Wemo Smart Video Doorbell Review: Apple-only smarts | #ios | #apple | #iossecurity


The Wemo doorbell’s extra-wide camera offers sweeping home security views.

About the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Here’s a look at what comes with the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell.

Price: $249.99
Color: Black
Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
Power source: Hardwire, 16-24 V AC transformers with 30 VA or higher
Resolution: 1200 x 1600
Field of view: 178 degrees
Smart assistant support: Siri
Weather rating: IP65
Weight: 0.25 pounds
Dimensions: 4.9-inch L × 1.7-inch W × 1.4-inch D

An iOS device, like an iPhone or iPad, is a requirement to set up and use the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell. (It does not work with Android devices.) Hardwiring the doorbell is easy and quick, so long as you don’t run into any snags with your existing wiring (this is not a battery-powered doorbell). Adding the doorbell to the Home app for iOS devices is simple using near-field communication or by scanning the HomeKit code on the back of the device. Unlike other Wemo products, is not possible to add the doorbell to the Wemo app—this device is Apple only.

A mounting plate, optional wedge, mini screwdriver, and screws for installation are included with the doorbell. You may also need a drill to create pilot holes to hold the mounting bracket if you don’t already have them.

What we like

Great wide-angle view

Image of a person ringing a video doorbell

Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell Camera for Apple HomeKit shows a wide view of all the details at your front door.

The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell offers a notable 178-degree field of view (140-degree horizontal and 223-degree diagonal)—one of the most expansive front door views you can find right now. The doorbell gives a head-to-toe look at people, as well as packages on the ground below from its 4-megapixel camera. The Logitech Circle View Doorbell, one of the few HomeKit competitors to Wemo’s buzzer, has a smaller 160-degree field of view.

If I could air one minor grievance here about the wide-angle view, it’s that it distorts the corners of the video in Apple’s Home app, giving it a stretched-out, fisheye-like look around the border. This doesn’t block the view in any way, but most video doorbells don’t look like this and it took some time for me to adjust to the new viewing style.

Video doorbell app screenshots

Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Here’s a look at the view from my front porch on both the Logitech Circle View Video Doorbell (left) and Wemo Smart Video Doorbell (right).

The 1200 x 1600 video resolution on Wemo’s doorbell is good but not great, though this is what you can expect from most HomeKit video doorbells. The resolution is the same as Logitech’s video doorbell and, when compared side by side, both look very similar. I had no trouble making out facial features of family members or distinguishing my dog from the neighborhood cat with Wemo’s view, but the video quality is not as sharp as other premium-priced, non-HomeKit doorbells like the Eufy Video Doorbell Dual or the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2.

The digital optical zoom also works relatively well to help sharpen far-away details but is hindered by some occasional fuzziness. All things considered, for a HomeKit doorbell, Wemo’s offers one of the best views out there right now.

Helpful security features that are easy to use

When it comes to unwanted motion alerts (like your front porch flag blowing in the wind), defining activity zones is your first line of defense. In the Home app, you can draw activity zones, which is much easier than having to choose from predefined areas or being limited to a single zone. I drew 10 activity zones before running out of room, which is more than you’ll likely ever need to use, but the sky’s the limit it seems.

Location-based recording features are available and work well. I set the doorbell up to “stream only” when I’m home and to “stream and allow recording” when I’m away. Sometimes when multiple users share access to a smart device, it can create confusion around when to utilize the location-based features. (For example, my old Ring Alarm sent push notifications asking if I’d like to “arm” my system when I left, but my family, including my husband’s phone, was still at home.) I was delighted to see that the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell knows when my iPhone and my husband’s iPhone are at home and can distinguish between the two when one (or both) of us leaves and change the doorbell’s recording status accordingly.

How to create scenes in the Home app for iOS

Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

In the Home app, you can create scenes with the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell and other Apple HomeKit-compatible devices.

Home automation is also possible with the doorbell using other HomeKit-compatible smart devices. I created a scene that turns on my outdoor patio lights (via my Wemo Outdoor Smart Plug) when the doorbell detects motion at night and I’m at home, for instance. There are many combinations to tinker with in the Home app to help create a scene that makes sense for your home. It goes without saying, but the more HomeKit devices you have, the more creative you can get with your automation.

Another useful (but optional) feature of Wemo’s doorbell is that you can teach it to learn familiar faces (like the members of your household), so it can alert you to exactly who is at the front door. The technology isn’t unique to Wemo’s doorbell—Apple brought facial recognition to compatible HomeKit doorbell and security cameras with the rollout of iOS 14 in 2020. But this is one of the most advanced and most informative features a video doorbell can have right now, and I didn’t experience any hiccups using it.

