Google Nest Cam Review 2023

Google’s Nest Cam is versatile, reliable, and well-designed. But is it worth the price?

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The Google Nest Cam

The Google Nest Cam

In one way or another, you probably interact with Google on a fairly regular basis. Most of us use their search engine to find what we’re looking for online — heck, you might have even found this review there. And it’s just as well, because today we’re going to be talking about Google’s physical products. Specifically the new-and-improved Nest Cam.

This sturdy little device has taken the place of its predecessor, the Nest IQ cam. But can it fill those shoes? A lot of critics are saying yes, but I wanted to see for myself and report my findings here.

Together, we’re going to unpack everything there is to know about this home security camera. But first, let’s take a quick look at some pros and cons.

  • Great video quality
  • 145-degree diagonal view
  • Accurate AI-powered alerts
  • Simple DIY setup
  • Great design

  • A little expensive
  • Quick responses not so quick
  • A little too much latency with live view
  • Color night vision not available

Nest Cam: An Overview

So, first things first, if you want a Google Nest Cam, just know they aren’t doing same-day delivery. Mine took over a week to arrive, which was a little surprising, but I’m one who’s willing to wait (on pins and needles, albeit) for a Google product.

Pro Tip: Let’s face it — Nest products are pretty expensive. If you’re looking to save, though, consider purchasing bundles. If you buy two Nest Cams, you’ll save about $20 off retail, and if you buy four, you’ll save $62.

I was pretty excited to get my hands on a Nest Cam. It has a great reputation, and Google’s packed a litany of features into these devices. At $179.99, it’s significantly pricier than some of its competitors — for example, more affordable brands like we saw in our review of the Wyze Cam will run you only about $35 — I was curious to see if the extra cost was worth it.

We’ll get into all that and more, but first, let’s get a general sense of what you’re going to find when you purchase a Google Nest Cam.

Nest Cam: First Impressions

Once my Nest Cam showed up, I was immediately surprised by the size and weight of the unit — it was smaller and heavier than I expected. Neither is a bad thing, mind you. Small means it’s more discrete and can blend into my home decor better, and the satisfying heft of the camera itself suggests a high-quality build. So far, so good.

Google Nest Cam. Pen for Scale

Google Nest Cam. Pen for Scale

It was packaged well too. Everything was tucked safely away into its own little compartment. And by everything, I mean, not much. The box contained the unit, its mount, a mounting plate, some hardware, a charger, a security cable — which we’ll get into later — and an instruction manual.

Now let’s pause here to say there are two versions of the Nest Cam. The one I tested — the Nest Cam (battery) — is battery-operated and meant for indoor and outdoor use, but there’s also an indoor-specific Nest Cam that’s plug-in only. Since I was testing the Nest Cam (battery) and not the Nest Cam (wired), I decided to charge it up overnight so I could test its battery life. Spoiler alert, it did really well.

Pro Tip: Most battery-operated cameras are going to come with a bit of a charge already in them. You’re still going to want to fully charge them, though. Nothing’s more annoying than getting your camera all set up and mounted, then turning around, taking it down, and charging it a day later because the battery died.

The next morning, the camera was fully charged and ready to go, so I went about setting it up.

Nest Cam: The Setup

I’ve set up quite a few security cameras in my day, and I have to say, this has to be one of the easiest — so long as you have a Google account, that is. If you don’t, you’re going to need to get one. If you do, you’re already halfway there. Just download the Google Home app and follow the on-screen prompts.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have your Wi-Fi password handy. That’s the only thing you’ll need for setting it up that you might not know off the top of your head. Or, if you’re looking for a camera that doesn’t require Wi-Fi, check out our review of Lorex’s PoE options.

The first thing you have to do is plug the camera into your wall power — it’s not going to initialize on battery alone. The charger you’re provided is magnetic, but be careful — it will fit into the camera in the proper configuration and in reverse. Listen for the “snap” sound to know you’ve done it correctly.

It’s also worth noting that you can leave your camera plugged in if you’re installing it near a power outlet. Be aware, though, that your cord is only about three feet long, so you’re going to be pretty limited in your install options.

