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Ring Video Doorbell 4 vs. Nest Doorbell (battery): A home security showdown

Which doorbell offers the best security for your front porch?

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When it comes to choosing a video doorbell, there are a lot of options. Amazon’s Ring and Google’s Nest both make some of the most popular smart doorbells out there, but no two are the same. To help you decide, we're exploring the differences between Google’s new doorbell, the Nest Doorbell (battery) and Ring’s Video Doorbell 4. Both models are among the best smart doorbells out there right now, but there are a few major differences between the two. How do they compare in a side-by-side showdown? Let’s find out.

Buy the Nest Doorbell (battery)
Buy the Ring Video Doorbell 4

Features

A tight shot of the Nest Doorbell
Credit: Reviewed/Rachel Murphy

If you’re looking for handy features to help make using your smart doorbell more intuitive, then you’ve come to the right place. With the Ring Video Doorbell 4, People Only mode notifies you only for motion caused by a human. Meanwhile, Rich Notifications lets you see a snapshot of a motion event before even opening the Ring app.

The Nest Doorbell has plenty of its own neat features. For instance, when both its Familiar Faces and Visitor Announcements features are enabled, your connected Nest Hub Max can tell you who is at your front door, then allow you to either hold a conversation directly with that person or select from three pre-recorded messages.

Additionally, the Nest Doorbell offers smart intelligent alerts that include people, vehicles, animals, and packages. Ring doorbells, however, still aren’t smart enough to scan for cars, animals, and packages. It does offer alerts for motion and people, but that doesn’t quite cut it compared to the Nest Doorbell.

Our pick: Nest Doorbell (battery)

Installation and power

The accessories included with the Ring 4
Credit: Reviewed/Rachel Murphy

Both doorbells offer multiple installation options: the Ring Video Doorbell 4 can be installed using existing doorbell wiring (8-24 VAC, 40VA max, 50/60Hz) or the included rechargeable battery, while the Nest Doorbell offers the same wiring compatibility as well as a built-in, lithium-ion battery. So, at the outset, it does seem like a bit of a stalemate.

However, our installation of the Nest Doorbell was initially bogged down by an issue with adding it to the Google Home app. Resetting the doorbell eventually solved the problem, so this may just have been an isolated incident. But with the Video Doorbell 4 offering a seamless install comparatively, it comes out on top here.

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When it comes to charging, the Ring 4 takes the cake for its quick-release battery. This means that the doorbell can remain in place while the battery is charging to give the appearance that the camera is watching. With Nest, unless you have a nearby power outlet to plug it in outdoors, the entire doorbell will need to come down for charging.

Our pick: Ring Video Doorbell 4

Video quality

Showing the features of the Nest Doorbell
Credit: Reviewed/Rachel Murphy

Once again, both the Ring doorbell and its Nest counterpart match up well. Each product’s camera records 1080p HD video, which translates to a clear, detailed picture of your doorstep. But while the Ring has several nice perks, Night Vision among them, the Nest Doorbell packs slightly more impressive specs. That includes recording in a 3:4 aspect ratio and an HDR camera that captures up to 30 frames per second and has a 6X digital zoom.

The Ring still provides rather impressive video quality, but the Nest Doorbell is the more capable of the two.

Our pick: Nest Doorbell (battery)

Smart home integration

A tight shot of the Ring 4
Credit: Reviewed/Rachel Murphy

If you’ve immersed yourself in a Google-based smart home ecosystem, complete with Nest Hubs and other Google Assistant-enabled devices, the Nest Doorbell will fit in effortlessly. Conversely, if Alexa is your voice assistant of choice and Echo Shows are scattered about your home, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is an ideal solution.

Neither doorbell offers anything in the way of cross-compatibility (or Siri/Apple Homekit integration, for that matter). The Nest is limited to Google equipment, and the Ring has strict compatibility with the Amazon family. Amazon and Google devices will eventually support Matter, a smart home protocol that’s meant to help blend together devices from different ecosystems. But until that protocol comes to fruition (reportedly, sometime in 2022), neither doorbell has a clear edge.

