Originally a manufacturer of smart locks, the View is August’s second iteration of its second generation of video doorbell offerings. Fixing the errors of its first-wave predecessor, the new View’s elegant design and ease of installation make this doorbell camera very attractive, and retailing for about $230, it’s only slightly more expensive than the industry average.
We got our hands on the new August View and tested it for several days. So if you’re wondering if this doorbell cam has what it takes to protect your entryway and keep porch pirates at bay, hang tight because we’re sharing everything you need to know right here.
While the View certainly has some great qualities – namely its awesome video resolution, its intuitive features, and its simple-to-use app – we encountered a couple issues as well. But thankfully we didn’t come across any deal-breakers.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s in the box!
Right away we thought the packaging itself was simple and elegant. We slid the box out from the sleeve and everything was arranged for us in a way that felt deliberate. Presentation matters, and much like other top doorbell cams like Vivint and Arlo, August gets it right!
Inside we found the unit itself, a rechargeable battery pack, a charging cable, mounting hardware, a positioning wedge, and a wireless chime – a nice little add-on. Note that the unit itself is unobtrusive at about 5 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1 inch deep. And good thing! The last thing we want is a big ol’ brick greeting our visitors. Also, the August View is made entirely of plastic, but it has a reassuring weight to it – it doesn’t feel cheap.
What was conspicuously missing from the box, though, was a user manual. Instead, our View included what looks like a matchbook that prompted us to download the app for instructions. So, we went ahead and did what the matchbook told us. Keep in mind that many DIY home security products these days offer easy in-app installation and setup (they almost literally take you by the hand through the process).
We found the app itself to be pretty straightforward. It asked us to create an account, which was easy enough, and then walked us through setting up our equipment. But first things first, we needed to charge the battery.
While August provided us with a USB cable to accomplish this, similar to Ring, there was no charger to be found in the box. Thankfully we had a dozen suitable chargers floating around in our junk drawer for such a time as this. Maybe August was cutting corners here, though we like to think they made a conscious decision to try to reduce e-waste. But we digress.
Once we had the unit charged, we continued with the setup. Unfortunately, we hit a bit of a snag here – the doorbell didn’t want to connect to our WiFi. After a few tries and unhelpful error messages, it finally went through. Fourth time’s the charm, right?
Pro Tip: Most modern routers have a 2.4 GHz channel and a 5 GHz channel. When connecting for the first time, be sure you use the former. 2.4 GHz has an easier time traveling through material (like walls) and can give you better connectivity.
Now that we were up and running, it was time to physically install the unit. It’s worth pointing out here that a user manual would have been helpful. After connecting to our WiFi, we were just – running. No tutorial, no guide for installation, nothing. To be fair, all of the install information is available on August’s site and accessible through the app, and since the View is DIY, we don’t think you’ll have any problems getting your doorbell installed.
That said, it was time to get it on the wall.
The installation process was super easy. Like, less-than-five-minutes easy. We took the mounting bracket and screwed it in next to the doorframe using the provided hardware. Once that was secure, we slid the doorbell into place. Since it’s wireless, it’s as easy as that.
One thing, though – the mounting bracket is plastic, and the unit itself secures to the bracket using one toggle screw. Not that we’re super worried about someone stealing our doorbell, but hey, it happens.1 And it would be pretty easy for someone to help themselves to our August View. Luckily, August offers a theft replacement guarantee.2 If our unit is ever pilfered, they’ll replace it for free.
Tip: Make sure the View is positioned correctly. It really needs to be about four feet from the ground, facing away from your door. If you put it anywhere else, you’re not going to get the most out of the motion detection feature.
The provided indoor chime was even easier to install. Once the video doorbell was up and running, we used the app to couple it with the chime simply by scanning a QR code on the back. Once it was plugged into the wall, we were able to change the chime tune and its volume with no issues at all. It just worked.
But honestly, we expect ultra-fast and easy installation these days. Other DIY video doorbells, like SimpliSafe’s Video Doorbell Pro, have really set the bar here.
So now that we had it installed properly and working, we wanted to test the functionality of the August View doorbell cam. You might be surprised by what we found!
First – the good. The video quality was outstanding. Recording at 1440p HD video, the View offers about a third more pixels than the industry standard of 1080p in a 150-degree field of view. For the layperson, this means you’ll see everything with crystal clear video quality with nearly wall-to-wall coverage. Seriously – we were able to read the return addresses on our Prime packages.
The motion detection also seemed perfect right out of the box. It wasn’t overly sensitive, and as far as we could tell, it never failed to pick up any movement. If you’re having issues, though, the app allows you to adjust it pretty easily, and it wouldn’t take a whole lot of calibration to get it right.
Once the sun went down, we found that the night vision is also worth commending. Relying on an array of ultraviolet diodes, the View delivered some of the best nighttime images we’ve seen out to about ten feet. Although videos aren’t in color, that’s totally fine by us. To get color images at night often means shining light on whatever’s creeping or crawling, and we’re sure our neighbors wouldn’t appreciate a spotlight every time a moth flew by.
If you want to get into the nerdy nitty-gritty, here are the tech specs for the August View video doorbell according to the company’s website:
Next – the bad. The system felt a little sluggish at times. We experienced some lag from the camera to our smartphone, which caused some problems when we were trying to use the two-way talk function. Since we had to mute ourselves in the app to hear our guests talk, it sometimes felt like using a walkie-talkie in perpetual slow motion.
At one point my wife and I were shouting at each other through the door, trying to get the talk function to work properly. The “can you hear me through the thing? Can you hear me through the phone? What is it doing?” back and forth got a little frustrating. But really, this is par for the course. Unless your internet connection is set to ludicrous-speed, you’ll have to deal with some lag from time to time.
