At $169, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro has a lower price tag than the average doorbell camera (around $200), but it doesn’t come with as many features as more expensive devices. It’s a good option if you already have a SimpliSafe security system, but it has too many hiccups for us to put it at the top of our list for video doorbells overall.
The SimpliSafe app lets you monitor your doorbell for free, but for video recordings, you’ll need a cloud storage plan. While SimpliSafe doesn’t offer the unlimited cameras plan that we see from other companies like Ring, 10 cameras is probably plenty of coverage for most SimpliSafe users.
SimpliSafe also offers professional monitoring for its security system customers, and with the Interactive Monitoring Plan, you can monitor your SimpliSafe Video Doorbell camera with the security system.
Data effective 11/22/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
Tech and Equipment
The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Prohas a 1080p resolution, making it sharper than the 720p of SimpliSafe’s SimpliCam. It has a 162-degree field of view, pushing it just over Nest Hello’s 160-degree coverage, although you probably won’t notice the 2-degree difference.
The SimpliSafe’s doorbell wiring goes through your existing doorbell, so it can use your existing chimes and their power source. If you don’t have existing wiring, you’ll need to call an electrician or pick a different doorbell camera. The camera part of the device works with a battery that can be removed and recharged with a USB power cable.
We like that the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro comes with two additional faceplates to better match your décor, and the angle adjustment wedge is also a nice touch for those of us with angled siding.
What’s in the Box
SimpliSafe Camera Doorbell
2 alternate faceplates (mint green, black)
Connectivity and Video Quality
I was able to access my live video feed from the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell on the first try about 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time I got “Unable to load video” messages that invited me to try again.
Usually after one or two tries, I could connect to the live feed. I noticed these same results both when I was at home and when I was away. When I was connected to the live feed, the audio would frequently cut out, which indicated that there were some connection hiccups.
The video quality was mostly clear, but when there was a lot of movement on the screen, it would get pixelated and the movement would look jerky. There was also often a delay of up to five seconds between what was really happening and what I was viewing on my screen. I just didn’t feel like I could quite trust the doorbell camera to show me what’s happening in real time.
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro Features
The motion sensor on the front of the camera will send a notification to your phone if someone is approaching your door. You can crank up the motion sensor’s sensitivity to high if you want an earlier warning, or if you’re getting too many alerts, you can lower the sensitivity or turn off motion notifications altogether.
We kept the sensitivity on medium and, like Goldilocks’s porridge, it was just right. We liked that we only got a handful of false alarms from things like cars, squirrels, or waving flags.
Doorbell Ring Notifications
The SimpliSafe app alerts you when someone pushes the doorbell button. Because you hook the doorbell into your original chime, your doorbell chime inside your home will ring as well, but it turned our existing chime from a two-toned “ding-dong” to just a single “ding.”
The greatest benefit of the best smart doorbells is the ability to answer your door when you’re not at home with two-way audio. SimpliSafe’s two-way audio relies on a walkie-talkie-style press-to-talk operation, but the transmission delay of several seconds makes it nearly impossible to carry on a conversation. It’s fine for telling a door-to-door salesman to scram, but don’t expect to be able to chat with visitors.
SimpliSafe’s night vision works well in close range when someone is right up on your porch, but we found that it gets blurry once someone is more than about six feet away from the camera. It also doesn’t handle the glare from bright lights well at night.
Technically, there’s no optical zoom on the SimpliSafe doorbell camera, but when you turn your phone to landscape mode and pinch the screen, you can zoom in on the picture. Because the doorbell is located to the side of your door, you can’t tilt it left or right, so people walking up to your door are always off to one side in the picture.
Installation and Setup
If you’re comfortable with using a screwdriver and you know how to work your circuit breaker, installing the SimpliSafe Doorbell Camera is pretty straightforward.
I was a little intimidated by the process, but I realized it was ike cooking using an unfamiliar recipe: I might not be able to throw it together as quickly or easily as an experienced chef, but as long as I follow the instructions and take it one step at a time, the outcome is the same.
I did run into some installation snags, though. After getting everything hooked up and restoring power to the circuit, the doorbell wouldn’t ring when I pressed the button. After troubleshooting with some SimpliSafe installation videos on YouTube, I learned that sometimes it just takes a few minutes before the doorbell starts working.
Once the doorbell was installed and functional, it took only about two minutes to get it linked to my Wi-Fi network and the SimpliSafe app so I could access the camera and its settings from my smartphone.
SimpliSafe Customer Service
SimpliSafe’s customer service hours aren’t 24/7 like other companies, but there is an online support center you can access anytime to get your questions answered. SimpliSafe’s customer reviews are mixed, and most complaints center on technical difficulties and billing issues. Still, the company earns an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.1
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro Versus the Competition
Data effective 11/22/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro is less expensive than both Nest Hello and Ring 2, but it lacks the smart home integration of the other two—it will connect only with your SimpliSafe security system.
Nest’s and Ring’s higher price tags also include tech like open talk channels that work more like phones than walkie-talkies, and both doorbell cams have added features like facial recognition and motion zone settings that SimpliSafe lacks.
When it comes to cloud storage, SimpliSafe has a pretty good deal with 30 days for a $5 monthly fee, but Ring has an even better one, with a full 60 days for only $3 per month. As for Nest, it’s important to note that even though Nest’s plan is only 5 days of storage, it offers continuous video recording—while both Ring’s and SimpliSafe’s cloud storage video recording plans are for doorbell and motion events only.
If you already have a SimpliSafe security system and you want to jump on the video doorbell bandwagon, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro is an affordable option that will play nicely with your existing system. But keep in mind that it won’t have as many features as pricier brands, and you’ll experience more video and audio delays than you might with a higher-end product.
How does the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro work with the SimpliSafe security system?
The SimpliSafe mobile app lets you sync all your SimpliSafe security cameras—including your doorbell cam—to your security system sensors. So if an entry sensor on a door or window gets triggered, all your connected cameras will start recording. This allows you to track any intruder through your home and get valuable footage for law enforcement.
What items are included in a basic SimpliSafe security system package?
A basic SimpliSafe package costs around $200 and contains a base unit, keypad, contact sensor, and motion detector. You can have your security system professionally monitored, or you can monitor it yourself.
SimpliSafe also has a build-your-own-system option where you can add on other items like additional door or window sensors, a key fob, and cameras.
How We Reviewed the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro
We installed our SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro to an existing doorbell location at a private residence and tested it over the course of several days. While testing it, we used both normal everyday use and our own testing scenarios to evaluate its features and video quality. For monitoring, we used the SimpliSafe app on an iPhone 6. To learn more about the SafeWise product testing process, check our full methodology.
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more