Best security cameras 2022-2023: Monitor Your Home From Your iPhone – Macworld

Best security cameras 2022-2023: Monitor Your Home From Your iPhone – Macworld

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Sales of security cameras have continued to rise in recent years, as we all turned our homes into lockdown fortresses, and more and more people continue to work from home. Security cameras are among the most popular smart home devices – alongside smart speakers and lights – but the smart home market is about to go through a big change. In this round up we are looking at the best security cameras that you can use with your iPhone, iPad and Mac to keep your house secure.
The first question you may have is whether you need a camera with HomeKit in order to integrate it into your Apple Home setup. Luckily that isn’t the case – and for a good reason: Apple’s HomeKit technology hasn’t made much of an impact in the smart home market, trailing far behind Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, and there’s only a handful of security cameras that still support HomeKit.
The good news is that security cameras that don’t support HomeKit do provide their own apps for iOS devices, so they can still be used with your iPhone or iPad. Below you will find some of the best non-HomeKit security cameras here as well as our favorite HomeKit equipped options.
HomeKit is still around though and there are a number of benefits to HomeKit along with some very useful features specific to Apple devices. For example, security cameras that support HomeKit don’t need a special app, as they can be controlled with Apple’s own Home app alongside all your other HomeKit-compatible smart devices. And, importantly, the Home app runs on most Apple devices, including the iPhone and iPad, but also the Mac and the Apple TV box too, giving you a wide range of options for viewing and controlling all your HomeKit cameras and smart devices.
There are other advantages to having a security camera that supports HomeKit, too. As you’d expect, most security cameras will send you a notification when they detect an intruder, and will allow you to stream live video from the camera so that you can see what’s going on at home. However, many security cameras require an additional subscription if you want to store your video recordings online (where criminals can’t get at the video, and it can be used as evidence if necessary).
Cameras that support HomeKit can also store video recordings online as part of an iCloud+ account. This is a really affordable option for owners of security cameras, as iCloud+ subscription prices start at just $0.99/£0.79 per month with 50GB of online storage for your personal iCloud Drive. That 50GB subscription allows you to store security footage from a single camera – but, crucially, your camera recordings aren’t counted as part of that 50GB of storage, so you still have the full 50GB available for all your files and documents. The next step up is the iCloud+ 200GB plan, which costs $2.99/£2.49 per month and stores footage from up to five cameras, while the iCloud+ 2TB subscription lets you use an unlimited number of cameras for $9.99/£6.99 per month. And, again, the footage from your cameras doesn’t affect your iCloud+ storage.
Those prices are cheaper than many of the online storage subscriptions offered by the manufacturers of security cameras, so getting a security camera that supports HomeKit could actually save you money in the long run.
Mind you, in the long run, the future of HomeKit is a little uncertain. As we mentioned, HomeKit hasn’t had the success that Apple had hoped for, so in 2019 Apple got together with Amazon, Google, and a number of other tech giants to create a new technology for smart devices called Matter. This has only just been released – Matter 1.0 was released in October 2022 – so it will take some time for Matter to be adopted by the manufacturers of security cameras and other smart home devices. However, a security camera or other smart device that supports Matter should be able to work with Siri and the Home app on Apple devices, but also with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Android smartphones and tablets too. That cross-platform compatibility will make it much easier to buy security cameras and other smart home devices in the future. But Matter is still in the future, so for 2022, here’s our roundup of the best security cameras – both with and without HomeKit – for use with your Apple devices.
Pros
Cons
Aqara isn’t a well-known name amongst Apple users, but its range of security cameras and sensors is well designed and very competitively priced. In fact, the Camera Hub G3 is one of the most affordable security cameras we’ve come across that supports HomeKit, along with many other useful features for just $109.99/£99.99.
You might expect a camera in this price range to only provide 1080p resolution, but the G3 is actually a ‘2K’ camera, with resolution of 2,304×1,296 that provides a clear, sharp image, with a night-vision mode also available. And, as the name suggests, the G3 can also act as a ‘hub’ that controls additional Aqara devices, such as motion sensors or sensors that detect water-leaks.
Getting started is very straightforward when using the Aqara app for iOS or Android. The app displays a QR code that you scan with the G3’s camera, and then quickly guides you through the process of setting up the camera and connecting it to your home Wi-Fi.
It’s quite a chunky little device, standing 123mm high, 90m wide and 70mm deep, but that’s because the lower half of the camera houses a motor that allows the camera to pan and tilt. The camera lens itself has a relatively modest 110-degree viewing angle, but the controls in the Aqara app allow you to rotate the camera through a full 360-degrees horizontally so that you can get a good view all around.
You can also set the camera to cruise, so that it automatically rotates and has a look around every now and then, or create and save specific positions, such as look left or look right and then just tap to turn the camera to that position.
