Best outdoor security camera for your smart home | Why Nest is still the best

The first thing someone encounters at your house is the front door. This is why it is so important to buy a connected outdoor security camera for your smart home. It gives you the peace of mind that everything is A-OK at home and can be vital in deterring criminals and catching them in the act. We have tested a lot of different outdoor security cameras and have come away with what we think is the best outdoor security camera based on a few factors.

So what IS the best outdoor security camera?

We can safely say that the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is currently the best outdoor security camera that you can buy for your smart home. It is solidly built, feature-rich and just plain kicks ass. Keep on reading to find out why we love it so much and which outdoor cameras are the runners up. All of the cameras we mention in this post have the basics: live video feeds, apps on Android and iOS, night vision, and at least 1080p video resolution. But its where the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor goes above and beyond where things get interesting.

Why we think the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the best outdoor security camera

Basically it comes down to a few deciding factors: Durability, Image quality and other smart features.


First off, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the most solidly built of all of the outdoor security cameras we have used. But it also packs with it an impressive list of advanced features that simply aren’t available on other outdoor cameras.

Durability

The outside casing is a very hard, durable white plastic. The lens is tip top quality an feels like it will last even in an ice storm. We were also very impressed with the upgraded mounting kit for the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. Gone is the magnetic ball joint mount from the original Nest Cam Outdoor. While it was really nice, i had one major flaw. People could just steal your camera! You see, the ball joint literally had no security mechanism whatsoever so if someone decides to just grab the camera and walk away, they could do that. The nest mounting hardware locks to the camera and can only be released by a special allen key that comes with the unit. Furthermore, the cord for the camera slides right through and mount and is hidden from view, running directly into your house. This creates both a very clean looking install but also ensures someone doesn’t just cut or yank out the power cord from your camera. Compare this with probably the closes competitor, the Arlo Pro 2, and you’ll get the idea. While the Arlo Pro 2 is an excellent camera, it just doesn’t feel solid enough. The casing feels cheap and the mounting hardware feels more like a half-baked industrial ball mount than something that was specifically designed for the camera. Again, nothing against the Arlo Pro 2, but the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor just feels more premium and up to the task in terms of durability.

best outdoor security camera nest cam iq outdoor durability_edited

Outdoor temperature rating and tolerance

For many people in cold climates, outdoor operating temperature is a very important factor. And to our surprise a lot of very popular cameras totally failed our cold temperature tests. For example, the Arlo Pro 2 only has a temperature range of 32° to 122° F (0° to 50° C). This is terrible! If you live anywhere where there is a decent winter, you will easily reach below this temperature several times. In our tests the Arlo Pro 2 would fog and then lock up completely when it dipped below about 25 degrees F. While this is fine for a more temperate location, this simply won’t cut it in the Northern US or Canada. The Logitech Circle 2 fares a bit better with an operating temperature that goes down to 14° F (-10° C). But still, in a place like Wisconsin or Michigan, you will be seeing temperatures well below this many times a winter! Even the new Nest Hello has an operating temperature that is not really built for a northern winter at 4° to 104° F (-10° to 40°C). In our tests the Nest Hello would experience some serious fogging and juddering at lower temperatures. It is still the best doorbell camera on the market though…

But what about the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor? Well, Nest really “gets” cold temperatures with its design. This camera will operate at –40° to 113°F (–40° to 45°C). Now THIS is an outdoor security camera that can handle a serious winter!

In summary, here are the operaing temperatures of some of the most popular smart home outdoor cameras out right now. It is clear that the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor beats them all:

✔ Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: –40° to 113°F (–40° to 45°C)

❌ Arlo Pro 2: 32° to 122° F (0° to 50° C)

❌ Logi Circle 2: above 14° F (-10° C).

❌ Nest Hello: 4° to 104° F (-10° to 40°C)

❌ Netatmo Presence: -4° to 122° F (-20° to 50°C)

❌ Canary Flex: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)

❌ Foscam F19901EP: above 14° F (-10° C)

 

Water resistance rating

Aside from temperature rating for an outdoor security camera you want this thing to be able to survive rain, sleet and snow without dying on you. This is where the official IP water resistance rating comes in. Again, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor comes out well ahead of the pack here. Arlo Pro 2 is rated at IP65 which is also known as “dust tight.” While this may be okay for light rain, it won’t help when there is a stronger jet of water or serious submersion for some reason. The same goes for the Logi Circle 2 and Canary Flex. The Netatmo Presence and the Foscam F19901EP also boast very good weatherproofing with IP67 and IP66 respectively. This is firmly where the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor operates which we think is the sweet spot of being cautious but not outrageous when considering waterproofing.

