Feature-rich doorbell cameras for homeowners and renters alike
Everyone’s keeping an eye on their entryway these days — and good thing! Package thieves, burglars, and looky-loos can pose a problem even in the best of neighborhoods.1 That’s why you’ve turned to us for our expert advice on the SkyBell doorbell camera, right? Well, we’ve been testing doorbell cameras and other home security equipment for a long time. So we know what to look for (and what to steer clear of!) to help you find the right fit.
We recently got our hands on SkyBell video doorbells, and overall, we liked the way they secured our entryway and added a dash of smart home convenience to our lives. We also liked that these doorbell cams come with HD video quality, color night vision, 5x zoom, home automation integrations, and smartphone controls. Needless to say, we think the features are a-plenty.
But there were things we didn’t love about the SkyBell HD and the SkyBell Trim Plus video doorbells. For instance, they are hardwired-only devices, there are only two options to choose from, and they aren’t exactly cheap (but… you get what you pay for). Still, we think you’ll like what we found during our in-depth research and testing of SkyBell. So let’s have a look!
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First, you should know that SkyBell isn’t the most budget-friendly doorbell camera out there. Both camera options weigh in at $199 — which is more expensive than the popular Ring Doorbell, and only slightly cheaper than the Nest Hello doorbell cam. If you’re looking to compare Skybell vs Ring, we have you covered.
Now, if you want to customize your camera with different mounts and/or hardware, they do have a handful of accessories to choose from. And these will only set you back about $10-$15 apiece. Other brands we’ve tried offer all sorts of add-ons and accessories that can drain your bank account if you’re not careful. So now that you know the basics, here are your SkyBell options.
|SkyBell Doorbell Cameras||SkyBell HD||SkyBell Trim Plus||SkyBell Chime™|
|Color Night Vision||Yes||Yes||N/A|
|1080p HD resolution||Yes||Yes||N/A|
|Live Video Streaming||Yes||Yes||N/A|
Don’t worry, that was just a lighting-round as far as features go. We’ll unpack the features in just a bit. But as you can see, the SkyBell HD and SkyBell Trimline Plus are basically the same product, at the same price point, only with a different design. So when we say this brand offers limited products, we mean it!
That said, we do think the cost is very reasonable for what you get. Sure, Ring is cheaper with more doorbell cameras to choose from. The Ring Video Doorbell Wired, for instance, costs a jaw-dropping $64.99. You could buy three of those and they’d still be a few dollars cheaper than SkyBell. That said, it’s not a contest of which is cheaper, but of which offers more value. And we do think SkyBell can offer a lot of value for its price.
Another thing to keep in mind is that SkyBell doesn’t have monthly subscription costs or any other hidden fees. It comes with a seven-day video history of activities for free. That’s more than generous. Ring, for instance, doesn’t record at all without a cloud subscription (minimum of $3 per month), while Nest offers only three hours of free event history.
To be honest, the SkyBell website is a little frustrating. They don’t readily list the products, so we had to go digging for them. But check-out was fairly straightforward once we found them. Since there are no monthly subscription fees, we didn’t have to “sign-up” like we’re required to do so often.
Also, in the checkout process, we learned that SkyBell offers a pretty generous theft guarantee — which is something that our favorite doorbell cameras on the market are all starting to offer. Essentially, if someone steals your SkyBell video doorbell (oh, the irony!), the company will replace it for free. Doorbell camera theft happens more than you might think.2
Did You Know? Video doorbell brands that require a subscription usually offer a 14-day or 30-day money-back guarantee. This allows you to try out the product and service before committing long-term.
One of our biggest gripes with SkyBell is the installation process. These doorbell cameras are hardwired — not wireless (battery-powered) like most brands available. This means you’ll have to connect it to your existing doorbell wiring, which can be a pain in the you-know-what if you don’t know what you’re doing. So if you’re not the DIY type, we recommend looking for a wireless doorbell cam.
If that’s more your style, we recommend heading over to our Nest Doorbell review. It snapped into its mount with ease and was up and running in under 5 minutes – after five hours of initial charging, that is, but at least we didn’t have to touch our home’s wiring.
