Arlo vs Nest vs Ring: What is the best outdoor camera?

arlo vs ring vs nest

This article will outline the best outdoor cameras available by comparing Arlo vs Nest vs Ring. Smart home security cameras are one of the most popular and sought-after uses of connected devices. A few top choices of manufacturers lead the market with the newest and most impressive hardware technology and security available. It goes without saying the Arlo is the leading brand of outdoor camera, thanks to simply having the highest quality features and specs. Here are our recommendations based on the options available:

  • The best outdoor camera: The Arlo Ultra is convincingly the best camera thanks to 4K resolution, colored night vision, 180° Field of View and many other top-quality specs.
  • The second best: The Arlo Pro 3 is a new camera that is between the Ultra and Pro 2. With a 2K resolution, colored night vision, 160° Field of View and sharing many of the perks of the Arlo Ultra.
  • Best Floodlight option: The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight is the newest and best floodlight smart camera on the market
  • Mid-price range option: The Arlo Pro 2 is the best outdoor cameras in the mid-price range and used to be the best outdoor camera.
  • For fans of Google: The Nest Cam Outdoor & Nest Cam Outdoor IQ are solid options from Google which will have top support and ongoing software development. Intelligent facial recognition is a real plus too.
  • Older spotlight option: The Ring Floodlight is an older version of the Spotlight but with a brighter LED light with a wired option as the only choice.
Arlo Ultra - 4K UHD Wire-Free Security 2 Camera System | Indoor/Outdoor with Color Night Vision, 180° View, 2-Way Audio, Spotlight, Siren | Works with Alexa and HomeKit | (VMS5240)
  • Wire-free and weather-resistant design, works with Alexa, and includes 1 year of Arlo...
  • 4K & HDR - Zoom in to see sharp details with Arlo Ultra’s 4K & HDR advanced image...
  • Enhanced night vision - See what’s lurking with color night vision allowing you to see...

Featured Article: Arlo Pro 3 vs Arlo Ultra

Best Outdoor Cameras Comparison Table

ModelArlo UltraArlo Pro 3Arlo Pro 3 FloodlightRing FloodlightNest Cam IQ
Designarlo ultra singleArlo Pro 3 singlearlo pro 3 floodlightring spotlight
Wireless
Live Stream
Two-Way
talk
Resolution4K2K2K1080p1080p
Field of View180°160°160°140°130°
Night VisionColorColorColorColorBlack and
White
LED
Spotlight
Powerful
Floodlight
Siren on
Camera
Smart Recognition
Subscription
Arlo SmartArlo SmartArlo SmartRing ProtectNest Aware
Bottom LineBest Outdoor
Camera
Second Best
Outdoor Camera
Best Floodlight
Version
Rings Best
Camera
Facial
Recognition
AvailabilityCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

Arlo Pro 2

pro 2 starter pack with smart siren
Arlo Pro 2

Released in late 2017, the Arlo Pro 2 is a slightly slicker and more effective smart security camera than the Arlo Pro. Although it has a few extra features and fine-tuned specs, overall this newer generation product is a little better than the Pro but admittedly not on another level. Many of the features are the same as the Pro, so we will focus on the additional features on offer.

Additional Features

The Arlo Pro 2 has a greater field of vision of 130 degrees which can spot activity on the outer portion of the recorded area. The lag time of the camera recording after being triggered has been eliminated by introducing a Look Back Feature. A downside to this is that the Arlo Pro 2 does have to be plugged in. Continuous recording is also possible with the Pro 2 which requires the camera to be plugged in.

There is a Zone Recording feature that allows the user to specify a zone for motion detection in the field of vision. This fine-tunes the camera to focus on a specific area such as a door or driveway and help cut out irrelevant triggered recordings. The Pro 2 records in 1080p which is a minor upgrade from the 720p of the two previous models. We also compare this device in our Arlo vs Blink comparison article, which is well worth looking at to see an alternative option.

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Easy to add cameras into system
  • Available in many different sized bundles (1-6 cameras)
  • Wireless or wired
  • Customizable motion zones
  • 1080p
  • Smart Siren
  • Local storage option protects against Wi-Fi outages
  • Free & paid cloud storage options
  • Compatibility with hubs and smart assistants (Alexa)

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Some features require camera to be plugged in

Takeaway Points

The Arlo Pro 2 is one of the best outdoor smart security cameras you can get and is our recommended mid-range pick. Quality of the hardware, software, and specs are all at the top level that provides the best performance. The Smart Siren, as found in the Pro, is a real bonus as it adds an extra layer of deterrence.