✔ Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: IP66 rated

❌ Arlo Pro 2: IP65 rated

❌ Logi Circle 2: IP65 rated

❌ Nest Hello: IPX4 rated

✔  Netatmo Presence: IP67 rated

❌ Canary Flex: IP65 rated

✔  Foscam F19901EP: IP66 rated


Image quality

Of course when it comes to security cameras one of the most important elements is the actual picture quality itself. You can have all of the features in the world and if the image sucks then what’s the point?

Dynamic Range

For outdoor security cameras the actual camera innards are very important since you are dealing with a much more dynamic light environment than inside your home. Sunsets, sunrises, cloud cover, moving objects like trees and cars, large distances… All of these things come into play with an outdoor camera and you need a good device that can keep up with these varying environments properly. For example, when you have a very bright portion of the image next to a very dark portion, this is called dynamic range. Lower end cameras will either blow out the light portion or dim it in order to see details in the dark region. This results in an overall worse looking picture with less accurate brightness and ultimately less detail.

Resolution

The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the undisputed king of outdoor security camera quality right now. It packs a full 4K sensor that dwarfs that of other cameras on the market. In fact, most other cameras like the Arlo Pro 2 struggle to even deliver proper HD footage. The 4K sensor on the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is actually down-scaled to 1080p when it transmits the footage over wifi, but it still allows the picture to look that much better than the competition. The 4K sensor also allows for a pretty neat trick with this camera. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor has a feature called Supersight which will identify people in the frame and then zoom into them and follow them as they move. This essentially reduces the image resolution to 1080p when doing this zoom, but because the sensor is already 4K you don’t lose and real-world detail like you would with a traditional digital zoom. It works well too! On your Nest App you can always zoom out after fact too, the full frame is always being captured.

✔ Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: 4K sensor with 1080p Supersight footage

❌ Arlo Pro 2: 1080p

❌ Logi Circle 2: 1080p

❌ Nest Hello: 1080p

❌ Netatmo Presence: 1080p

 Canary Flex: 1080p

❌ Foscam F19901EP: 1080p

best outdoor security camera

Full motion video VS clips

This brings us to our next point. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is one of the few consumer grade outdoor security IP cameras that captures real-time full motion video. Some of the other competitors (ahem, Arlo!) opt for a system where the camera kicks in when it sees motion and captures a short clip of that motion. It does save battery (the Arlo Pro 2 is wireless after all) but in real-life operation it is slow and tends to miss important things. With Nest, you have all of the day’s video recorded for later viewing if you subscribe to their Nest Aware cloud storage service. We are all about the full motion video with our security camera, especially our outdoor when where we need to make sure we capture every detail and moment.

✔ Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: Full motion video recording (cloud)

 Arlo Pro 2: Motion clips

✔  Logi Circle 2: Full motion video recording (cloud)

✔  Nest Hello: Full motion video recording (cloud)

✔  Netatmo Presence: Full motion video recording (local and cloud)

✔  Canary Flex: Full motion video recording (cloud)

✔  Foscam F19901EP: Full motion video recording (local and cloud)


Other features

If you’re buying this for a smart home you are certainly interested in the little bells and whistles that each manufacturer offers. We found that the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor had the best mix of features that are useful on a day to day basis.

AI and smart features

As mentioned earlier the Nest’s ability to zoom in on subjects with its Supersight feature is second to none and is genuinely useful for identifying people and things in the image. This is a hard part to actually compare to other manufacturers because they just aren’t there yet. Nest employs the use of artificial intelligence to guess when someone is familiar or a stranger. This is incredibly useful for a front door! You can now get an alert on your phone that tells you that “Dave is at the door” instead of just a generic notification. The Nest Hello has even taken this feature further and offers a crazy feature where you Google Home devices announce any “familiar faces” by name when they ring the doorbell. Its all using the same amazing Google AI to do this and of course Nest is owned by Google!

