
No X Yes ✓ No X Yes ✓
View on Kohl's View on Kohl's View on Kohl's View on Home Depot

 Info current as of 06/01/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

*Not available in Illinois.

Nest Cam indoor review

Both indoor Nest cameras are pricey, but they make securing your home easy.

Nest Indoor cameras

Nest Indoor (left) and Nest Indoor IQ (right) face off. 

Nest Cam indoor

The standard Nest Indoor camera costs less and has most of the same features as its sibling.

Its 1080p picture and clear two-way communication produce a smooth livestream directly to the mobile app. These features land it among the best security cameras for your front room or nanny cams for the nursery.

It’s also small enough to fit on most shelves, tables, nooks, and crannies, making it easy to hide from anyone who might tamper with it. The only downside is it only works when it’s plugged in, so you’ll have to place it near an outlet. But it comes with a wall mount to make setup a little easier.

Nest Indoor Camera kit

What’s in the Nest Indoor box: power adapters, Nest camera, mounting bracket, and screws

It only takes a few minutes to set up the Nest Indoor and start a livestream. Turn it on and connect it to your Wi-Fi network through the mobile app on your device.

Once the livestream is running, you can see what your Nest sees day and night. Thanks to its eight powerful LED infrared lights and motion alerts, you get a clear picture even in low or bright lighting. So whether it’s a home invader or a lesser threat like someone sneaking a midnight snack, you’ll catch them in action.

Nest Indoor is one of the most affordable Nest cameras, but it’s still pricier than other indoor security cameras. That said, its sharp picture and easy setup make it worth the extra coin.

Nest Cam IQ indoor

The Nest IQ indoor camera also live streams to the mobile app in 1080p, but it’s also got more advanced features like a built-in Google Assistant.

Imagine the Nest IQ as the eyes of your smart home. Just like a standard Google Assistant, it can add items to a shopping list, answer questions, and send footage to your TV.

The Nest IQ captures snapshots of events within a 3-hour window, so you won’t miss anything if you can’t check your phone immediately. It also has daytime HDR, a 4K sensor, and 940 nm infrared night vision, so the clips are clear in normal and low lighting.

Armed with three microphones and an advanced speaker, the IQ’s audio quality is better than the Nest Indoor too. The noise and echo suppression muffles white noise interference to deliver a clearer sound. So you won’t have to worry about noisy appliances or a busy street interfering with the audio.

On top of that, its close-up tracking view zooms in on moving objects and follows them while in view. Whether it’s your kids playing in the living room or a suspicious character in your driveway, the Nest IQ will notice.

Nest IQ Camera scale

Nest Indoor IQ camera with quarter for size comparison

All of these features are possible with the camera’s tiny, powerful computer. The 6-core processor allows the Nest IQ to juggle several tasks like recording footage, supporting Google Assistant, and doing facial recognition to happen smoothly at once.

But like all the Nest cameras, it’s loaded with features for a steep price. If you’re willing to drop a couple hundred dollars on a smart camera, the Nest IQ is definitely worth your money. Its built-in Google Home feature makes it stand out and plays nicely with any existing Google Home products you may already have.

Nest Cam outdoor review

An outdoor security camera should work in rain or shine. Both of Nest’s outdoor cameras are weatherproof and made with all climates in mind, and they watch your front door, back yard, or driveway in clear 1080p resolution, night or day.

Both outdoor cameras also have clear two-way audio, send a livestream to your app, and have a 130-degree field of vision so you can catch everything.

Nest Outdoor cameras

Front-facing view of both Nest Outdoor cameras (Nest Outdoor on the left, Nest Outdoor IQ on the right)

Nest Cam outdoor

Besides its tough outer shell, the Nest Outdoor camera is almost identical to its indoor sibling. The big difference is it’s built to live outside.

Its weatherproof casing is dust tight and can withstand heavy rain, making it a good fit for most climates.

Nest Outdoor has a 24/7 live stream, and it sends motion detection notifications when it senses something. But it can be prone to false alarms like passing cars or the neighbor’s cat. Features like Person Alerts minimize these false alarms, but you’d need a Nest Aware subscription.

When you do get an alert, you can speak to anyone on the other side of the camera with the two-way audio. You can tell the mailman to leave a package on your step, say hi to your neighbor, or talk to that suspicious character snooping on your stoop.

Nest Outdoor camera with quarter for scale

Nest Outdoor camera with quarter for size comparison

Because this is an outdoor cam, installation is a bit different. Start by finding an outdoor outlet or access inside because the Nest Outdoor needs to stay plugged in to work.

Once it’s installed, you can use the magnetic base to rotate it 360 degrees, allowing you to catch the best angle.

