Arlo’s full suite of security products rests on two key selling points: complete home security and flexible, easy setup. Each time I test and review Arlo’s products, they’ve handled both tasks remarkably well.
So when it came time to review Pro 3, Arlo’s 2K wireless camera system released in 2019, I wanted to see if that same flexibility, ease of use, and seamless functionality were as evident as in previous Arlo models like Arlo Pro 2 or Arlo Ultra.
After all, these are not cheap cameras. The Pro 3 starts around $500 for just a two-camera package, and that doesn’t even include subscription plans for storing all the data these cameras generate. It can really add up! But then again, you do get what you pay for with home security products. That’s always a good thing to remember.
If you’re going to make the investment, you want to be sure it’s worth it. So now, let’s take a good, hard look at an Arlo Pro 3 system for this hands-on review. You might be surprised at what I found.
To get started, let’s break down a few pros and cons:
At first glance, Arlo’s packaging looked charming, even stylish. The smooth veneer runs through the camera’s housing as well as the impressive Smart Hub (aka base station) with its many ports. Elsewhere, there weren’t too many wires to untangle or paperwork to organize in the box; Arlo is known for clutter-free packaging like this, and I’m all for it.
Diving into the installation, you’ll find little to tinker with — meaning there’s no unwieldy or confusing instructions — other than a couple of handy magnetic mounting brackets.
Pretty nice, although you do have to be careful about magnetic brackets. Vandals have been known to swipe a camera or two off of one of these brackets. Just something to consider.
Initially, Arlo reminded me of Reolink’s wireless cameras with their clean, round lines and glossy finishes. Both of these cams take on a softer aesthetic than the bulkier cameras of years past and look great anywhere you put them, that was clear in my hands-on review of Reolink cams.
While I’ll dig deeper into cost a bit farther down, the bottom line is that Arlo is not a cheap camera. You will likely pay less for equipment and storage if you choose another DIY security camera, but there are some affordable options under Arlo’s umbrella, too. And keep in mind that quality comes at a price.
FYI: With so many cameras to choose from, it can be hard to make sense of pricing in this market. Check out our security camera cost guide to help simplify your search.
But before getting too deep into installation, a heads up: You’ll want to download Arlo’s mobile app right away, so you can pair the camera with your app before picking the device’s final destination.
With most Arlo camera systems, you’re given a SmartHub, which reminded me of a Wi-Fi router but with fewer lights. You’ll start bringing your system online here.
Now, keep in mind that you’ll need to connect the SmartHub to your Wi-Fi router using the provided Ethernet cable. This is essential for the system to work properly; you can’t use the SmartHub without it. If you don’t have a Wi-Fi router with an Ethernet port, your modem might. Failing that, you could purchase a Wi-Fi extender with an Ethernet port.
One more word of caution here: Don’t power on the SmartHub before you connect the Ethernet cable; otherwise, you might have trouble connecting. Plug first, power second!
Then, you can pick your plan. I took advantage of the three-month free trial and activated Arlo Smart right away (highly recommended). From there, you can unlock a world of Arlo advanced features.
FYI: Allow yourself at least 50 minutes to get Arlo Pro 3 up and running. This system is easy to install, but it still needs time to sync up with your phone, its network, and your home’s Wi-Fi. So patience is a virtue.
Now back to the hardware, which is where the magnets come in. Once you affix the mounting bracket to your desired camera location inside or outside your home, you’ll then attach the camera itself. You can twist and turn the camera angle pretty much any way but loose, since the magnetic force is so powerful. It’s a solid, air-tight configuration that I think you’ll appreciate.
Once everything was in place, it was time to watch Arlo work its magic. Next we’ll see what kind of tricks Arlo has up its sleeve.
But first, have a look at some quick stats on Arlo:
|No. of Cameras||6|
|Best Asset||Wire-Free Design|
|Video Resolution||Up to 4K|
You’re sure to love the flexibility this system offers. The Arlo Pro 3 paired easily with my smart home devices, like Google Home and Amazon Alexa.1 If you’re always on your phone, for example, you’ll like that the system immediately starts sending mobile notifications.
