These feature-rich, expertly designed cameras are tops in performance and tech, but are they worth the price?
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Editor's Note: The Nest Cam IQ was discontinued in August of 2021, but never fear — Google has replaced it with an indoor/outdoor model that we’re going to cover in this guide.
In one way or another, we are all pretty well acquainted with Google. After the search engine giant’s acquisition of Nest Labs, which gave us the transformative Nest Thermostat in 2011,1 we’ve seen four generations of the thermostat released. Over the years, Google’s smart home ecosystem has grown by leaps and bounds to include, among others, the Google Home smart speaker, the Nest Hello doorbell, and Nest Cams.2
And interest in Nest products continues to grow. More people are taking their privacy and security seriously, and more folks are willing to drop some cash to improve their homes — especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.3 And we can see why. Nest cameras are some of the best on the market today. They offer sophisticated features like facial recognition and motion tracking, and display in stunning 4K resolution. They’re well-designed, they’re durable, and they’re not going to stick out like a sore thumb indoors or out.
Now that is all well and good, but the pricetag can turn some homeowners off to Nest entirely. Let’s face it — this equipment isn’t cheap. There are two camera models offered — the Nest Cam and the Floodlight Nest Cam. The former has a battery and wired model, but the cheapest — the wired Nest Cam — is still going to run you around $69.99. The floodlight cam? $189.99.
Yeah, almost $200. That’s kind of a tough pill to swallow if you’re looking for a multi-camera security solution at your property. But don’t start sweating just yet; keep in mind that this is way more than a camera. As with many products in Google’s smart home ecosystem, the features and tech injected into these cameras – not to mention the fact that IQ Cams include a built-in Google Assistant – do justify a bump in price over other leading outdoor camera brands.
Now, before we break down Nest Cams one by one, here are a few quick stats on Google Nest to consider:
|Best Asset||A.I. Face Recognition|
Pro Tip: Want to save big bucks on one of these Nest Cams? Check out our Nest Cams Prime Day deals and discounts guide.
Today, we’ll dig deep into the equipment costs (which really aren’t so bad considering what you’re getting), but we’ll also break down subscriptions, packages, cloud storage plans, and current deals and discounts on Google Nest’s camera bundles. So let’s get to it!
First, here’s a quick take on features of Google Nest Cams:
The current iteration of the Google Nest Cam takes all the lessons learned from previous models and synthesizes it into one exceptional camera. It’s battery operated so you can mount it anywhere, and its magnetic mount makes it easy to adjust the camera’s view. It’s thoughtfully designed, and it’s packed with the features that made the Nest Cam IQ so popular — it’s AI-powered facial recognition, for one.
While we certainly enjoyed testing the Nest Cam and working with it on a day-to-day basis, we do have to say it’s not the perfect camera. Although it certainly gets close in some regards, we will say the resolution is a little lacking, and the black and white night vision feels a little outdated on a camera that retails for nearly $180. For that price point, we’d expect to see 2K resolution and color night vision, but as the Rolling Stones say — you can’t always get what you want.
Overall the latest Nest Cam is a solid choice for most homeowners looking to keep an eye on things indoors and out. While the price point is a tad high, it’s an extremely solid, reliable device that will certainly help protect what’s important to you.
While it’s not a security camera in the traditional sense of the word, the Google Nest Doorbell does perform some pretty important security functions pretty well, especially when you pair it with a Nest Aware subscription — more on that later. Nest Aware lets you take advantage of some of this smart doorbell’s smarter functions like package detection and facial recognition. This means when your family pops over for a visit you’ll know who’s at the door, and if a stranger makes off with that Amazon package, you’ll have something to show the authorities.
At $179.99 it’s certainly not the cheapest doorbell on the market today, but I will say it’s one of the best-designed and most feature-packed. It’s also one of the most DIY-friendly, too. In my hands-on Nest Doorbell review I found that set up was a breeze, installation was no problem, and day-to-day use required little-to-no fiddling about with settings or positioning. Right out of the box, the Nest Doorbell just gets it right.
