One of the great benefits of how the smart home is developing apace is that home security cameras have become affordable and remarkably simple to set up. No longer does a home security system require walls peppered with holes or super-expensive set-ups. 

Connected cameras can be turned on or off wherever you are in the world, with instant notifications that there’s an intruder – or that the dog has jumped on the sofa again.

Most cameras now have microphones and speakers so you can talk to the surprise visitor, or Fido. Some attach to front doors so you can tell the delivery person where to leave your parcel. 

A few include facial recognition and others have built-in alarms or work from a battery that lasts for months. Many record footage and save it online so even if your camera is unplugged by the intruder, the moments before will be saved. 

Extra features include cameras that stop recording automatically when you get home – usually by spotting your mobile phone. Some features require a monthly or annual subscription.

We tested the cameras below for ease of installation and set-up or whether you need a professional to help with either. Then we checked how reliable they were; if the notifications were infuriating because they spotted a tree blowing or failed to let you know quickly that somebody was there.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Google Nest cam IQ indoor: £269, John Lewis & Partners

Video storage: Yes, subscription applies
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 130 degrees
Camera quality: Up to 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: No

The Google Nest system is sublimely easy to set up and use, with highly configurable notifications to let you know if the camera spots movement or only people, for instance. You can set it so it switches on when everybody goes out and off on your return – it recognises when your phone is home or away to do this. The camera is high-resolution, 4K-capable, though it transmits data in Full HD. Instead, it uses the extra resolution to automatically zoom in on a part of the picture when it spots movement. 

It sends notifications including images and video clips to your phone. Additionally, you can save your entire video history for up to 30 days if you subscribe to Nest Aware, which has other benefits such as facial recognition. Subscriptions start at £4 a month or £40 a year for five days’ history up to £24 a month, £240 a year for a full 30 days’ worth. If you only want this for the weeks when you’re away on holiday, occasional monthly subscriptions may be enough. Perhaps the smartest home security camera you’ll find. Nest is part of Google, which is why the G-word has been added to the name recently.

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Arlo pro 3 security camera: £549.99, Amazon

Video storage: Yes, subscription applies
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 160 degrees
Camera quality: 2K, 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: Yes

The Arlo pro 3 is designed to work outside as well as in, so it’s weather-resistant. It can be battery-powered, but the battery lasts between three and six months and recharges in hours. Set up is simple and can be configured to track motion in your front garden but not the pavement beyond, for instance. There’s two-way audio with noise-cancellation to make it sound the best it can and both a light and a siren built in. Features include the camera turning off automatically when you’re at home, if you want it to. For extended recording capabilities you need a monthly subscription. You can choose from two-camera, three-camera or four-camera bundles and add extras when you choose. Price above is for two cameras.

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Netatmo smart alarm system with camera: £319.99, Netatmo

Video storage: Yes
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: No
Field of vision: 130 degrees
Camera quality: 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: Yes

As well as boasting the cutest-looking smart camera – a slender tube of gold aluminium – this camera is a full home security system with indoor siren and door or window sensors. Unlike other cameras, there are no ongoing fees to Netatmo. You can either save footage to the memory card supplied or save videos to your personal Dropbox, for instance. It arms the alarm automatically when you leave home and turns off when it recognises that it’s you returning. As well as alerting you if an intruder is spotted, it can use its facial recognition feature to send you a message when the kids get home from school, for instance. The siren is loud: 110 decibels. You can buy the camera part of this set-up as a standalone device (£199.99), if you prefer.

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Canary pro: £159, Canary

Video storage: Yes
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 147 degrees
Camera quality: 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: Yes

The siren on the Canary pro is very loud. Really, it’s over 90 decibels. Not every security camera has a siren, or comes in two colours to suit your home – black or white are the two choices. The design is neat and unobtrusive. It also does other things besides watching for movement and intruders: it monitors air quality, temperature and humidity so it can report on how healthy your home is, too. Two-way conversations are possible here but, unlike most rival systems, you have to subscribe to the premium service to get this. This costs £79 a year, although if you choose the right option at purchase, the first year is included. The Canary saves the last 24 hours of events in the cloud which can be accessed free. For more storage, you’ll also need that premium service.  Image quality is very good, high-definition, though it can’t zoom in like the Nest.

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Google Nest hello: £229, Google

Video storage: No
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 160 degrees
Camera quality: 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: No

This is a video doorbell, and it’s terrific. Neat enough to suit the smartest of doors, it attaches to your existing electric doorbell so it rings normally. But it records every bell ring, and indeed people loitering outside even if they don’t ring the bell. You can talk to whoever’s at the door, which is handy to tell them where to leave the parcel, say, even if it does surprise some couriers when you do this! Image quality is good and audio is good for you, even if you’re a world away on your smartphone and average for the person listening at the door. Professional installation is possible – and recommended – as it has to plug into your electrical system. Easily the best video doorbell you can find.

