We’re always glad to get our hands on SimpliSafe security equipment, because if anyone knows how to make a user-friendly product, it’s these guys. We recently put their SimpliCam in the hot-seat. While this affordable indoor camera isn’t outfitted with advanced features, we found it to be a nice addition to our home, with just enough features and tech to squeak by. SimpliSafe also offers plenty of customer-friendly policies (like a 3-year warranty!) to sweeten the deal.
But there were drawbacks we found while using SimpliSafe’s camera. For instance, the image quality is only 720p HD — not a deal-breaker, but we’re used to seeing footage in 1080p HD. Also, they only sell one indoor camera; it can be used outdoors, but it’s not really made for it. At any rate, what you see is what you get with SimpliSafe. And it’s pretty cheap at $99. We’re sharing our full experience using this nimble DIY camera, so let’s get started.
The SimpliCam is priced at $99, which we think is a bit steep for an indoor camera sporting basic features. We’re used to paying between $50 and $90 for similar cameras from brands like Blink, Zmodo, and Wyze. But right now, we’re really liking the Ring Indoor Cam priced at $59.
Now, if you’re already up-and-running with SimpliSafe’s home security system, then spending $99 for the SimpliCam makes sense. It certainly won’t break the bank, and we found that the camera integrates nicely into the SimpliSafe suite of products. But if you’re just looking for a standalone camera, just know that you have options.
We’re actually a little surprised by the $99 price tag. If SimpliSafe wants to stay competitive, they’ll lower SimpliCam’s price by about $20… or release a next-gen camera with improved features (like 1080p HD resolution) to justify the spend. We’ve been doing this a long time, and we expect a little more ‘bang for our buck’ if we’re shelling out $100.
FYI: SimpliSafe also sells their namesake Video Doorbell Pro, which runs $169. If you’re looking for a doorbell camera, we recommend checking out our full SimpliSafe doorbell review here.
Another cost to consider is the cloud storage subscription fee. This is optional, but for $4.99 per month, you’ll be able to store up to 30 days of video and enjoy 60-second clip recordings (when motion-sensor is triggered). Keep in mind that even without the subscription you’ll be able to view live-stream video from your smartphone. But this is all standard for the industry.
With that said, the SimpliCam subscription also lets you record up to 60 seconds of video manually. Within the app, there’s the option to capture clips of, say, visitors helping themselves to your belongings (it happens), or your pup showing off his latest trick (that tail won’t chase itself!). We appreciated this manual recording option, as it’s not something we typically see from other brands. So we do think SimpliSafe’s cloud plan is worth the price.
Of the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of home security products we’ve used over the years, we can say that SimpliCam is one of the easiest devices to install. Technically, the installation only entailed plugging the power cord into a standard outlet and placing our camera wherever we so desired.
We found a little nook for it in the living room, and our SimpliCam’s black design blended in well with our bookcase. Then we downloaded the SimpliSafe mobile app, connected the camera to Wi-Fi, and we were in business. It’s really that simple! But honestly, you can expect fast and easy DIY installation no matter what indoor camera you purchase these days.
One thing to bear in mind is that you’ll need to purchase a “wetsuit” for your SimpliCam if you want to use it outdoors. This waterproof sleeve is included with the Outdoor Kit ($19.99), along with a 25 ft. power cable. We have to say, installing an indoor camera outdoors feels downright strange, so we wish SimpliSafe would just make a dedicated outdoor camera already.
Also note that we had a spotty Wi-Fi connection using our SimpliCam outdoors. In fact, we had to use a range extender just to bridge the gap. Needless to say, if you’re looking for an outdoor camera, we’d recommend other options like the Nest Cam Outdoor, one of our top picks.
FYI: While the SimpliCam is only available in black, the Outdoor Kit is available in both black and white. This allows you to match your SimpliCam camera design to your home’s exterior.
After reviewing the camera’s specs, we weren’t really expecting much from SimpliSafe’s camera. Sure, the company hypes up the SimpliCam with fancy marketing-speak, claiming it has “Variable Bitrate Compression” to improve image quality.1 This is all well and good. But we wanted to see how it performed off-paper and in the real world. Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised in some categories.
First, you should know that SimpliSafe’s camera only offers 720p HD resolution. Compared to 1080p HD (the industry standard) the resolution of the SimpliCam was decent, but it wasn’t ultra-crisp like we’re used to seeing. Now that brands like Arlo are stacking their cameras with ultra-HD 4K image quality, 720p just isn’t cutting it.
With the SimpliCam set up in our living room, we received mobile alerts whenever the camera spotted something on-the-move. The device actually ignored our pets, so we weren’t inundated with alerts throughout the day. We actually appreciated SimpliCam’s smart motion detection — the company claims to use intelligent detection algorithms that sense the unique heat signature of humans.2 In our experience, we can say this much is true.
Fielding alerts was easy using the SimpliSafe app. Once a notification came through, a simple swipe of the finger had us viewing live-stream video of our living room. Note that SimpliCam also provides two-way talk. The built-in microphone allowed us to speak to our kids through the camera, which is always helpful. To speak through the cam, hold down the microphone icon in the app. Just remember to take your finger off the mic if you want to listen in. Two-way audio is nice, but it’s a pretty standard feature nowadays.
So far so good. But again, none of these features are especially innovative; we’ve seen it all before. That said, one unique feature of the SimpliSafe camera is the stainless steel privacy shutter. The shutter gave us more control over our camera feed and privacy. It opens and closes — essentially turning the camera on and off — only with our permission. It also looks like an eye-opening and closing, which we thought was kind of cyborg-chic.
Did You Know: SimpliSafe used to charge a monthly fee for smartphone controls (mobile app), but now it’s free!