Nest Cams debuted with this sleek indoor model for $129.99, which comes with a magnetic base to allow for super-easy mounting on metal surfaces. We’ve seen more and more camera brands add magnetic mounts, especially with indoor cameras. Among those, prices are generally all over the place.
In our hands-on review of YI cameras, for instance, we noted the super-low price of $26, which sounds enticing to budget-conscious folks like us. But despite the similarities in design, the YI camera lacks many of the advanced features of Google Nest Indoor, including the ability to detect different types of motion. The Nest Cam Indoor also streams in 1080p HD, and you can access the video from pretty much anywhere in the Nest app.
Overall, we think the Nest Cam Indoor is a good buy. It compares well to some of Ring’s cameras, like the Ring Indoor Camera. We recently did a deep-dive review of the Ring Indoor Camera, and it’s worth a gander.
At $119.99, the small and mighty Google Nest Cam Outdoor delivered that same A.I. power we encountered in Google Nest’s indoor camera, only now with an attractive, weatherproof exterior. What’s more, the camera is equipped with 8 powerful LEDs to supercharge its infrared night vision, which means you won’t have to spend much time wondering what that odd noise at 3 a.m. was.
FYI: Looking to save money on security cameras across the industry? See our guide to the best deals and sales on home security cameras.
Beyond the intelligent alerts, though, the Google Nest Cam Outdoor performed like a dream. It’s a simple plug-and-play setup, freeing us from any battery anxiety, connecting easily to our home Wi-Fi, and it’s comforting for us to know it would work in pretty much all weather conditions, day or night.
As far as outdoor cameras go, we think $120 is a pretty good deal for what you get here. We just wish it had a little extra oomph in the smarts department. So now let’s have a look at Google Nest’s IQ lineup of devices.
We had to shell out $299 to get one, but in Nest Cam IQ, we watched as that extra dose of A.I. software gave us even smarter alerts, along with a thoughtful design upgrade. With a 4K image sensor and 12x digital zoom, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor is equipped to give us lots of insight on the things in our home that matter, and less of the things that don’t.
Keep in mind that this out-of-the-box intelligence builds exceptionally well on the original Nest Cams’ platform, in our assessment. When we tested and reviewed Nest cameras, we watched our IQ Indoor use those power-packed person detection4 and motion zoom features to give us finely tuned alerts and correctly identify the difference between a pet running through the room and a person. It’s a level of accuracy we typically don’t see in most security cameras, even among other cameras leading the industry in motion detection.
Seems like a ton of features to pack into an indoor security camera, right? We thought so, but remember, this camera costs $299, placing it into the high end of the pricing spectrum for indoor cameras. For that price, we were expecting an insightful, intuitive experience and the ability to get the most out of our alerts. And trust us, we got it!
Editor's Note: The Nest Cam IQ mentioned above and the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor mentioned below are no longer available through Nest, as they have been discontinued to make way for new Google Nest products. However, you can still find them at third-party retailers.
True to form, Nest has managed to blend style and functionality in seamless fashion, and this really came into view with Google Nest IQ outdoor’s solid, durable weatherproof design. In our tests, we watched from our smartphone as the camera tracked motion from a neighbor walking through our yard and immediately sent us a zoomed-in image of the neighbor. That kind of rapid-fire performance was extremely valuable to us, as we all know how precious every second can be when it comes to keeping our home safe from burglars.
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t address the $399 price tag. It’s natural to bristle at first; we certainly did. Other than Arlo’s high-end cameras, and cameras offered by Deep Sentinel, it’s rare for us to encounter a single camera offered at that price point.
But when we thought about it and spent some real quality time with all four Nest cameras, we had to concede one point: Nest really does take smart home security to another level entirely. If you get as excited about futuristic technology as we do, we’re pretty sure you’ll love Google Nest IQ Outdoor. Just remember, it can be hard to find these days since Nest discontinued this product.
