What this Ring doorbell camera might lack in form, it more than makes up for in function
When it comes to video doorbells, Ring is the first brand that comes to mind. They started the whole industry when they launched the Ring Video Doorbell back in 2014, and since then, they’ve been supplying the market with some of the most advanced doorbell cameras.
One of Ring’s more advanced models is the Ring Video Doorbell 3. It is a later version of the original Ring doorbell released in 2014, but it’s also an entirely different beast of a doorbell camera. It may not be the most high-end, but at $199, it seems to be a solid mid-range option that promises lots of great features.
Well, we recently spent a couple of weeks testing the device from top to bottom to see if it lives up to our expectations. We definitely loved the doorbell; however, we found a couple of drawbacks as well. We’ll unpack everything through the course of this article, but first let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons.
Pro Tip: If you want a Ring doorbell with smart features, the Ring Pro delivers all the goods plus a ton of extras. See what’s behind all the hype in our Ring Video Doorbell vs. Ring Pro comparison. They may be from the same brand, but their differences will astound you.
Before we get into the features and technology, let’s get the Ring Video Doorbell 3 out of the box.
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We bought the Ring Video Doorbell 3 straight from Ring’s website, and while Ring’s retail pricing for the device is $199, we got it on sale for $149 with free expedited shipping. It arrived two days later, ready for unboxing.
The first thing we noticed was the size of the video doorbell. It’s really big! It’s about five inches tall, almost two and a half inches wide, and over an inch thick. It’s nearly double the width of the Google Nest Doorbell (wired), so if you have limited real estate on your front door, we’d recommend reconsidering. As you can see in the image below, there’s some overhang once we got the Video Doorbell 3 installed on our door frame, and it’s not looking very pretty.
Another thing to note is the boxy rectangular form factor of the Ring Video Doorbell 3 that follows the design elements of previous Video Doorbell models. Now, this is certainly a matter of preference, but we tend to prefer rounder designs and slimmer profiles like the Arlo Video Doorbell or the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro.
That said, we did appreciate that the doorbell’s faceplates are interchangeable. Ours arrived with a silver-ish faceplate – Ring calls it Satin Nickel – but after setting up the device, we received a digital voucher for a free faceplate. We put in an order for the dark bronze to at least make the doorbell fit in better with our front door aesthetics. Despite this design shortcoming, it’s clear Ring has prioritized customization for its customers.
Speaking of that versatility, we were happy to find we were able to choose how we’d like to install it. It comes with a battery pack if you’re not comfortable wiring it to your home, or if you’re comfortable with a more involved DIY project, you can go the wired route. We certainly appreciate Ring’s decision here!
And while we’re on the subject of decisions, here are a few quick stats on Ring Doorbell to help you decide if it’s right for you:
|Accolade||Best Doorbell Cam|
|Wired or Wireless?||Wired|
With that, let’s get back to nuts and bolts.
As we were unboxing the unit, we also noticed they gave us everything we could possibly need for any type of install — different lengths of screws, various wire extensions, two different anchor plates if we needed to install it at an angle — it’s all there. That said, it’s also a little overwhelming! We decided to go with a battery-powered configuration, but we needed some guidance on how to get started. Like most video doorbells on the market, we were prompted to download the app for instructions.
Did You Know: The Ring Video Doorbell 3 also provides you with a physical instruction manual for reference. It’s helpful to flip through before you get started so you can know what to expect for either type of install.
The app felt well-designed with user experience in mind. After going through the setup process, we started to notice some pretty cool features. More on that later, though. We need to get it installed first.
The process began by walking us through the device set up. After we entered some standard information, we were prompted to name our doorbell. We weren’t feeling particularly creative, so we selected “Front Door” from the standard choices.
After that, we needed to power on the device. We did this by sliding the battery into the bottom of the unit, at which time a mechanized voice told us the Ring was in setup mode. Not a huge deal, but little feedback details like that are helpful and worth noting. Then to link the Ring app with the doorbell we were prompted to scan a small QR code on the back of the device. No problem there.
Pro Tip: If you’re installing the Ring with a battery-powered configuration, plug the battery pack in overnight to charge all the way before you’re planning to set the doorbell up.