Here are a few more highlights:
Of course, there’s such a thing as too much information. To avoid being flooded with alerts from the Arlo cameras, I suggest going into the Smart Notifications tab under Settings to manage your individual cameras. Similar to other top cameras on the market, like the Google Nest Cam IQ cameras I tested last month, you can adjust Arlo’s settings to remove vehicles, people, animals, etc., and fine-tune your motion.
In Arlo’s settings, I picked up a few other ways to avoid those pesky unwanted alerts during testing. Do you want to receive notifications while you’re home, or just while you’re away? Do you want only one camera to detect motion at night, or all three? There’s lots of fine-tuning you can do in the Arlo app.
It wasn’t all roses and rainbows, though. You might get occasional delays from alert to playback, and in some cases the playback fails or is distorted. Initially, I thought the problem was the Wi-Fi connection; that’s usually the reason in wireless devices like this. But long story short, the issue was fixed the next day.
Generally, you’ll get much faster performance, both from the motion detection notifications and the full recordings, if you have a strong internet connection. Do remember, though, that missing a few critter appearances in your yard now and then is common with any wireless camera.
FYI: Arlo Pro 3 cameras record in up to 1080p resolution. If video perfection is what you’re after, you might want to spring for the Arlo Ultra for 4K video recordings, where you’ll see industry-leading sharpness.
For what it’s worth, I’ve seen this before in a full analysis of Ring’s cameras; with multiple devices running simultaneously, you’re generating a ton of data from these cameras and, likely, putting a strain on your Wi-Fi connection.
My advice? If you’re really concerned about lag times, perhaps a fully monitored home security system like Alder Home Security is the way to go, as this issue generally does not happen there. Visit our full Alder security system review to learn more.
Speed issues aside, you’re still alerted to the activity immediately as long as you’ve got notifications turned on; you just can’t always see the activity right away in the app. In my experience, the real-time notifications are enough time to spring into action once an alert comes through, so you can make clear-headed decisions about what to do next.
Another thing I appreciated with Arlo were the crisp, clear pictures these three 2K HDR outdoor cams produce; it’s that high-level detail that would be extremely valuable in the event of a break-in. Note that the resolution was sharp, but it wasn’t quite on-par with Arlo Ultra or a tough-as-nails Night Owl camera system I tested (but then you have to fuss with wires!).
After getting a good feel for the cameras’ performance, it was time to do some more tinkering around the Arlo app. You can download it to more than one phone, but note that only one account can act as the administrator and has the full selection of customizable features, like the ability to remove/ignore vehicles from the motion sensor. The other can act as a shared device, but the shared user is limited in what they can control. For instance, a shared user can arm and disarm any or all cameras, but not much else. Again, this is another thing to remember with Arlo.
If you’re like me, whenever you install electronic equipment outdoors, you’re inevitably worried about damage from the elements. What if it gets too wet and stops working? What if it falls down on hard concrete after a windstorm? What if it’s vandalized?
Here’s at least one nugget of reassurance: These cameras hold up really well in a storm. In the midst of a strong Midwest howler, I watched the raging winds and sideways rain go toe-to-toe with the Arlo cam for the better part of an hour. The camera was thoroughly drenched in the storm, but the Pro 3 took it like a champ. That’s due in part to the IP-65 waterproof rating,2 which is incredibly important for outdoor cameras to have.
Weatherproofing? They’ve got that down.
As long as your Wi-Fi connection is stable, you can expect real-time conversations with delivery folks and visiting friends via the Arlo mobile app from anywhere. The two-way communication works just like many security cameras out there today – you simply open the live feed, tap on the microphone icon in the camera feed, and speak. Note that there was a delay of about five seconds here, as well. This made it a little annoying when trying to have a full-on conversation with someone.