Did You Know: When we compared Nest Cams to Ring, arguably its closest competitor, we found that while the equipment costs are definitely higher on Nest’s’ end, Ring’s cameras are more basic in the features they offer. So while you might pay more for Nest, you’re also paying for a smarter, more intuitive experience overall. Just something to keep in mind.
|Nest Cam (Current Generation)||1080p resolution, long-lasting battery, facial recognition||$179.99|
|Google Nest Cam IQ Indoor||1080p with 4K sensor, facial recognition, instant alerts||$299|
|Google Nest Cam IQ Outdoor||1080p with 4K sensor, facial recognition, instant alerts, weatherproof||$399|
|Google Nest Cam (Battery)||1080p HD, Smart Alerts||$119.99|
|Google Nest Cam (Wired)||1080p HD, Smart Alerts||$69.99|
|Nest Cam Floodlight||Smart Alerts, Night Vision, 1080p, Floodlight||$189.99|
Google Nest discounts its cameras from time to time, but we found that the real savings comes from bundling, or packaging several cameras together. Nest has several packages that are a little easier on the pocketbook than buying the cameras individually. Here are the deals we’re currently seeing:
|Nest Camera Package||# of Cameras||Package Savings||Package Cost|
|Nest Cam Battery 2 Pack||2||$60||$269.99|
|Nest Cam Battery 4 Pack||4||$170||$489.99|
In another nod to truly smart home security, we discovered that Nest cameras are built so that you don’t have to buy a subscription or sign a contract to use most (not all) of their features and store your video history. That’s always a plus for us, as we’re not fond of being locked into service agreements or monthly monitoring fees, and we’re pretty sure you’re not, either.
Nest Aware,5 Nest’s subscription service, gave us the option to add 24/7 recording to our feature set, along with the freedom of accessing our video history from anywhere (that’s the beauty of the cloud!).
In our hands-on experience with Nest Cam IQ cameras, we did find that it was pretty much essential to spring for at least the basic Nest Aware package, in order to truly harness all that facial recognition technology. That said, this plan really changes the game in home security, and we don’t recommend buying these cameras without it.
Compared to plans offered by other leading brands we’ve tested and reviewed, namely Arlo Camera Smart plans, the basic Nest Aware package is actually a good deal, especially when you consider that Arlo Smart doesn’t have continuous recording. We also like that we can choose to take advantage of Nest Aware’s free trial for 30 days of video history before committing to a paid subscription.
|Nest Aware||Nest Aware Plus|
|Video History||30 days||60 days (plus 10 days 24/7 video history)|
|Custom Activity Zones||Yes||Yes|
|Create & Share Clips||Yes||Yes|
|AI facial recognition||Yes||Yes|
|Monthly Fee||$6 per month after free trial||$12 per month|
|Yearly Fee||$60 per year||$120 per year|
Here’s a rundown of many of the features we found in Nest Cams. As you browse, though, keep in mind that some features are only available in the Nest Cam IQ lineup.
1080p HD Video Resolution
On all four Nest Cams, we enjoyed high-quality 1080p HD resolution, the undisputed industry standard in the business. It’s only in the IQ models, though, that we could experience just how detailed our alerts can get, and how easy it is to put all of the activity happening around our home into context. That’s partly because of the addition of a 4K sensor, which is only available in IQ. This really supercharged our motion and gave us more peace of mind, knowing we’d be alerted to relevant activity in real time.
Instant Mobile Alerts
The Nest app, which also houses Google’s smart speakers, thermostat, and other devices, let us view live footage of our Nest Cams any time we wanted. We were notified when motion occurred, but going further, we were also able to set up activity zones to consolidate our motion, and schedule when we wanted to receive alerts.
Since these are DIY cameras, we expected a fairly simple DIY installation, and we got it. All of the cameras are easy to install and set up, but our favorite, admittedly, was being able to hang our Google Nest Cam Indoor onto our refrigerator simply by bending the magnetic base from horizontal to vertical. Instant kitchen cam!
Smart Home Compatibility and Built-in Google Assistant
Nest Cams’ smart home compatibility is really what makes these cameras a standout in home security. In the IQ cams, this compatibility is a part of the system itself, thanks to the addition of a built-in Google Assistant to both its indoor and outdoor IQs. This means we were able to use those devices much like we use our smartphones to control our cameras – but with the added bonus of hands-free voice commands.
