The premise of video doorbells is pretty much the same regardless of the product. The goal is to make it appear that you’re home, even when you’re not. Over the past several years we’ve seen some truly disappointing attempts to execute this seemingly simple task, but the time has come and makers are finally getting it right. Currently, there are three leaders in the industry: August, Ring, and Skybell. We’re going to compare all three while throwing in a couple of curveballs – Chui and RemoBell.
Do they work with other devices?
August works with the August lock and the smart keypad. With the ecosystem, you can see who is at your door and unlock the door if you choose. The doorbell is unique in that it can act as a Wi-Fi bridge, eliminating the need to purchase the August Connect, a device that adds Wi-Fi capability to the August smart lock. The August smart lock works with third-party devices including Apple’s Homekit, Works with Nest, Xfinity, and Honeywell.
Aside from working with other August products, the video doorbell directly works with Nest Cam. Through the integration, you can view videos from both Nest Cam and August using the August Home app and have Nest Cam show you footage recorded before the actual event.
August Doorbell Cam will soon work with HomeKit as well. It is one of the first cameras to integrate with the ecosystem after Apple announced that HomeKit will start integrating with cameras in September. August plans to release the second-gen, HomeKit-compatible camera once HomeKit support is ready.
Ring also has its own product lineup. There is the original doorbell, which is what we are comparing, a more advanced doorbell called the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, and they have accessories like the wireless chime. The chime emits an audible tone if someone rings your doorbell. It can work in addition to your existing door chime or alone. They also sell the chime pro. The pro version works like the original but also acts as a Wi-Fi extender improving the signal received by your doorbell. Finally, they sell a stickup cam, a weather-resistant home security camera that can expand your doorbell’s coverage. Ring also works with third-party devices including smart locks from Kevo, LockState, Kisi, and Lockitron. It also has its own IFTTT channel, so that you can create rules between your doorbell and hundreds of other connected devices and services. While there are currently no actions for the Ring channel, you can trigger actions every time motion is detected or when someone rings your doorbell.
FYI, Ring Pro is also among the first to announce upcoming HomeKit-compatibility. In fact, they are a step ahead of August. All Ring Pros, even those released before Apple’s announcement, have passed Apple’s hardware certification program. Which means ALL Ring Pros will be HomeKit-enabled.
Skybell has a robust list of integration partners. The device Works with Nest, IFTTT, Amazon Echo, iControl, Alarm.com, Honeywell Total Connect, and Kwikset. When combined with IFTTT, Skybell has two triggers: when someone rings your doorbell and motion. It also has several actions. You can trigger the device to:
1. live video stream and record for 60 seconds.
2. turn indoor chime off.
3. turn indoor chime on.
4. change the LED color to red, blue, or green.
The Skybell ecosystem includes several products and three versions of the doorbell including Skybell 2.0 (lower resolution), SkyBell Trim Plus (with the same features as SkyBell HD but slimmer and has optional battery power), and Skybell HD, which is what we’ll be comparing. They also sell a Wedge Kit, but it’s only compatible with Skybell 2.0. The kit provides up to a 15-20% greater viewing angle and acts as a mount.
RemoBell is a new video doorbell from the creators of RemoCam and is the second camera from their lineup. It’s still unknown how these two cameras will work together, if at all. Also, they haven’t been historically “good” at integrating with third-party brands. Finally, the device is still pre-selling, so you’ll have to wait a little while before you can try it out in your home.
Finally, Chui is one of the newest options on the block. It is currently pre-selling meaning that the product doesn’t exist in the hands of consumers yet. When it does ship, it should be compatible with Lockitron and Hue.
Note: SkyBell Trim Plus has the same resolution as SkyBell HD, so the video quality is probably the same. We can’t tell for sure yet as Trim Plus won’t hit the market until the end of this year.
August supports an app for iOS and Android with a special app for Apple Watch. The app is currently rated 4 stars on iTunes and 3.3 stars on Google Play.