Everything included with the Nest Cam

Everything included with the Nest Cam

If that sounds like a hassle, don’t worry. Over the course of my testing period, the battery remained almost fully charged. Google says a Nest Cam can run for about three months without a recharge at typical activity levels, and I believe it.

Back to the setup. Throughout the process, you’re going to see a lot of status screens that tell you things are downloading and being configured and set up. I do really appreciate Google here — it has programmed these devices in such a way that they’re always giving you real-time feedback. You’re never going to be wondering if something froze or you need to start over. It’s little details like this that kept showing up throughout my experience with the Nest Cam that I think really elevates it above much of the competition.

The setup process was full of feedback

The setup process was full of feedback

Once the camera was all set up — about a 10-minute process from start to finish — it was time to install it. Let’s have a look at what that entails.

Nest Cam: The Installation

Snap the camera body into the mount. Boom. Done.

It sounds a little comical, but there’s really not much more to it than that. The Nest Cam mount works by using powerful magnets (and I do mean powerful) to attach the camera to the mount. You can swivel it around and position it in any which way you desire. No tracks to mess with, no nuts to tighten. Depending on where you want the camera to live, this might be all you have to do, especially if you’re placing it on or sticking it to a metal surface. The magnet will shock you with how powerful it is. It certainly surprised me.

The Nest Cam mounted indoors

The Nest Cam mounted indoors

I chose to stick mine on the indoor greenhouse I made for my wife. It gave me a pretty good vantage point to see everything going on in my living room, and the black-and-white motif went well with the decor. Someday I’d like to see the Nest Cam offered in a few more colors, like we saw in our review of the Ring Spotlight Camera, but for now white will do.

Because the greenhouse is metal, the Nest Cam’s magnetic base attached really securely. And honestly, that was it for my indoor install. It took all of two seconds and I was ready to go.

Something to keep in mind, though, when you’re installing your Nest Cam. This piece of equipment is designed to be mounted about six feet off the ground, meaning you probably dont want to set it on your countertop and call it a day.

Instead, you’re probably going to want to use the included hardware to mount it on a wall a little above your head. Don’t worry, that’s a super easy task. Just screw the mounting plate into the wall and snap the camera into place.

Pro Tip: Another reason you want to mount cameras up high is so thieves can’t steal them as easily and would-be burglars can’t easily alter their line of sight. For more on that, read our guide to positioning your security cameras.

Now that the camera is up and running and installed where we want it, let’s talk about how it performs. We’ll start with the inside.

Nest Cam Day-to-Day Use: Inside the Home

Overall, I was pretty impressed with how the Nest Cam performed indoors. It was reliable and responsive; it never really missed a beat. It looked great mounted to the greenhouse, and I really liked how easy it was to adjust the camera in its magnetic mount. Let’s take a closer look at some of the finer details.

Image Quality

I’m going to be pretty critical of the Nest Cam here. For a piece of advanced equipment that costs as much as it does, I would expect a little more in terms of image quality. The Nest Cam records in 1080p and has a pretty limited field of view at just 130 degrees.

Nest Cam’s image quality

Nest Cam’s image quality

Now I should qualify this. 1080p is industry standard, and as you can see, a 130-degree view is more than enough to capture an entire room if you’re thoughtful about the camera’s positioning. Why am I considering this a tick in the cons category? I just expected more. No crystal-clear 2K resolution? No ultra-wide-angle lens to capture every detail? C’mon, Google.

Maybe I’m just spoiled, but when I first saw the picture, I sort of shrugged and said, “It’s OK, I guess.”

Audio Quality

Now, back to singing the Nest Cam’s praises. I could actually sing them through the device and annoy anyone sitting in my living room with high fidelity. The audio quality is that good. Now it’s not going to sound like it’s coming through a high-end stereo system, but the Nest’s internal speaker for two-way communication is certainly better than most. While there’s a bit of latency — there is with every camera I’ve ever tested —  it’s totally reasonable to use it to have a conversation with a delivery guy or tell your cats to stop fighting.


