Nest Cameras Review

Which Nest is best? We tested the latest Nest cams and compared dozens of specs to find out.
Best overall
Nest Cam (Battery)
Nest Cam (Battery)
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
  • Icon Pros  Light
    1080p resolution
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Battery, wired, or solar
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Local backup storage
Best budget
Nest Cam Indoor
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Icon Pros  Light
    1080p resolution
  • Icon Cons  Light
    Wired only
  • Icon Cons  Light
    No local storage
Best doorbell
Nest Doorbell (Battery)
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Icon Pros  Light
    960p resolution
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Battery or wired
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Local backup storage
Best smart display
Google Nest Hub Max
Nest Hub Max
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
  • Icon Pros  Light
    6.5MP resolution
  • Icon Cons  Light
    Wired only
  • Icon Cons  Light
    No local storage

Google Nest* helped usher in the age of security cameras with smart motion detection. Its Nest Cam IQ series offered a unique approach to spotting people, vehicles, animals, and familiar faces. The competition took notice—smart detection is practically a standard feature on today’s security cameras.

This spirit is still alive in Google Nest's latest cameras, like the Nest Cam (Battery), which offers smart detection for a lower price. It's also the first Google Nest camera without a power cord—it runs on a rechargeable battery.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Affordable cloud storage
Pro Bullet Unrivaled smart detection
Pro Bullet Local backup storage on newest cameras
Pro Bullet Excellent video quality
Pro Bullet Attractive designs
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Above-average price
Con Bullet Face and sound detection require cloud plan
Con Bullet Older cameras require Nest app for setup


Nest camera comparison

Product
Price*
Resolution
Field of view
Power source
Learn more
Best overall
Nest Cam (Battery)Nest Cam (Battery)
1080p130ºBattery, wired, solar
Best budget
Nest Cam Indoor
1080p130ºWired
Best doorbell
Nest Doorbell (Battery)
960p145ºBattery, wired
Best smart display
Google Nest Hub MaxNest Hub Max
6.5 MP127ºWired

*Amazon.com list price as of 10/06/2021 at 2:50 p.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Is the Google Nest Cam Battery worth the hype?

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What to expect with Google Nest Cameras

Google Nest cameras play various roles around the house, so there's likely one to fit your needs in the family room, at the front door, or in the backyard. Here are a few similarities and differences that make Nest cams stand out.

Similarities

Core features

  • Video quality: All Nest cameras record HD resolution up to 30 frames per second (fps). This results in smooth videos with lots of detail, though they don't match the 2K resolution of competitors like Reolink and Arlo. The new Nest Cam also uses HDR to produce videos with better color and contrast.
  • Night vision: Nest security cameras come with infrared night vision, which works in complete darkness to light up subjects. This results in black and white videos, unlike the color night vision from Wyze, Reolink, and Arlo. Although the color video is nice, we think the infrared is just as good for capturing detail.
  • Two-way audio: You can talk to people through the mobile app and a speaker on your camera. This is convenient for scaring off intruders or telling the kids to come in for dinner.
Nest Cam Daytime Video Quality

Daytime video quality on the Nest Cam (Battery).
Image: John Carlsen, SafeWise

Mobile apps

Google is transitioning its Nest devices away from the Nest app into the Google Home app. The latest Nest cameras are the first to skip the Nest app altogether. This means you'll need to set up your camera in Google Home instead. For older cameras, you need to use the Nest app for setup—but all Nest cameras (old and new) are compatible with Google Home.

Understandably, legacy users might prefer the Nest app, but it doesn't offer the flexibility to control third-party smart devices like Google Home does. But Google told us that it's easy to link older cameras to the Google Home app to control them all in one place.

Regardless of the app you use, you can set up your camera, customize notifications, adjust settings, use two-way audio, and watch live and recorded videos without too much trouble. We like that setup is easy and the cameras work out of the box in minutes.

Nest Aware

The Nest Aware subscription adds tons of features to your Nest Cam, like extra cloud storage, emergency calls, and enhanced detection of sound and familiar faces.

Without a planNest AwareNest Aware Plus
Price
Event video history3 hours30 days60 days
Continuous recordingNoneNone10 days
View live video
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
e911Icon Tooltip  Dark
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Smart detectionMotion zones, people, animals, vehicles, packagesMotion zones, people, animals, vehicles, packages, sounds, familiar faces*Motion zones, people, animals, vehicles, packages, sounds, familiar faces*
Learn more

Info current as of 10/06/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Familiar face smart detection is not available in Illinois.