The Ring app also controls all Ring devices. They currently support an app for iOS, Mac, Android, and Windows 10. The app is rated 3.5 stars on iTunes, 3.5 on Google Play, and 4 stars on Microsoft.com.
The Skybell HD app is separate from the app for the original Skybell. The HD has an app for iOS and Android. It is currently rated 3.5 stars on iTunes and 4 stars on Google Play.
RemoBell will have a different Android and iOS app from the existing RemoCam app. App details are TBD.
August vs Ring vs Skybell HD vs Chui vs RemoBell
|Color||Dark Gray or Silver||Satin Nickel, Venetian Bronze, Antique Brass, Polished Brass||Brush Aluminum or Oil Rubbed Bronze||Tonal Neutral||Silver|
|Motion Alerts||Yes||Yes, Scheduled Motion Detection||Yes||Yes and Face Detection||Yes|
|Product Dimensions||2.9 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches||4.98 x 2.43 x 0.87 inches||2.8 x 2.8 x .8 inches||Did Not Respond*||2.83 x 5.98 x 1.26 inches|
|Mobile Features||Instant Alerts, Answer From Anywhere||Instant Alerts, Answer From Anywhere||Instant Alerts, Answer From Anywhere||Instant Alerts, Answer From Anywhere||Instant Alerts, Answer From Anywhere|
|Live Stream On-Demand||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Video Resolution||960p||720p||1080p||Did Not Respond*||720p|
|Night Vision||No, uses low light camera||Yes||Full Color Night Vision||Did Not Respond*||Yes|
|Video Recording / Cost||Cloud / $4.99/Month or $49.99/Year for 30 Days of Recording||Cloud / $3/Month for 30 Days of Recordings||Free / Did Not Respond*||Did Not Respond*||Cloud Available / TBD|
|Hardwire / Wireless||Wired||Wired or Wireless||Wired||Wired||Wireless|
|Operating Temperatures||-13 to 122°F||-5 – 120°F||-40 to 150°F||Did Not Respond*||(0 to 122°F)|
|Works with Existing Door Chime||Yes||Yes||Yes||Did Not Respond*||Unknown|
*I requested more information, but the companies failed to respond. August and Ring both responded quickly to requests for information.
Before You Buy a Video Doorbell
All of the doorbells require Wi-Fi. And while you may have a strong signal in your home, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a strong signal outside. Before purchasing a doorbell, test your signal strength. This can be as simple as taking your laptop outside, just be sure to shut your exterior door behind you as this can be the difference between a strong signal and a weak signal. If you have a weak signal, you may need to add a range extender to boost your signal strength. If you don’t have a signal at all, consider moving your router closer to where the doorbell will be placed.
The second thing you need to do before purchasing a doorbell is measure. Door frames are not universal and video doorbells are rather large. Most of them can handle an overhang, but Skybell must be mounted to a door frame narrower than 3″. Skybell sells a door frame adapter, but it is only compatible with SkyBell 2.0.
Ring is the only dual wireless/wired option that you can buy now, although SkyBell Trim Plus may also be a great option once it launches.
Skybell stands out as it has a customizable LED colored ring.
August is unique in that it works with the popular August smart lock.
Chui has facial recognition, or rather it will, when it actually ships. Chui’s facial recognition feature opens up the door to more creative use cases. For example, it can manage pre-recorded messages and play them to the correct person – one message for the mailman and another for your bestie. It can also automatically unlock the door for trusted faces, like your children.
Every doorbell has something unique to offer. Except RemoBell, which seems to be jumping on the smart doorbell train without anything new to offer. That said, at this point in time, Ring and Skybell are the clear winners with Ring having a slight edge. Skybell’s advantage is free cloud storage. Though at $3 per month, Ring’s cloud offer isn’t going to break the bank. And Ring has other advantages and consistently rates higher than Skybell. So what do you think? Which doorbell is for you?