Night vision runs the gamut in this business, but it’s overall, it’s pretty strong across Arlo’s cameras. Like its slightly pricier sister Arlo Ultra, Arlo Pro 3 offers color night vision, whereas the Arlo Pro 2 and Arlo Pro provide night vision in black and white.
Whether or not you need color depends on how much you want to see at night, as well as what kind of activity you’re looking to capture. Another approach to night vision is to use a built-in light. Visit my hands-on Ring Floodlight Cam review for an in-depth look at a really strong outdoor setup, but to sum it up, Arlo cameras are excellent at active deterrence3 — that is, actively scaring away potential intruders.
In keeping with Arlo’s theme of simplicity, you’ll notice that it’s easy to pop out the battery chamber in the camera and ease the included rechargeable battery right in, then pop everything right back into place. No screwdrivers, no sweat, and no fighting with inanimate objects.
Once your cameras are armed, you can see how much battery life each camera has left. Here, you might notice that the cameras located in higher-activity areas lose battery life faster than the others. The front door camera, for example, had to be recharged after about 48 hours, while the others have lasted three days and counting.
So just keep in mind that you’ll have to change the battery more often for cameras in high-traffic areas. If you’d rather not have to do that, Arlo has a solar panel battery charger for $79.99 that you can install (in a sunny place, of course) for a consistent power source.
FYI: Arlo’s solar panel, in our view, is priced a bit steep. You can get a Reolink solar panel for less than $30, and a Ring solar panel for $50.
While Arlo security cameras don’t have too many of their own home automation features, the good news is that they play well with third-party devices. I tested them with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and each option allows for voice control over the cameras. The system is also supported by IFTTT4 (If This Then That), allowing you to connect your cameras to many other devices and platforms, like Apple Homekit, SmartThings, Telguard, Stringify, and Wink.
For more info, visit our complete Arlo home automation guide.
One feature of Arlo Pro 3 that’s a nice improvement over previous Arlo models is the built-in siren. You can activate it manually or set it to activate when motion or sound is detected. Simply open your app and click the shield button at the upper right of the screen. From there, you’ll be able to activate the siren, and deactivate it later if you choose. This, like the integrated spotlight, is another crucial active deterrent feature.
As mentioned above, Arlo cameras are not cheap. A three-camera kit, for example, has a $649.99 retail price tag. Sure, there are more budget-friendly camera options out there, but keep in mind that you’ll lose out on picture quality and features if you go with the cheaper models.
Though Brinks Home Security systems and other whole-home packages are among the best ways to secure your home, having a few no-fuss cameras can still give you a clear and thorough picture of anything and everything going on around your home. Arlo presents this option in a clean, stylish package that I think you’ll be really pleased with.
With that, see below for a camera-by-camera breakdown, and visit my complete Arlo camera pricing guide for an even closer look.
|Arlo Camera||Source||Key Features||Price|
|Arlo Pro 2||Wire-free||
|Arlo Pro 3||Wire-free||
|Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight||Wire-free||
|Arlo Ultra 2||Wire-free||
|Arlo Pro 4||Wire-free||
||$349.99 (varies by carrier; requires monthly service plan)|
|Arlo Video Doorbell||Wired||
With an Arlo system, you’ll get two options for a subscription plan: Premier or Elite. Thankfully, the app lists the features of each plan to help you make the best choice. But if you’ve got an Arlo Pro 3, there’s no reason to spring for the Elite plan, because it promises 4K quality, and you’re not getting that in the Pro 3 anyway (remember, the Pro 3 doesn’t support 4K!).
For me, the Premier plan was perfect – it was around the same price you’d pay for a Ring Protect monitoring plan, for instance. And in even better news, you can opt for a three-month free trial.
|Arlo Smart Features||Included Free||Arlo Smart Premier||Arlo Smart Elite*|
|Instant Intelligent Alerts||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2K Cloud Recording||No||Yes||No|
|4K Cloud Recording||No||No||Yes|
|Advanced Object Detection||No||Yes||Yes|
|7-Day Video History||Yes||No||No|
|30-Day Video History||No||Yes||Yes|
|Cloud Activity Zones||No||Yes||Yes|
|Price for 1 camera||Free||$2.99 per month||$4.99 per month|
|Price for up to 5 cameras||Free||$9.99 per month||$14.99 per month|
*Arlo Smart Elite supports 4K cameras only.
