Nest Cam IQ review

Great design, but not cheap if you want full functionality

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Our Verdict

This sophisticated and well made security camera with built in facial recognition technology really is one of the most advanced IP cameras we have ever seen. However, you will pay a hefty price in terms of monthly subscription fees if you want to exploit this camera’s full functionality.

For

  • Extremely well built
  • Beautiful design
  • Records high definition footage
  • Built in two-way audio

Against

  • Quite expensive
  • Limited functionality without paying Nest Aware subscription
  • Mains only
  • Gets very hot

Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s now possible to connect up all of your home devices and control them via an app or via voice anywhere in the world.

Nest, which is now owned by Google, was one of the first companies in the UK to spot opportunities within the home, introducing its attractive Nest Learning Thermostat back in 2014. It has since followed up with a number of products, including its Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and a range of IP based indoor and outdoor security cameras. The Nest Cam IQ is its latest security camera and the first to incorporate facial recognition technology. 

Update: The Nest Cam IQ will soon be receiving a free software update to build in support for Google Assistant.

Original review continues below...

Not only can the Nest Cam IQ detect movement and capture video footage, it can also inform the user who is in the property and whether it’s a familiar or unfamiliar face. 

Like other products in the Nest range, it is designed to be integrated with a number of products including Google Home and Amazon Echo for voice control as well as lighting solutions such as Philips Hue. For example, if movement is detected the Nest Cam can be programmed to switch some or all of the lights on in the property. 

Nest Cam IQ Specs

Type: IP camera
Location: Indoors
Mounting: Stand-mount
Cable: 3m USB-A to USB-C
Connectivity: Wi-Fi  
Resolution: 1080p
Image sensor: 1/2.5inch, 8 Megapixel (4K) colour sensor, 12 x digital zoom
Nightvision: 2 x 940nm infra-red LEDs
Motion sensor: Yes
Audio: Two-way sound
Battery: No
Local video storage: No
App support: Android/iOS
Subscription: From $10/£8 a month for 10-day history
Size/Weight: 74 x 124 x 124mm (w x h x d). Weight: 357g

Design and build

There is something extremely reassuring about the construction of the Nest Cam IQ. Clearly the manufacturer has learned from Apple, housing the IQ in a solid two-part box like the iPhone. Made from white polycarbonate, it feels very well built and features a stand for placing on a flat surface such as kitchen worktop or living room mantelpiece.

Set up is quite straightforward. Just download the Nest app (Android or iOS) and scan the QR code on the bottom to add it as a device. Alternatively, it’s possible to add the device manually from the list provided. You will also need to pair it to your home’s WiFi which means adding the password for your router. This only takes a few minutes. 

Unlike some IP cameras such as the Blink cameras (www.blinkforhome.co.uk), the Nest Cam IQ is powered by mains only rather than batteries. However, a 3m USB A to USB C lead is provided as standard which gives you more flexibility when it comes to placement. 

Installation and use

Once the Nest app is set up, operating the Nest Cam IQ is a relatively straightforward process. Using your smartphone, you can view a 130 degree angle of the room you are monitoring in real time, in full high definition 1080p resolution via the 4K, 8 Megapixel image sensor. It’s even possible to hone in parts of the screen thanks to a 12 x digital zoom facility. A nightvision mode is provided for monitoring in darkness although footage shot in this mode is displayed in black and white. 

Either the camera can be switched on or off manually by toggling a button in the app or there’s a Home/Away Assist mode which knows when you are leaving the house and switches the camera on for you automatically (though you'll need to have the location data switched on in your phone’s settings for this work).

Different users (ie. family members) can be set up with different profiles within the same account and the camera won’t turn on until all users have left the house. 

Recording options

Unlike other IP cameras which only capture footage when movement is detected, once the Nest Cam IQ is switched on it will record in the background the entire time. However, the amount of footage it records depends on whether you pay the subscription fee for Nest Aware. The camera comes with a free 30-day Nest Aware trial, after this you will only get three hours of recorded footage as standard. If you want more then you’ll need a monthly subscription. 

Prices start at $10/£8 a month or $100/£80 a year for 10 days of recording time or a hefty $30/£24 a month or $300/£240 a year for 30 days recording time. If you have more than one camera you will have to pay an additional subscription, but this is half price. 

When viewing via a smartphone, footage is displayed at the top of the screen with a timeline below which enables you to scroll through footage at the touch of a button. Individual ‘events’ (ie. when movement is detected) are marked with a blob so you can find them quite quickly. Another advantage of the Nest set-up is that you can view footage on your PC too, which makes navigation slightly easier especially if you want to find footage from several days ago using the calendar facility. 

Performance and added features 

Capable of displaying video up to 1080p (1920 x 1080) at 30 frames per second, the Nest Cam IQ is certainly one of the best security cameras we’ve seen when it comes to quality. Even black and white footage captured in night mode via the IR sensors is impressive.

However, it is the camera’s additional features, for which you will need the Nest Aware subscription, that really make it stand out from the crowd 

For example, it’s possible to save and share clips – perfect if you capture something funny and want to send the footage into a Candid Camera-style clip show. You can even use clips to make a time-lapse video. Intelligent audio alerts allow you to send notifications if sounds rather than movement are detected while Activity Zones allow you to pick up to four areas per camera (this need to done via a web browser on your PC) that you want to keep a closer eye on. It’s even possible to create a zone which doesn’t trigger the motion sensor, for example if part of the frame looks out onto a busy road. 

Finally, with familiar face alerts you can monitor who is coming in and going out of your house at any time. As soon as the camera detects a face it sends you an alert either via a push notification on your smartphone or an email (or both) with a close up picture of that person’s face. You then have the option of naming the person within the app for future reference or marking them as a stranger.

While the Nest Cam IQ doesn’t have a built in alarm, it does offer two-way audio so you can always try to deter any burglars by shouting at them, presumably until they realise they can unplug your camera and steal it. 

We liked

Both the camera and the app feel very well designed. The camera itself is solid, and we appreciated the weighty stand and the large amount of articulation enabled by the arm. 

The app is likewise very versatile and very easy to use. 

Despite our initial disappointment that the output resolution doesn't match the 4K image sensor, the picture quality ended up being excellent, whether you're using it during the day or at night. 

We disliked

Although the camera is very usable without it, the Nest Aware subscription is an expensive proposition, and you'll need it if you want to get the most out of your camera. 

Combined with the initial cost of the camera, you're looking at a high cost to equip your home with the Nest Cam IQ. 

Final verdict

Nest has certainly established itself at the forefront of the connected home with an impressive collection of smart devices, including smart thermostat, carbon monoxide alarm and a range of IP cameras. 

The Nest Cam IQ takes Internet of Things (IoT) technology to the next level by building further intelligence into a security camera. This device doesn’t just record footage, it also tries to make sense of it for you. 

The big problem is that if you want this level of insight you will have to pay at least $10/£8 a month for the privilege.