Once that was done, we had to connect the Ring doorbell to our Wi-Fi. While the app doesn’t tell you to do this, it’s important that you select the 2.4 GHz channel on your router (if you have it). While it’s a little counterintuitive since the 5 GHz channel offers faster speeds, 2.4 GHz is actually better at penetrating walls and is better suited for connecting a device like a video doorbell.1
After it connects to the Internet, the Ring will automatically update its firmware. The app told us this process could take up to five minutes, and we found it took every second of that. Be patient! Grab lunch or something.
After we finished eating our sandwich, our Ring Video Doorbell 3 was fully updated and ready to physically install. Here the app prompted us to watch a video on a new feature called Modes.2 Using Modes, we can sync all of our Ring devices together and change their settings based on privacy and security needs. For example — if you’re home, you don’t necessarily want an indoor camera alerting you every time there’s motion. If you’re away, though, you might want to turn that functionality on. Remember when we said Ring’s really great with versatility? That’s another example of what we’re talking about.
And just to give you an idea of the devices you can link up using Modes, here’s a few notable products from the Ring family:
|Ring Product Name||Device Type||Price|
|Indoor Cam||Security Camera||$59.99|
|Stick Up Cam||Security Camera||$99.99|
|Spotlight Cam||Security Camera||$199.99|
|Floodlight Cam||Outdoor Light/Camera||$249.99|
|Solar Panel||Power Source||$49.99|
So Modes seems pretty cool, but since we’re just installing one doorbell camera, it’s not immediately necessary for us.
Once we finished learning about the Modes feature we landed on the app’s home screen. Hmm? No prompts on how to install the unit itself? That’s a bit frustrating. To find the physical installation instructions we had to dig into the settings. While we’re pretty competent with installing video doorbells, this might be frustrating for a first-timer.
Pro Tip: If you decide to wire the Ring Video Doorbell 3 into your existing doorbell wiring, make sure you’re following safety protocols. Working with electricity can be dangerous!3
Also worth noting, the Ring does not come with a chime — either wired or wireless. The unit itself will ring when the doorbell is pressed by a guest, but if you think you’ll miss the traditional “ding dong” of a doorbell, you should consider purchasing a chime.
Once we found the instructions, the installation process was super straightforward. All it took was two screws to secure the mounting bracket, and four screws to secure the Ring doorbell to it. One thing we noticed, though — the Ring is designed in such a way that we couldn’t use our drill to screw the doorbell into place. That was kind of a pain, but it was still pretty easy using the provided screwdriver. Another handy touch is that Ring includes a level that snaps into the unit during the install so we were able to make sure it was perfectly squared up before tightening.
Alright — now that the unit was in place, it was time to secure the faceplate. We liked the monochromatic look the bronze option offered, so we went with that. We’ve got to say, though, it’s unfortunate Ring went with the material they chose here. It’s lightweight and feels a little cheap. We also found it didn’t connect as securely as we would have liked it to — even after we screwed the final screw into the bottom of the unit. Is it a deal-breaker? No, but we sort of expected more from one of the video doorbell market leaders.4
All in all, it took us about 30 to 45 minutes to install the doorbell. That’s quite a bit more time than we expected, especially for a battery-powered doorbell. When we set up the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell, which is a hardwired model, it took us less than 10 minutes from start to finish.
As mentioned earlier, the Ring Video Doorbell 3 is especially versatile because it can work either as a hardwired or battery-powered doorbell. We chose the battery route because we knew it was going to be a temporary setup, but if you’re trying to decide which setup is best for your home, here are a few key pointers to consider.
A wireless (battery-powered) setup allows for easier installation, but note that when the battery is low, you can’t directly recharge the doorbell itself. You’ll need to remove the faceplate, then take out and recharge the battery pack separately. In our experience, recharging takes at least five hours. During that time, the doorbell will be out of operation.
As far as battery life goes, Ring promises a six- to 12-month longevity for every full charge, depending on your usage. We didn’t test the doorbell long enough to say whether that’s true or not, but after a couple weeks of testing, the battery level remained at 85-percent, so we think it does have what it takes to last at least six months.
On the other hand, a wired setup will require you to be more involved in the installation. You might even need the help of a technician if you’re not comfortable with electrical wiring. Once it’s set up, though, you won’t ever have to tinker with the doorbell again.