SALE
Arlo Pro 2 - Wireless Home Security Camera System with Siren | Rechargeable, Night vision, Indoor/Outdoor, 1080p, 2-Way Audio, Wall Mount | Cloud Storage Included | 3 camera kit (VMS4330P)
  • 100 percent Wire free : Free of power cords and wiring hassles. 1080p HD High quality...
  • Activity Zones : Highlight areas in your camera's view where you want to receive motion...
  • Optional 24/7 Continuous Video Recording : Upgrade to keep nonstop recordings in the cloud...

Arlo Pro 3

arlo pro 3
Arlo Pro 3

Released in 2019, Arlo Pro 3 is an upgraded version of the Pro 2, thanks to having some superior camera features. There is an upgrade to 2K resolution, an LED spotlight, a Siren on the camera, colored night vision and a Field of View of 160°, compared to the 130° on the Arlo Pro 2. These are all substantial upgrades, which make it the second-best outdoor smart camera after the Arlo Ultra. This was only released recently to fit in between the Arlo Pro 2 and Ultra, making a it mid to high price range option. Arlo revealed a new variation of the Pro 3 at CES 2020 with a Floodlight attached, which will be released soon.

Arlo Pro 3 – Wire-Free Security 2 Camera System | 2K with HDR, Indoor/Outdoor, Color Night Vision, Spotlight, 160° View, 2-Way Audio, Siren | Works with Alexa | (VMS4240P)
  • Wire-free and weather-resistant design, works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and...
  • 2K video with HDR: zoom in on objects and see clearer details and colors in 2K HDR
  • Color night vision: see what’s lurking with color night vision or black and white....

Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera

arlo pro 3 floodlight
Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight

Arlo has finally made the leap to make a floodlight camera with the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight, although it is out quite yet. Set to be released in Spring 2020, the Pro 3 Floodlight will essentially be the Arlo Pro 3 with an added floodlight. This will be directly compete with the Ring Floodlight and Spotlight cameras, although it will be higher spec. This is due to maintaining the quality of the 2K Video Resolution, Color Night Vision and all the other features that make the Pro 3 such a high-quality camera. Check out our comparison of the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight vs Ring Floodlight to see how it weighs up against the alternative.

Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera | Home Security Camera with 2K Video and HDR | Wire-Free, Weather-Resistant, Color Night Vision, Spotlight, 160-Degree Field of View, and 2-Way Audio
  • Fast wire-free set up - no existing wiring required, setup quickly anywhere.
  • See the full picture - Crisp 2K HDR video with a wide viewing angle.
  • Illuminate your property with 2000 lumens of brightness (up to 3000 lumens with Outdoor...

Arlo Ultra

arlo ultra
Arlo Ultra

Finally, we have the best smart outdoor camera in our comparison article and the market leader at the moment. The Ultra was actually released before the Pro 3, which was more to fill in the large gap between the Pro 2 and the Ultra. Many of the cutting edge features you saw above were therefore new with the Ultra. Included are the colored night vision, LED spotlight and siren on the camera. The Ultra also has a 180° Field of View and 4K resolution, creating a picture that is like no other. There is also a smart recognition subscription called Arlo Smart, which intelligently distinguishes real threats from fake ones.

Arlo Ultra - 4K UHD Wire-Free Security 2 Camera System | Indoor/Outdoor with Color Night Vision, 180° View, 2-Way Audio, Spotlight, Siren | Works with Alexa and HomeKit | (VMS5240)
  • Wire-free and weather-resistant design, works with Alexa, and includes 1 year of Arlo...
  • 4K & HDR - Zoom in to see sharp details with Arlo Ultra’s 4K & HDR advanced image...
  • Enhanced night vision - See what’s lurking with color night vision allowing you to see...

Nest Cam

Googles smart home device division, Nest, is best known for its Learning Smart Thermostat but also for their smart cameras. The Nest Cam Outdoor and Cam IQ Outdoor reflect the quality of Google’s ongoing efforts in the smart home market. These smart security cameras are undoubtedly pushing the technological boundaries of the industry, especially in the software of the IQ Outdoor.

Nest Cam Outdoor

nest cam outdoor
Nest Cam Outdoor

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The Nest Cam Outdoor, by Google, features some impressive specs and extensive options. A solid all-rounded and not too expensively priced option, the Cam Outdoor rivals the best of Arlos cameras and will perform to the standard you need.

Design & Setup

The Nest Cam Outdoor is a simplistic white device with shiny blackface. The camera has a fixed wire that provides power. Overall it is a rugged and robust build making it highly durable. The waterproof rating is the same as the Arlo cameras, a solid IP65 which can withstand substantial amounts of rain.

The installation and setup are straightforward as you would expect from a Google product. Once it is installed in place using the included screws and equipment, using the app you undergo a simple and instructed step by step process. To pair the cameras you just scan the QRF code.

