Outdoor security gets a super HD upgrade with Reolink Argus 3 Pro’s 2K (4MP) camera.
The brand spanking new Argus 3 Pro, with the most visually stunning imagery we’ve witnessed from a Reolink camera, came to us on a chilly, sunny, breezy winter day in central Ohio.
Against those frigid winds and heavy (at times) snowfall, we tested our battery-powered gadget’s readiness for the great outdoors, experimenting with different angles to get the most detail and clarity possible. And as the sun set every evening, we watched the camera record effortlessly in full color, with a motion-activated spotlight for extra visual coverage.
So now, as we’ve done with every camera in Reolink’s ever-expanding product line, we’ll now set our sights on Argus 3 Pro.
Among all the cursory tests we perform in our review lineup, we were specifically interested in how this Pro version compares to other cams we’ve reviewed from Reolink: namely, the E1 Outdoor, Argus 3, Argus 3 Pro, Argus Eco, and Argus 2 cameras.
Join us as we bring it all together in our hands-on review of Reolink Argus 3 Pro.
One of the refreshing things about Reolink cameras is the simple hardware they include to help us mount the camera. In Argus 3 Pro’s box, we were greeted with two mounting brackets, a safety strap, a support stand, and all the necessary screws and caps.
Keep in mind that this setup is pretty much identical to the contents of the Argus 3, which we reviewed last year. There’s one neat addition, though: A support stand, which made it easier to charge the camera on a countertop before we installed it.
Pro Tip: If you’re into solar energy1, note that Reolink is one of just a handful of camera brands that offer solar panels as a power option for their cameras. Check out our original Reolink Argus 3 review to learn more about using solar panels with your cameras.
At our home, we don’t have too many exterior power outlets. This has hampered us in the past when it comes to installing security cameras, so we must say we’re really into the trend toward battery- and solar-powered cameras in the industry nowadays. (Ring offers its own solar panel, too, which you can learn more about in our full Ring camera review.)
Whether you’re using Argus 3 Pro with solar power or simply as a wire-free camera that will need regular charging, it’s always nice not to have to worry about proximity to an outlet. Now, our choices for where we’ll be setting up the camera are wide open.
By contrast, with a wired camera like SimpliSafe’s SimpliCam, we were a bit hampered by that pesky power cord. Though SimpliCam has so many things going for it – the camera performed well in our tests and makes a great visual component to a full SimpliSafe system; plus, we never had to charge it – we still wish they’d lose the wires. But that’s just us.
Speaking of charging, we always recommend doing this first with any wire-free camera after you take it out of the box. Also, take note: This camera charges on a standard USB cable, so if you misplace the included cord, you’ve probably got another one lying around somewhere (or is that just us, too?).
Now, about that new support stand … it’s certainly nothing earth-shattering, just a simple bracket for flat surfaces that hugs the body of the camera and lets it swivel back and forth just slightly. It’s a less sturdy option than the stand that came with our Reolink Argus 2, the first Reolink camera we got our hands on, but we found that Argus 2 does its best work as an indoor camera placed on a surface, so a more supportive stand just makes more sense.
But it did present us with a few more options for placing the camera inside our home. Altogether, we had a pretty well-rounded package.
FYI: If you’re looking for a more comprehensive camera system for a larger area or property, we recommend looking at some of Amcrest’s NVR and DVR system options. Check out our review of Amcrest cameras for more.
While it was charging, we dove into the instruction manual of the Argus 3 Pro to begin pairing the camera to our phone. Downloading the Reolink app was Step 1 and took just a couple minutes to enter Wi-Fi credentials, link accounts, and add the camera. The rest, for the most part, was done for us.
From there, it was time to decide which mounting technique we wanted to use and where we wanted to display the camera. We recently had a privacy fence built around our property, so that’s where we decided to start.
For this setup, we used the safety strap to secure the camera to our fence post. But we do want to be clear: the strap alone is not strong enough to hold this camera against the post. You’re still going to need a couple of screws to secure the mounting bracket, unless you want a camera that’s flapping in the wind and triggering phone alerts every 15 seconds.
