A simple and affordable indoor/outdoor security camera
It’s always a pleasure to test out SimpliSafe security equipment, because if anyone knows how to make a user-friendly product, it’s these guys. Their indoor camera, the SimpliCam,1 is a sub-$100 indoor camera with basic but reliable features, and would make a nice addition to any indoor space. I took one of these SimpliCams home and did a deep dive, analyzing the technology as well as how the camera works as a component to the larger SimpliSafe security system.
While SimpliCam isn’t outfitted with advanced features, it’s nice that SimpliSafe offers plenty of customer-friendly policies (like a three-year warranty!) to sweeten the deal. But this camera is far from perfect – the version we tested had a lower image quality than most in this market – so it’s important to know what you’re getting.
Pro Tip: Pro Tip: SimpliSafe is a unique system that happens to be one of the most affordable ways to secure your home. Read our in-depth review of SimpliSafe.
Let’s get to the full experience using SimpliSafe’s camera now.
The SimpliCam is priced at $99, which I do think is a bit steep for an indoor camera sporting basic features. By comparison, you’ll spend between $50 and $90 for similar cameras from brands like Blink, Zmodo, and Wyze. (The Ring Indoor Cam I reviewed is a great little device, too.)
Now, if you’re already up and running with SimpliSafe’s home security system, or you plan on purchasing a kit, then spending $99 for the SimpliCam makes perfect sense. It certainly won’t break the bank, and the camera integrates nicely into the SimpliSafe suite of products. But if you’re just looking for a stand-alone camera, just know that you have options.
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. These days, most homeowners are looking for more in a $100 camera than what the SimpliSafe camera delivers.
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.
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 livestream 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!). The manual recording option was a plus, as it’s not something I typically see from other brands. For that, SimpliSafe’s cloud plan appears to be worth the price.
Of the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of home security products I’ve tested over the years, SimpliCam is one of the easiest devices to install. Technically, the installation only entails plugging the power cord into a standard outlet and placing the camera wherever you so desire.
From there, simply download the SimpliSafe mobile app, connect the camera to Wi-Fi, and you’re 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 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 $169.99, which for an outdoor camera is a great price.
FYI: While the SimpliCam is only available in black, the outdoor camera is white.
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.
With the SimpliCam set up, I started to receive mobile alerts whenever the camera spotted something on the move. The device ignored motion from the family dog, which I appreciated, as it would have been a constant barrage of alerts otherwise. The SimpliCam’s smart motion detection was still impressive — the company claims to use intelligent detection algorithms that sense the unique heat signature of humans, which seemed to bear out in my tests.
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.
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. If you sign up with SimpliSafe’s cloud subscription, you can even record and store audio along with video.
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!
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||$169|
|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 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 around 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.
Harris, Mark. (2020, Dec 31). CBR vs VBR Encoding. Lifewire.
Kirsner, Scott. (2018, July 12). Why one Boston home security startup caught on and another didn’t. Boston Globe.
As Managing Editor for SafeHome.org, Rob Gabriele has written and edited over 1,000 articles in home security. His expertise is in smart home automation and home protection with thousands of hours of testing and research under his belt. Formerly a reporter and producer for the USAToday network, Rob has been a writer and editor for over 10 years. He holds a Master’s of Science with an emphasis on writing from the University of Montana, and he currently lives in the Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada.