Nest Cameras Review

Updated by Alexia on

We've tested Google Nest cameras against a lot of specs and picked the best ones for your consideration.

Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery) - yes, it has a clunky name, brackets and all, the first surveillance camera from Nest (then a completely separate brand from Google) dates back to 2014, Back in the age of digital assistants and smart homes. Yes, thought about it for a long time, but during this time, the brand didn't quite stop: Over the years, Nest released several products, all aimed at smart home security, and then became an integral part of Google.

pro Pros con Cons
pro simple design
pro Affordable cloud storage
pro high quality video
pro Local backup storage on latest cameras
pro Unparalleled Intelligent Detection
con Above-average price
con Face and sound detection require cloud plan
con Older cameras require Nest app for setup

Which is the best Google Nest camera?

  1. Nest Cam (Battery): Best overall
  2. Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired): Best budget
  3. Nest Doorbell (Battery): Best doorbell
  4. Nest Hub Max: Best smart display

Google Nest camera comparison

Camera Best for Price Resolution Field of view Power source Learn more Read review
Nest Cam (Battery)
Nest Cam (Battery)
Best overall $179.99 1080p 130º Battery, wired, solar View
Read review
Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired)
Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired)
Best budget $99.99 1080p 135º Wired View
Read review
Nest Doorbell (Battery)
Nest Doorbell (Battery)
Best doorbell $179.99 960p 145º Battery, wired View
Read review
Nest Hub Max
Nest Hub Max
Best smart display $229.00 6.5 MP 127º Wired View
Read review


Info current as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.


What's new with the Google Nest camera

Google Nest cameras fill a variety of roles around the house, so there might be one that fits your needs in the family room, front door, or backyard. Here are some of the similarities and differences that make Nest cameras stand out.

common ground


Core features

  • Video Quality: All Google Nest cameras can record in HD resolution up to 30 frames per second (fps). This produces smooth videos with plenty of detail, though they don't match the 2K resolution of competitors like Reolink and Arlo. But the new Nest Cam also uses HDR to create videos with better color and contrast.
  • Night vision: Google Nest security cameras feature infrared night vision to illuminate subjects in total darkness. This produces black and white video, unlike the color night vision of Reolink, Arlo, and Wyze cameras.
  • Two-way audio: You can talk to people through the mobile app and the speaker on the camera. This is great for scaring off intruders or telling your dog not to touch things.


Mobile apps

Google is transitioning its Nest devices from the Nest app to the Google Home app. This is in line with Google's strategic layout in smart homes. If you're brand new to Nest cameras be the first to skip the Nest app entirely. You can set up your Nest camera directly in Google Home instead. Older cameras use the Nest app to set them up — but all Nest cameras (old and new) are compatible with Google Home.

It's hard to get customers to embrace something new, and traditional users might prefer to use the Nest app, but it doesn't offer the flexibility to control third-party smart devices like Google Home does. But Google has done a good job of putting the control in the hands of the user, making it easy to connect older cameras to the Google Home app to control them all in one place.

All in all, whether you use the Nest App setup or Google Home, you can easily set up the camera, customize notifications, use two-way audio, and watch live and recorded video, among other features. It's up to you, but as users we love how easy it is to set up right out of the box and it only takes a few minutes.


Google Nest Aware

While Nest devices go beyond the basics, a Nest Aware subscription adds tons of features to your Nest Cam, such as additional cloud video storage, emergency calling, and enhanced sound and familiar face detection.


Plan Price Event video history Continuous recording View live video e911 Smart detection
No plan Free 3 hours None Icon Yes  Light Yes Icon No Light No Motion zones, people, animals, vehicles, packages
Nest Aware plan $6.00/mo. 30 days None Icon Yes  Light Yes Icon Yes  Light Yes Motion zones, people, animals, vehicles, packages, sounds, familiar faces*
Nest Aware Plus plan $12.00/mo. 60 days 10 days Icon Yes  Light Yes Icon Yes  Light Yes Motion zones, people, animals, vehicles, packages, sounds, familiar faces*


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


Google Nest Aware features

  • Event-based recording: Instead of recording 24/7, the Nest Cam only records when it detects events such as the movement of people or pets. This helps save battery life and internet bandwidth.
  • Familiar face detection: The latest Nest camera can learn to recognize family and friends. That way, they can send notifications of who's around the house—handy for greeting your expected guests (but scaring them off), or spotting strangers when they show up. The original Nest Cam Indoor doesn't offer the familiar face detection feature.
  • Sound detection: The Nest Indoor camera can recognize the sound of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, so you'll know if the gas isn't turned off or an appliance isn't working in your home. It's perfect for keeping your home safe while you're out and about.
  • E911 Emergency Call: This allows Nest to connect emergency calls to the response center closest to your home. So if you're out of town and there's an emergency, help will be faster.