We also found that the View was a little slow to “wake up” from its power-saving sleep mode. While nap time means the View can go about 3 months between charges (depending on how active your porch is), the lag sometimes caused the motion detection to only catch the last bit of the action. We now have quite a few recordings of postal workers walking down the stairs after dropping off our mail.
Is a slow wake-up time a huge deal in this context? No, we guess not; but it might be if you wanted to share a video of someone stealing a package off your porch with the police. But then again, the truth is that police make arrests in less than 10% of reported package theft cases (the more you know).3
This brings us to an important point: connection speed matters when it comes to wireless home security products. Like many tech-heads, we run multiple devices at a time off of our home WiFi, but nothing outrageous, and it’s not like we’re running dial-up here. If you have tremendous bandwidth, blazing speeds, and a dedicated router that’s within the recommended 10-15 feet, we’d imagine the View would work flawlessly.
There’s nothing flashy here, but that’s fine by us. The app itself is simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate. Despite not offering a tutorial, we had the hang of it after only a couple of minutes. We think you’ll really like what August brings to the table as far as smartphone controls go.
The app’s home screen showed our “keychain,” where we could access each of our devices. This is particularly useful if you have multiple entryways or multiple properties. It’s especially cool if you run an Airbnb or similar rental property – as you can integrate your August smart lock with that account to easily grant and deny access to guests.
After selecting your device, you can view a live stream or check it’s motion detection activity. You’re also able to easily invite users to be able to access and manipulate the device, with different tiers of accessibility. We use an iPhone, but we were easily able to set up a friend using an Android device where the accessibility and functionality were nearly identical. So big points for August here.
In the settings section, we were able to toggle notifications on and off and enable integration with other devices like Google Home. In the advanced settings tap, we could alter the sensitivity of the motion detector, toggle the night vision setting on and off, and adjust its brightness. We appreciated the app’s functionality, and we think you will too.
In our quest for consistency with the View, we first consulted their online resources, which are quite robust. One of the first things we learned was that we should be using our router’s 2.4 GHz band. When we initially set it up, we picked the 5Ghz band since it has faster speeds and greater bandwidth – however, you shouldn’t do that. Since your doorbell is outside, the signal has to pass through at least one wall – and 2.4Ghz has greater penetrating power in this regard.4
While the switch made the functionality marginally better, it didn’t fix all of our problems. We decided we should call customer support for some help. Consulting our little matchbook, we found the number but were a bit dismayed when we got a busy signal the first few times we tried it.
Eventually, we got through and found ourselves speaking to an AI-based automated helper that gave us some general tips and texted us general troubleshooting guidelines. These might have helped some people, but we needed to talk to an actual human being. No worries – we were able to get someone on the phone pretty quickly.
The technician was able to walk us through some of the simple fixes for connectivity issues (can you move the router closer? Can you switch to 2.4 GHz?) but ultimately, we weren’t able to find a bulletproof solution. He suggested we reset everything, allow the doorbell to run for a few days, and call back if we were still experiencing the same problems. Not the best outcome, but an understandable one.
Keep in mind that the August View is built to play well with the entire August product suite, which includes a variety of smart locks and keypads to help automate your home’s entryways. It also integrates with Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant to notify you of motion or when the doorbell has been pressed. In our experience, this is where August truly excels.
Apparently, there are additional faceplate colors available as well, including 4 metal faceplates (satin nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, satin brass, midnight gray) and 4 colored faceplates (black, red, blue, and white). We think it’s pretty cool to be able to customize the look of your View, but we weren’t able to find any available for purchase.
It’s also worth mentioning that August takes a pretty hard stance on not offering facial recognition in this integration, saying that as a company they prioritize safety above all, and privacy is an important element of that. They say they won’t be offering facial recognition until there are meaningful regulations in place governing its use.5 Pretty admirable if you ask us.
Like many video doorbells on the market, August offers cloud storage for video clips recorded. With the View, you can pick between the premium subscription at $2.99 per month for 15 days of video storage, or $4.99 for 30 days’ worth of storage. Both plans allow you to download and save videos locally, and the subscription applies to all users of the system. Either plan is pretty reasonable, but something to note – if you don’t want to get an August subscription, you can still download images and videos from your activity feed if there’s something important you need to keep.
With its powerful video, sleek design, and ease of use, we think the August View is a great solution for the right person. If you have fast internet speeds, it’ll definitely do the trick. If your internet is on the lower end of amazing, you probably don’t want to be buying a doorbell that’s streaming in 1440p – it might cause more headaches than it’s worth. Maybe consider something on the lower end of the Ring product line or the Nest Hello doorbell cam.
If you really want that crystal clear video and you don’t have superfast internet speeds, you could consider purchasing a WiFi extender, but then you’re going to be tacking more onto your already steep $230 bill.
That said, when it works well, the View works really well. The audio quality is crisp, despite the push-to-talk functionality of the app, and the video quality is second to none. If coupled with a robust connection, we think the View has the potential to become one of the better video doorbells on the market.
Yes – it takes less than 5 minutes.
No – the unit runs on rechargeable batteries.
Fantastic – View records in 1440p HD video
No – it relies on ultraviolet light for night vision mode
Yes – the View offers integration with Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant
KTNV Channel 13. (2017. June 12). Man watches as thieves steal high-tech video doorbell.
August.com. (2019, December 23). What Should I do if My August Doorbell Cam is Stolen?
Smiota.com. (2020, February 16). 6 Shocking Stats about Package Theft.
Hoffman, C. (2018, February 18). 5 GHz Wi-Fi isn’t Always Better than 2 GHz Wi-Fi. How-to Geek.
August View FAQ. (2019, December 23). Is Facial Recognition Supported?