An honorable mention goes to the Logi Circle 2 which has a very unique feature that send you a 30 second clip of the day which highlights specific interesting moments using AI. This again, is a very useful feature.

Apps and software

Not all outdoor security cameras are created equal. For example, the Foscam’s software is pretty bad. It is cumbersome to navigate and just seems last generation. In our tests nothing topped the ease of use and integration of the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. They keep it simple and only give you what you need, but make it super easy to navigate your camera feed on mobile or on the web. This is of course Nest’s bread and butter. They have been called the “Apple” of the smart home space for a reason. Their design language and forward thinking software have made them the smart home camera to beat when it comes to software.

2 way audio

Most home security cameras have 2-way audio nowadays. That doesn’t mean they are all good. For example, most of the units we tested, you needed to treat the app like a walkie-talkie, pushing when you wanted to talk and then letting go when you want to hear the person on the other side. This is actually how the original Nest Cam Outdoor worked. It is unintuitive and bad… The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor has knocked this one out of the park with a true 2-way audio system that let’s you simply speak and listen at the same time. The blue ring around the Nest Cam glows blue when the audio feature is active and adds a little flash to the audio feature. Another thing Nest has added with this camera is much higher quality sound. When compared to Arlo Pro or even the old Nest Cam Outdoor, the audio is WAY clearer and much louder. In an outdoor environment you’re going to want this extra volume and clarity.

Smart home integrations

If you are at all invested in the Nest ecosystem already then the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a no-brainer. They successfull intagrate you cameras, smoke detectors, security system, door locks and thermostats into a simple easy to use integrated system. No other company has such an all-encompassing menu of smart home options that work so well together. For example, I can set my Nest themostat to turn off or on my cameras based on my presence in the house. Of course you can get a lot of this done with external 3rd party integrations like IFTTT and Stringify or a smart home hub like SmartThings or Wink. But it isn’t quite the same as having devices that were designed to work with each other from the start.

The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is compatible with both Google Assistant (Google Home) and Amazon Alexa (Amazon Echo) so no matter what voice assistant you have you will be able to take advantage of it. Furthermore, it is also compatible with sending the live video stream to both the Amazon Echo Show or any Chromecast enabled device. This can be especially handy when you want to throw the outdoor security camera video on the TV when you are in the basement.

Google Assistant Support

Here are the cameras that support Google Assistant:

✔ Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

✔  Arlo Pro 2

✔  Logi Circle 2

✔  Nest Hello

❌  Netatmo Presence

✔  Canary Flex

❌  Foscam F19901EP

 

Amazon Alexa Support

And here are the cameras with native Amazon Alexa support. Keep note that the Logi Circle is strictly Google Assistant for now and will not work natively with Amazon Alexa.

✔ Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

✔  Arlo Pro 2

❌  Logi Circle 2

✔  Nest Hello

❌  Netatmo Presence

✔  Canary Flex

❌  Foscam F19901EP


Where the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor gets beat

The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is definitely our favorite outdoor security camera. But it isn’t without it’s faults.

Lack of local storage

Several of the other competing cameras offer some form of local storage. The Netatmo Presence is probably king in this regard. It has local SD card support but can also backup footage directly to your own FTP server! With Nest, you need to subscribe to their Nest Aware Subscription to get access to your full motion video footage for 5 days, 10 days or 30 days depending on the plan you pick. In our opinion it is worth it based on the quality you are getting and peace of mind that your footage won’t go away if the camera is disabled or stolen.

Other cameras will offer a small amount of cloud storage for free which is really nice. For example, the Arlo Pro 2offers 7 days of free motion and sound clips.

No wireless option

The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a wired camera in the sense that it needs to be plugged into power to work. This means the install is much more involved than say just screwing a battery powered Arlo Pro 2to the wall of your house. I actually like the idea of not having to replace or recharge batteries but this is certainly something to keep in mind.