With an outdoor setup, it’s always wise to use any included security hardware to make sure the camera’s not going to fall from its perch. Because guess what’s directly under that camera right now?
An inch or two of thick, slushy snow.
So before we left the area, we made extra sure that everything was firm and in place with both the strap and the screws. We recommend doing the same for any camera you install, but especially outdoor ones.
We followed the same process with our second installation test, this time around the front of our property. This time, we tried out that magnetic mounting bracket, and we couldn’t stop thinking about how this would be a really good way to freak out our kids (“Come look! A tiny UFO landed on our house!”).
They weren’t amused, but we still wish we had tiny toy aliens to tape up around our bracket to really bring the whole ruse together.
But, onward. Next, it was time to see how this Argus 3 Pro would handle in the wild. Would it stack up to the IP67-rated Ezviz C3N camera, tough and rugged, ready for the elements?
Now that we’ve got our Reolink camera fully up and running and tested in two different locations in our home, let’s dive a bit more into our hands-on experience.
Everyone’s home security camera experience varies, but one thing to remember is that these cameras are made to save you lots of hassles previously associated with home security equipment, starting with the wire-free installation.
But the flexibility doesn’t end there. You can choose to monitor your footage closely, checking for patterns or vulnerabilities, or you can simply handle the monitoring on an as-needed basis: Receive an alert, check it out, decide what to do. It’s all in your hands.
And with Reolink’s latest device, we didn’t have much of a learning curve to get it all working the way we wanted.
With “4MP” emblazoned in a blue bubble on the box, we were prepared to see impressive video through our Argus 3 Pro. As always, we try not to approach any new camera with too many expectations; but here, we predicted we’d view video quality that’s at least a notch above what we’ve come to expect from security cameras these days. And we did.
Check out the sample footage we captured of the Reolink Argus 3 Pro:
We also know that, as the industry goes, the number on the box doesn’t always mean you’ll get this A-plus-perfect picture all the time. Rather, this camera is capable of producing images up to 2K (that’s 2556 x 1440) resolution, which is considered “super” or premium HD.
With Reolink, to preserve space and Wi-Fi bandwidth, we chose a “fluid” experience, which meant that most of the time we were looking at standard definition images. At any time, we could adjust the quality manually, but we always recommend setting the camera to fluid mode for a smoother experience.
Here’s a better look at the Argus 3 Pro in standard definition:
And going even further, the app provides even more ways to customize our video feed, with controls for the integrated spotlight, watermark placement, and privacy masks.
FYI: As you’re comparing home security products, you might find that features like integrated lighting and color night vision usually cost more. But if it’s in your budget, we’ve found that another camera similar to our Argus Pro 3 – the $199 Ring Spotlight Cam – is also really handy for outdoor coverage.
Just like previous Reolink devices, we had tons of customization to reduce false alarms with our Argus 3 Pro, which is really handy on windy days.
Features like recording duration and scheduling are standard in cameras these days; we use them every day so that we only get the alerts we need.
We can avoid flooding our storage by reducing the length of our clips below eight seconds, for example. But the way the camera handles this is highly dependent on how much space we’re given to store our footage.
Knowing this, we thought it was pretty genius of Reolink to add an Overwrite feature. You see, we’re pretty on-the-go people here. We have kids, we have pets, we have bills. When we know we’re not going to have much time to monitor and store our footage one week, we simply toggle the Overwrite button so that we don’t have to worry about running out of space. It’s our default setting, which we use in conjunction with Reolink’s basic seven-day cloud storage plan.
Pro Tip: You can always add more storage (Reolink has a few low-cost cloud plans) or insert a MicroSD card so you don’t have to overwrite your videos.
In another neat upgrade, Reolink Argus 3 Pro gives us person/vehicle detection. It’s a natural progression from the brand’s reliance on PIR motion sensing, which we tested repeatedly when we reviewed the Reolink Argus 2, Argus 3, and Argus Eco cameras and got mixed results.
