We’ve been testing Swann security cameras for a while now. There are lots of reasons we keep circling back to their products. But there are also some sticking points that we think you should know about. Sure, the camera selection is so vast that you can probably find one that works for you. And we also found the features to be solid — with HD video quality, heat-sensing technology, and free local video storage for their dome and bullet cams.
But there were a handful of things that bothered us about Swann. For starters, their wireless connections aren’t as private as other cameras we’ve tried. Second, the lineup of devices and package options is enough to make your head spin (if you get overwhelmed easily, Swann isn’t for you). And finally, we thought the construction quality could use some improvement.
With that said, Swann does offer a few top-quality indoor/outdoor cams that we think you’ll like. The prices aren’t so bad either, with cameras starting in the $30-$50 range and going up to $500+ for multi-channel, closed-circuit television systems (CCTV). So let’s dig in to see if Swann offers a home security camera — or cameras! — that’ll work for you.
Swann Communications is the namesake brand of David Swann, an innovator who started tinkering with DIY cameras in the basement of his home in Melbourne, Australia.1 Then in 2014, the deep pockets at Infinova acquired Swann for nearly $100 million.2 Fast forward to today, and the brand does business in over 40 countries on 6 continents (it would’ve been 7 continents, but the demand for home security in Antarctica is a bit slow these days).
Did You Know: David Swann started his company, Swann Communications, by making computer modems back in 1987.
From what we’ve seen of Swann, it’s a solid and trustworthy brand that’s been around for a long time. But we also get the sense that they’re just trying to churn out more and more mediocre cameras, instead of focusing on a few cameras and really getting them right. At any rate, Swann’s devices might be compared to Ring, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor or some of Arlo’s cameras (the Arlo Pro 2 especially). But as you’ll see, Swann cams are somewhat lacking in features.
We must say, the price is right with Swann. They sell security cameras starting in the $30-$50 range. And for a 4-pack, 4-channel camera system you’re looking at $450+. That said, most of your camera options fall in the $100-$150 range, which is very reasonable and slightly cheaper compared to the industry average.
FYI: Swann sells a “decoy” or “dummy” cam for only $18. It’s a fake device that sure looks like a real outdoor security camera, which has been shown to deter would-be criminals.3
For instance, Swann offers a 4K Ultra HD Heat & Motion Detection Sensor Warning Light Bullet Security Camera Pro (that’s a mouthful!) for only $100. In our experience, we’d expect to pay at least $150 for a feature-rich security camera like this — so $100 is a steal in our book.
Thankfully, Swann does have free basic local storage (for storing video clips & footage), which we’ve come to expect from some of the best home security cameras. But if you’re like us, sometimes “basic” just doesn’t cut it. So another cost you’ll want to consider is for upgraded cloud storage. Swann’s ExtraSafe plan will set you back $4.99 per month per camera, or $49.99 per year when paid annually. But remember, a paid plan isn’t required.
|Swann Video Storage||Local Camera Storage||ExtraSafe Plan|
|7-day Local Memory||✓||✓|
|Cloud Storage||2 days||30 days rolling|
|30-Day Free Trial||X||✓|
|Price||Free||$4.99 per month|
Aside from their bullet and dome cameras, note that Swann also sells full-on home security systems with door/window sensors, motion detectors, doorbell cameras, and the like. You might find a deal by looking at their “Connected Home” packages, which comes with some nifty home automation features.
Overall, we think Swann does a pretty good job of offering high-quality equipment at fairly low prices. Of course, the value isn’t the same as what we’re used to seeing with other top competitors. But Swann is worth considering for their sheer amount of camera options (you’re in for a feast!).
We had a feeling that Swann was going to be ultra-simple to install on our own. After all, the company prides itself on being a “pioneer” in the DIY security space. Sure enough, our cameras came with an easy drill template. So we screwed the base into the wall, mounted the camera to the base, downloaded the Swann app to pair the device, and then linked it to our Wi-Fi. It took about 7 minutes from start to finish — which is typical for DIY home security cams.
Pro Tip: If you’re a renter or you don’t want to drill into your walls, you can choose to mount Swann’s wireless cameras using removable adhesives (included in box).
Swann also sells hardwired security cameras, which are more complicated to install. Even still, Swann offers a helpful set up guide on their website, along with video tutorials to help you along.4 So all things considered, we liked Swann as far as installation goes, and we think you will too. But if you’re looking for foolproof installation and lightning-fast setup, we’d recommend checking out Arlo or even Ring.
There’s really no point in having security cameras if they can’t capture high-quality video footage when it counts. We’ve been spoiled by Nest Cams (especially the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor) when it comes to video quality. But we do think Swann is up there with the best of them, too.
Depending on the camera, you can expect 4K or 1080p HD video quality, with color night vision, digital zoom, etc. We tested Swann’s video during a simulated break-in, and we were able to see fine details of the intruder’s appearance and behavior. The more evidence you have, the better off you are. Keep in mind that Swann also offers heat-sensing. Don’t worry — we’ll unpack this in just a bit.
Whether you go with Swann’s indoor or outdoor cameras, we think you’ll appreciate how easy they are to use. We were able to access and control our cameras using the SAFE by Swann mobile app. You’ll get motion-based alerts, allowing you to open the app and view live footage around your home. Many of their cameras also have built-in two-way talk, which lets you speak with visitors (or bad guys!) directly through the camera.