Here’s another neat thing I noticed with the Nest Cam, or more specifically, Google Home. With my free trial of Nest Aware — more on that in just a bit —  the history of each camera is set up in such a way that you can scrub through the whole day, skipping to moments where the camera caught something. With other cameras I’ve used, it’s a little difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for, but Google Home offers a simple, intuitive solution.

Google Home’s intuitive playback functionality

Google Home’s intuitive playback functionality

Did You Know: Google offers a free month-long trial of Nest Aware with your new equipment, which enables smart detections and expanded video storage. After the trial period, a basic package is $6 per month or $60 for the year.


One of my pet peeves when dealing with a new camera is dialing back its sensitivity settings. Nine times out of 10, the default settings will have your phone buzzing hundreds of times a day, and it takes some calibration to have the camera ignore things that aren’t important.

It was pretty simple to calibrate the Nest Cam to trigger for important events only

It was pretty simple to calibrate the Nest Cam to trigger for important events only

With the Nest Cam, though, I had the opposite issue. I found that right out of the box, it wasn’t sensitive enough. I actually had to go into the settings and tell it to detect my pets and alert me to all the motion it detected to feel like I wasn’t missing anything throughout the day. I don’t really think this is a drawback necessarily, it’s just something to be aware of. Everyone has different preferences, so it might take some fiddling around to get exactly right.

Another thing to consider, though, when you’re adjusting your sensitivity settings: The less your Nest Cam is triggering, the better your battery life is going to be. If you’re fine with it only picking up major events, your battery could last up to four months on one charge.

Familiar Faces

With a Google Aware subscription, you’ll have access to the familiar faces function. This is a neat feature: The Nest Cam will recognize who it’s looking at and alert you when they’re seen, as opposed to an “unfamiliar person.”

Nest Cam's Familiar Face feature; excuse the mug

Nest Cam’s Familiar Face feature; excuse the mug

It’s really easy to set up. The first time the Nest Cam sees someone it doesn’t recognize, it asks you to give them a name. From then on, it will include that name in the alert so that you know there’s nothing to worry about going on in the living room.

It’s pretty accurate too. I noticed only two times that the camera didn’t recognize me — both outside. Once was when I was wearing a hood because it was really cold, and the other was when I was wearing my glasses that reflected the IR light in night vision mode (more on that later too).

Smart Home Automation

Here’s where Google’s family of products really shines. If your home is outfitted with Nest products and other smart accessories, you can set “routines” to automate things. And here you can get really granular. You can set reminders to charge your phone at bedtime, lock your doors at 9:00, and start dimming the lights at 8:30. You can have your indoor cameras stop recording when you’re at home and start again when you’re away. You can have your Google assistant address you as “admiral.” It’s up to you.

If you’re thinking of outfitting your home with Google products, the next logical step after the security cameras is a video doorbell. Lucky for you, I just finished reviewing the Google Nest Doorbell. I think you’ll like what I found.

Pro Tip: If you want to take advantage of the automation features Google offers, you’re going to need quite a bit of equipment. Expect to spend in the thousands for a fully smart home. If that’s too much, you might want to check out our guide to the best affordable home security systems.

So those are the highlights of using the Nest Cam inside. Let’s move outside to get the full picture.

Nest Cam Day-to-Day Use: Outside

Like I said above, the Nest Cam can be used indoors or out. Its performance is about the same in terms of image quality, audio quality, notification sensitivity, and all that. But I do want to talk about some outdoor-specific items I noticed.


Google specifically says the camera is “weather resistant,” not “waterproof.” I didn’t have the guts to dunk the unit in the sink to test that out, so I’ll just take its word for it. I will say that during the testing period, it rained pretty heavily at times, and the Nest Cam did just fine.

Nest Cam mounted outdoors

Nest Cam mounted outdoors

A bit of advice: If you can, mount the camera under some sort of protection like I have here. This will ensure you don’t run into any issues with the electronics getting fried from moisture.