We know that PIR is triggered by body heat, which helps the camera decipher what kind of motion we’re looking at. But now, with person/vehicle detection, we can learn this information right away through intelligent alerts. Did UPS just drop off that package we’d been waiting on, or is it just the branches blowing in the breeze? Is that the same suspicious minivan that’s been driving up and down our street a couple of times a day?
Smart motion detection like this helps fine-tune these variations to reduce false alerts and get to the meaningful stuff – the footage that helps us understand how safe we actually are at home. But by and large, we’ve found that false alerts are sort of a necessary evil in home security. You don’t want to reduce sensitivity or clip length down to the point of losing valuable footage, so if a false alert pops up here and there, we recommend just rolling with it.
Speaking of valuable footage, we discovered a new trick in our Reolink Argus 3 Pro that really gets to the heart of home safety in the 21st century: package detection.
Keeping an eye on packages is a huge priority for homeowners, ourselves included. And the numbers don’t lie: An estimated 36 percent of Americans have had a package stolen from outside their home at least once. With so much business being conducted online these days, we have more reasons than ever to keep a strong set of eyes on our deliveries – even when we’re right on the other side of the door.
With this new feature in the Argus 3 Pro model, we can better handle time-sensitive packages – like the one we were waiting on in the screenshot below – and keep this week’s dinner properly stored.
A few brands out there are slowly starting to add package detection to their feature sets, but we haven’t seen it applied as expertly as Reolink does. Wyze, an ultra-low-cost brand2 we love for its simplistic approach and youthful design elements, recently added both vehicle and package detection to their Cam Plus subscription. But when we tested and reviewed Wyze Cams recently, we saw text alerts that a package was outside, and that was it.
Not quite the dynamic visual footage we got from our Reolink, but it’s also worth noting that Wyze prices its equipment extremely low – $20 for the basic Wyze Cam. While you’ll end up paying more over the life of the camera for those extra A.I. features, we still think it’s a worthwhile add-on to get real-time package alerts, especially if you’re on the go.
It’s chilly and snowy out there, but inside with our Amazon Echo Show, it’s a nice, warm place to keep an eye on our Reolink Argus Pro 3 footage. Note that Reolink makes it fairly easy to connect with most smart home platforms, including Alexa and the Google Assistant3. We did it directly through the Smart Home tab in the app, and watched as our Echo Show discovered our Reolink device. Then, we put on a second cup of coffee, asked Alexa to pull up our footage, and sat down by the fire.
So as another tool in our smart home, it’s not quite as smart as the powerful Google Nest IQ Outdoor camera we reviewed, for instance. But bear in mind that’s basically an entire smart home device in and of itself (with the $400 price tag to prove it). In an industry that’s this competitive, we can always find a cheaper camera, a smaller camera, a faster camera, or a sturdier camera – but no matter what, you’re likely going to get what you paid for.
In any camera setup we’re working with, we always want a simple point of access for all of our videos, whether we’re doing our own monitoring or paying for an alarm service. But it’s important to note here that although the Reolink Argus 3 Pro is a big improvement over previous Reolink models, it still doesn’t have continuous recording4.
We can add this on through a third party if we choose, but generally, buying a Reolink camera means you’ll be recording motion-activated clips, so don’t expect 24/7 footage reels here.
This suits us just fine, since these clips would make quality video evidence that we might need to present in the event of a crime. We can do that by leafing through the timeline our app created for us in the cloud, or, if we have a MicroSD card inserted, we can access the app’s playback feature.
Like its predecessor, the original Argus 3, Argus 3 Pro comes in at $109.99. For a camera that goes the extra mile on features, we can say without a doubt that this is a reasonable price to pay for a security camera.
How are we so sure? Let’s refer back to a high-profile brand we mentioned earlier. When we reviewed Arlo’s Pro 3 cameras, we saw many of the same features as Reolink, and we couldn’t help noticing that the $199 Arlo Pro 3 resembles Reolink somewhat in body and design, which you can see side-by-side:
For more comparison points, check out our full Arlo vs. Reolink Comparison Guide.