In any case, keep reading for our experience living with the Ring Video Doorbell 3 day-to-day before buying.
We’ve tested quite a few doorbell cameras in our day, and the Ring Video Doorbell 3 functionality is one of the best we’ve seen. The video quality is outstanding, the camera’s field of view is stunning, the audio is crystal-clear, and the two-way talk functionality is nearly perfect. After running it for a few days, it’s clear why these doorbells are among the most popular on the market. Now let’s drill down into these qualities a little more.
The Ring 3 sees the world through a 1080p HD lens with a super-wide 160-degree field of view. That means we could see everything going on outside our door. And we really mean everything. Seriously, look at that view.
The video quality was definitely better during the day, though. As you can see in the snapshot above, it’s easy to make out the details despite the glare coming from outside our apartment building. At night, the video is still pretty clear, but it’s more prone to glare because the infrared sensor picks up light from all sources, including the built-in infrared lens.
As far as security measures go, the unit’s advanced motion capture capability meant that when anything was happening outside, we wouldn’t miss it. We also really appreciated Ring’s capacity for customization here. Using the app we were able to set up meaningful zones for the Ring to pay special attention to, and we were also able to adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection overall. This really cut down on false alerts and made it so only meaningful notifications were sent.
While the motion zones and sensitivity adjustments were useful, we would have liked to see more alert customizations. This is an area where Ring is severely lacking, even with its more high-end products.
For example, for roughly the same price as the Video Doorbell 3, the Nest Doorbell (battery) has built-in person detection. This means it can tell you if a motion event involves a person without you having to check the footage. If you upgrade to a monthly cloud subscription, you’ll also gain access to facial recognition (tells you when a familiar face is seen) and package detection (tells you when a package is left or picked up from your front door).
Without those features, the Ring Video Doorbell 3 is essentially just a surveillance camera on your front door. It’s a pretty good one, but you’ll have to be more involved in monitoring your alerts to really increase your home security with this device.
Some of the doorbells we’ve tested have a problem with significant lag in their two-way talk functionality. Not so with the Ring Video Doorbell 3. Conversations happen in near real-time, so we never found ourselves talking over our guests or missing what they were saying. We also found the audio quality to be pretty good on either end of the device, although the speaker in the doorbell itself makes things sound a little tinny.
One nifty feature we found is called Quick Replies5, essentially an answering machine for the doorbell. You can’t record your own message, unfortunately, but you’ll select from a list of pre-recorded messages. If turned on, Quick Replies will trigger automatically within 0 to 20 seconds after your doorbell is pressed.
So this was really cool. When we wanted to see the moments our Ring captured, instead of being met with a vertical list of video clips to scroll through, events were presented on a timeline we could scrub through. We thought this was a unique, thoughtful, and most of all intuitive way of organizing things. Bonus points for that alone!
It’s worth pointing out here that this function, which Ring calls Snapshot Capture, is enabled by default on the device. It’s great, but it will significantly drain your battery life as it’s capturing what is essentially an ongoing stream of still images. If you’re running a battery-powered configuration, it might be worth considering how often you want to be charging the battery. The company says a full charge should last between 6 to 12 months, but if you’re running Snapshot Capture, we’d expect it to be on the lower end of that spectrum.
That said, the Ring comes with a free 30 day trial to their cloud service subscription called Ring Protect. Beyond that, you’ll have to choose between a “Basic” or a “Plus” plan. Basic will run you $3 per month, and Plus will run you $10. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll get with both:
|Number of devices supported||1||Unlimited|
|Lifetime theft protection||Yes||Yes|
|Video history for 60 days||Yes||Yes|
|Video saving and sharing||Yes||Yes|
|24/7 professional monitoring for alarms||No||Yes|
|10 percent off select Ring products||No||Yes|
|Price||$3 per month||$10 per month|
So that’s that on the Ring Video Doorbell 3’s day-to-day use. Overall, we were more than satisfied with its functionality both in terms of a security device and an alert system. If this was all Ring offered, we’d be perfectly happy; however, they take it a step further. By choosing Ring, we had the opportunity to participate in a larger security community beyond our front door.