Our pick: Tie

Connectivity

Holding the Nest Doorbell in one's hand
Credit: Reviewed/Rachel Murphy

As should be expected, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 and the Nest doorbell each have dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity—2.4GHz and 5GHz. The Nest, though, also supports Bluetooth Low Energy. Neither product got caught up in any noticeable connection issues during testing, but Google’s doorbell comes away with a narrow edge in this round thanks to its extra connection option, albeit a less popular one.

Our pick: Nest Doorbell (battery)

Privacy

Investing in smart home devices, especially video-enabled devices like smart doorbells, comes with an inherent risk to your privacy. Ring, for instance, has had a number of privacy problems over the last few years. In response, the company implemented a Control Center, available in the Ring app for all Ring devices. It offers mandatory 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. And, like other Ring doorbells, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 supports Ring's Privacy Zones so you can select specific areas you don't want to record.

Alternatively, the Nest Doorbell’s Google account requirement means that you’ll get several built-in security features like suspicious activity detection, two-factor authentication, and password checkups. It also offers custom motion zones tailored to your front door. Google claims the camera's data, including face detection features, are encrypted and are private for your viewing only. Additionally, Google says it shares audio recordings with third-party apps and services—but only with your permission.

There’s clearly a commitment to security on both sides, even if they are rather minimal commitments at best. But Nest has the cleaner credentials overall, which is why it gets the nod over the Ring.

Our pick: Nest Doorbell (battery)

Aesthetics

The Nest Doorbell against a patterned background
Credit: Reviewed/Rachel Murphy

Looks are subjective, and we can’t sit here and tell you that one doorbell looks definitively better than the other. That said, we were off-put by the Ring Video Doorbell 4’s larger size compared to the brand’s other doorbells, at 5 inches tall and 4 inches wide. To be fair to the Ring, it does have 17 different colors of faceplates to choose from, including everything from a more traditional Silver Metal to holiday-themed faceplates for Christmas and Halloween.

The Nest Doorbell is two inches taller, but is much slimmer at 1.8 inches wide. It comes with four color options (Snow, Linen, Ivy, Ash), presenting a more muted and modern selection than Ring’s wide array of pickable plates. The previous version, the Nest Hello, only came in black and white.

Since this category is largely dependent on your personal preference and what you believe will look best next to your front door, there are no losers in this category. Of course, that means there’s no winners, either.

Our pick: Tie

Cost

A difference of $20 separates the Ring Video Doorbell 4, from the Nest Doorbell. Additionally, the optional Ring Protect Plan will cost $3 per month in exchange for being able to record, store and share all of your videos for up to 60 days.

Nest’s optional Nest Aware plans, start at $6 per month and include up to 60 days of video history. However, you don’t need to pay for a subscription with Google’s new doorbell because it comes with s free smart alerts that can tell you when something like a package, person, animal, or vehicle comes into view. It also comes with a 3-hour video event history right out of the box. That, combined with the cheaper retail price, is what makes the Nest Doorbell the more cost-effective of the two.

Our pick: Nest Doorbell (battery)

And the winner is …

Packaging for the Google Nest Doorbell (battery) and Ring Video Doorbell 4
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The Nest Doorbell (battery) is the best video doorbell you can buy, but the Ring 4 is a great option for Amazon Echo smart homes.

By simply tallying up the categories, the Nest is the winner here, though it was close in many categories. Nest's Doorbell is great for any home—especially one ensconced in the Google ecosystem. That being said, if your home is already nestled in the popular Alexa ecosystem, the Ring is also a fine choice that will be much more suited to your setup.

Either way, these are both great doorbells that should help you secure your home. If you’re after a smart doorbell with exceptional features and a painless installation process, it’s hard to go wrong with the Ring Video Doorbell 4. However, if a cheaper, more performance-focused doorbell with a better track record when it comes to privacy sounds compelling to you, then the Nest Doorbell is the way to go.

Buy the Nest Doorbell (battery)
Buy the Ring Video Doorbell 4

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