Secure Loop

The Nest Cam comes with a “secure loop,” which screws into the back of the camera and loops around the magnetic mount. Google recommends using this cable if you’re installing the camera above 6.5 feet to prevent the camera from getting knocked off the base. It’s up to you whether you use it. I didn’t because, like I said, that magnet is strong.

Also, don’t mistake this for an anti-theft device. The loop is easy to loosen, and the wire feels like it could be cut with fingernail clippers.

Nest Cam’s secure loop

Nest Cam’s secure loop

Activity Zones

Back to the sensitivity conversation. You might find that you’re getting a lot of unnecessary alerts if your Nest Cam can pick up things like passing cars or a tree branch blowing in the wind. You can exclude that repetitive motion using the camera’s Activity Zone feature.

Nest Cam activity zone

Nest Cam activity zone

It’s super handy and super easy to set up. Just drag the rectangle to encompass the area you’d like the camera to keep an eye on, and you’re done. I see this feature in many of the top security cameras today, and I was glad to see the Nest Cam (battery) offers it.

Night Vision

Once again, I’m going to have to ding the Nest Cam here. Rather than embracing new color night vision technology, the Nest Cam’s after-hours picture is only IR-powered black and white. Again, I kind of expected more, like I saw in our review of the Arlo Pro 3.

Nest Cam’s night vision

Nest Cam’s night vision

That said, the image quality of the Nest Cam’s night vision mode is pretty stellar. It’s not too grainy like I’ve seen with other IR-based night vision in the past.

So there you have it. That’s about all there is to know about using the Google Nest Cam on a day-to-day basis. With the exception of a few points of contention, I had a great experience with this camera. There is one last thing to talk about before I give you the final verdict.

Nest Aware

Let’s talk about the Nest Aware subscription. Your camera will work just fine without it, but you won’t have access to extended video storage or some of the AI and automation features you likely bought the Nest Cam for in the first place. The good news is Nest Aware is relatively cheap as subscription services go, and there are two tiers of service to choose from. Here’s the breakdown:

Nest Aware Price Structure

Feature Nest Aware Nest Aware Plus
Event video history 30 days 60 days
24/7 video history No Up to 10 days
Intelligent alerts Yes Yes
e911 Yes Yes
Number of devices All in home All in home
Price $6 per month, $60 per year $12 per month, $120 per year

To get the most out of your camera, you’ll want to go with a Nest Aware subscription. Don’t worry; Google lets you test-drive the service for 30 days so you can decide if it’s worth it.

Now that we’ve covered all the ins and outs of the Google Nest Cam (battery), it’s time to answer the all-important question: Is it really worth it?

Nest Cam: Is it Worth It?

This is a well-designed camera with some advanced features as well as a few significant areas for improvement. Is it worth the near $200 (or more) you’re going to spend?

For me, the answer is yes. While the price point is a little high, the ease of use, design, and reliability of this camera make it well worth it. I don’t feel like I overpaid for this piece of equipment, and I would gladly use it to protect my home and family.

That said, there are plenty of other cameras on the market that offer similar feature sets that might be a little less pricey. Before you make your decision, be sure to check out our guide to the best security cameras of 2023. You’ll find plenty of options there.

Google Nest Cam IQ FAQs

Is the Nest Cam expensive?

The Google Nest Cam is a little more expensive than its competitors, at around $150. However, its reliability and features make the price reasonable.

Do you need a subscription for a Nest Cam?

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.

What’s the video resolution of the Nest Cam?

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.

Is the Nest Cam battery powered?

The indoor/outdoor iteration of the Nest Cam is battery operated, but the indoor-only model is wired.

Is the Nest Cam good?

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.

Derek Prall
Written By
Derek Prall
VPN & Identity Theft Expert

With a decade of experience as a journalist, Derek Prall has been covering cybersecurity for seven years. He has spent more than 1,000 hours researching digital privacy and has covered almost 100 topics related to VPN and identity theft protection. Previously, Derek has covered tech issues at American City & County magazine, where he won numerous national awards for his cybersecurity coverage. His areas of expertise included network security, big data analytics, and AI applications in public safety. Derek graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in English and Communications from Furman University and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and two cats.