Nest Aware features
  • Event-based recording: Instead of recording 24/7, the Nest Cam will record only when it detects an event such as people or pets moving. This helps save battery life and internet bandwidth.
  • Familiar face detection: The latest Nest cameras learn to recognize family and friends. This allows them to send notifications that say who's around the house—convenient for greeting a guest you're expecting or spotting when a stranger shows up. Familiar face detection isn't available on the Nest Cam Indoor.
  • Sound detection: Indoor Nest cameras can recognize sirens from smoke and carbon monoxide alarms so you know when there's trouble. You won't find this on Nest cameras before 2021, but it's still great for keeping your home safe even while you're away.
  • E911 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 Nest Aware plans from Google's Support Center.

Bell
Nest Aware isn't just for cameras

Nest Aware plans also bring sound detection to Google's smart speakers (Nest Mini) and smart displays (Nest Hub). Like the cameras, these devices listen for smoke alarms but also the sound of glass breaking. We like this rounded approach to home security since you're not relying on cameras alone.

Nest Aware plans
  • Without a plan: Nest Cam users could always watch live videos and get basic notifications without paying a monthly fee, but the free plan got a big boost in 2021. Google added three hours of cloud storage and made most of its smart detection tools free to use. We love this change because more folks can use some of Nest Cam's best features.
  • Nest Aware: The basic Nest Aware plan starts at $6 a month, which is more affordable than similar plans from Ring and Arlo. You get up to 30 days of event video history on every Nest camera in your home. But we also like the added sound detection and e911 emergency calling.
  • Nest Aware Plus: There's not a huge difference between this and the regular Nest Aware plan, but you double your event-based storage to 60 days while adding 10 days of continuous recording. The continuous recording works only on wired Nest cameras (except the Nest Doorbell)—it's not worth the upgrade if you use only battery-powered models.

Security and privacy

For a company that thrives on harvesting information, Google puts a lot of effort into securing Nest cams to protect your privacy. The latest Nest cameras have on-device AI that enables smart detection without an internet connection. There's a privacy center in your Google Account that gives you clear information and access to various settings in one place.

We love that Nest now requires two-factor authentication (also called 2FA) when you log in. Rather than signing into your Nest account with a single password and username, 2FA sends a verification code to your email or phone too. If an unverified user tries to get in, you'll know quickly. While it's a bit tedious to go through 2FA each time you log in, it’s worth it.

Light Bulb
Nest cams tell you when someone's watching

All Nest cameras have an LED light on the front that blinks when someone's watching the live feed. We like that you can use it to subtly remind people they're on camera and to test if a camera's working correctly.

Differences

It took four years for Google Nest to release new security cameras, but there are relatively few differences between the old and new models. But even though the differences are minor, they have a big effect on how the cameras work.

Smart detection

The biggest change on new Nest cameras is smart detection (motion zones, people, animals, vehicles, and packages) as a built-in feature. Each camera examines video footage using on-device processing that doesn't require an internet connection. Older Nest cameras, like the Nest Cam Indoor and Nest Cam IQ Indoor, rely on a cloud server (and a subscription fee) to identify the same activities.

We love this move to on-device smart detection because it's more accessible to folks without a cloud plan and helps improve privacy by keeping your data off the internet. One of the coolest features is that you can create activity zones specific to different types of movement. This could mean you receive a notification when someone walks in the door but still get a cute clip (without a notification) of your cat watching the birds outside.

Nest Cam Activity Zones

You can customize the smart detection in different activity zones.
Image: John Carlsen, SafeWise

Power sources

The Nest Cam (Battery) and Nest Doorbell (Battery) skip the power cord (a recent development), though they're compatible with wiring for charging the battery. Batteries give you the flexibility to install cameras where they have the best view, which isn't also close to an outlet.

We're big fans of Google Nest's battery-saver options so you always know how much juice your camera has left. There are even some helpful tools to extend battery life by turning off some features, reducing video quality, and changing the default length of recordings.

Nest Cam Battery Settings

Google Nest includes some great tools for boosting your battery life.
Image: John Carlsen, SafeWise

Backup local storage

The newest Nest cams introduce local storage, a first in the brand's history. It doesn't work like standard local storage but acts as a backup when the power and internet go out. Google says cameras like the Nest Cam (Battery) can store up to one hour of video footage (roughly a week of video event clips).

This isn't much storage compared to cameras that support microSD cards like Reolink, Eufy, and Wyze. Still, we like that it gives you some leeway when Nest Aware isn't available. After the internet and power return, local clips go straight to the cloud—you can't access them otherwise.

