Smart Home

Ring 3 Plus vs. Ring (second-gen): Two new Ring video doorbells duke it out

A tale of two smart doorbell cameras

Ring Video Doorbell (second-gen) (pictured left) and the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus (pictured right) Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy / Jackson Ruckar

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Since Ring launched its first video doorbell in 2014, the popular Amazon-owned smart home brand has dominated the smart doorbell market, churning out three new doorbells this year alone. That said, with so many smart video doorbells at your disposal, you might be scratching your head trying to make a decision.

To help you in your quest, we're taking a closer look at the differences between two of Ring's most popular new releases: the Ring Video Doorbell (second-gen), an upgrade to Ring’s original video doorbell, and the new Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus. Here's how these two popular doorbells stack up.

Price

price
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The Ring Video Doorbell (second-gen) is more affordable than the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus.

Typically, video doorbells cost between $100 and $200, and Ring's most recent doorbell cameras pretty much hit this sweet spot. But, the Ring Video Doorbell (second-gen) is the more budget-friendly pick of the two. With an MSRP of $99.99, the Ring Video Doorbell (second-gen) offers a lot of value when it comes to performance and features as compared to the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus, which retails for $229.99.

The Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is the more robust doorbell of the two, offering a couple extra features that the second-gen doorbell doesn’t have. If price is the deciding factor for you, consider that you can frequently find both of these doorbells available on Amazon for less than the retail price. Amazon is notorious for marking down its own products (and you can usually find them at a deep discount around major shopping events like Prime Day and Black Friday).

For some, the additional bells and whistles of the Ring 3 Plus are worth the higher price. But, if we’re going on price alone, the Ring Doorbell (second-gen) handily takes the cake for this category.

Our pick: Ring Video Doorbell (second-gen)

Connectivity and setup

One nice thing about both of these Ring doorbells is that you have the option to either connect it to your existing doorbell wires or use the doorbell’s rechargeable battery to power it up. If you plan to go the battery-operated route, you should know that the Ring 3 Plus comes with a removable, rechargeable battery pack, making it easy to give the battery some extra juice when needed.

The more basic Ring doorbell, on the other hand, must be completely removed and brought inside to charge. Ring says the built-in batteries last anywhere from six to 12 months depending on how much use the doorbell gets. Charging the battery takes between four and 10 hours, according to Ring.

Like many smart video doorbells, Ring’s latest offerings connect to your home’s WiFi network, but the Ring 3 Plus offers dual-band WiFi (meaning it will work on 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks) unlike the second-gen doorbell, which only works with a 2.4GHz connection.

Our pick: Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus

Features

Preroll
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Pre-Roll is a new, low-resolution recording feature available only on the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus. It captures the four seconds prior to detected motion.

Here’s where the differences between the two doorbells really start to stand out. Exclusively available on the Ring Video Doorbell 3 is Pre-Roll, a new video recording feature that captures the four seconds of footage prior to any detected motion. The video is shown in black and white (with no audio) and displayed at a lower resolution (less than 1080p) in an effort to preserve battery life.

Since Ring doesn’t offer 24/7 continuous recording, the extra several seconds can give you a much-needed view of what’s transpiring at your front door, even if it’s not the highest quality. This is one area where the Ring 3 Plus has a leg up on the second-generation Ring Video Doorbell.

Ring's new Snapshot Capture feature is available on both doorbells, and it feels like Ring's answer to the lack of continuous video recording. Snapshot Capture is a Ring app feature that takes photos of your doorbell's view at different times throughout the work day. This way, you can see what's happening outside your front door in between events. A paid Ring Protect Plan is required to access Snapshot Capture.

Another new feature these cameras share is more control over motion zones (although they’re not as customizable as the motion zones on Google’s Nest Hello), resulting in more accurate motion detection alerts sent to your phone or announced over an Alexa-compatible smart speaker.

