Do the best things come in small packages? In the case of Wyze, we think so! Wyze, the low-cost security brand founded by former Amazon employees,1 is the entry-level answer to smart home security. Their petite cams were made with minimalism and convenience in mind, and their legions of customers surely appreciate it.
For our team of home security experts, getting ready to review the Wyze Cam Indoor and Wyze Cam Pan was our version of Casual Friday. We knew we wouldn’t have to delve too deeply into parts and manuals or spend too much time learning app functionality and testing multiple pieces of equipment to get these cameras working.
The Wyze Cams are, after all, among the least expensive security cameras on the market. And before you get any ideas, “least expensive” does not necessarily equal “lowest quality.” For our hands-on review, we took these cameras for a spin, and we were keen on the totally hassle-free setup process, but took notice of some pretty advanced features in these cams that other minimalist cameras lack, like two-way talk and long-range night vision. Read on for our full experience.
These petite cameras initially caught us off guard when we first unboxed them; we wondered if something was missing. How could so many A+ features come in such a tiny little camera?
As 21st-century humans, we’ve seen this before. There’s nothing new about technology you can hold in the palm of your hand. But considering our history of reviewing and testing security cameras, we always prepare for at least a moderate challenge.
No such thing here! Open box, remove contents, plug in. That’s it! Keep in mind, as you decide where to place your camera, that you’re given a 6-foot power cord and adapter, which might be too short for some room setups. You can buy extra mounting kits with cord extensions, though.
Once we plugged it in, we waited for the yellow light to flash, entered our home Wifi password in the app, scanned the QR code on the app with our camera, pressed the SETUP button on the back of the camera, and followed the prompts to complete the process. A few minutes and a firmware update later, and we were all set.
OK, so it wasn’t snap-your-fingers instant; there were some prompts to follow after downloading the app, and of course there’s the occasional stumbling block as we navigated through said app. But this is still modern tech; we know there will always be some learning, waiting, or tinkering involved.
Before we really dive in, we have to confess something.
The puppy ate our instructions.
Luckily, he ate them after we had downloaded the app, so the prompts on the screen made up for the loss. So we were able to finish setup and get quickly to the business of living with these cams.
Our objective was to see how well our Wyze Cam and Wyze Cam Pan held up as effective security devices, despite their super-low prices. We know Wyze prides itself on keeping its prices low and wants its customers to abandon their preconceived notions about “cheap” technology.2
We also know they aim to impress; Wyze still packed these cameras with HD resolution, custom motion zones, two-way talk, schedules, device triggers, and other features usually reserved for expensive alternatives or locked behind a subscription. And, it’s totally customizable; you can create all kinds of “rules” to make your devices shine.
Pro Tip: Let the Wyze app monitor your smoke alarms and CO detector. Just enable the option under “Alert Settings” to get a smartphone notice if a siren sounds.
Despite all the perks, we do want to point out three key downsides:
Those factors weren’t deal-breakers for us, but it’s helpful to keep them in mind as you decide which cameras are right for you.
Our Wyze Cam V2 is the successor of the original Wyze Cam, and it still clings to the brand’s minimalistic design principles. Installing it involved little more than setting it on a shelf. We also used the included adhesive to keep the camera in place, but that’s certainly optional.
This little cutie comes with a nice array of features, which are standard in most security cameras on the market:
Our biggest gripe here is that there’s no battery backup in case the power goes out. But, again, Wyze is clearly thinking small. A battery pack would add a lot of bulk to these compact little cams.
FYI: Neither the Wyze Cam V2 nor the Wyze Cam Pan are outdoor cameras,3 but you can protect them from dust and water splashes with a slip-on cover if you really want to use them outside. Be wary of this and any other DIY “hack,” though, as you might end up voiding the warranty.
Overall, though, what a great little device! So small, yet so advanced. For the low price of $19.99, we’re in!
It’s Wyze … in 360! Wyze Cam Pan is Wyze’s most advanced camera, and it’s definitely our favorite. It’s got all the features we enjoyed in Wyze Cam V2, including night vision, adjustable motion detection, and two-way audio. But the special sauce is the 360-degree coverage. This is somewhat unusual in the industry – likely because some folks consider it antiquated or unnecessary. But we were charmed by this feature, to be honest. As the cam smoothly swivels from place to place, scanning the room, we couldn’t help but marvel at how expertly the makers of Wyze fashioned all these impressive features into a $29.99 camera.