If you’re up for the challenge of hardwiring the SkyBell doorbell though, here’s a rundown of what installation was like for us: First, we had to remove our existing doorbell, then screw in the mounting plate, reconnect the old wiring, place the unit over the mounting plate, download the SkyBell app, select “Add a New SkyBell” to pair the device, and then go through the syncing process to connect to our home’s Wi-Fi. All in all, installing SkyBell took about 30 minutes from start to finish. So be sure to carve out some time for it!
One last note on the installation: Choose wisely between the SkyBell HD and the SkyBell Trim Plus. The former sports a round design with a diameter of almost three inches. If you’re planning to go with the SkyBell HD, check that there’s enough room for it by your door. There aren’t many round video doorbells on the market because they take up space, so if you’re not sure, better go with the Trim Plus version. It’s less than two inches wide and it has a slim, rectangular form factor.
Pro Tip: Install the SkyBell app first, and then follow the step-by-step installation video within the app. Or have a look at SkyBell’s extensive installation guides online.3
All of our controls were managed through the SkyBell app, which we found to be easy to use. Within the app, we were able to see video recording history, receive instant activity alerts, view a live-stream feed of our front door, talk with visitors from pretty much anywhere, and more. We really liked the app, as it reminded us of the Ring Doorbell app (our top pick).
However, we did find SkyBell’s video streaming feature to be touch-and-go at times, with a bit of a lag. But we think the color night vision and motion detection worked just fine. Overall, the device was simple to use, and we were able to get crystal clear video (1080p HD image quality) that rivaled other great doorbell cams on the market today.
There were other downsides to the app, mainly when it comes to the design. It feels a little dated, like something from the early days of video doorbells. It’s also limited in what it can do. Unlike the Arlo app, for instance, that offers customizations of smart features like person detection as well as e911, the SkyBell app covers just the basics – like live streaming and video playback. Was it bad? No. But was it great? Not really.
SkyBell isn’t owned by Amazon (like Ring), and it isn’t owned by Google (like Nest). It’s a small company that’s supposedly committed to customer satisfaction. Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that we didn’t experience any problems with SkyBell customer service. In fact, the reps we talked to were friendly, professional, and helpful. But you should know that it’s a mixed bag from what we hear.
The bad news is that SkyBell has a D- rating from the BBB with several poor reviews.4 In our research, we found the unhappy customers were mostly irritated with tech problems, slow response from the service team, and all-around limited support. These negative reviews are somewhat dated; but, there’s really no excuse for a D- rating, so we have to ding SkyBell some points for this. Hopefully, they’ll clean up their act soon. We’ll keep you posted.
If you’re anything like us, you geek out over slick features and fancy tech. Thankfully, SkyBell didn’t let us down in this department. In fact, the SkyBell HD and SkyBell Trim Plus offer some really great features.
Pro Tip: Choose a doorbell camera — or any home security device — that offers plenty of features. It’s better to have additional features that you don’t need than it is to want additional features that you don’t have.
We were really blown away by the SkyBell Connect feature, which allowed us to connect to all sorts of smart home automation platforms. Also, we think the Quiet Mode will be helpful for new parents, or yippy-yappy dog owners! Here are the features we think you’ll like.
|Video quality||1080p HD|
|Viewing angle||180 degrees|
|Zoom||Up to 5x (digital)|
|Video history||Up to 7 days|
|Night vision||Color night vision|
|Detection range||Up to 8 feet|
The 1080p HD video quality is nice, but keep in mind SkyBell also has 5x zoom, color night vision, motion detection, and two-way talk.
Who’s that suspicious person at your door? Snap a picture, it’ll last longer. We like having this image capture feature, along with video recording, of course.
Review your entryway activity right inside of the SkyBell app. We think you’ll find this activity log to be helpful after a long day’s work. After all, life gets busy, and you likely won’t be able to respond to every alert.
Using the SkyBell app, you can remotely access and control your video doorbell from your smartphone. Get instant notifications, chat with visitors via two-way talk, tell the bad guys to scram, view live-stream footage and recorded video, and more. Again, those are basic and necessary video doorbell features, but we do appreciate that SkyBell made them easy to use through the app.