As far as using SimpliCam as an outdoor camera, we really don’t recommend it. Trust us, there are better options on the market, so why try to retrofit an indoor camera to do your bidding in the elements? It’s like making an indoor dog sleep outside night after night (just get a husky). It’ll also set you back $120 after purchasing the camera and the Outdoor Kit. And for $120 you could buy three 1080p Indoor/Outdoor Cameras by Zmodo.
The only scenario we’d recommend using SimpliCam outdoors is if you already have a full-on SimpliSafe home security system and a few SimpliCams on-hand already.
In our experience, SimpliSafe customer service is rock-solid. We were able to get support online by visiting their Help Center. But note that SimpliSafe also has service channels via email, user forums, or good old-fashioned phone calls. During our research, we did come across some negative reviews complaining of long wait times.3 But when we called in, we never waited more than a few minutes to get a friendly and professional agent on the line.
We also appreciate their 60-day money-back guarantee. It’s one of the better guarantees in the business, and it shows that they stand behind their product and service. If you do decide to return your equipment before your 60 days is up, SimpliSafe will even pay your return shipping. Not bad.
Although SimpliSafe’s camera is fairly basic and barebones when it comes to features and tech, we think a few are worth mentioning. Here are our favorite SimpliCam features that can help protect your home and family.
If you don’t want the camera watching your every move while at home, simply switch it to “off.” This activates the stainless steel privacy shutter. You can always open the shutter (using the mobile app) once you leave home and want the camera capturing video again.
SimpliCam comes with an innovative feature designed to eliminate false alarms. The company claims its algorithms are calibrated to pick up the unique heat signature that only humans have. In our experience, this does help to reduce false alarms.
SimpliCam’s built-in microphone lets you hear what’s happening in your home, even while you’re away. If you sign up with SimpliSafe’s cloud subscription, you can even record and store audio along with video.
Did You Know: We found the SimpliCam audio quality to be on-par with the competition. You can expect fairly crisp and clear audio, but note that some higher-quality cameras can have two or three built-in microphones.
Nobody does DIY quite like SimpliSafe. Remember, the company was founded to offer simple security solutions for renters. The do-it-yourself installation of the SimpliCam takes about 3 minutes, from start to finish. In our experience, it really couldn’t be easier.
If your SimpliCam acts up, get in touch with SimpliSafe and they’ll take care of you. All of their products are under warranty for 3 years to be “free from defects in materials and workmanship under normal use.”4 We’re used to seeing 1-year warranties, so kudos here for a generous 3-year warranty.
We found SimpliSafe to be somewhat lacking when it came to customizations. It’s a perennial complaint of ours — we just wish they’d offer more smart home integrations and equipment add-ons. But again, the brand is all about keeping things simple, so we can’t really fault them for their business model.
With that said, SimpliCam works with SimpliSafe’s security systems. If you’re curious, we did a full review of their affordable DIY home alarm system here. Also, if you purchase a kit and sign up with their Interactive Monitoring plan, you can get something called “Visual Verification.” When your alarm goes off, the SimpliSafe monitoring pros can actually tap into your SimpliCam and view your live video. This way, they can verify a crime in progress and expedite emergency personnel getting to the scene. Catch ’em red-handed!
Note that SimpliSafe does offer a few add-ons, like a smart lock and video doorbell called the Video Doorbell Pro. Here are their offerings and what you can expect to pay:
|SimpliSafe Add-Ons||Product Type||Price|
|SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro||Doorbell Camera||$169|
|Smart Lock||Electronic Door Lock||$99|
|Home Security Kits||Entry sensors, motion sensors, keypads, etc.||$183+|
The SimpliSafe story is one of our favorite stories to tell. The company started in 2006 by Harvard business students who were looking for a solution to prevent break-ins around campus.5 They quickly realized no security system offered true DIY installation and no contracts. So they got to tinkering, and they soon created SimpliSafe. Ever since its inception, SimpliSafe has been a go-to alarm system for dorm-dwellers and renters. And from what we’ve seen, the brand fills a hole in the market for no-nonsense home security.
All in all, we enjoyed our time trying out the SimpliCam. We think it’s worth your time and money if you already have a SimpliSafe home security system. Otherwise, we recommend looking at other brands. The 720p HD resolution was a tough pill to swallow, especially considering that most indoor cameras offer 1080p HD these days. We found the cam lacking in other features, too.
There are loads of home security brands like Ring, Blink, and Zmodo that have plenty of indoor camera options in the sub-$100 range. These companies offer outdoor cameras as well — something that SimpliSafe simply does not. So why not explore your options? We recommend checking out our list of the best cheap camera systems. With some brands, you simply can’t go wrong.
Not really. While SimpliSafe sells an Outdoor Kit that lets you use the SimpliCam outdoors, the camera is technically an indoor camera.
No, once you purchase the product, you can self-monitor for free.
Yes, SimpliSafe offers an affordable cloud storage plan which gives you 30-days of video history (among other features) for $4.99 per month.
The SimpliCam resolution is 720p HD, which isn’t as good as many security cameras that come in 1080p HD.
Yes, SimpliSafe offers a generous 3-year warranty, along with a 60-day money-back guarantee. We like these customer-friendly policies.
SimpliSafe.com. (2020). Home Security Provider.
WhatIs.techtarget.com. (Accessed June 17, 2020). Thermal Imaging.
Trustpilot.com. (Retrieved June 17, 2020). SimpliSafe User Reviews.
SimpliSafe.com. (Updated September 19). SimpliSafe Terms of Sale.
Barzilay, O. (2017, March 28). State Of The Home Security Market: Interview With SimpliSafe's CEO Chad Laurans. Forbes.com.