The humble thermostat was first to receive the smart treatment, and slowly but surely everything from smoke alarms to door locks are being connected to the internet.
One of the most useful smart home gadgets is the smart doorbell. Unlike the traditional doorbell, a smart one can send a notification to your phone when someone rings the doorbell as well as show a live video feed so you can see and speak to the visitor.
This is useful for deliveries: you can ask a courier to wait a couple of minutes if you’re nearby or to leave a parcel in your back garden or with a friendly neighbour.
Plus, a conversation is better (and more secure) than a note left on the front door saying you’re out.
Smart doorbells can also be useful if you're at home in the garden or anywhere that you can't easily hear the doorbell ring. You simply need to have your phone nearby.
As you'd expect, prices vary a lot, as do features and quality. But here is our pick of the best smart doorbells available right now for all budgets.
Best smart doorbells 2021
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 - Best overall
- Superb motion detection
- Wide viewing angles
- Great quality video
- No face recognition / package detection
For the same cost as the original 2019 Doorbell Pro, the second-generation adds quite a few new features and improves on video quality and viewing angles so you can see more.
3D motion detection, using radar, allows you to choose how far away motion should be before you get an alert and, along with custom zones, you can practically eliminate any false motion alerts.
Night vision is pretty good (no smart doorbell is really good in the dark) and quality during the daytime is excellent.
The Ring app isn't quite as good as Nest's but it's still better than most, and the rich notifications you get with a Ring Protect subscription are great.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 review
Google Nest Doorbell (wired) - Best hardwired doorbell
- Face & package detection
- Excellent HDR video
- Great app
- No power supply included
It used to be called the Nest Hello and has been around for a few years but is, surprisingly, still a great choice now. It's packed with features, offers great-quality HDR footage and is easy to use.
The only area we'd like to see improved is motion detection, but you can set up custom zones to avoid lots of false notifications.
It's expensive, no doubt, but if you have other Nest security cameras, then a single Nest Aware v2 subscription cost covers them all and is better value than Ring's equivalent.
A subscription is required for recording (unlike the newer Nest Doorbell (battery) but it also gives you some useful features such as face and package recognition, and the Nest app is better than Google Home, which you're forced to use if you opt for the lower-resolution battery-powered model.
The app makes it easy to see events as you scroll through the timeline, even if you don't pay extra for continuous recording (something that isn't an option with Ring doorbells, or the Nest Doorbell (battery) for that matter).
Installation isn't difficult if you have a mains socket near your door, as you can buy an AC adapter - but it's a shame Nest doesn't include one in the box given the high price.
It works with most existing wired chimes and you can also get notifications from Alexa and Google Assistant on your smart speaker and other devices.
Read our full Nest Hello review
Ring Video Doorbell Wired - Best budget option
- No power supply included
- Doesn't work with existing chimes
If you're on a budget and are happy to accept 'good quality' video rather than the very best available, then nothing can beat the Video Doorbell Wired for value.
It does require AC power at your door, which is great if you already have it, but will cost you if you don't. It works with Ring's plug-in mains adapter, so a DIY install is possible if you have a socket somewhere near your front door.
Surprisingly, it gives you six seconds of pre-roll, just like Ring's most expensive doorbell, and this means you see a few seconds of footage before the motion began.
While it requires the same Protect subscription to enable recordings, rich notifications and other features, it's a bargain at this price.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell Wired review
Ring Video Doorbell 4 - Best battery doorbell
- Improved pre-roll
- Good motion detection
- Battery has to be recharged
- Requires subscription
Though very similar to the older Doorbell 3 Plus, the '4 has various improvements that make it a better choice.
It offers great-quality 1080p HDR video, though unlike the Video Doorbell Pro 2 its wide-angle view doesn't show your doorstep so you won't be able to see a package that's been left there.
Motion detection is a step down from the Pro 2, so there's no 3D feature but you can use motion zones to select what part of the frame to monitor. There's also a People Only mode which helps eliminate false alarms.
Pre-roll provides up to four seconds of video from before the event began - an impressive feat for a battery-powered smart doorbell.
Being battery powered means it's simple to install, but you will have to keep on top of recharging it and ensuring it's not going to run out while you're away. It is possible to connect the Doorbell 4 to mains power, but if you're going to do that, you may as well buy one of Ring's mains-powered doorbells.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell 4 review
Ring Video Doorbell Pro - Best premium doorbell
- More affordable than Pro 2
- IFTTT and Alexa integration
- 5GHz Wi-Fi
- Doesn't have full-body view
- No radar motion detection
The Ring Pro might be inferior to the Pro 2, but it's now cheaper and a good option if you don't need the improvements found in the latest model.