Get full details on the Nest Aware program from Google's Support Center.

Google Nest Aware plans

  • No plan: Nest Cam users can watch live video anytime and get basic notifications without paying a monthly fee, but the free plan gets a big boost in 2021. Google added three hours of cloud storage and made most of its smart detection tools available for free. We like this change because more people can use some of the best features of the Nest Cam.
  • Nest Aware: The basic Nest Aware plan starts at $6 per month, more affordable than similar plans from Ring and Arlo. You get up to a month's video history of events 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 much 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. Continuous recording only works with wired Nest cameras (except the Nest doorbell battery)—it's not worth the upgrade if you're only using the battery-operated model.


Security and privacy

Google is a very privacy-conscious company, so a lot of effort has gone into securing Nest cameras to protect your privacy. The latest Nest cameras have on-device AI for smart detection that doesn't require an internet connection. There is a Privacy Center in your Google Account that gives you visibility and access to various settings in one place.

Nest uses two-factor authentication login (also known as 2FA). Instead of logging into your Nest account with a single password and username, 2FA sends a verification code to your email or phone. If an unauthenticated user tries to get in, you'll know quickly. Going through 2FA every time you log in is a bit of a chore, but it's worth it.


Smart detection

The biggest change in the new Nest camera is the built-in smart detection chip (people, animals, moving areas, vehicles and packages) function. Each camera checks video footage using on-device processing that does not require an internet connection. Compared to older Nest cameras, like the Nest Cam IQ Indoor and Nest Cam Indoor, which rely on cloud servers (and subscription fees) to recognize the same activity features.

I believe the vast majority of people would still prefer to move the cloud-based smart detection feature to on-device detection, as it is more accessible to those 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 for different types of exercise. That could mean getting a notification when someone walks in the door.


Power sources

The Nest Cam (battery) and Nest Doorbell (battery) skip the cord (a recent development), though they're compatible with the wiring that charges the battery. The battery is what allows you to choose to install the camera where the field of view is flexible, independent of the socket.

Google Nest will show you how much power your camera has left, and there are some helpful tools to improve battery life by turning off certain features, reducing video quality, and changing the default recording length.


Backup local storage

The latest Nest cameras introduce local storage, which has a different storage policy than other security cameras and instead enables backups in the event of power and internet outages. According to Google, a camera like the Nest Cam (battery) can store up to an hour of video footage (about a week of video event clips).

Compared to cameras that support microSD cards (such as Eufy, Wyze, and Reolink), the storage space is not much. Network and power outages are rare, after all, but we like that it gives you some leeway when Nest Aware is unavailable due to network and power. When the internet and power are restored, 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)
  • SecureScore™: 9.3 / 10
  • $179.99
  • pro 1080p resolution
    pro Battery or wired
    pro Local backup storage
View Packages

Info current as of publish date.
Offers and availability may vary by
location and are subject to change.

The Nest Cam (battery version) is better than the older Nest cameras in almost every way. It's cheaper and has better local smart detection. And no power cord is required (more installation scenarios).

While the $180 price tag is considerably less than the previous $300-400 Nest Cam IQ model, it's still more expensive than most security cameras on the market. The Nest Cam Battery is one of Nest's better devices in terms of price and features, as it inherits the video quality and smart features of its pricier predecessors. Still, the Nest Cam is a better value than the similarly priced Arlo Pro 4.

Nest's newest bright spot is built-in chip smart detection, since it doesn't cost extra like earlier Nest cameras and competitors like Arlo or the Ring Stick Up Cam. Its motion zone monitoring and person detection make push notifications even more useful. Whether it's your kids playing in the living room or someone suspicious in the driveway, Nest Cam will notice.