Using SkyBell Connect, you can enjoy smart home automations from Amazon Echo, Nest Home, IFTTT, Honeywell, Kwikset smart locks, and more. Want your lights to come on when someone presses the doorbell? You can set up that automation and others like it.
Both of SkyBell doorbell cameras are built to last. Although they aren’t the most robust devices we’ve tested, they should work just fine in extreme temperatures, from -40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t wake the baby! We like that SkyBell has a Quiet Mode that allows you to turn off the chime and instead have your entryway activity get sent via notification to your smartphone.
The company claims that if your SkyBell doorbell cam is stolen, they’ll replace it free of charge. There are likely some stipulations here, so be sure you read the fine print.
SkyBell offers a few add-ons, upgrades, and accessories. But, honestly, we think the limited options leave a lot to be desired. The same goes for their doorbell camera selection — we would like to have more choices. It’s kind of like going to a restaurant and only seeing two chicken dishes on the menu, and nothing else. As they say, variety is the spice of life. That said, SkyBell’s accessories are cheap and easy to choose from.
|Type of Device||Price|
|SkyBell HD Wall Mount||Mount||$9.95|
|SkyBell Wedge Mount||Mount||$9.95|
|SkyBell HD Hardware Kit||Hardware||$4.95|
|SkyBell Digital Doorbell Adapter||Door Chime Adapter||$12.95|
While researching SkyBell, we found their BBB profile that says they’ve been in business for 21 years. We thought that was a little fishy, as the SkyBell name only dates back to 2013. So we did some more digging, and we learned that SkyBell used to be called iDoorCam — a somewhat inferior product that was around in the early 2010s.5 At any rate, the folks at SkyBell are located in sunny Irvine, California. And based on our experience, we think you can trust SkyBell and their products.
In this SkyBell review, we applied the same methodology we use to test other video doorbells. After buying the doorbell, we unboxed it and checked all the components that came with the box. Next, we installed the doorbell ourselves. This is to give you an idea of the installation process and whether or not it’s DIY-friendly.
Once the doorbell was set up, we spent several weeks with it, testing several aspects like the ease-of-use, video quality, hardware quality, and app. Lastly, we fiddled with smart home integrations, connecting SkyBell with other smart home products we have at home.
All in all, we spent close to a hundred hours testing the product.
After having tested both SkyBell doorbell cameras, we can say that the company is on to something. First, there are no long-term contracts or monthly subscription fees weighing you down. Just pay for the product, and that’s it! Also, SkyBell offers plenty of smart home integrations, which is always something we like to see. And finally, the features were easy to control within the SkyBell app. With that said, it wasn’t all peachy keen.
We didn’t like the fact that the SkyBell HD and SkyBell Trim Plus both required hardwire installation. We don’t mind rolling up our sleeves, but we like things to be… well… easy. Also, we’d like to see a wider selection of doorbell cameras, and we think SkyBell has room for improvement in the smart features department, too. Its lack of person detection and package detection puts it at a disadvantage compared to products from Ring, Nest, and Arlo.
So if you want nifty features without spending much, we recommend checking out Ring Doorbell or Nest Doorbell, two of our favorite video doorbell brands. Or… have a peek at our recently-updated list of the top 10 doorbell video cameras available. It’s nice to know that you have options!
No, SkyBell doesn’t offer professional monitoring, so there are no long-term contracts.
Both SkyBell doorbell cameras must be hardwired into your existing doorbell wiring.
Both options offer 1080p HD video resolution, with night vision, motion detection, and 5x zoom. Not bad.
Yes, these doorbell cams integrate with third-party smart home automation platforms like Amazon’s Alexa, Nest, IFTTT, Kwikset, Honeywell, and more.
We think SkyBell is reasonably priced considering the features that it offers.
Hu, W. & Haag, M. (2019, December 3). 90,000 Packages Disappear Daily in N.Y.C. Is Help on the Way? New York Times.
KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas. (2017, June 12). Man watches as thieves steal high-tech video doorbell.
SkyBell Technologies. (2020). Installation and Setup.
SkyBell: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (2020, May 11). BBB.
Business Wire. (2013, August 14). iDoorCam: New WiFi-Enabled Doorbell Allows Consumers to Easily Monitor and Stay Connected to Their Front Doors at Any Time, From Anywhere.