Best features behind a paywall

All of the features on the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor are truly amazing. But many of them are only available to Nest Aware subscribers. For example, you won’t get familiar face detection or activity zone fencing with just the camera. You will need to pay monthly for these. Mind you, Nest has recently added a much more affordable $5 a month plan which gives you all of these features and 5 days of cloud video storage. But some buyers will want to look at cameras that are more self sufficient like the Netatmo Presence or the Foscam.

best outdoor security camera arlo pro 2

Arlo’s extras

The Arlo Pro 2 system is nothing to sniff at. Their wireless cameras are very awesome and can be extremely flexible in their placement (just remember to change the batteries every couple months). Arlo also has a handy base station that will sit with your router that offers a super loud security siren which can be triggered by motion or the Arlo app. The hub also has a place to hook up a USB storage device for local storage. All of this will definitely appeal to a lot of customers that are either not interested in the Nest ecosystem or really want local storage and the flexibility of wireless cameras.


Wrap up: Why the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the best outdoor security camera

Between the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor’s good looks, super durable and weather-resistant design and smart features, it is hard to not recommend it. It by far the best quality image and has features that no other outdoor camera can touch. And for those of you that like you smart home devices to play nicely together, Nest has kept their camera very open and compatible not only with their own products but with many other brands out there. If you have the money, we highly recommend the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor as your first line of defence at your home, your front door.


Check out all of the awesome outdoor security cameras in this post:

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Arlo Pro 2 by NETGEAR Home Security Camera System (3 pack) with...

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Logitech Circle 2 Indoor/Outdoor Wireless Home Security Camera Works with Alexa &...

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Last update was on: August 18, 2019 2:36 pm
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Foscam Outdoor Security Camera, Full HD 1080P WiFi Outdoor Camera with Real-time...

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Last update was on: August 18, 2019 2:36 pm
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Outdoor security camera - Netatmo Presence

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Last update was on: August 18, 2019 2:36 pm
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15 Comments
  1. Reply
    Bob, from Delaware May 21, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    easy install and works great. So I researched cameras, especially the arlo. The thing that swayed me is the easy install. I drilled a 7/8 hole from above my garage door. The supplied cord was long enough to plug into my garage inside outlet. I love the secure connection through the hole and into the camera. I followed the instructions to the letter, firing it up inside the house, moving it outside to verify wifi strength, and finally attaching the support bracket to my siding over the hole. After plugging it in everything worked great. So there you are – a product that exceeded my expectations. The video quality is good, not great, good. Maybe I expected too much, like TV quality. I’m probably gonna get more nest stuff, because I think that the quality is superb. Even the packaging is so unusually professional that it gives you the impression that great stuff in inside. And the insides lived up to the promise. Im starting to sound like a paid review, but Im just an old dude who wanted to enhance security around my house. And I think I made the right choice. Have a nice day.

  2. Reply
    Louise on the hill May 21, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Perfect! Easy to set up, a dream to use. Installation was very fast and easy – the NestCam paired with my existing Protect in a few seconds. Mounting only took a few minutes, and needed only a screwdriver. Video quality and responsiveness is excellent. The Nest app gives me a view of my home’s surroundings and alerts me when folks come up the walkway. And I can keep an eye on nighttime critters, too.

  3. Easy Peesy. When you need a camera in a hurry, the nest is the way to go. From the time I purchased my first camera to the time a was viewing it on my iPhone, it was not more than one hour. One helpful hint, make sure you have someone to help you only to hold the ladder.

    Since then I have installed 5 and counting.

    So good!!!

  4. Amazing camera. This is one great camera! The video quality is amazing (upgraded from analog security camera system) and the night mode is very clear and well “lit” (with infrared light-invisible to the naked eye at night).

    I’m amazed by the signal quality considering it’s located on my detached garage wall far away from my wifi router which is inside the house, through two stucco walls (cement and wire mesh).

  5. Easy setup. Good quality. I love the Google ecosystem. They finally lowered the price, but it needs to be lower with a greater number of cameras…I know about the 50% off after the first, but still not low enough. Should be 75% off after the fourth or something like that.

