When it comes to home security, you don’t want anything overly complicated — you just want it to work if (or when!) it’s needed. You might be looking for something … simple?
In a day and age where technology seems to get in its own way sometimes, SimpliSafe is a breath of fresh air. Their equipment is affordable, reliable, easy-to-use, and designed with user experience in mind. It’s not overly complicated with features you’ll never need, and the day-to-day use is relatively seamless.
FYI: SimpliSafe recently updated their pricing, so be sure to check out the chart further down in the article to get the most up-to-date information before you make your purchasing decisions.
Today we’re going to be taking a look at one of SimpliSafe’s most popular pieces of equipment — the $99 SimpliCam. Let’s get to the full experience using SimpliSafe’s camera now.
Editor’s note: SimpliSafe still offers the older SimpliCam, but they have an updated version as well — the Wireless Indoor Camera. It’s a little more expensive at $139.99, but it’s compatible with their new Fast Protect Monitoring which allows security professionals to look in when an alarm is triggered. We have more information in our updated review of SimpliSafe.
So first things first. If you’re already up and running with a SimpliSafe home security system or you’re going to purchase a kit, tacking on the $99 SimpliCam seems pretty reasonable. It won’t break the bank, and it integrates seamlessly into the SimpliSafe suite of products. More importantly, a camera lets you have eyes on your property. Without one, you have no idea what might be tripping your sensors.
That said, if you’re looking for a standalone indoor security camera, you might want to shop around. The SimpliCam offers pretty basic features, and you can get similar functionality from brands like Blink, Zmodo, or Wyze for a lot cheaper. The $60 Ring Indoor Cam I reviewed is also a good option.
If SimpliSafe wants to stay competitive, they could lower SimpliCam’s price by about $20… or improve its features, which they did when they launched the 2nd generation SimpliCam with an improved 1080p HD resolution (the one we tested had 720p). But there are more ways to improve the camera, like adding artificial intelligence in the form of person detection or facial recognition. Google Nest did it with their $99 Nest Cam (indoor), which features person detection, so I think SimpliSafe can do it too if they wanted.
FYI: SimpliSafe also sells their namesake Video Doorbell Pro, which costs $169. If you’re looking for a doorbell camera, check out our full SimpliSafe doorbell review. If you already have a Video Doorbell Pro and need to set it up, check out our walkthrough on installing a SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro.
Another factor to consider is your cloud storage fees. While you don’t necessarily need this functionality — you can always livestream from your smartphone and see motion-triggered notifications — it certainly will improve your user experience. For just $4.99 per month, you’ll be able to store up to 30 days worth of video and watch 60-second clips of recordings.
Also keep in mind there is no local storage option, meaning you won’t be able to record to, say, a microSD card. Something to keep in mind if you’re serious about your privacy and don’t want recordings of you stepping out of the shower stored on some server somewhere.
Something else to consider: Like we said above, SimpliSafe recently released its new Smart Alarm Wireless Indoor Security Camera. It costs $139.99, and when coupled with their new Fast Protect professional monitoring — $29.99 per month — you can take your security to the next level with the ability to stop intruders and alert authorities in real time.
We’ve tested hundreds, maybe thousands, of home security products over the years. And most cameras are pretty easy to install. Most are DIY these days, and the majority take under half an hour to set up. As we noted in our Wyze Cam, our Wyze install took no more than five minutes.
That said, we’ve never come across a device that’s as easy to install as the SimpliCam. It truly does live up to its name. Technically, the installation is done once you’ve plugged the power cord into a standard outet. Of course, you also need to download the SimpliSafe mobile app and connect the camera to your Wi-Fi, but that takes just a minute or two.
What stands out the most, however, is SimpliCam’s straightforwardness on the day-to-day. Once you’re done setting it up, you can leave it be and enjoy home protection. Unlike with high-tech indoor cameras like the Nest Cam (indoor), which requires you customize your notifications and do a number of other setting-changes, the SimpliCam is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of device.
One thing to bear in mind is that the SimpliCam doesn’t work outdoors. It’s simply not rugged or protected against the elements enough. In the past, SimpliSafe gave its users the option to buy a “wet suit” for the indoor cam so users could use it outdoors. Now, though, there’s an outdoor camera option that offers a lot of the same features as the SimpliCam, but rugged enough to live outdoors. The outdoor cam costs $189.99, which for an outdoor camera is a great price. However, it only works with a SimpliSafe security system, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re already – or planning to become – a SimpliSafe security system user.
After reviewing the camera’s specs, expectations weren’t super high for SimpliSafe’s camera. Sure, the company hypes up the SimpliCam with fancy marketing-speak, claiming it has Variable Bitrate Compression1 to improve image quality. This is all well and good, but I wanted to see how it performed off-paper and in the real world. Thankfully, the camera handled very well in some categories.
First, you should know that we tested the first generation of SimpliCam, which only offers 720 HD resolution. It’s lower than the industry standard 1080p HD, but it’s still decent. Thankfully, if you buy a SimpliSafe cam now, the current version has a 1080p HD resolution.
FYI: For crystal-clear resolution, you can’t go wrong with Arlo. Get the full experience of Arlo in my latest Arlo Pro 3 camera review.