The 1080p video recordings still offer plenty of detail and in our testing, we had hardly any false motion alerts.
With its custom motion zones and longer video recordings than battery-powered models, many people will be happy with the Pro for the money, but factor in the additional cost of a professional installation if you don't have a mains socket near your door where you can just plug it in with Ring's mains adapter.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell Pro review
Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell - No subscription required
- No ongoing subscription costs
- HomeKit support
- Expensive to buy
- Not the best video quality
Unlike the likes of Ring and other battery-powered smart doorbells in our chart, the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell requires a wired power supply and probably an electrician to install.
But, once you've got this out of the way, you'll never need to worry about recharging batteries or enabling more advanced, power-hungry features like night vision or live viewing.
It's not the only way that the Netatmo system differentiates itself either - it also records exclusively in portrait mode, making it much easier to capture a person from head-to-toe. The downside is that you don't capture as much of the environment, and you might miss the action completely depending on doorbell placement, so it's not a clear-cut win.
The main highlight is that the doorbell doesn't require a monthly subscription to access video footage - something required by most other smart doorbells on the market right now - and instead records video to a built-in microSD card.
Read our full Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell review
Google Nest Doorbell (battery) - Subscription-free smarts
- Usable without subscription
- Battery or mains powered
- Lower resolution than Nest Doorbell (wired)
- Google Home app needs work
The Nest Doorbell (battery) offers a slew of improvements over the (wired) model. The fact you can have detailed alerts, set up zones and store three hours’ worth of events without subscribing is great, as is the fact it can run from battery power, or be hooked up to existing doorbell wires. (There are also third-party solar panels if you want longer battery life.)
But there are good reasons it doesn't feature any higher up this list. For one thing, the Google Home app isn’t nearly as nice to use as the Nest one, and if you have older Nest cameras, you’ll have to use both, which is silly.
Those older Nest products don't offer free storage so you probably subscribe to Nest Aware anyway, in which case the free storage isn’t a benefit.
However, there are other drawbacks such as the lower-resolution video than the Doorbell (wired), and the fact it will only work with Google smart speakers: there isn't even Alexa integration, let alone IFTTT or HomeKit support.
Read our full Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) review
Ezviz DB1 - Cheap Ring alternative
- Can record video locally
- Works with mechanical & digital chimes
- Costly cloud storage
A full feature set in an easy to use and set up device, the EZVIZ Video Doorbell Cam is a very good smart doorbell – particularly for those with existing EZVIZ devices and Amazon Alexa in the home.
It uses a PIR for motion detection and you can set how far away someone should be before you get alerts of their presence.
The sting in the tail is in the price of cloud storage, although you could add a 128GB SD card for a fraction of that cost.
Read our full Ezviz DB1 review
Smart doorbell buyer’s guide
Naturally, prices and features vary depending on the smart doorbell you go for. In general, you should expect two-way talk along with a live video feed, night vision and motion detection.
However, if you want access to more advanced features, you'll usually have to pay a monthly fee. Many smart doorbells won’t store any video clips unless you pay, so if you miss a notification that someone has pressed the button, you won't be able to see who it was later on.
It's worth noting that the latest Google Nest Doorbell will record for three hours for free, but you still need to subscribe for longer history.
On the more expensive Ring models, the inclusion of close-range motion sensors allows them to detect movement between 1 and 4.5 meters away. That's ideal for city-dwellers where most smart doorbells would send notifications constantly because of people and cars driving by. Even the Ring Video Doorbell Wired supports Pre-Roll, which is the ability to record a few seconds of video before the doorbell has been pressed.
Nest offers person, package and animal detection for free, but only facial recognition if you pay for Nest Aware. This means you can choose to only get alerts if an unfamiliar face is spotted and is preferable to the annoying generic ‘there’s motion!’ alerts which many security cameras bombard you with. And, neatly, a Google Home can announce the name of the person who is at the door for familiar faces.
The main decision, though, is whether to opt for a battery-powered model or a hard-wired bell.
Battery bells can be installed relatively easily with basic tools, but don’t connect to your existing internal chime, so even if you’re home you’ll only get a notification on your phone. However, Ring does offer a plug-in chime which you can pick up separately.
A hard-wired doorbell can be connected to a chime, but will typically need an electrician to visit and install a special power supply. This adds to the cost but also means there are no worries about batteries running out at a critical moment.
Don't overlook your broadband speed either. The video feed requires a minimum of around 2Mb/s upload speed. Upload speeds are usually slower than download speeds, so check yours with an online speed tester before you buy, and make sure your doorbell is in range of your Wi-Fi router or it won't work at all.