If you want help, you can find a professional Nest installer to assist you.

Nest Cam IQ outdoor

At $400, Nest Outdoor IQ is the most expensive camera in the Nest family. The good news is that you get what you pay for with this camera.

The IQ has a higher weatherproofing rating than the standard outdoor camera, so you know it will withstand harsh rain, dust, and snow.

The sturdy casing doesn’t just keep moisture and debris out. Its tamper-resistant body prevents damage from vandals or intruders.

Nest Outdoor IQ camera and kit

Nest Outdoor IQ with included mounting equipment and power adapter

Its 4K sensor adds detail, while the daytime HDR reduces glare and balances light, delivering a smoother livestream to the mobile app.

The close-up tracking feature uses the 12x digital zoom to focus in on people up to 50 feet away. These features mean that the camera can distinguish people from other objects, so you’ll know when the kids come home from school, or a delivery driver leaves a package, instead of catching false alarms.

Finally, with the Nest IQ Outdoor, you can set activity zones. These zones only focus on areas you want to watch, like your front door or yard.

Check out our top picks for the best outdoor security cameras.

Nest Aware

Nest Aware is a subscription service that saves your camera’s recorded history for up to a month. This service also upgrades the features in your standard Nest cam with features like Person Alerts or Cloud Recording.

However, there are changes coming in 2020 to Google’s Nest Aware plans.

Nest Aware plans for now

Currently, Nest Aware uses a three-plan system.

  • 5-day video history: $5 per month
  • 10-day video history: $10 per month
  • 30-day video history: $30 per month

Current Nest Aware subscribers also get continuous 24/7 recording and intelligent alerts (like Person Alert). They can also make video clips and time-lapse video and set activity zones.

Nest Aware changes in 2020

As a part of Google, Nest is always changing and evolving. As of early 2020, there will be a few changes to the current Nest Aware plan. The new Nest Aware is moving away from recording and towards a total home system.

New Nest Aware plans

Nest is condensing its three payment and recording plans into two.

  • Nest Aware:  30 days of recorded video history for $6/mo.
  • Nest Aware Plus: 60 days of recorded video history for $12/mo.

Other features include:

  • Event-based recording: Instead of recording 24/7, the Nest Cam will only record when it detects an event such as people or pets moving.
  • The feed: This is a new area of the Google Home app dedicated to your Nest products. Here you can check all your cameras and sensors and get a general recap of your day according to Nest.
  • Sound detection: Nest speakers will recognize smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and send you alerts to keep your home safe even while you’re away.
  • Emergency calling: This allows Nest to connect emergency calls to the closest response center to your home. So if you’re out of town and an emergency happens, help is on the way faster.

Get the full details on the new Nest Aware plans from Google’s Support Center.

Nest Cams FAQ

Is there a monthly fee for Nest Cam?

Not unless you subscribe to Nest Aware. Even then, it’s affordable and gives you access to past recorded footage.

Can I use a Nest Cam without a subscription?

Yes, all four Nest cams are standalone products. A Nest Aware subscription can improve some of the features, but it’s completely optional.

Do Nest Cameras record what happens at my house?

Only with a Nest Aware subscription—otherwise, it livestreams to your phone or wherever you use the mobile app.

You can share a password-protected livestream with friends and family if you want, which is a good option for when you’re on vacation or trusting the kids with a babysitter.

Is the Nest Cam a good camera?

While Nest makes quality cameras, there are cheaper options. But if you want smart features and smart home compatibility with your security camera, Nest is worth the money.

Is Nest the best security camera?

While all the Nest cams are pretty darn good, they aren’t the only camera we recommend. See more options in our Best Home Security Cameras review to see where Nest stands against its competition.

What to consider before buying a Nest Cam

Before you buy a Nest camera, consider where you want to place it and what you want to protect. If you’re worried about package thieves, an outdoor camera is a good bet.

Want a baby monitor for the nursery? Go with the standard Nest camera. Are you trying to upgrade your home automation? Either of the Nest IQ models would work.

No matter which Nest cam you choose, make sure you have an open outlet and a stable surface to install it on. Indoor cameras work just fine with flat surfaces like tables or bookshelves, or even mounted on the wall. Outdoor cams will need a little more installation, and make sure you can find an outlet close enough for the 25-foot power cord to reach.

Which Nest is best?

If you’re willing to spend money to get the best features, go with the Indoor or Outdoor Nest IQ. Both are durable, produce sharp sound and video, and come with smart features to protect what matters most.

Related articles

Not sold on the Nest? Check out some of our other picks for indoor and outdoor security cameras.

Disclaimer

Google, Google Nest Secure, Google Nest Cams, and other related marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

Written by Katie McEntire

Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy. Learn more

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