Do the best things come in small packages? I recently unpacked a couple of pint-sized cameras from Wyze, the low-cost security brand founded by former Amazon employees1spending several days testing and analyzing their features and technology.
These cams, which are widely considered the entry-level answer to smart home security, were made with minimalism and convenience in mind. They’ve consistently been the best “cheap” security camera in a market where costs can really add up, and they’ve amassed somewhat of a cult following among pet owners.
So essentially, reviewing the Wyze Cam Indoor and Wyze Cam Pan was a lot like casual Friday. Read on for the full Wyze Cam experience.
As I took these cameras for a spin, I focused on two things: the totally hassle-free setup process, as well as the impressive features in these cams that other minimalistic cameras lack, like two-way talk and long-range night vision. How they managed to fit so many neat camera features into these petite little devices is, frankly, mind-blowing.
Of course, there’s nothing new about technology you can hold in the palm of your hand. I see it all the time – small, compact security devices like this can mean big savings over larger, more complex security systems for homeowners.
So what’s installation like? It’s really simple: Open box, remove contents, plug in. As you decide where to place your camera, keep in mind 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 the camera is plugged in and the yellow light begins flashing, you’ll just enter your home Wi-Fi password in the app, scan the QR code2 on the app with the camera, press the setup button on the back of the camera, and follow the prompts to complete the process. A few minutes and a firmware update later, and you should be all set.
OK, so it wasn’t snap-your-fingers instant; there were some prompts to follow after downloading the app, with a couple of false starts. But this is still modern tech; there will always be some learning, waiting, or tinkering involved.
In analyzing Wyze cams, the objective was to see how well Wyze Cam and Wyze Cam Pan held up as effective security devices, despite their super-low prices. I know Wyze prides itself on keeping its prices low and wants its customers to abandon their preconceived notions about “cheap” technology.2
But cheap or not, when it comes to how to choose security equipment, it’s important to focus on how all of that technology works together in such a small device. These cameras both boast 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; with Wyze, 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 notification if a siren sounds.
Despite all the perks, I do want to point out three key downsides:
Those factors weren’t deal breakers for me, but they’re certainly helpful to keep in mind. For more help with buying equipment, visit our complete security camera buying guide.
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. I 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 you’ll also find in many of the best wireless indoor cameras on the market.
The 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, as noted in my Ring camera reviews.
FYI: Neither the Wyze Cam V2 nor the Wyze Cam Pan are outdoor cameras, 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, this one is pretty hard to beat.
It’s Wyze … in 360! Wyze Cam Pan is Wyze’s most advanced camera. It’s got all the features you enjoyed in Wyze Cam, 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 I found it to be charming, watching the cam smoothly swivel around, scanning the room. It’s all pretty impressive for a $29.99 camera.
FYI: Design-wise, Wyze Cams are somewhat similar to Blink, another minimalist camera that’s battery-powered. Visit my hands-on Blink camera review to see if Blink is right for you.
In my experience with the pint-sized Wyze Cam Pan, the 360-degree panning action — combined with a 120-degree lens — was a welcome bonus. Positioned at the top of a bookshelf, for example, you can get a comprehensive view of the whole room, with some peripheral views for added coverage.
As motion alerts come through, you can see the rotation in action. The camera needs about three seconds to pan all 360 degrees, and you can view all the activity in the Wyze app in real time.
For only $10 more than the V2, the Cam Pan makes the grade.
|Wyze Cam||1080p HD
|Wyze Cam Pan||1080p
Pan, Tilt and Zoom
The majority of security cameras out there provide 1080p HD resolution. It’s the industry standard,4 and I found it more than sufficient for the Wyze cams. But, should your purposes be more complex, these cameras could still stand up to several higher-end brands in video clarity.
When I reviewed Canary cameras, for example, the cameras delivered video in 1080p, which in most cases was excellent. Those cams are also packed with some unique and advanced features, so they’re going to cost you quite a bit more than Wyze. It all depends on your preference, but as far as video quality, 1080p does the job well.
FYI: If you have a standard definition (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 SD after that.
Many times, in testing and in simple everyday scenarios, I used Wyze cams to keep track of the rambunctious family dog, who was going through an unfortunate and destructive chewing phase. In black and white, the Wyze Cam Pan produces a clear and detailed picture of the “threat,” as you can see above.
You won’t find colorized night vision with Wyze, though; if you’re interested in that, I suggest taking a look at Reolink. While those will cost more than Wyze, they do record some brilliant video at night, as you can read in my hands-on Reolink camera analysis.