As a company, Ring is clearly committed to making things safer for everyone. As such, when we set up our Video Doorbell 3, we also joined Neighbors, Ring’s community-based security app. The app is basically a virtual neighborhood watch that has a social media-like feel. It provides real-time crime and safety alerts from both neighbors and the local police department based on the zip code entered at setup.
If you use Neighbors, you’ll also be encouraged to share videos, images, and comments in a collaborative way with the goal of making your community safer. There’s anecdotal evidence to suggest this app has even helped police departments solve actual crimes!6 We don’t think many doorbells can make that claim.
Now, we will say that while we viewed this as a positive, some might see it differently. Those who are hyper-concerned with their privacy might not like that while the Neighbors feature is opt-in, you can’t really opt-out. There’s no real way to delete the service from the Ring app itself. While Ring representatives have said they will never disclose user video to law enforcement without the express consent of the user or if it is required to by law, privacy hawks might not be too keen on this function.7 Take that for what it’s worth.
Did You Know? Ring’s Neighbors app not only helps keep people safe, it keeps pets safe too. The company has documented cases of people using their Ring networks to track down missing animals.
Overall, we were really happy with the Ring Video Doorbell 3. Although it’s not aesthetically designed to our liking, we couldn’t argue with its functionality. Retailing for about $200, the Ring is a solid choice at a more than reasonable price for anyone looking to purchase a new doorbell camera.
While it’s not a huge upgrade compared to older Video Doorbell models, the Video Doorbell 3 provides a solid video quality with excellent audio. It’s also quite versatile, both in terms of installation and customizations within the app. For example, we like the customizable motion sensitivity and the motion zones, while again, it’s clearly lacking smart features like person and package detection.
The real advantage of the Video Doorbell 3 compared to other brands is its being part of an enormous family of home security products. Ring offers security cameras and security systems, so if you’re looking to start a broader security system for your home, the Ring Video Doorbell 3 is definitely worth considering.
That said, if you still want to do some comparison shopping, Ring also offers lots of different types of video doorbells to fit any need or budget.
For instance, if you’re looking to save some cash, their original Video Doorbell is only $99. You also have a wired option in the Video Doorbell Pro. The Pro model is slightly more expensive than the Video Doorbell 3, but it boasts a slimmer design and a more reliable (hardwired) connection, which we like.
Then there’s the Video Doorbell Elite, which brings out the big guns as far as entryway protection goes. This model has a flush-mount design and uses an ethernet connection, which is the best connection-type we’ve seen.
Here’s a quick look at some of Ring’s offerings:
Peephole CamAdvanced functions with a low-profile design$129
|Video Doorbell||Basic functionality||$99|
|Video Doorbell 3||Wireless or hardwired with excellent resolution||$199|
|Video Doorbell 3 Plus||Advanced motion detection and “Pre-roll” technology||$229|
|Video Doorbell Pro||Hardwired with advanced features and slim design||$249.99|
|Video Doorbell Elite||Advanced functionality, hardwired, slim design, ethernet connectivity||$349.99|
Want to see how these doorbells stack up against offerings from other manufacturers? Head over to our Best Video Doorbell guide.
Both! You can install it either way.
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 is $199 from the manufacturer.
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 records a 160-degree field of vision in high-definition 1080p.
Yes! As one of our favorite features, the two-way talk function is nearly lag-free.
Some of the most basic functions will work just fine without a subscription, but to get the most out of the Ring Video Doorbell 3, you’ll need to purchase a subscription to Ring Protect.
Klein, M. and Glenn, W. (2018, October 21). What’s the Difference Between 2.4 and 5-GHz Wi-Fi (and Which Should I Use)? How-To Geek.
Ring. (2023). Control All of Your Ring Devices with Modes.
Maxwell, S. (2020, February 10). Should You Do Your Own Electrical Work? Family Handyman.
Morrison, S. (2020, August 24). Contracts, Hacks, and Google: What to Consider Before You Get a Home Security System. Vox.
Ring. (2023). Setting up Quick Replies in the Ring App.
Harwell, D. (2019, August 28). Doorbell-camera firm Ring has partnered with 400 police forces, extending surveillance concerns. The Washington Post.
Buell, S. (2020, January 1). Ring’s Neighborhood Watch Feature is Bringing Out the Worst in Boston. Boston Magazine.