However, we did learn that Swann hasn’t always offered the most secure video. A few years back they faced a PR firestorm when video footage was sent to the wrong devices. That is, an unsuspecting woman received video clips of a different family cooking in their kitchen, with kids talking, the whole deal.5 Scary stuff!
FYI: Swann got their lines crossed a couple of times in the past few years; but as far as we know, they’ve since shored up their data and defense.
If you have problems with Swann during installation or everyday use, you’ll have a few different ways of contacting their service team. Personally, we prefer to speak with a real human whenever possible, so thankfully Swann offers 24/7 phone support (rare for the industry!). If you live in the US or Canada, the customer support number is 1-800-627-2799.
However, you can also get in touch with an agent via live chat on their website and reach them by email. In our experience, the customer service was good, but not great. The staff was friendly and professional, but we got big-business vibes on the phone (Swann Communications is huge). Overall, their service is decent, but don’t expect it to be as stellar as Lorex, a top 3 pick of ours.
We’ve touched on how diverse the Swann camera collection really is. From what we’ve seen, there are seemingly countless devices to choose from, each offering different features and technology. For the most part, Swann didn’t really impress us in this category. But we’ve identified a handful of neat features that we think you’ll like.
1080p HD Video — Swann delivers the gold-standard resolution of 1080p HD video, with digital zoom, and color night vision (on some cameras). As far as we’re concerned, that’s the trifecta of crisp and clear image quality. But believe it or not, you’ll see this from many brands these days.
No Base Station Needed — While most other security systems require a hub or base station, all you need is a wi-fi connection for Swann’s wireless and wire-free options to work.
Pro Tip: We’ve found that setting up multiple cameras is much easier when you don’t have to pair every camera to a base station or hub. So that’s something to keep in mind.
SAFE by Swann App — Receive instant notifications when your cameras detect activity and open the app to view live-streaming footage, communicate with visitors using two-way talk, customize settings, etc.
Heat Sensors — Swann’s True Detect heat and motion-sensing technology can pick up the heat signature of a nearby human. And the Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR) can detect motion from up to 25 feet away, and even distinguish between a passing car and a kid on a bike. But it’s only available on select cameras.
Recharges Like a Phone — Swann’s wire-free cams include a USB cord that allows you to charge your camera just like you would a smartphone. In our experience, it’s fast and easy, and the cameras hold a charge for nearly a month.
Local Storage or Cloud Storage — All of Swann’s security cameras offer basic local storage (7-days) so that you can safeguard hundreds of video clips. But if you want 30-day video history with ongoing support, we think you should consider upgrading to the ExtraSafe cloud storage plan.
Weatherproof Design — We’ve found that the best outdoor cameras are like postal workers: even harsh weather conditions won’t keep them from doing their job. Thankfully, Swann cameras can withstand sun, rain, snow, and wind.
Voice Controls — Swann works with Google Assistant and Alexa for voice control, which is a feature we really enjoyed. For instance, you can say, “Google, show me the back porch” or “Alexa, stream video to Amazon Echo” and you’re in business.
If you’re not already overwhelmed by Swann’s camera options, then why not consider throwing a few add-ons or accessories into the cart? A few of these add-ons might prove useful; but honestly, you could probably do without most of these.
|Fake Security System Kit||Decoy Cameras||$39.99|
|Imitation Dummy Security Camera||Decoy Camera||$17.99|
|Outdoor Solar Panel||Charger||$49.99|
|Gate Alert Kit||Entry Alert||$14.99|
|Driveway Alert Kit||Proximity Alert||$24.99|
|720p Smart Doorbell||Doorbell Camera||$59.99|
|PIR Motion Alarm||Motion Detector||$8.99|
|Garage Parking Sensor||Sensor||$19.99|
|Extra Alert Sensor||Sensor||$9.99|
During our testing, we found that Swann seems to offer it all. They have indoor and outdoor security cameras; wireless, wire-free, and hardwired options; free local video storage and paid cloud storage plans; and the list goes on.
But… we have to point out an important distinction. That is, quantity and quality are two very different things. In some ways, shopping for a Swann security camera felt like drinking out of a fire hose. There were so many choices that we were unsure if we were actually getting the best quality camera for our needs. So that’s something to bear in mind.
Taking everything into account, we think Swann might be a good fit for certain people. For instance, if you’re looking for a professional-grade, multi-channel CCTV camera system, then Swann has you covered. But if you’re just looking for an indoor or outdoor camera for an added layer of protection, we’d sooner recommend Ring’s home security cameras.
Swann actually offers a wired option as well as a wireless and wire-free option.
No. Swann comes with basic 7-day local storage, but there is a paid cloud storage plan that gives you 30 days of history for $4.99 per month.
The wireless and wire-free options are easy to install, whereas the hardwired option is a little trickier. But all of Swann’s DIY cameras come with thorough installation guides.
Their best cameras offer either 4K or 1080p HD video quality (the industry standard). You’ll also enjoy color night vision and a built-in digital zoom.
Yes, Swann offers a mobile app that allows you to access and control your device from virtually anywhere.
Swann is Alexa and Google Assistant compatible for hands-free voice control.
Swann.com. (2020). About Page: Introducing Swan.
IPVN.com. Honovich, J. (2014, October 21). Infinova Acquires Swann.
Dept. of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Blevins, K. et. al. (December 2012). Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender’s Perspective.
Swann.com. (2018, September 17). How to Install Security Cameras.
BBC.com. Kelion, L. (2018, June 27). Swann home security camera sends video to wrong user.