One of the biggest changes is to the Nest Cam's battery design, which broadens your placement options both indoors and outdoors. Its weatherproof housing is dustproof and can withstand heavy rain, making it ideal for most climates. If you don't want to charge your battery very often and you're on a budget, you can buy a weatherproof power cord or a solar charger.

It's also easy to install with the simple magnetic mounting bracket (but watch out for your cats). It comes with excellent 1080p HDR video -- the same as Nest's older cameras. Provides a clear picture in both day and night conditions, allowing you to easily view your home at any time.


2. Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired): Best budget

Best budget
View Packages

Info current as of publish date.
Offers and availability may vary by
location and are subject to change.

The standard Nest Cam (indoor, wired) lacks the battery power and weatherproofing of its pricier siblings, but offers the same smart motion detection and storage options. It's a great option for anyone who wants to use the Nest indoors only in a fixed location.

Its 1080p picture and clear two-way communication produce smooth video in mobile apps. After the video runs, you can see what the Nest sees day and night. Thanks to its eight powerful LED infrared lights and motion alert, you can get a clear picture even in low light or bright conditions. These features place it among the best nanny cams for nurseries.

It's surprisingly small enough to fit in most desks, nooks and crannies, but this makes the Nest Cam easily concealable from anyone who might tamper with it.

The product design is that there is no battery, so it must be used near the socket, so when you choose to buy, you should be optimistic about whether the structural design of your home can be easily installed. But Google has thought of that too, with a wall mount to make setup a little easier.

Overall, if your needs are indoor, fixed place installation, affordable price, you can choose Google Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired).


3. Nest Doorbell (Battery): Best doorbell

Best doorbell
View Packages

Info current as of publish date.
Offers and availability may vary by
location and are subject to change.

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

Its 145º field of view is wider than any other product in our Nest camera review, but narrower than the 160º field of view you'll find on the Nest Doorbell (wired) and other doorbell brands.

The Nest Doorbell (Battery) has a trick other Nest cameras lack: package detection. This means you'll be notified when items you've purchased from Amazon arrive, and you don't have to rely entirely on package tracking to process your shipment.

Overall, the Nest Doorbell (battery) is a great option for securing your porch, but it might not be as good as Ring and Arlo's video doorbells for monitoring your entire front yard.

Read our Nest Doorbell review to see what we like about it.


4. Nest Hub Max: Best smart display

Best smart display
  • Nest Hub Max
    Nest Hub Max
  • SecureScore™: 8.8 / 10
  • $229.00
  • pro 6.5 MP resolution
    con Wired only
    con No local storage
View Packages

Info current as of publish date.
Offers and availability may vary by
location and are subject to change.

The Nest Hub Max functions almost like the other Nest Cams. The integrated camera might be better for video calls, but its compatibility with Nest Aware means you can use it for home security. By comparison, Amazon's Echo Show smart display doesn't record video, giving the Nest Hub Max an edge when it comes to home security.

As much as we love the smart hub's built-in camera, it's also a great companion to other Nest cameras, 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 control capabilities make it a three-way home entertainment, smart home control, and synced family schedule.

Animal or vehicle detection isn't a must for an indoor camera like the Nest Hub Max, so you'll need a Nest Aware subscription to unlock these. Unlike other Nest cameras, it's not easy to point the Nest Hub Max's lens where you want it, though you can buy a more flexible stand accessory.

Overall, choosing Nest Hub Max is definitely more than just a tablet. And it's an extra way to increase the security of your home. 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.


Final word

Google Nest's quest for a smart security camera has resulted in an excellent product with some of the best smart detection features around. It can analyze everything without an internet connection. If you're willing to spend a little more than other brands, Nest Cams are a great way to protect what's most important.

Nest Cam (Battery): A battery-powered camera with great smart detection that fits almost anywhere.

Nest Cam (indoor, wired): An affordable starting point for people looking to equip their Google smart home with a camera.

Nest Doorbell (battery): A wireless video doorbell that's easy to install and has portrait video for a better view of your porch.

Nest Hub Max: A smart display with a built-in home security camera that works almost like other Nest cameras.

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.