Multiple installation options
Great audio and video quality
Free intelligent smart alerts
Too easy to remove
No support for Nest app
Doesn't work with Siri or Alexa
The new wireless Nest Cam is the first from the brand that offers a battery option, which is why it’s somewhat oddly referred to as the “Nest Cam (battery).” The camera debuts at the same time as the revamped Nest Doorbell (battery), and will be followed by the second-gen Nest Cam wired and Nest Cam Floodlight later this year.
About the Nest Cam (battery)
- Price: $179.99
- Colors: Snow (white)
- Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and Bluetooth Low Energy
- Power source: Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery or weatherproof cable
- Resolution: 1080p
- Field of view: 130 degrees
- Digital Zoom: 6X
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Smart assistant support: Google Assistant
- Operational temperatures: -4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
- Weight: 14.04 ounces
- Dimensions: 3.27-inches L x 3.27-inches D
In the box, you'll find a magnetic mounting plate, a wall plate, two wall anchors, and two screws. A charging cable and power adapter are also included. Installation is quick and simple: just drop in the battery, and drill in a couple of screws. You may need to charge the camera before installing it which takes roughly five hours. Accessories like a stand and weatherproof power cable (if you plan to plug it in) are available for purchase separately.
Use the Google Home app to add the camera to your home for remote viewing from anywhere. The camera is rated IP54 for indoor and outdoor use.
What we like
It has a fantastic spread of (free) smart features
The newest Nest camera offers intelligent smart alerts like differentiating motion, people, animals, and vehicles, as well as a three-hour video history at no charge. Previously, a paid subscription to Nest Aware was the only way to get these more detailed notifications and access a history of your recorded events, only further enhancing the value this camera offers.
Custom activity zones are also included at no cost and are easy to define in the Google Home app. Many other high-end smart home security brands like Arlo offer a similar array of alerts and video history, but you have to pay for them.
With a paid Nest Aware subscription, you'll get additional intelligent alerts like Familiar Faces. This is an optional feature that uses AI to learn the faces of frequent visitors and can send you more informative notifications when someone you know has been spotted. Nest’s line of home security cameras, including the new battery model, are some of the only recording devices on the market to offer face detection.
It’s quick and accurate at detecting motion events
The battery-powered Nest Cam excels at more accurately detecting and differentiating between motion events than previous Google security cameras. This is because, like other new Google Nest smart products, it’s equipped with a Tensor Processing Unit chip. Google claims this helps better detect events in a variety of lighting conditions and different environments to avoid false notifications.
That said, I found the alerts to be most accurate when I plugged the camera into a nearby power outlet. As convenient as battery-operated cameras are, they can’t keep up with one that’s getting continuous power and offers 24/7 recording. The Nest Cam (battery) goes into "idle" mode when it's not active and isn't "always on" like it is when it's plugged in.
The new Nest Cam supports home and away routines, which allows you to enable "away-only" alerts so that your camera only records when you're not there. The Google home app also lets you control which notifications you want to receive, which objects your camera detects, and the camera’s motion sensitivity.
Plug in or charge up
The best thing about the Nest Cam (battery) is its versatility. It’s rated for indoor and outdoor use, and the battery allows you to place it virtually anywhere on your property. When using the battery, the camera will appear as “Idle” in the app and the live stream will not display automatically, so you’ll need to tap the camera to start the live video.
I tested the camera both ways—battery-only and continuous power. Both excel at capturing motion events. After using the camera for two days in a high-traffic area outside, the battery life decreased by 10 percent. The rate at which the battery decreases is highly contingent on the number of motion events it captures. If you live on a busy street, Google estimates that you'll get about 1.5 months of battery based on 20 to 25 events per day.
On average, you should get about three months of battery life when the camera records about nine to 12 events every 24 hours. The longest the battery will last before needing a recharge is seven months and that's based on two to four events per day, which isn't many. You can easily check battery life and finetune the camera's battery usage settings in the Google Home app to help extend the lifespan, as well as activate the Battery Saver feature.
When using the Nest Cam in battery mode, it can’t listen for sound events or continuously record, but these are the limitations of battery-powered cameras in general. The battery also is not removable, so you’ll need to take down the entire camera to charge it. However, if you want to plug it in and skip the battery altogether, you can do so by purchasing a Nest Cam weatherproof cable, which is rated for outdoor use. (It would have been nice if this was included in the packaging.)