Nest offers 24/7 surveillance for its Nest Cameras with Nest Aware. Nest Aware also provides cloud storage for recordings so that you never miss anything.
Infrared Night Vision
As an essential feature in home security, night vision is a feature we tend to examine pretty closely. After all, what’s the good in protecting ourselves from threats if we can’t see them? We loved viewing our barebones, pitch-black backyard through the lenses of Nest Cams made clearer by the addition of 8 LEDs. We especially liked knowing we could pull up that view any time of night to make sure all is well.
In the IQ models, Nest Cams’ Familiar Faces feature ties together several facial recognition components into one seamless experience. We simply set Familiar Faces to notify us via mobile alert when a person is detected, and then the camera did the rest – immediately notifying us when it detected a face and asking us if it was familiar. Depending on our answer, the camera learns whether to recognize that face again, as someone we already know, or continue to flag it as someone we don’t.
Supersight is another feature that’s only available in IQ cams. This is another case where we merely had to sit back and watch our Nest Cams do the work. When the camera detects a person, it immediately zooms in on the person and follows them via automatic tracking. From there, we got a mobile alert, allowing us to watch playback of the activity in just a few seconds.
With a three-microphone array and high-quality speaker (HD talk and listen), Two-Way Talk worked smoothly in our tests of Google Nest IQ Cams. Barring the occasional Wi-Fi glitch, the experience was pretty seamless. Plus, those glitches are the same kind that break up your phone conversations, so it certainly wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
All told, if you’re looking for cameras that can learn everything imaginable about your home (and visitors to your home!), we’ll say this: Nest is a winning pick for advanced home security cameras. Once we got past the equipment sticker shock, we saw the true value in these cameras, both for their durable construction and for their smart motion features.
And if you’re thinking, “I’ll never need all these features,” or you still think the price is too high, consider this: In our experience, we saw how well Google Nest Cams could deliver when a few thieves known to roam the neighborhood looking for unlocked cars happened to pass through (this actually happened to us; luckily our cars were locked).
Pro Tip: If your budget simply can’t handle Nest’s equipment costs, we suggest checking out our list of home security cameras that make great alternatives to Nest Cams.
We’ve seen several occasions where criminals are caught simply because they showed up in a neighbor’s security camera video, where they immediately give away their location and allow police to respond appropriately. It could be the most valuable gift these security cameras can give us, and it could mean making your neighborhood, and your home, a safer place.
The Google Nest Cam is a little more expensive than its competitors, at around $150. However, its reliability and features make the price reasonable.
Your Nest Cam will run fine without a subscription service, but to take advantage of all of its features, you’ll need a Nest Aware account.
The Google Nest Cam has industry-standard 1080p video resolution. This is more than enough for capturing important events, but some of the finer details might be lost.
The indoor/outdoor iteration of the Nest Cam is battery operated, but the indoor-only model is wired.
True to its reputation, the Google Nest Cam is among some of the best security cameras on the market today. While it’s a little more expensive than some of the other options available, it has great features and a solid design.
Kessler, S. (2011, Dec. 15). Nest: The Story Behind the World’s Most Beautiful Thermostat. Mashable.com.
BusinessWire. (2017, Sept. 20). Nest Expands Into Home Security With First Security System Designed to Be Easy on Residents, Tough on Intruders. Nest Labs.
Parks Associates. (2020, Sept. 2). COVID-19 Impact on the Smart Home Experience.
Marr, B. (2019, Aug. 19) Facial Recognition Technology: Here Are the Pros and Cons. Forbes.com.
Desai, R. (2020, May 12). 5 things to know about the new Nest Aware. Google Nest/The Keyword.
Jaime Fraze has 16 years of writing and editing experience, with seven years spent writing about emerging technologies. As our home security camera expert, she has hand-tested and reviewed every major security camera brand and has written more than 300 articles on the topic. Previously, Jaime has contributed to award-winning media outlets such as the Rocky Mount Telegram and the Daytona Beach News-Journal. As a homeowner and mother of two, Jaime is constantly looking for ways to keep her home and family safe. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English/Journalism from the University of Delaware.