In our experience with the pint-sized Wyze Cam Pan, the 360-degree panning action combined with a 120-degree lens was a welcome bonus. We positioned ours at the top of our bookshelf for a view of our bottom stairway and peripheral view of our front door. As our motion alerts came through, we were able to see the rotation in action, noting how fast it all worked (under three seconds to go all 360 degrees, to be exact).
For only $10 more than the V2, the Cam Pan makes the grade.
|Wyze Cam||1080p HD Wifi||$19.99|
|Wyze Cam Pan||1080p Pan, Tilt and Zoom Wifi||$29.99|
Each Wyze camera comes with free, rolling 14-day cloud storage. It’s not a huge amount of storage, but we appreciate it nonetheless. That mysterious noise we heard downstairs? After getting a sound alert, we pulled up the live feed to our office cam (the V2) and found that a mug full of pens and pencils had tipped over on our desk. One of us went to the app to pan over and started recording as another headed downstairs to pick up the mess, arriving just in time to keep the dog (yes, the darn dog again) from feasting on our kids’ school supplies.
Yes, we know, this was a pretty benign use-case, but we did learn that it’s helpful to zone in on spur-of-the-moment activity while it’s in progress to get a more accurate picture of the scene before you arrive. Seconds count!
If that’s not enough storage for you, or you’re worried about missing important activity, you might want to spring for a cloud storage plan ($1.49 per month per camera). Or, you can buy a 32GB MicroSD card from Wyze for $9.99.
The majority of the cameras we review provide 1080p HD resolution. It’s the industry standard,4 and we found it more than sufficient for our purposes in the Wyze cams. But, should your purposes be more complex, we think these cameras could stand up to several higher-end brands in video clarity. Google Nest Cams, for example, offer 1080p, which in most cases delivers excellent video quality. Those cams are also packed with cutting-edge technology. It all depends on your preference, but as far as video quality, 1080p does the job well.
FYI: If you have an SD card, you can use it in the Pan Cam to record in HD nonstop for up to 48 hours. You can also keep storing continuous video after two days, but the clarity will drop to standard definition (SD) after that.
Remember when we said our dog ate the directions? Well, that’s not the first non-edible possession of ours he’s eaten (I know, shocker). When we humans are catching our Z’s, our canine likes to find things to get into – and chew into oblivion. What better way to capture this “threat” and immediately neutralize it than with a quality night vision camera like Wyze? If this puppy’s going to misbehave, we’re going to catch it – in real-time.
Like 1080p and night vision, two-way audio has become a standard we expect in home security cameras. Wyze has it, and it’s seamless and effective, but we won’t lie – the communication is a bit less crisp than other camera audios we’ve tested, like Ring and Arlo. But, again, what are your priorities? Do you want to have full-fledged conversations with the babysitter while you’re on your date night, or do you envision using it more as a home intercom (“Honey, can you bring me a pair of scissors?”). Again, with such low-cost cameras, we weren’t expecting premium audio, and we didn’t get it. But we did get an effective two-way channel that didn’t glitch out on us once.
Our team is always happy when the cameras we review can be paired with a home assistant like Google Home or Amazon Echo. Luckily, Wyze works really well with Alexa and Google Assistant, and setting up either device is no sweat. We have a Google Assistant, and we were able to use voice controls to disarm and arm our cameras. Our device doesn’t have a screen, unfortunately, so we couldn’t say things like, “Show me the living room.” But … we’re usually in the living room.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors protect us from potential dangers from within our home. When we think about home security, we sometimes overlook those dangers in favor of external threats like thieves or trespassers. In the Wyze cam, you can activate smart sound recognition,5 which is free in the app. This way, if your smoke alarm siren goes off, your cam will trigger an alert on your phone wherever you are, so you’ll be able to take action right away.