Once the camera was up and running, our mobile alerts started to go off when something would pass through the camera’s field of vision. The good news about that, though, is that it wasn’t so sensitive that every speck of dust triggered an alert. The smart detection feature was impressive in that regard — the company says the camera’s internal algorithms will only trigger for the unique heat signature of a human — and it’s something that worked well consistently in my tests. Other simple indoor cameras I’ve tested like the ones from Ring seemed to trigger more false positives.
Fielding alerts was easy using the SimpliSafe app. Once a notification comes through, a simple swipe of the finger takes you to the livestream. Note that SimpliCam also provides two-way talk. The built-in microphone allowed me to speak to the 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 is especially innovative. That said, one unique feature of the SimpliSafe camera is the stainless steel privacy shutter. The shutter provides more control over the camera feed and privacy. It opens and closes — essentially turning the camera on and off — only with user permission. It also looks like an eye-opening and closing, which I thought was kind of cyborg-chic. If you’re worried about your security camera being used by hackers to invade your privacy, I’d definitely recommend the SimpliCam for you.
Did You Know? SimpliSafe used to charge a monthly fee for smartphone controls (mobile app), but now it’s free!
In my experience, SimpliSafe customer service is rock-solid. Their Help Center is pretty robust, and the brand also has service channels via email, user forums, and good old-fashioned phone calls. I did come across some unflattering reviews citing long wait times, but I never waited more than a few minutes to get a friendly and professional agent on the line.
SimpliSafe’s 60-day, money-back guarantee happens to be 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 are 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, a few are still worth mentioning. Here are some standout 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 my experience, this did help to reduce false alarms.
SimpliCam’s built-in microphone lets you hear what’s happening in your home, even while you’re away. Of course, if you want to record and store that audio, you have to sign up for SimpliSafe’s Cloud subscription service. Call us crazy, but it seems like that sort of perk should be standard. And free.
Did You Know? SimpliCam’s audio quality was on-par with the competition in my tests. 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 my experience, it really couldn’t be easier.
SimpliSafe’s warranty is pretty generous compared to the rest of the industry. This is another advantage with SimpliSafe: Many competitors in this market offer one-year warranties. Generally, anything beyond that is going to cost extra. With SimpliSafe, the warranty is three years, and I think this is a nice touch.
I found SimpliSafe to be somewhat lacking when it came to customizations with smart home devices. But again, the brand is all about keeping things simple, and this is just part of their business model.
There is good news, though: Right now, if you purchase a SimpliSafe 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!
When testing security cameras, we consider several critical factors like security, privacy, and price. And the SimpliCam indoor camera did well in all those categories. It has the necessary security features – smart motion detection, clear video, two-way audio, and it has a physical privacy shutter. And at $99, it doesn’t break the bank. This adds up to make the SimpliCam a good all-around option.
In addition to their affordable kits, 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 Outdoor Camera||Security Camera||$189.99|
|SimpliSafe Video Doorbell||Doorbell Camera||$169.00|
|SimpliSafe Smart Alarm Wireless Camera||Indoor Security Camera||$139.00|
|Smart Lock||Electronic Door Lock||$119.99|
|Home Security Kits||Entry sensors, motion sensors, keypads, etc.||$199.97 and up|
The SimpliSafe story is always a fun one to tell. The company was founded in 2006 by Harvard business students who were looking for a solution to prevent break-ins. 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 I’ve seen, the brand fills a hole in the market for no-nonsense home security.
The bottom line is that SimpliCam works very nicely with SimpliSafe’s security systems. As a standalone camera, I wouldn’t recommend it; it lacks features that we deem necessary in indoor cameras, like person detection, especially considering that you can often find those features in similarly-priced cameras. Maybe if the SimpliCam cost $20 less, then we’d consider recommending it as a standalone camera, but not at its current price. Simply put, there are more functional cameras out there that make more sense on their own.
But here’s the thing: SimpliSafe doesn’t do things like the rest of the industry. They’re a huge draw for apartment dwellers, and they’re highly recommended for folks who relocate frequently. The equipment is extremely easy to work with — really checking all the DIY boxes and creating a sort of cult-like following of users. Budget-conscious homeowners also appreciate SimpliSafe’s low-cost monitoring plans; this is a much smaller investment than you’d have to make by going with a Vivint system or the like. (Vivint happens to be really impressive in its own right, though. Take a look at my full Vivint system analysis for more info.)
That said, there are loads of home security brands like Ring, Blink, and Zmodo that have plenty of indoor camera options in the sub-$100 range. Check out our list of the best cheap camera systems. With some brands, you simply can’t go wrong.
Yes. The SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera costs $169.99, and it’s weatherproof, has a 1080p HD resolution, and a wide, 140-degrees viewing angle.
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 resolution of the current SimpliCam is 1080p HD, which is the industry standard. However, it’s worth noting that if you want better image quality, there are 2K and 4K HD options out there from brands like Arlo and ReoLink.
Yes, SimpliSafe offers a generous three-year warranty, along with a 60-day, money-back guarantee.
PR Newswire. (2017, June 21). Introducing SimpliCam — SimpliSafe's $99 Smart Security Camera.