Google’s $179.99 Nest Doorbell (Battery) is a wireless video doorbell that lets you see who (or what) is at your door using your phone or a Nest Hub device. It couldn't be easier to install and delivers sharp HD video and accurate motion alerts, with the ability to identify between people, animals, packages, and vehicles. That said, you can get sharper Ultra HD video and more interoperability with third-party devices with the similarly priced Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free. And if you’re willing to install a wired doorbell, the $99 Ezviz DB1C offers more features for less money.
The Smartest Alerts
At 6.3 by 1.8 by 1.0 inches (HWD), the Nest Doorbell (Battery) is one of the bulkiest models we’ve tested, and significantly larger than the wired Nest Doorbell (4.6 by 1.7 by 1.0 inches). It comes in four different colors including Ash, Ivy, Linen, or Snow.
No matter the color, the doorbell is powered by a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that's rated to last up to 2.5 months between charges, or you can choose to power it using your existing doorbell wiring if you prefer. If you do decide to go with battery power, the doorbell won't work with your existing chime.
The front of the Nest Doorbell sports a large 1.75-inch button on the bottom that glows white when pressed and a camera assembly on the top. The bottom edge contains a speaker, and around back are two terminals for doorbell wiring and a USB-C port for charging the battery. An embedded microphone provides two-way audio communication. Included in the box are a charging cable, a base plate and wedge, wire connectors, a release tool, assorted mounting screws, and a guide for getting started.
The HDR camera captures 1,280-by-960-pixel video at 30fps and has a 3:4 aspect ratio that gives you a head-to-toe view of who is at your door. By way of comparison, the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free offers a higher resolution (1,536 by 1,536 pixels) and a 1:1 aspect ratio. The Nest Doorbell camera has a 145-degree field of view, a 6X digital zoom, and uses four infrared LEDS for up to 10 feet of black-and-white night vision. It uses 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi radios to connect to your home network, and employs PIR (passive infrared) technology for motion detection.
Video is automatically recorded when the button is pressed or when motion is detected. Recordings are stored in the cloud for free, but have a three-hour lifespan. If you require a longer video history, you’ll have to subscribe to a Nest Aware plan. For $6 per month or $60 per year, the Nest Aware plan gives you access to 30 days of video, while the Nest Aware Plus plan offers 60 days of video for $12 per month or $120 per year. Either plan also gives you access to Familiar Face alerts that will let you know when the doorbell detects a face from your recognition library. That said, person, animal, vehicle, and package detection alerts are free and don't require a subscription.
Aside from the difference in design, the battery-powered Nest Doorbell offers largely the same features and functionality as the wired version. The main difference is that the wired version has a slightly wider field of view (160 degrees with a 4:3 aspect ratio) and offers 24/7 video history with Nest Aware Plus, while the battery-powered model can still record during a Wi-Fi or power outage.
The Nest Doorbell doesn't support Apple HomeKit or Amazon Alexa voice commands, nor does it work with IFTTT applets that would allow it to interact with third-party smart home devices. However it does work with the Nest Hub and responds to Google Assistant voice commands. For example, you can have a Nest Hub or Google Assistant smart speaker announce when the doorbell button has been pressed, and you can ask Google Assistant to stream live video from the doorbell on a compatible display.
The doorbell uses the Google Home app for Android and iOS devices and appears on the home screen as a doorbell device. Tap the doorbell to open a screen that shows its name and battery level. Tap the Live Video button to view a live stream with a microphone button for two-way talk, a History button that gives you a timeline bar with markers for motion and doorbell events, and a More button that lets you configure a Quiet Time that mutes the doorbell chime and visitor announcements. Here you can also turn the camera on or off and assign one of three Quick Responses including, “You can just leave it there,” “We’ll be right there,” and, “No one can come to the door”.
To access the doorbell’s settings screen, tap the gear icon in the top right corner. Here you can view battery information, enable an Automatic Battery Saver setting that will limit recordings when the battery has less than seven days worth of juice, turn notifications on and off, enable intelligent alerts for People, Packages, Animals, and Vehicles, configure video quality and night vision, and adjust audio settings. Tap the three dots in the upper right corner to turn the camera off, view a full event history log, and access help files.
Installing and Using the Nest Doorbell Battery
The Nest Doorbell is very easy to install, especially if you decide to use the rechargeable battery as there are no wires to deal with. However, if you’re not comfortable installing the doorbell yourself, you can access the Nest Pro database of qualified installers and let a professional do the work for you.
To start the installation, I shut off the breaker to my old doorbell and capped the wires. I downloaded the Google Home app, created an account and a Home, and tapped the plus icon in the upper left corner of the home screen. I tapped Set Up Device, then tapped Doorbell and selected the Nest Doorbell (Battery). I used my phone’s camera to scan the QR code on the back of the doorbell and tapped Continue. I agreed to a handful of usage agreements, plugged in the doorbell when prompted, and selected my Wi-Fi SSID. I entered my Wi-Fi password and the doorbell was immediately added to my network. I gave the device a location name, selected Battery as my power option, and watched a quick installation video. I confirmed that I was able to see live video, attached the mounting plate to the frame of my front door, slid the doorbell into place, and the installation was complete.
The Nest Doorbell performed well in testing. Live and recorded video showed rich colors and good image detail, and black-and-white night video was well lit and sharp out to around 10 feet. Motion detection worked well; there were no false alerts and the sensor did a very good job of differentiating between motion caused by people, cars, and animals. Two-way audio came through loud and clear, and I had no trouble viewing video from the doorbell on a Nest Hub using Google Assistant voice commands. Additionally, the Hub always announced a visitor and automatically displayed the live feed when the doorbell button was pressed.
A Smart But Pricey Way to See Who's There
The Nest Doorbell (Battery) is a good fit for any home that's already using the Google/Nest ecosystem to control things around the house. It offers sharp video that can be viewed on your phone and on a Nest Hub, and it’ll tell you whether a motion alert was caused by a person, a vehicle, or an animal, but it doesn’t support Amazon Alexa voice commands, Apple HomeKit, or IFTTT. And while you can view the last three hours of recorded video for free, if you want to view older video, you’ll have to subscribe to a Nest Aware plan. If you want a wireless doorbell camera with a higher resolution that works with more smart devices, the $199.99 Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is a better choice. If you’re replacing a wired doorbell, meanwhile, the Ezviz DB1C works with lots of other devices, delivers high-resolution imagery, and offers local and cloud storage options for nearly $100 less.
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