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 and show you a live video feed so you can see them and – in most cases – talk 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 3 Plus - Best Overall
- Simple to install
- Good motion detection
- Battery has to be recharged
- Requires subscription
Though very similar to the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the Doorbell 3 Plus represents a huge step forward in the battle against false motion alerts. Featuring new close-range sensors that accurately detect movement within 1.5-4.5m, you should see a noticeable drop in false notifications from cars driving by and trees blowing in the wind.
Pre-roll, though not quite as comprehensive as the continuous video recording on offer from alternatives in our chart, provides an extra 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.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus 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
Nest Hello - Best hardwired doorbell
- Face & package detection
- Excellent HDR video
- Great app
The Nest Hello has been around for a few years but, surprisingly, hasn't been beaten for features, quality or ease of use by rivals in that time.
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.
The Hello, with a subscription, has some useful features such as face and package recognition, and the HDR video is superb.
The app that goes with a smart doorbell is just as important as the hardware, and Nest's is excellent, making 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 even an option with Ring).
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 Pro 2 - Best for power users
- 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 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
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
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 - Mains-powered smarts
- 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
360 D819 Smart Video Doorbell - Subscription-free smarts
- No subscription required
- Poor app
A cheap video doorbell with subscription-free storage and some great features, including the ability to mask your voice, night vision and face recognition. Installation is a breeze, but the 360 D819 is massively let down by the app, and we fear battery life may not be as good as is claimed.
Read our full 360 D819 Smart Video Doorbell review
Ezviz DB1 - A 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. Both Nest and Ring 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 models from Ring can be ideal for city-dwellers whose doorbells are constantly detecting motion, triggered by cars driving by. Some models also support pre-roll, the ability to record a few seconds of video before the doorbell has been activated.
Nest offers person and facial recognition which means you can choose to only get alerts if an unfamiliar face is spotted. This 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-powered doorbells 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 buy for £29/$29 from Amazon. Many models also work with Alexa and other smart home assistants, so your smart speaker(s) can announce when someone's at the door.
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.