How it Works

The Nest Cam Outdoor is a continuously recording camera that requires an additional subscription called Nest Aware to store the footage on the cloud. This is arguably more reliable than battery cameras like Arlo, but it does mean you have to pay as there is no free storage option. The footage is stored for up to 30 days with Nest Aware. The camera uses motion and audio detection to identify moments of activity and send you notifications along with a picture. The software used to analyze the motion detected and determine whether it is a human or something is else is accurate There is a live stream on the app which is also available 24/7 remotely. The camera is wired with no wireless option, making it less malleable in your home.

nest app

Recording Features

The Nest Cam Outdoor has a respectable 130 degrees field of vision. There is a Talk & Listen feature uses a microphone and speaker on the camera which can be used to communicate with both welcome and unwelcome visitors. The camera records in 1080p at 30 frames per second.

Connectivity & App

The Nest app is available for both IOS and Android and is a point of control for all of Nests products, not just the camera. Nest excels at making sure the setup of their products is quick and easy, which applies to both their thermostat and cameras. From the app, you can access the features such as:

  • Live view
  • Alert notifications
  • Snapshots of last 3 hours
  • Scheduling
  • Two way talk

Nest products including the Cam Outdoor work in conjunction with smart assistants for voice control and IFTTT.

Battery & Durability

The Nest Cam Outdoor is a wired device so there is no battery life applicable. This makes the camera slightly less portable and easy to move around your home as the wire-free cameras. It is a highly weatherproof camera with an IP65 waterproof rating. It can operate in temperatures between -4 and 104 farenheit.

Pros

  • Easy to setup
  • Easy to use
  • Nest app is of high quality
  • Google software is of top quality
  • High performance
  • Motion and audio detection
  • 1080p at 30 FPS

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No local storage
  • Wired only
  • No free cloud storage

Takeaway Points

The Nest Cam Outdoor is towards the standard of the Arlo Pro 2. A plus of these cameras is that they produced by Google and will, therefore, have the best support and development you can get as time goes by. A downside is that these cameras are expensive.


Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

Nest Cam Outdoor IQ
Nest Cam Outdoor IQ

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The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the immediate upgrade from the original with smarter software and a few other high spec changes. This camera is much larger than the original, around twice the size. This thicker and bigger build has an upgraded IP66 waterproof rating which means it will be more durable in the long run. It can also handle lower temperatures than the original, as low as -40 degree Fahrenheit.

Upon installation, there is the option to hide the power cable through a plate at the back of the camera as to avoid any intruder damaging it. The speaker on the IQ Outdoor is 15 times more powerful than the original. It also has additional microphones to improve noise cancellation when using the two-way communication feature. The video records in 1080p with 4K sensors at 30 Fps. What gives the Nest Cam IQ its super-smart status is the facial recognition technology. This can identify your family and friends from unwanted intruders. We compare the Nest Cam vs Nest Cam IQ in more detail in another article.


Ring Spotlight

spotlight cam
Ring Spotlight

The Ring Spotlight is available in a variety of options which includes a battery-powered camera, wired camera, solar-charged camera or floodlights. Also, check out our comparison on the best Ring vs Ring 2 vs Ring Pro vs Ringe Elite if you’re interested in getting a video doorbell.

Design & Setup

The camera looks like the face of their Video Doorbell slapped onto a mountable camera. Setting up the camera requires downloading the Ring App and following a simple setup wizard which is followed by testing the camera live feed. The mount is easily screwed into place as well as the camera is angled.

How it Works

The device gets triggered by motion detection and responsively shines a spotlight on the area and records footage. It has two LED strips on each side of the camera to do this, check it out in action. The footage recorded is stored on the cloud as per usual with a smart security camera. The Spotlight camera comes with 30 days free trial of the cloud storage option. Beyond that, a subscription is mandatory and can be charged in different ways, either per camera or month for around $3  a month or $30 a year for each device.

floodlights in action

Recording Features

The Spotlight camera records in 1080p and has a field of vision of 140 degrees. Motion detection angle is 270 degree on the wired version, which means it can identify movement far outside its recording field of vision. On the battery-powered version, it is just 160 degrees. The two-way audio feature, like the other brands, uses a microphone and speaker to allow the user to communicate with anyone outside. Each camera has a 110-decibel alarm built into it. This takes a different approach to Arlo which has it as part of the Home Base. This is far more in the face of the intruder and more likely to have a deterring effect.

Connectivity & App

The control of the Ring Spotlight camera is mediated through the Ring app, the same as the one used to control the Video Doorbell. This provides real-time notifications, a live feed, and two-way audio talking.