  6. Great addition to the Nest Product Line-up. I was a pre-release order and can say I’m really satisfied with the Hello. I have multiple cameras; smoke detectors, thermostats and this fits in nicely to the line-up. I didn’t want to go with another brand camera for the front door and then have all the others be Nest. Easy to install, simple directions (make sure you test the old doorbell voltage before you order). I spent more time patching and painting the stucco prior to install than the actual install itself. Setup is like all Nest Products..easy breezy. Video quality is great and the 15 degree angle base (if you need it) is a great design feature. I actually painted the mounting base and camera body to match my architecture standards (townhome HOA) so it looks great. If you can handle paint tape and an exact-o knife, it is worth it, but the unit looks subtle in the basic white finish. The familiar facial recognition feature along with the standard Nest motion and person alerts give it robust functionality. f you are a Nest fan…add this to the stable!

  7. Nice Video Doorbell. But has one issue. I purchased the Nest Hello a week ago. The minute it arrived I installed it. It took about 30 minutes to install and get it up and running.
    I works very nice. Video is clear. The speaker is loud enough that the person at the door can hear the voice on the other end. The app is easy to use.
    The one problem that exists, is that with my Samsung Galaxy S5, the person at the door hears their voice echo / delay back at them a second or two after they speak to the person inside. Its confusing to talk when you constantly hear what you are saying come back at you seconds later. It works fine with Apple iphone 6s. I’m guessing that there is an issue with the Nest App / Nest Hello and Samsung Galaxy S5. I don’t have this problem with my Nest indoor cam and My Samsung.
    The facial recognition works great. It alerts me when a familiar face is recognized at the door. Option to name the familiar person so that you know exactly who is coming and going.

  8. Great Doorbell Overall. I got this to replace my SkyBell HD. I will be getting more Nest cams and figured the Doorbell would be a good place to start. Overall it looks a lot nicer than the Skybell HD Honeywell trim I had and is easier for people to find the button due to the large blue ring that pulses when it detects someone. Install was a bit of a pain, I had to take a picture if the QR code with a different phone so my phone could scan it. This Doorbell required an extra piece to be installed in the Chime which my SkyBell did not. Overall though the Nest Hello works very well, the app is responsive and it hasn’t missed anyone. The Nest aware subscription is a very nice feature that allows you to go back and watch every minute if you wanted to, not just events. It marks events as sounds, motion or people so it’s easy to find events when needed. Picture quality is very good and the ability to designate different zones and eliminate problem areas like a street makes the number of false alarms much less. I love being able to see the video on my TV but Chromecast as well.

  9. Reply
    First Video Door Bell May 21, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Hello ! This is my first video door bell for my brand new home and I’m glad i bought it . Love it so far!
    It was super easy to install , What took longer was finding the breaker switch for the Doorbell , after a long google search , was convinced not every home has a breaker for a doorbell. May be NEST installation video should have mentioned this ?? LOL!

    Remove existing doorbell, drill holes, connect wires and boom! you are done . Install the app and connect to your wifi!.

    NEST app is also easy to setup. Just connect your HELLO to your home wifi, Play through the settings , see what you prefer and save. I liked the notification for the Sound as well, depends on the individual, you may get annoyed with the constant notification if there is too much traffic .

    Be aware of the data consumption , High quality setting can use 300gb+ per month . 300gb+ !!!!

    Been using it for couple of weeks, dont see any drawbacks so far..

  10. Great addition to Nest. Simple setup, greatimage quality. Works great with the Nest ecosystem and Google Home.

  11. Works but has bugs. I was very unhappy that they require payment of monthly or yearly fees to get full access to videos. The schedule for night mode is not working. A couple of times it would start recording when it should be in home mode (shouldn’t record while it knows I’m home). Sometimes doesn’t recognize when I leave even though my phones location is on

  12. Not happy. Not happy bcaz need to pay membership to access monthly

  13. I love my Flex, I have it outside at my apartment to monitor my fire escape. I use their “Stake Mount” to keep it in a potted herb plant. The battery lasts me a month or two before it needs to be charged, and gives me peace of mind that no one is coming near my windows.

  14. Easy to set up. Easy setup and great video quality. Battery lasts a long time watching my back door. I don’t need to store videos for 30 days so the free plan is good enough for me.

  15. Don’t bother. You’ll have to buy a membership to ever hope to benefit from it. Which you won’t because: 1. the notifications are always late 2. you are ten times more likely to learn that a shadow has moved than you are to find someone at your door 3. when you reach out to customer service, they’ll tell you it’s your fault.

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