Brilliant Apple HomeKit integration

Wemo’s Smart Video Doorbell is full of helpful smart home integrations that play nicely with other Apple HomeKit devices. For example, if you have a HomePod Mini (currently Apple’s only smart speaker), it can be used as an indoor chime (the doorbell works with exciting mechanical chimes, too). Doorbell press alerts, including a live view of who is there, are available using Apple TV, offering a fully-integrated experience. Siri can also announce exactly who is at your front door using a HomePod Mini (or Apple TV) when facial recognition is enabled. The announcements are especially helpful for the times when I don’t have my phone on me or I’m in busy with something else and need to know who’s at the door.

Smart alerts are also sent to your iOS device like an iPad, Apple Watch, and/or iPhone when a person, package, animal, motion, or familiar face is caught on camera.

What we don’t like

It’s Apple or nothing

Wemo’s Apple HomeKit limitation makes it less versatile than many other video doorbell’s we test. Not only does it require an iOS device (like an iPhone 7 or higher), but the doorbell also can’t be used with other popular smart assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. The majority of smart home devices out there typically work with both Alexa and Google Assistant but rarely Siri.

And, interestingly enough, many of Wemo’s other smart home devices, like outdoor plugs and light switches, work across all three major smart home ecosystems from Apple, Amazon, and Google. Overall, the lack of support across the board limits what tech the doorbell works with and who can use it, leaving you tethered to the Apple ecosystem.

Wemo has pledged support for Matter, a forthcoming smart home protocol aimed at unifying ecosystems and devices. Once that happens, you may be able to view the live stream on a smart display outside of the Apple ecosystem, like Amazon’s Echo Show 10 or Google’s Nest Hub Max. For now, the doorbell only works with Apple HomeKit devices.

An Apple home hub is required for remote access

The Apple HomePod Mini smart speaker

Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

An Apple home hub, like the HomePod Mini (pictured), is required for to control the doorbell when you’re away from home.

As is the case with any HomeKit smart device, an Apple home hub (such as an iPad, Apple TV, or HomePod Mini) is the key to managing the doorbell remotely. The hub is also a requirement for using the doorbell with HomeKit Secure Video.

The night vision is just OK

Video doorbell app screenshots

Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell’s stream looks better in daylight than it does in total darkness.

While I liked how the doorbell catches the scenery in daylight, I was less impressed when the sun went down. People in full view are hard to see in total darkness, and I found it easier to make out facial details up close. The nighttime view also tends to appear whitewashed in complete darkness, but it looks better with the help of my porch light.

Privacy

A red status light shown on the front of a video doorbell

Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

A red status light illuminates on the front of the doorbell when someone is accessing the live stream.

The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell uses HomeKit Secure Video, Apple’s only option for storing video clips in the cloud. To view your clips from anywhere, a subscription to Apple’s iCloud+, starting at $0.99 per month, is required. There are three subscription tiers for iCloud+ depending on how much storage you need (50GB, 200GB, and 2TB).

The nice thing is that recorded clips from your HomeKit-compatible cameras don’t count toward the overall storage available to you. Video clips, including facial recognition, are analyzed locally on your home hub and never sent to the cloud. Uploaded clips are protected with end-to-end encryption, and you can review the doorbell’s 10-day activity history in the Home app.

Additionally, two-factor authentication, which can help keep your smart home safe and secure, is mandatory for all Apple iCloud accounts.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you need a video doorbell for Apple HomeKit

The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell for HomeKit has one of the most expansive, far-reaching front porch views of any doorbell out there, keeping an eye out for important details like people, pets, packages, and even identifying familiar faces by name (if you want it to). Enhanced security features like mandatory two-factor account authentication and end-to-end encryption for recorded clips using HomeKit Secure Video provide peace of mind for protecting Siri smart homes.

With an MSRP of $249.99, Wemo’s premium video buzzer is one of the priciest video doorbells not just for HomeKit, but across the board. For something cheaper, the Logitech Circle View Doorbell (MSRP $199.99) works with HomeKit and offers the same video resolution but a smaller field of view. Keep in mind, though, that the options for HomeKit-compatible video doorbells are few and far between.

If you’re not committed to the Apple ecosystem and are simply looking for a reliable video doorbell to safeguard your space, the Nest Doorbell (battery) is the best (and the one I use at my house). Not only does Google’s doorbell cost less than Wemo’s, but it also includes free smart alerts and video history for up to three hours, and has the added benefit of multiple installation methods.

For a front door ringer that works with Apple HomeKit, the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell is one of the best options you can buy right now.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Rachel Murphy

Rachel Murphy

Senior Staff Writer


@rachel_murphy

Rachel Murphy covers smart home for Reviewed. She lives in an actual smart home home full of smart plugs, smart lights, and smart speakers equipped with voice assistants Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Murphy holds a journalism degree from the University of Central Florida and has over a decade of experience reporting and writing. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Business Insider, Mashable, Elite Daily, and other major publications. Prior to her work in online journalism, Murphy worked as an associate editorial producer for ABC News’ Good Morning America in New York City.

See all of Rachel Murphy’s reviews

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