To be honest, the Aqara app is a bit confusing at times, but it’s worth sticking with it to make the most of the camera’s many useful features.
There’s a microSD slot built into the G3, which will allow you to store your video recordings on the camera itself, but HomeKit support means that you can also use it with an iCloud+ subscription to store your recordings online. The only real limitations are that the G3 requires mains power, and it’s not weather resistant, so it’s best suited for indoor use only.
Pros
Cons
Logitech’s Circle View doesn’t just support HomeKit – it’s designed exclusively for use with HomeKit, and can only be controlled via the Home app on Apple devices. And, in fact, it doesn’t even offer an app for Android devices at all. There’s also a Circle View Doorbell available as well, costing $200, although that doesn’t seem to be available outside the U.S.
The Circle View is a little pricey for a security camera with 1080p resolution (1,920×1,080), at $159.99/£159.99, but its high-quality glass lens provides a clear, sharp image with close to 180-degree viewing angle. There’s a little fish-eye distortion on the outer edges of the image, but that wide viewing angle will be really useful for many people, especially if you need to monitor an outdoor spot such as a garden or parking space.
Getting started is really easy, as you can simply scan the QR code provided with the camera to add it to the Home app on your Apple devices. There’s an On/Off button on the back of the camera, but the adjustable stand allows you to quickly tilt the camera straight down if you want a bit of privacy without turning it off completely.
The camera’s sturdy metal stand and casing are well suited to outdoor use as well, with an IP64 rating for water-resistance, and an infra-red night vision mode with a range of up to 15ft. Logitech also includes a wall-mount kit in the box as well. The only possible problem with outdoor use is that the Circle View doesn’t have its own rechargeable battery. It’s powered via a USB cable, and there’s a mains adaptor included in the box, or you can run it off a Mac or other device that can provide power via USB. The USB cable is 10ft long, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble plugging it in, but that could be a potential limitation if you need to place the camera outdoors, so some people might prefer a completely wire-free camera with its own internal battery.
Logitech doesn’t provide any subscription plans for online storage for your video recordings but, like any HomeKit-compatible camera, the Circle View can work with a low-cost iCloud+ subscription if you want to store your video online.
Pros
Cons
The Arlo Essential (below) is a good, affordable option for people who want a simple 1080p security camera that they can set up and use very quickly. The Arlo Ultra 2 is a more sophisticated option that includes two or more security cameras with full 4K resolution and support for HDR, along with an additional SmartHub that links the cameras together – and also provides HomeKit support too. (In the U.S. it is possible to buy a single camera for $299).
Battery life is around six months but, like the Arlo Essential, the Arlo Ultra 2 also offers an XL version with 12-month battery life (although the XL version may not be available in all regions).
Both versions of the Arlo Ultra 2 have the same 4K camera with 3,840×2,160 resolution and support for HDR. This provides a very clear, sharp image, with close to 180-degree viewing angles, and a useful 12x zoom. The Ultra 2 has a night-vision mode, and the weather-resistant camera is also suitable for outdoor use and includes both a spotlight and siren, along with two-way audio so that you can talk to people through the camera before you set off the siren to scare them away.
Those features don’t come cheap though, and the Arlo Ultra 2 costs $599.99/£629.99 for a kit that includes two cameras and a SmartHub. And, for larger homes, there are kits with three or four cameras, costing $899.99/£799.99 and $1109.99/£979.99 respectively.
The Arlo Ultra 2 includes a microSD card slot, which allows you to store your video recordings on a memory card (not included), without having to pay for the Arlo Secure online storage service. You do get a 30-day trial for the Arlo Secure service – which is about to be increased to 90 days – but after that you’ll need to sign up for a subscription, starting at $2.99/£2.79 per month for a single camera or $9.99/£8.99 for multiple cameras. Those prices aren’t too bad, but support for HomeKit also means that you can also use a less expensive iCloud+ subscription to provide online storage for your recordings.
Pros
Cons
HomeKit: Yes
Outdoors: Yes
Storage: microSD, iCloud or Arlo Secure ($2.99/£2.79 per month, per camera, 30-day trial, soon to be 90-days)
Arlo has a really extensive range of cameras, with an almost confusing range of different features and prices, as well as different versions of some cameras that are available in different regions.
Arlo’s entry-level Essential camera, for instance, costs $129.99/£129.99 and provides six months of battery life. However, we reviewed the Arlo Essential XL, which uses a much larger battery that can last for a full 12 months, for the only slightly higher price of $149.99/£149.99.
That’s the only significant difference, though, and both versions of the Arlo Essential include the same 1080p camera with 1,290×1,080 resolution. This produces good image quality, although its 130-degree viewing angle isn’t as wide as some of its rivals. The camera provides other useful features, though, including a sturdy, weather-resistant casing and a wall-mount kit that will allow you to use it outdoors in areas such as gardens or a parking space. It also has a night-vision mode and even built-in spotlight and siren for extra security.