One helpful attribute the regular doorbell shares with the 3 Plus is Ring’s new People Only mode. When People Only mode is turned on, users will only receive motion alerts when said motion is caused by a human. This feature helps cut down on all of the “motion” notifications your doorbell sends and only alerts you when a person is detected on the doorbell’s camera. In a sea full of notifications, it’s helpful to know which ones are worth your time.

Our pick: Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus

Audio and video quality

Ring second gen view
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The Ring Video Doorbell (second-generation) displays a slightly moodier hue than other Ring doorbells. (Keep scrolling to see the view from the Ring 3 Plus.)

Audio and video quality are arguably some of the most important features when it comes to choosing a smart doorbell. What’s the point if you can’t see or hear what’s going on? This is one category where the doorbells don’t differ all that much.

Both the Ring 3 Plus and Ring (second-gen) doorbells deliver clear, two-way audio without delay. And, despite the difference in price, the Ring (second-gen) comes with 1080p video resolution—the same as the Ring 3 Plus offers. This resolution is common on most smart doorbells out there. Previously, the first-generation Ring doorbell only came with 720p resolution.

ring 3 view
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

For comparison's sake, here's a view from the Ring 3 Plus. Same resolution, slightly different color.

Resolution aside, though, the color and saturation look worse on the second-generation doorbell than the Ring 3 Plus. Even in full sun, the color is a bit darker on the Ring Video Doorbell (second-generation). As you can see, the color issue doesn’t hinder the video quality or your ability to see what’s happening outside, but overall the Ring 3 Plus offers brighter, more appealing hue than the moodier tint of its sibling.

Another thing to note is that the field of view on the regular Ring doorbell is a hair narrower (155 degrees) than on the Ring 3 Plus (160 degrees). Additionally, both new Ring video doorbells offer black and white night vision, and the quality is decent. If you have exterior lights, like a front porch light above your doorbell, the camera will record in full color, which I found to be clearer than the black and white view.

Our pick: Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus

Privacy

Control Center
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Ring's new in-app Control Center includes upgraded security features available on the Ring 3 Plus and Ring (second-gen) video doorbells.

Ring has previously come under fire for hackers being able to gain access to certain Ring cameras. In response, Ring launched a new Control Center within the Ring app, which is available for download on iOS and Android devices.

The new Control Center, which is available for all Ring devices (not just Ring’s new video doorbells), offers security features like two-factor authentication, the option to view and remove linked accounts and shared users, and control over which devices and third-party apps are synced to the account.

For me, the two-factor authentication, the option to view and remove linked accounts and shared users, and the ability to control which devices and third-party apps are synced to the account bring peace of mind. However, it’s safe to assume there’s always a risk involved with inviting a connected gadget into your home. Ultimately, the new control panel is a step in the right direction to help consumers feel comfortable using Ring products.

Also new to Ring's security controls are Privacy Zones. In the Ring app, you can block certain areas from being seen or recorded by the doorbell camera. I found the black box a bit distracting to look at when reviewing footage, but the Privacy Zones are effective at blocking out parts of the camera’s view. Since these security features are available on both the 3 Plus and second-gen Ring doorbells, we’re going to call this one a draw.

Our pick: Tie

Our pick: Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus

Ring 3 plus conclusion
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is a worthwhile investment if you can find it for less than its retail price of $229 (which you likely can on Amazon).

For under $100, you really can’t beat the value that the Ring Video Doorbell (second-gen) offers. It’s reliable, sends timely alerts, and has the same resolution as the 3 Plus for a fraction of the price. But, there’s no denying that the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is the better doorbell of the two. Pre-Roll, People Only mode, dual-band WiFi, and slightly wider field of view make the Ring 3 Plus a worthwhile option. However, the $229 price tag feels a bit much considering the Nest Hello retails for the same price and comes with way more features and offers a paid subscription that includes 24/7 recording.

So, what’s our final verdict? The Ring Video Doorbell (second-gen) is a perfectly viable option for most people, but if you want a souped up smart doorbell from Amazon's popular brand, spring for the Ring 3 Plus.

Get the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus on Amazon for $179.99

Get the Ring Video Doorbell (second-generation) on Amazon for $79.99

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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