Google Nest camera reviews

1. Nest Cam (Battery): Best overall

Best overall
Nest Cam (Battery)
Nest Cam (Battery)
Our Rating
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
$179.99
Pro Bullet 1080p resolution
Pro Bullet Battery, wired, or solar
Pro Bullet Local backup storage

Info current as of 10/06/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The Nest Cam (Battery) bests older Nest cameras in almost every way. It's more affordable, has better smart detection, and doesn't require a power cord—putting Nest on even footing with competitors that release new cameras more often.

Although the $180 price is much lower than the $300–$400 Nest Cam IQ models that preceded it, it's still pricier than most security cameras on the market. Still, the Nest Cam is a better value than the similarly priced Arlo Pro 4.

We love the built-in smart detection in this camera because it doesn't cost extra like early Nest cameras and competitors like Ring and Arlo. We're big fans of the motion zones and person detection that make push notifications more helpful. Whether it's your kids playing in the living room or a suspicious character in your driveway, the Nest Cam will notice.

One of the biggest changes is the Nest Cam's battery, which broadens your indoor and outdoor placement options. Its weatherproof casing is dust-tight and can withstand heavy rain, making it a good fit for most climates. We like that you can buy a weatherproof power cord or solar charger if you don't want to recharge the battery as often.

It's also easy to install with a simple magnetic mounting stand. It comes with excellent 1080p HDR video—the same as Nest’s older cameras. We love how the clear picture is in daytime and nighttime conditions, making it easy to watch over your home anytime.

Overall, we think the Nest Cam (Battery) is the best option for folks wanting the brains of Google in an outdoor camera. Its competitive price and features hold up well to rivals like Ring, Reolink, and Arlo.

2. Nest Cam Indoor: Best budget

Best budget
Nest Cam Indoor
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
$129.99
Pro Bullet 1080p resolution
Con Bullet Wired only
Con Bullet No local storage

Amazon.com list price as of 10/06/2021 at 2:50 p.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

The standard Nest Cam Indoor is a bit of a relic—it's the oldest camera Nest currently sells. It costs less but lacks the perks that make newer Nest cams such a great value:

  • No face, sound, animal, or vehicle detection
  • Person detection and motion zones require a Nest Aware subscription

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

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. And if you want to use it as a hidden camera or nanny cam, you can even find cute silicone covers for it.

The main 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.

Overall, the Google Nest Cam Indoor is one of the most affordable Nest cameras. Still, it's starting to show its age and is pricier than other indoor security cameras. That said, its sharp picture and easy setup make it worth the extra coin—at least until the Nest Cam (Wired) comes out.

Checklist
Wait for the Nest Cam (Wired) if you can

While the Nest Cam Indoor is easier on the budget than Nest Cam (Battery), we recommend waiting for the new Nest Cam (Wired) to hit the market before buying since it has better features and costs $30 less overall. (There's no firm launch date for the new version, but we'll update our review once we learn more.)

3. Nest Doorbell (Battery): Best doorbell

Best doorbell
Nest Doorbell (Battery)
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
$179.99
Pro Bullet 960p resolution
Pro Bullet Battery or wired
Pro Bullet Local backup storage

Info current as of 10/06/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The Nest Doorbell (Battery) is a big improvement on the Nest Hello—its battery-powered operation makes it a better fit for places without doorbell wiring. It's still compatible with existing wiring as a way to charge the battery and trigger a doorbell chime.

Its 145º field of view is wider than anything else in our Nest camera review but narrower than the 160º view you find on the Nest Doorbell (Wired) and other doorbell brands. Instead, Google focused on giving this doorbell camera a better view of visitors and your front steps. It uses a 3:4 aspect ratio so videos are more tall than wide—think TikTok, not YouTube.

You probably noticed that the Nest Doorbell has a lower 960p resolution than other Nest cameras, which means it can't see as much detail as its siblings. But fewer pixels aren't a problem when you consider that porch pirates and visitors need to come close to the camera to compromise your security.

We love that it has a trick that other Nest cameras lack: package detection. This means you get a push notification when your new blender arrives so you don't need to rely solely on package tracking for your shipments.

Overall, the Nest Doorbell (Battery) is an excellent option for guarding your porch, but it might not be as good for watching over your entire front yard as video doorbells from Ring and Arlo.

Notepad
Say goodbye to the Nest Hello

When Google released the Nest Doorbell (Battery), it changed the name of the Nest Hello to the Nest Doorbell (Wired). Still, we think the Nest Doorbell (Battery) is a better option because it can record during a power outage and offers stronger intelligent alerts for users without a Nest Aware subscription. Read our Nest Hello review to see what we like about it.