For now, here’s a more detailed look at Reolink’s equipment prices:
|Type of Camera
|Argus 3 Pro
|2K Super HD Video
Built-In Motion Spotlight
Color Night Vision
Built-In Motion Spotlight
Starlight Night Vision
Starlight Night Vision
Reolink’s cloud storage options are in line with others in the industry, and they even add a basic seven-day rolling cloud storage plan, free of charge. When used with the Overwrite feature we mentioned previously, we can use Reolink cameras without paying anything beyond initial equipment costs.
For a more robust subscription, you can always level up to standard or premium plans, or lose the monthly commitment altogether and supply your own MicroSD card5. This is great if you have more than one Reolink camera or need to save your clips for a longer period. And for what it’s worth, a standard plan costs about the same as a cloud storage subscription from Blink, another low-cost camera system we’re well-versed in. But in this case, we do want to note that Reolink’s cameras offer a bit more depth and “smarts” than Blink, as seen in the addition of person detection.
You can see more Reolink storage plans in our breakdown below:
|1 GB of storage
|30 GB of storage
|80 GB of storage
|150 GB of storage
|$3.49 per month
|$9.99 per month
|$14.99 per month
In all of our experience with Reolink cameras, we get solid, trustworthy equipment rivaling more robust devices from the best outdoor security cameras we’ve tested: Arlo, Ring, and Google Nest, to name a few.
With our Argus 3 Pro, we got a treat: new features that we could see with our own eyes. Motion detection is smarter, allowing us an up-to-the-second peek at package deliveries and passing vehicles. More mounting hardware means more placement options, which we always consider a plus. And we think you’ll be plenty impressed by the picture, too.
It’s not always easy to choose the right security products for all of our home’s needs and quirks, and what’s even more difficult is figuring out how all this technology works. Reolink eases that learning curve for us, with a solid, well-made Argus 3 Pro.
Just like the original Argus 3, Argus 3 Pro does a nice job with night vision. The spotlight is a bonus, helping us see into the depths of our backyard when we hear an odd noise. But like many security cameras, the nighttime picture can sometimes appear grainy and blurred.
Yes. It’s rated IP65, which protects from dust, wind, and rain, all of which came in contact with our Argus 3 Pro during our tests. It’s still kicking, with no sign of damage.
No. You can skip the monthly fee and get seven days of storage for free, but you might find that to be lacking if you’ve got multiple cameras.
Reolink’s Argus series is a wireless system, with equipment that typically doesn’t need hardwiring or professional labor. Thanks to a host of camera software advances of late, we’re now able to connect a wireless camera to almost any home internet network simply by following the instructions provided when we unbox the camera, either in a paper manual or within the mobile app.
The last thing we want in our security equipment is a random, momentary outage, giving a burglar just enough time to break into our home. With the Reolink Argus 3 Pro, as long as we remember to regularly charge the batteries, we won’t have to worry about the camera going offline in a power outage – though it might lose its Wi-Fi signal sporadically, as many Wi-Fi cameras do.
Hu, J. (2019, Nov. 18) Reolink Buyers Guide. Solar Powered Security Camera Buyer's Guide: Top 8 Things You Need to Know. https://reolink.com/solar-powered-security-cameras-buying-guide/
Swearingen, J. (2019, Feb. 12). How Four Ex-Amazoners Made a Crazy Good Wireless Cam for $20. New York Magazine. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/02/how-four-ex-amazoners-made-a-crazy-good-wireless-cam-for-usd20.html
Reolink. (2019, June 18). Reolink Works With Google Assistant, Spearheading a New Era of Connected and Smart Home. https://reolink.com/google-assistant-integration/
Perry, T. (2020, Aug. 24). Which Smart Cameras Support 24/7 Continuous Recording? Smart Home Point. https://www.smarthomepoint.com/smart-cameras-24-7-support/
Parker, M. (2020) Difference Between Micro, Mini & Regular SD Cards. Chron.com. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-micro-mini-regular-sd-cards-80298.html