Wyze recently leveled up its subscription service with Cam Plus. With our 14-day free trial, we got complete motion capture, allowing us to record full-length videos to the cloud as soon as motion is detected. Cam Plus also offers Person Detection, which is new to Wyze; you can activate this feature to receive notifications when people are detected and add a filter to your recordings.
Admittedly, we didn’t find much wrong with these cameras that would require asking for help. We did hit a bump when we tried to pair our camera with more than one smartphone; we had to resend the verification email a couple of times before the second user was able to share. For help, we headed over to Wyze’s customer support page, where we found ample content related to installation, troubleshooting, Wyze app functionality, and information about Wyze’s many other products and accessories. But what wasn’t so easy to spot was a phone number.
Indeed, Wyze doesn’t make it so easy to call them. After failing to locate a customer service phone number on their website, we ended up finding it through a Google search. We called somewhat late in the day, and we wondered if we’d get through. But we were greeted quickly, and our questions were answered to our satisfaction.
For other questions or concerns we had, we consulted the community forum and found a treasure trove of information, as well as the latest Wyze updates, news, and tips for using our cameras effectively.
And, we liked that at the end of every support Q&A on the page – and there are lots – we were directed to file a support ticket if our question still wasn’t answered.
Wyze has a free one-year warranty on their products. We haven’t had an occasion to use it yet, but we like that it’s there if we need it. We also like the 30-day return policy, which is a nice perk when purchasing any electronics product. So even though these cameras are remarkably cheap, we were happy to see a robust warranty as part of Wyze’s offerings. Clearly, there’s a reason these cameras have earned high marks in home security; despite their low cost, Wyze simply does not skimp on quality.
Warranty aside, you can expect Wyze Cams to work well beyond the first year, barring some unexpected calamity. We did come across a handful of customer complaints about hardware or app malfunctions, but among the tens of thousands of verified users on their support page, complaints were relatively rare.
We live in an era when a couple of home security cameras cost the same as dinner for two. What a time to be alive, right? With their V2 and Pan Cams, Wyze proves that its goal of “making great technology accessible” is in full force. In addition to their unmatched affordability, we love these cams for their simplicity, their reliability, and their effectiveness in protecting your home, your family, and your possessions.
Our only wish is that the cameras contained a battery backup. We think this would go a long way toward upholding Wyze’s reputation for reliability; not to mention ensuring the system stays running without interruption. Because, let’s face it: criminals don’t stay home during power outages.
And, we don’t want to leave you without reiterating how much we love the size of these things. With all the tinkering and testing we do all day with our security cameras, we tend to clutter up our workspaces quite often. Daily, really. Even Arlo and Ring camera kits can get a little bulky in later models, between the cameras, accessories, base stations, attachments, hardware, and other bells and whistles strewn about. Installing them can be tricky; storing them is even trickier; displaying them can be downright ugly.
But here comes little old Wyze, and what a breath of fresh air to see how little space these cameras take up! Perhaps it’s time for all of us to start thinking small in security.
Yes, Wyze cameras are wired, which means you must plug them into a power outlet to use them.
No, Wyze doesn’t charge a fee for their 14-day cloud storage. They do charge $1.49 per month for a Wyze subscription plan.
Yes, you can set up multiple cameras on the app.
Yes, Wyze also makes smart locks and keypads, smart light bulbs, smart plugs, motion sensors, surge protectors, bathroom scales, SD cards, and even a fitness tracking wristband. You can also buy a Wyze Starter Pack for $99.99.
Yes, Wyze Cams come with a free one-year warranty.
Yes, Wyze has a 30-day return policy. You just have to return it in the original packaging and make sure you include all parts.
Each Wyze Cam has 1080p HD resolution, which meets the industry standard. In our tests, video quality was excellent.
Stiffler, L. (2017, Nov. 11) Amazon vets develop $20 WyzeCam home camera, end up competing against their former employer. GeekWire.
Swearingen, J. (2019, Feb. 12). How Four Ex-Amazoners Made a Crazy Good Wireless Cam for $20. New York Magazine.
Wyze. (2019). Can I Use the Wyze Cam Outdoors?
General Security. (2019, Feb. 20). 1080p vs. 720p resolution.
Wyze. (2019, July). How does the Smoke Alarm and CO alarm work?