Like night vision quality and other features, the customer service component of a security camera brand can be all over the map. Your experience will depend on what kind of help you’re looking for, but in most cases, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting in touch with someone at Arlo customer service.
Of course, circumstances will vary. The COVID-19 pandemic made getting in touch with someone in customer service challenging for lots of camera users. But now that that’s (hopefully) behind us, you shouldn’t experience any trouble contacting help.
In some cases, you might have better luck seeking help from Arlo’s 88,000-strong community of users; they also offer a live chat and a support page packed with videos, articles, and FAQs. Those avenues have worked pretty well in the past.
When it comes to reliable, complete home security camera systems and seamless DIY setup, Arlo excels in many respects. From the color night vision to the 160-degree viewing angle, you’re sure to be pleased with the picture quality and coverage these cameras provide. Their attractive design is another big plus; you don’t want awkward, clunky equipment displayed around your home, after all.
FYI: Arlo cameras are known for having the same uniform design. If you’re interested in a brand with a little more variety, take a look at my thorough review of Lorex cameras.
There were some intermittent trouble spots with Arlo’s two-way audio as well as the speed between alert and playback. Wireless technology is unpredictable in this way; it’s certainly not unique to Arlo. With that said, recording delays of even a few seconds can be detrimental in a real emergency, so I’d like to see this improved eventually.
All things considered, these stylish cams still impress, and I recommend Arlo Pro 3 as a reliable yet low-maintenance option that packs plenty of power and peace of mind.
No, you’re not required to sign up for a monthly subscription plan with Arlo. But if you want to expand your coverage, the Arlo Smart plan is $2.99 per month (a three-month free trial is included with purchase), the Premier plan is $9.99 per month, and the Elite plan costs $14.99 per month.
Yes, Arlo Pro 3 cameras are wireless and run on batteries. However, you do have to connect the SmartHub to your home’s Wi-Fi network via an Ethernet cord.
According to Arlo, normal usage is about five minutes of recording each day. Under this usage, you should get four to six months of battery life. In high-activity areas with all alerts turned on, battery life will be shorter.
Arlo Pro 3 can connect to Amazon Alexa devices such as the Echo, Echo Show, and Fire TV. The Google Home Hub also works with Arlo, and you can connect to many other third-party devices such as Bose, Sonos, or Phillips Hue.
To function at their best, Arlo Pro 3 cameras should remain at a maximum of 300 feet from the SmartHub system.
You can buy Arlo Pro 3 cameras in a 2-, 3-, or 4-camera pack, starting at $499.99. You can also buy individual (or add-on) cameras for $199.99.
Apple App Store: Arlo Technologies, Inc. (2020).
Shulevitz, J. (2018 November). Alexa, Should We Trust You? The Atlantic.
DSMT.com. (2020). IP Rating Chart. http://www.dsmt.com/resources/ip-rating-chart/
Martin, J; et. al. (2019, January 31). What is IFTTT: How to use If This, Then That services. Computerworld.com. https://www.computerworld.com/article/3239304/what-is-ifttt-how-to-use-if-this-then-that-services.html
Arlo.com. (2020). Welcome to Arlo Support. https://www.arlo.com/en-us/support/
Jaime Fraze is an experienced digital editor in the tech, business and food spaces, having produced content for clients ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to fledgling nonprofits for more than 15 years. As a wife, mother and homeowner, she understands that buying home security products can be confusing and overwhelming. That’s why Jaime has constantly strived to ensure that every piece of content she produces has met SafeHome.org’s rigorous standards, and that her readers come away with the power to make better, smarter decisions. Learn more about Jaime here