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Swann wifi alert indoor: £69.99, Amazon

Video storage: Yes
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 110 degrees
Camera quality: 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: Yes

Superbly simple to instal in minutes, this camera has neat features like heat sensing as well as motion, so cars and people can be spotted more easily. Video clips are saved online for free for up to seven days, and on local memory for two days. Picture quality is good, and audio is decent enough. The audio sensing works well, though can take a little initial adjusting so you’re not notified every time a car goes past the house. Though this camera lacks some of the extras on pricier cameras, such as 4K video quality or facial recognition, it’s efficient, reliable and very well-priced.

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Arlo ultra: £449.99, Amazon

Video storage: Yes
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 180 degrees
Camera quality: 4K, 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: Yes

The Arlo ultra looks very similar to the more recent Arlo pro 3, but this model has a 4K resolution camera. You can stream 4K content or save it to the optional microSD memory card. To stream it, though, you have to be on the same network as the camera which really means you’ll need to be at home to do it. But the default HD resolution still looks really good. It’s easy to instal the Arlo and to add extra cameras to your set-up. The camera can work outside as it’s weather-proof. Note that the camera unit attaches magnetically and is battery-powered, so make sure to mount it high enough to be out of reach. There’s also a bright spotlight built in which is motion-activated. As with others here, a subscription is needed to make the most of the camera, which makes it an expensive proposition, though the first year’s service is included.

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Google Nest cam indoor: £159, Google

Video storage: Yes
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 130 degrees
Camera quality: 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: No

Before the IQ range, Nest had regular indoor and outdoor cameras which are still available now. They are still capable but more affordable options. The black Nest cam indoor has a strong magnet in its base so it’s easy to attach to various surfaces. Though it lacks the high resolution of the IQ, this camera has good picture quality and audio. There’s no facial recognition here but other services from the Nest aware subscription features are available. Like the Nest cam IQ indoor, the set-up of this camera is very easy and operating it through the Nest app is a cinch.

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Hive view: £155, John Lewis & Partners

Video storage: Yes
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 130 degrees
Camera quality: 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: No

The Hive view looks pretty slick (designed by Yves Behar), a glossy cube on a metallic stand. You can even choose a champagne gold or copper finish for the stand. The cube is the camera and can be detached from the stand – a battery inside the cube means it can work for an hour when it’s not connected. It works with other Hive products like the brand’s thermostat to be controlled from the same app. As well as spotting movement, it can detect sounds and is smart enough to ignore a passing car but to notify you if it spots talking or the window being smashed, say. Video is stored online for 24 hours – a £3.99 a month subscription lets you store more for longer.

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Google nest cam IQ outdoor: £329, Google

Video storage: Yes
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 130 degrees
Camera quality: 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: No

The IQ outdoor adds a high-resolution to the already successful Nest cam outdoor. The design is a triumph, with the mains cable disappearing behind the mounting bracket – though this may mean you want a professional installer to drill a hole in your wall. Like the IQ indoor, it has a 4K sensor so it can zoom in to the image and still deliver high resolution, even in challenging outdoor lighting situations. It’s weatherproof, of course, as it sits outdoors. The app is great, alerting you when it spots people or movement and showing recently captured images which are easy to sort through. For extra detail, video with sound and more, a Nest aware subscription is required.

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Canary flex HD: £189, Canary

Video storage: No
Smart home compatible: Yes
Two-way talk: Yes
Field of vision: 116 degrees
Camera quality: 1080p HD
Extendable system: Yes
Siren: No

The flex HD is very versatile, thanks to a built-in battery that means it can be used without mains connection. Or, plonk it on the magnetic base and connect it to the mains if you prefer. It’s straightforward to set up and the image quality is good, though not a match for the best here. Like the other Canary in this roundup, two-way talk is only possible with the premium subscription which costs £79 a year. Again, you can get this free for the first year. The magnetic base lets you attach the camera in a variety of positions so it’s easy to point the camera exactly where you want it to. It can be used outdoors as well as in.

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The verdict: Home security cameras

Google Nest is the brand that dominates this market, especially the elegant efficiency of the Google Nest cam IQ indoor. Arlo’s offerings, like the pro 3, are also compelling, though both brands work best with ongoing subscriptions. The Swann wifi alert indoor is more basic but represents great value.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.