Another unique feature is that the camera will record footage for up to one hour if your Wi-Fi goes out—no matter if it’s using the battery or plugged into an outlet. That’s a crucial function, making the Nest Cam a prime pick to be the eyes and ears of your home when you’re away—even during an internet outage.
The video and audio quality are impressive
The Nest Cam records in 1080p/HDR video, which is the standard for home security cameras these days. While it would’ve been nice to see 2K offered here, the view from the new Nest Cam is impressively sharp for being 1080p. The footage is captured in 30 frames per second, giving it a distinctly clear view.
Another nice touch this camera offers is the 6X digital zoom, which is among the best I’ve ever seen. There’s no color night vision, but objects are easy to make out in the black and white view up to 20-feet away thanks to the camera’s 6 high-power 850nm infrared LEDs.
Perhaps one of the camera’s most impressive features is its two-way talk capabilities. Communicating to someone on the other end of the camera from the Google Home app (and vice versa) was as clear as a phone call and plenty loud. One downside, though, is that you can hear the sound of the wind when it starts to pick up—a common problem for outdoor home security cameras.
Being able to see and hear what’s happening near your camera is crucial and the Nest Cam delivers on all fronts here, despite a little wind noise here and there.
What we don’t like
It’s too easy to remove
The base of the camera is magnetic, which means anyone can reach up and pull the camera down. It should be mounted high enough (Google recommends 6 to 6.5 feet off the ground) that no one can easily reach it, but it is a downside of the design to consider. While it’s unlikely someone would rip down your security cameras (and at least you’d have video of it), Google will replace your stolen camera for free.
It doesn’t work with the Nest app (or Siri or Alexa)
Google’s new Nest camera and doorbell only work with the Google Home app—not the Nest app like previous generations. It’s unclear what exactly will happen to the Nest app, as it seems like Google may have plans to phase it out. But it’s still the only way to manage Nest Protect gear like the Nest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, which, at the time of publication, cannot be integrated into the Google Home app.
As a Google product, the Nest Cam (battery) doesn’t work with smart assistants Alexa and Siri (for now). However, Google confirmed that Nest devices will support Matter a smart home protocol set to roll out in 2022 that is designed to better integrate smart devices from different ecosystems.
If all goes to plan, you should be able to add the new Nest security camera for HomeKit-control (limited to iOS only) and use it with your Amazon Echo devices sometime in the (near-ish) future.
The new Nest Cam runs through the Google Home app, which requires a Google account. By default, your Google account comes with enhanced security features like suspicious activity detection, two-factor authentication, and password checkups.
The camera can be turned on and off from the Google Home app. This is also where you can turn off the audio and the microphone. The LED status light on the front of the camera illuminates in white when the camera microphone is on and recording or processing video. The status light blinks green when you’re watching the live video feed. Google claims to only share audio recordings with third-party apps and services but only with your permission.
Should you buy it?
Yes, this is a clever and reliable home security camera
The Nest Cam (battery) combines all of the best features, smarts, and usability of top competitors and previous Nest cameras, making it one of the best home security cameras you can buy. The versatile setup—including battery or continuous power—allows for flexible mounting and it offers free features that previously required a paid subscription. It’s the perfect choice for any home running a Google-driven ecosystem (but not Siri or Alexa).
Its most similar competitor is the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight camera, which also runs on a rechargeable battery but does not provide the option for continuous power. Arlo’s line of security cameras works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, so if you’re looking for one that supports voice control via both smart assistants, Arlo is the way to go.
Both cameras are at the top of their class, but the new Nest Cam (battery) offers value and versatility like no other. It also comes with intelligent smart alerts and a three-hour video recording history without needing a paid plan, which is a nice perk of an already fantastic home security camera. Don’t sleep on the Nest Cam (battery)—it’s one of the best home security cameras you can buy right now.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Senior Staff Writer@rachel_murphy
Rachel Murphy covers smart home for Reviewed. She holds a journalism degree from the University of Central Florida. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for several major outlets and as an associate editorial producer for ABC News' Good Morning America.
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