Battery & Durability

The Spotlight Camera has an IP55 waterproof rating which is a little behind the other models in this review. This means it can take some water from a nozzle. It is recommended to have this device covered as heavy rain may not be guaranteed survival. The battery life of the camera is estimated to be between 6 to 12 months or approximately 1,000 notification events. The app will tell you when you’re running low on battery juice.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Wired or Wireless
  • Wide FOV
  • High-quality app
  • 1080p
  • Smart Siren
  • Unique floodlight feature for extra deterrence

Cons

  • Paid cloud storage is mandatory after the 30 day free trial

Takeaway Points

The Ring Spotlight comes with a unique spotlight feature that acts as an extra deterrence in addition to the siren. Beyond that, the manufacturer is very reputable as it is owned by Amazon ensuring top quality support and development of accompanying software. One issue is that there is no paid cloud storage option.

Ring Spotlight Cam Battery HD Security Camera with Built Two-Way Talk and a Siren Alarm, White, Works with Alexa
  • Connect your Ring camera with Alexa then enable announcements to be alerted when motion is...
  • Lets you see, hear and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet and PC
  • Powered by the quick-release rechargeable battery pack.

Ring Floodlight

ring floodlight camera

The Ring Floodlight was the first smart outdoor camera released that featured an LED strip. Released back in 2017, it shares many of the features that the newer Spotlight has with some subtle differences. The principal differences are that the Ring Floodlight only comes as a wired option whilst the Spotlight has a wireless option. Going wireless does restrict some of the superior features though. Here are the shared features between to two:

  • Wired connection
  • Ring app
  • Live Stream
  • Two-Way Talk
  • 1080p Resolution
  • 140° FoV
  • Color Night Vision
  • LED light
  • Siren on camera

There are a couple of differences between the two cameras as we will see, however:

  • The Ring Floodlight is brighter at 1800 lumens
  • The Ring Floodlight is wired only
  • The Spotlight version doesn’t have color night vision or advanced motion detection when using battery power – instead, it has black and white and basic motion detection.

These are the main differences, but to read on the matter fully check out our Ring Floodlight vs Spotlight article.

Ring Floodlight Camera Motion-Activated HD Security Cam Two-Way Talk and Siren Alarm, White
  • Connect your Ring camera with Alexa then enable announcements to be alerted when motion is...
  • Lets you see, hear and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet and PC
  • With a Ring Protect Plan (subscription sold separately), record all your videos, review...

Final Word

The smart security market is a highly contested space with sublime quality among the leading brands. Arlo, Nest, and Ring all have very impressive devices with practical features that have proven to be reliable.

  • Arlo Ultra: The best outdoor smart camera due to having superior features such as 4K resolution and a 180° Field of View and color night vision.
  • Arlo Pro 3: The second best that shares many features with the Arlo Ultra but lower spec in some areas.
  • Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight: The same as the Pro 3 but with a powerful Floodlight.
  • Nest Cam Outdoor/IQ: A solid option from Google which will have top support and ongoing software development. Intelligent facial recognition is a real plus too.
  • Ring Spotlight: A unique flood spotlight feature adds extra deterrence whilst also maintaining the most premium smart camera features.

All the cameras are effective in recording footage accurately, as well as providing live notifications. They also all have the ability to withstand a variety of extreme weather fronts and precipitation. The Arlo Pro and Ring Spotlight models have smart sirens as part of their setup which adds an extra layer of deterrence. Ring goes one step further in their deterrence thanks to the LED strips. Nest has slightly more complex software, particularly the face recognition in the IQ version. Another article worth reading is our comparison of Skybell and Ring video doorbells, as this adds another layer of security to your home.

Buyers Guide

If you are looking to buy a smart outdoor camera but don’t know exactly which features to look out for, this section is for you. Here are the features that you can expect or you should be aware of with your smart outdoor camera:

App: These cameras are “smart” as they are connectable to WiFi and controllable using an app. The app is a point where you can access features, set preferences and see your camera.

Live View: Through the app you can watch a live stream of your camera. Motion or audio detection can notify when someone has triggered the camera, which you can respond by looking at the camera feed.

Two-Way Talk: When looking through the Live View you can talk to who is there as the camera has a microphone and speaker on it.

Wireless vs Wired:Some of the cameras come as wireless, wired or with both as options.

Resolution: These cameras can record in HD, anywhere from 720p to 4K depending on which model you choose.

Field of View: This is the area that your camera can see, the wider the FoV the greater the monitoring capability.

Night Vision: Some cameras have black and white night vision whilst some have colored night vision.

LED Spotlight: Some models have an LED strip that lights when motion or audio triggers the camera. This adds extra deterrence to unwanted people on your property.

Siren: Some cameras have a siren on their hub or on the camera itself. These can be programmed to be triggered with motion or audio detection.

These two don’t work directly with each other, but will through a smart hub that is compatible with both. They could also be used together using a virtual assistant like Alexa or Home, as well as with IFTTT applets

Rupert Pople

Rupert is the founder of this website and a smart home tech enthusiast fascinated by the power of connected devices. Within his Business Management (BSc) degree at the University of Nottingham, he studied the technological impact of the Internet of Things.

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