4. Nest Hub Max: Best smart display

Best smart display
Google Nest Hub Max
Nest Hub Max
Our Rating
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
$229.00
Pro Bullet 6.5 MP resolution
Con Bullet Wired only
Con Bullet No local storage

Info current as of 10/06/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

While a smart display seems like an odd addition in a review of security cameras, the Nest Hub Max is nearly as capable as other Nest Cams. The integrated camera might be a better fit for video calls, but its compatibility with Nest Aware means you can use it for home security. By comparison, Amazon's Echo Show smart displays don't record videos, giving Nest Hub Max an advantage for home security.

Although we love that this smart hub has a built-in camera, it's also a great companion to other Nest cams since you can watch live feeds on the Nest Hub Max's 10-inch touchscreen. When you're not using it as a security camera, this smart display's Google Assistant voice controls make it a compact portal for home entertainment, smart home controls, and syncing your family's schedules.

There's no animal or vehicle detection, but these aren't necessary on an indoor camera like the Nest Hub Max. It doesn't have on-device processing for motion zones and person detection, so you need a Nest Aware subscription to unlock these (along with video recording and familiar face detection). Unlike other Nest cameras, it's not easy to point the Nest Hub Max's lens where you want, though you can buy a stand accessory with more flexibility.

Overall, we like that the Nest Hub Max isn't just a Google Home hub for watching YouTube in the kitchen but an extra way to boost your home security. The limited placement options aren't ideal for capturing the best view of a room, but having a smart security camera with other skills is always a bonus.

Light Bulb
Nest Cam with Floodlight

Google recently announced the Nest Cam with Floodlight, which adds two bright floodlights to a Nest Cam. Other than its price (about $280), there isn't much information to share, but we'll update our review as soon as we learn more.

Final word

Google Nest's quest for brainy security cameras results in fantastic products with some of the best smart detection features available. This feature is at its peak in the latest cameras, which analyze everything without an internet connection. If you're willing to spend extra compared to other brands, then Nest Cams are an excellent way to protect what matters most.

Nest Cam (Battery): a battery-powered camera with outstanding smart detection that you can install almost anywhere

Nest Cam Indoor: an affordable starting point for folks looking to kit out a Google smart home with cameras

Nest Doorbell (Battery): a wire-free video doorbell that's easy to install with portrait-style video for a better view of your porch

Nest Hub Max: a smart display with a built-in home security camera that's nearly as capable as other Nest cams

How we reviewed Nest cameras

Google sent us the Nest Cam (Battery) and Nest Doorbell (Battery) to test for our latest update. We compared these cameras with four older Nest cameras we previously tested and competing products from other brands.

 

What's in the box with Nest Cam

Image: John Carlsen, SafeWise

We looked at the price, video quality, storage, user experience, and customer support resources to see if they're worth buying. We also scoured customer reviews and asked Google for more information as tested. Learn more about how we test and review products in our full methodology.

Nest Cams FAQ

Nest's cameras are standalone products that work without a Nest Aware subscription, but the features you can use depend on the age of the camera:

  • Models released in 2021 or later allow smart detection and have three hours of free cloud storage without a subscription. You'll pay extra for more cloud storage, facial recognition, and sound detection.
  • Models released before 2021 allow live viewing and two-way audio but require Nest Aware for video storage and smart detection.

Fortunately, Nest Aware is one of the best values for cloud storage among security cameras, so it's worth it to unlock the extra features.

Newer Nest cams record up to three hours of footage for free, but older Nest cams require a Nest Aware subscription. You can view live footage anytime without a subscription and can add family and friends to your Nest account for shared access. This is a good option when you're on vacation or leaving the kids with a babysitter.

Nest cams are worth the money if you want cutting-edge smart detection and Google smart home compatibility with your security camera. Still, there are cheap security cameras that offer many of the same features if your budget starts feeling too tight.

While all the Nest cams are pretty darn good, they aren't the only cameras we recommend. See our wireless cameras review to see where Nest stands against its competition.

You can watch Nest cams on any TV that supports Google Chromecast streaming (or has a Chromecast hooked up). This works out of the box on new Nest cams, but you may need to link your Nest account to Google Home to work with older models.

Related articles on SafeWise


Disclaimers

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

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.

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.

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  • Rene Alvarado

    Ever since Google bought nest cameras do not work. To day my cameras all of them are not working. There is no customer service phone number anymore. They have deceived the subscribers of nest.

  • Rene Alvarado

    How do I join for a lawsuit against nest
    Google