The Arlo Essential XL includes a microSD slot for storing your video recordings directly on the camera. Our review unit included a 30-day free trial for the Arlo Secure subscription service that allows you to store your recordings online – and Arlo has now informed us that this trial has been increased to 90 days. After the trial period the Arlo Secure subscription costs $2.99/£2.79 per month for a single camera or $9.99/£8.99 for multiple cameras.
You can use the Arlo Essential and XL cameras on their own, and simply control them with the Arlo app for iOS or Android. However, it’s also possible to use the cameras with one of Arlo’s SmartHubs, which plug into your wi-fi router and provide additional support for HomeKit and Apple’s Home app. This will allow you to use an iCloud+ subscription for online storage instead.
The SmartHub can be bought on its own if you don’t already have one, or you can use the Arlo Essential or XL as an affordable way of expanding an existing Arlo security camera system that already has its own SmartHub.
Pros
Cons
HomeKit: No
Outdoors: Yes
Storage: microSD, EZVIZ’s CloudPlay service (subscriptions start at $5.99/$4.99 per month)
It’s not easy to pick your way through EZVIZ’s extensive range of security cameras, which are adorned with obscure model numbers and often hard to tell apart. The C3W Pro is typical, as it’s available in two versions, with the 2 megapixel (2MP) version that we review here providing 1,920×1,080 resolution for $89.99/£69.99. That resolution provides a good, clear image but there’s also a 4MP version available that increases the resolution to 2,650×1,440 for $129.99 – although that model doesn’t seem to be available outside the U.S. at the moment.
The C3W Pro is very much designed for outdoor use, with a sturdy casing that is rated IP67 for water resistance, and which can handle temperatures right down to -300C. There’s a wall-mount plate provided with the camera for outdoor use, and the adjustable stand can swivel through 360-degrees so that you can point the camera exactly where you need it. Unlike many security cameras, the C3W Pro includes an Ethernet interface along with its Wi-Fi support, which will allow you to position it in outdoor locations where the Wi-Fi may be a bit weak. It only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, but that has greater range than the 5.0GHz band, so it’s probably the best option for outdoor use, and there are two large antennae on the camera to provide the maximum range and reliability for a Wi-Fi connection. The only limitation here is the need to connect the camera to mains power, which may cause problems for some homes.
The C3W Pro has a microSD slot for storing video directly on the camera, but it doesn’t support HomeKit or iCloud+ storage plans, so if you want to pay for additional online storage then you’ll need to sign up for EZVIZ’s CloudPlay service. There’s a 7-day trial for CloudPlay provided with the camera, and subscriptions start at $5.99/$4.99 per month to store video from a single camera online for seven days, or $8.99/£7.49 for up to four cameras. And, if you do sign up for a subscription then that 7-day trial is extended to 30 days, so you get the first month free.
Pros
Cons
HomeKit: Yes
Outdoors: No
Storage: SD card, Dropbox, or FTP
This is slightly confusing, as Netatmo originally launched this as the ‘Welcome’ security camera a couple of years ago. However, the Netatmo website now refers to it as the Smart Indoor Camera – although the camera they sent us to test did still say Welcome on the box, and online retailers such as Amazon and Apple often refer to it as Welcome too.
It’s a little pricey, costing £179.99/$199.99, but Netatmo occasionally runs special offers with twin packs at discounted prices (right now in the U.S. two cameras are $349.98, $50 off, while in the U.K. two cameras are £319.99, £39.99 off)
The Smart Indoor Camera is part of a wider range of security products, including a weather-resistant Smart Outdoor Camera for $269.99/£239.99 (which also supports HomeKit). The Outdoor camera is a good option for monitoring locations such as gardens and car-parks, and it has a built-in floodlight that can help to scare away intruders. Netatmo also sells additional accessories that can work in conjunction with the Smart Indoor Camera, such as an alarm siren, and sensors to protect doors and windows, allowing you to build a more wide-ranging security system.
The hardware design of the Smart Indoor Camera is fairly straightforward, with 1,920×1,080 resolution and an infra-red night-vision mode. It runs off mains power, or you can use the included USB cable to provide power from a computer, but there’s no internal battery, which slightly limits your freedom when placing the camera around your home.
However, there are other features that do add to the camera’s versatility. As you’d expect, the Netatmo Security app provides notifications on your iPhone if it detects movement when you’re away from home, but it can also use facial-recognition technology to recognise friends and family and avoid false alarms if the kids come home early from school.
And while the camera is relatively expensive, you don’t have to worry about subscription fees for online storage, as the Smart Indoor Camera includes an 8GB memory card for storing your video recordings on the camera itself. The risk there is that any damage to the camera could also destroy your video recordings, but the Security app also provides an option for uploading video clips to a Dropbox account or an FTP server for online storage. This was one of the first security cameras to support HomeKit.
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