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 I won’t lie – the communication is a bit less crisp than other camera audios, like the sharp-looking Arlo camera system I reviewed recently.
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, you’re not going to get crystal-clear premium audio. But you’ll get an effective two-way channel that might help you spook a potential burglar or two. You never know.
Wyze works nicely with Alexa and Google Assistant, and setting up either device is no sweat. For the Google Assistant, you can use voice controls to disarm and arm the cameras. If your device has a screen, you can say things like, “Show me the living room.” But it’s somewhat limited beyond that.
Did You Know: Cameras are really getting into the home automation game. Learn how Wyze and other cameras can automate with your smart home in our comprehensive home automation guide.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors protect from potential dangers from within our home. But in your haste, you might sometimes overlook those dangers in favor of external threats like thieves or trespassers.
So while visual surveillance is always important, detecting unusual or problematic noises is also a really helpful feature. In the Wyze cam, you can activate smart sound recognition, 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 a 14-day free trial, you’ll get complete motion capture, allowing you 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.
See below for a quick breakdown of what you’d expect with a Cam Plus subscription compared to the basic (free) Wyze experience.
|Event Video Length||12 seconds||Unlimited|
|Cooldown Period||5 minutes||No cooldown|
|Price||Free||$1.25 per month per camera|
This is an affordable storage plan, especially compared to the bigger brands like Arlo and Amazon-backed Ring, which start at $3.50 per month. While that’s certainly not a huge fee either, it’s clear that storing video footage with Wyze is going to be very inexpensive.
For help with Wyze Cams, it’s best to head over to Wyze’s customer support page for ample content related to installation, troubleshooting, smoke alarm detection,5 Wyze app functionality, and information about Wyze’s many other products and accessories. It might not be so easy to spot a phone number, though.
Indeed, Wyze doesn’t make it so easy to call them. After failing to locate a customer service phone number on their website, I did end up finding it through a Google search, and a friendly agent answered a couple of questions in under five minutes.
For other questions or concerns, I suggest consulting the community forum for the latest Wyze updates, news, and tips for using your cameras effectively.
Wyze has a free one-year warranty on their products. I haven’t had to use it yet, but it’s nice to have just in case. Equally nice to have is the 30-day return policy – which is always helpful when purchasing any electronics product.
Warranty aside, you can expect Wyze Cams to work well beyond the first year, barring some unexpected calamity.
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, you’ll love these cams for their simplicity, their reliability, and their effectiveness in protecting your home, your family, and your possessions.
My only wish is that the cameras contained a battery backup. It would go a long way toward upholding Wyze’s reputation for reliability, as well as ensuring the system stays running without interruption. Because, let’s face it: Property crimes do happen, and some of them involve criminals cutting wires to turn cameras off=line. Just something to keep in mind.
FYI: For more tips on preventing property crime, head over to our 2021 Property Crime in America report.
With all the tinkering and customizing you can do with a security camera, this kind of refreshing simplicity isn’t so easy to find. Wyze Cams won’t come close to the industry-leading accuracy you’d get from the Google Nest Cam system I tested weeks ago, but that one also required its share of attachments, hardware, and tricky installation steps – not to mention it costs hundreds of dollars more for one of these cameras. This stuff isn’t always easy (or cheap), so if you’re more of a set-it-and-forget-it camera user, the compact cameras of Wyze are a smart option.
Perhaps it’s time for all of us to start thinking small when it comes to home security.
Yes, Wyze cameras are wired, which means you must plug them into a power outlet to use them.
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 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 my tests, the video quality was excellent.
Stiffler, L. (2017, Nov. 11) Amazon Vets Develop $20 WyzeCam Home Camera, End Up Competing Against their Former Employer. GeekWire.
Wyze. (2019). Can I Use the Wyze Cam Outdoors?
Swearingen, J. (2019, Feb. 12). How Four Ex-Amazoners Made a Crazy Good Wireless Cam for $20. New York Magazine.
General Security. (2019, Feb. 20). 1080p vs. 720p Resolution.
Wyze. (2019, July). How Does the Smoke Alarm and CO Alarm Work?
Jaime Fraze is an experienced digital editor in the tech, business and food spaces, having produced content for clients ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to fledgling nonprofits for more than 15 years. As a wife, mother and homeowner, she understands that buying home security products can be confusing and overwhelming. That’s why Jaime has constantly strived to ensure that every piece of content she produces has met SafeHome.org’s rigorous standards, and that her readers come away with the power to make better, smarter decisions. Learn more about Jaime here