The humble thermostat was first to receive the smart treatment, and slowly but surely everything from smoke alarms to door locks are being connected to the internet.
One of the most useful smart home gadgets is the humble smart doorbell. Not only will they notify you on your smartphone when someone presses the button, but they’ll show you a live video feed and – in most cases – let you talk to the person. It’s much like a video intercom, then, but available on your phone wherever you have an internet connection.
Smart doorbells really come into their own for deliveries: you can ask a courier to wait a couple of minutes if you’re nearby or to leave a parcel in your back garden or with a friendly neighbour.
Plus, a conversation is better (and more secure) than a note left on the front door saying you’re out.
With that being said, here's our selection of what we consider to be the best smart doorbells available right now.
Best smart doorbells 2021
1. Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus - Best Overall
Though very similar to the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the Doorbell 3 Plus represents a huge step forward in the battle against false motion detection. Featuring new close-range sensors that accurately detect movement within 1.5-4.5m, you should see a noticeable drop in false notifications from cars driving by and trees blowing in the wind.
Pre-Roll, though not quite as comprehensive as the continuous video recording on offer from alternatives in our chart, provides an extra four seconds of video from before the event began - an impressive feat for a battery-powered smart doorbell.
It's not a must-have upgrade if you've got a Ring Video Doorbell 2, but it's well worth considering if you're new to the world of video doorbells.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus review
2. Ring Video Doorbell Pro - Best hardwired doorbell
Being able to answer the front door when you're not home is a neat trick, but maintaining video surveillance on motion outside your home is also useful for security purposes. The Ring Pro makes this easier than ever with crystal clear 1080p video recordings and hardly any false-positives.
With its custom motion zones and longer video recordings, we'd happily pay the extra money for the Ring Pro over the standard model, but you will likely need to factor in the additional cost of a professional installation because it isn't battery-powered.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell Pro review
3. Nest Hello - Ideal for Google Home users
Not for everyone, Nest's Hello is tricky to install and one of the most expensive choices currently available. But, if neither of those factors is a barrier for you, it's a great device which captures excellent quality video, offers a lot of features via Nest Aware and has a great companion app too.
Read our full Nest Hello review
4. Ring Video Doorbell - Best budget option
Despite a couple of flaws here and there, Ring is a favourite of ours. The ability to be notified on multiple devices whenever somebody is at the front door is very handy, and the fact that you can view a live video stream and even interact with the visitor via your smartphone, tablet or computer provides extra security for those that may need it.
The 720p HD camera isn’t the greatest quality in the world, but is more than enough to identify who is at your door and thanks to the two-way communication system, you can even talk to the visitor without opening the door. It’s easy to set up, the app is easy to use and the lifetime replacement offer is too tempting to say no to.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell review
5. Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell - Mains-powered smarts
Unlike the likes of Ring and other battery-powered smart doorbells in our chart, the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell requires a connection to a power supply and thus, an electrician to install. But, once you've got this out of the way, you'll never need to worry about recharging batteries or enabling more advanced, power-hungry features like night vision or live viewing.
It's not the only way that the Netatmo system differentiates itself either - it also records exclusively in portrait mode, making it much easier to capture a person from head-to-toe. The downside is that you don't capture as much of the environment, and you might miss the action completely depending on doorbell placement, so it's not a clear-cut win.
The main highlight is that the doorbell doesn't require a monthly subscription to access video footage - something required by most other smart doorbells on the market right now.
Read our full Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell review
6. 360 D819 Smart Video Doorbell - Subscription-free smarts
A cheap video doorbell with subscription-free storage and some great features, including the ability to mask your voice, night vision and face recognition. Installation is a breeze, but the 360 D819 is massively let down by the app, and we fear battery life may not be as good as is claimed.
Read our full 360 D819 Smart Video Doorbell review
7. Ezviz DB1 - A cheap Ring alternative
A full feature set in an easy to use and set up device, the EZVIZ Video Doorbell Cam is a very good smart doorbell – particularly for those with existing EZVIZ devices and Amazon Alexa in the home.
It's cheaper than the Ring Doorbell 3 Pro, even accounting for its QXGA resolution failing to match up to the standard Ring Video Doorbell.
The sting in the tail is in the price of cloud storage, although you could add a 128GB SD card for a fraction of that cost.
Read our full Ezviz DB1 review
Smart doorbell buyer’s guide
Naturally, prices and features vary depending on the smart doorbell you go for. In general, you should expect two-way talk along with a live video feed, night vision and motion detection.
However, if you want access to more advanced features, you'll usually have to pay a monthly fee. Both Nest and Ring won’t store any video clips unless you pay, so if you miss a notification that someone has pressed the button, you won't be able to see who it was later on.
It's worth noting that two new versions of the hugely popular Ring doorbell were announced in 2020; the Doorbell 3 and Doorbell 3 Plus. The big improvement is the inclusion of close-range motion sensors, allowing you to detect movement between 1 and 4.5 meters away, ideal for city-dwellers whose doorbells are constantly triggered by cars driving by. The 3 Pro also boasts Pre-Roll support, the ability to record four seconds of video before the doorbell has been activated.
Nest offers person and facial recognition which means you can choose to only get alerts if an unfamiliar face is spotted. This is preferable to the annoying generic ‘there’s motion!’ alerts which many security cameras bombard you with. And, neatly, a Google Home can announce the name of the person who is at the door for familiar faces.
The main decision, though, is whether to opt for a battery-powered model or a hard-wired bell.
Battery bells can be installed relatively easily with basic tools, but don’t connect to your existing internal chime, so even if you’re home you’ll only get a notification on your phone. However, Ring does offer a plug-in chime which you can buy for £29/$29 from Amazon.
A hard-wired doorbell can be connected to a chime, but will typically need an electrician to visit and install a special power supply. This adds to the cost, but also means there are no worries about batteries running out at a critical moment.
Don't overlook your broadband speed either. The video feed requires a minimum of around 2Mb/s upload speed. Upload speeds are usually slower than download speeds, so check yours with an online speed tester before you buy, and make sure your doorbell is in range of your Wi-Fi router or it won't work at all.