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Ring vs Nest: it’s the clash of the cameras in a doorstep duel

The Ring Cam. Image credit: Ring / Amazon (Image credit: Ring / Amazon)

Welcome to a clash of the titans. In the red corner there’s Ring, now owned by Amazon. In the blue corner, say hello to Google subsidiary Nest. Both firms can add HD eyes to your smart home in the form of video doorbells and security cameras, but there are some important differences between the two platforms.

Both sets of products are designed to make your home more secure and more convenient. Video doorbells can tell you who’s at the door, while connected cameras enable you to see what’s happening in or around your house.

Both platforms can detect intruders and notify you wherever you are, and both can be expanded to cover your entire property. But there are some important differences in what they do, what other products they work with, and what they cost to buy and run.

Below we'll tell you all you need to know in order to decide which system, and which products, are right for you – and with Amazon Prime Day just around the corner you can expect to see cut-price deals on most of the products featured here.

Ring vs Nest: what are the key features?

Both platforms work with IFTTT, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and the Nest Hello also has Google Home notifications for your smart speakers: if someone comes to the door your Google Home or Google Home Mini will tell you somebody’s there.

Ring and Nest both enable you to set up multiple zones, for example your windows, where motion detection should be ignored. They both offer person recognition, so you don’t get alerted if the cat moves or a leaf blows past the window, and Nest also offers facial recognition.

As you’d expect from a Google-powered product it’s very good, and while it takes a little bit of training it does a good job of working out who’s at the door so you can decide whether you want to get up or not.

Both platforms can deliver live video from their hardware to compatible devices: via Google Home Hub for the Nest device and via the Echo Show for the Ring one. Ring also works with Samsung’s SmartThings and Amazon’s Echo and Fire devices, while Nest has its own Works With Nest family of compatible products and services.

The Nest Hello. Image credit: TechRadar

The Nest Hello. Image credit: TechRadar

Ring: options and accessories

Ring makes five video doorbells and three kinds of cameras: the Stick Up Cam, the Spotlight Cam and the Floodlight Cam. All of the cameras bar the Floodlight Cam are available in wired, wireless and solar variants.

You can also buy a charger for the Ring Video Doorbell, and there’s a plug-in chime so you don’t need to rely on your phone for notifications. The chime also comes in a Pro version that doubles as a Wi-Fi extender. Ring also sells a huge range of fixings for its cameras and doorbells.

Nest: options and accessories

Nest makes one video doorbell, three indoor cameras and an outdoor camera, all of which are wired. The outdoor camera doesn’t double as a security light, although it does have infrared night vision.

The Nest products are part of a wider ecosystem that includes the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke detector, the Nest x Yale smart lock, a Wi-Fi range extender and a range of Nest Secure alarm sensors. Not all Nest products are available in every country.

Both firms offer bundles that combine multiple products in a discounted package. You’ll find some retailers do the same.

The Ring Video Doorbell 2. Image credit: Ring / Amazon

The Ring Video Doorbell 2. Image credit: Ring / Amazon

Ring vs Nest: which is easiest to set up?

In the doorbell department it’s an easy win for Ring’s entry-level models here: its Doorbell and Doorbell 2 can run on battery power, but the Doorbell Pro and Nest Hello can’t.

That means you don’t have to mess around with wiring if you don’t want to – and even if you do have a wired doorbell already, you might still need to install a transformer to give the Nest Hello enough juice.

The non-Pro Ring doorbells are therefore going to be much simpler and cheaper to install, but the battery does make the Ring doorbell wider than a normal doorbell so it can be an awkward fit on some door frames.

Ring also offers wireless cameras in the form of the Stick Up Cam Battery and the Stick Up Cam Solar, although the latter one still needs to be connected to its solar panel.

The Nest Cam. Image credit: TechRadar

The Nest Cam. Image credit: TechRadar

Ring vs Nest: how much do they cost?

Ring doorbells start at £89 / $99.99 / AU$149 for the basic Video Doorbell, rising to £449 / $499 / AU$499 for the Video Doorbell Elite. The Stick Up Cam starts at £139 / $149 / AU$319.

The Nest Hello Video Doorbell is £229 / $249, but that doesn’t include the recommended £100 / $100 installation. The Nest Cam range starts at £159 / $199 / AU$279 for the Nest Cam Indoor, rising to £329 / $349 for the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. The Nest Hello and the Nest IQ Outdoor are not currently sold in Australia.

Remember that the price you pay for these systems isn’t just what you pay for the hardware. There are subscription fees to consider too; without them you won’t get all the features or more than 24 hours of cloud storage.

Ring vs Nest: how much do the subscription plans cost?

Ring calls its subscription service Ring Protect. There are two tiers: Protect Basic, which is for one doorbell or camera, and Protect Plus, which covers all the devices at a single address.

Both plans include 60 days of storage (30 in Europe), and Protect Plus also throws in professional monitoring (US only) and 10% off additional Ring purchases.

Protect Basic is £2.50 / $3 / AU$3 per month or £24.99 / $30 / AU$30 annually. Protect Plus is £8 / $10 / AU$10 per month or £80 / $100 / AU$100 annually.

Nest’s subscription service is called Nest Aware, and it’s £4 / $5 / AU$7 per month for five days of video storage, £8 / $10 / AU$14 for ten days, or £24 / $30 / AU$30 for thirty. Additional cameras are 50% of that cost, so that’s an extra £2 / $2.50 / AU$3.50 to £12 / $15 / AU$15 per month per additional camera.

Ring vs Nest: which one is right for you?

That depends on whether you’ve already embraced the exciting world of smart home technology. If you have, then it makes sense to look first at the platform that plays most nicely with what you’ve got.

So if you’re a paid-up Alexa fan or use Samsung’s SmartThings then the Ring range is likely to suit you better; if you’re all-in on Google then Nest will probably be a better fit.

Neither platform is a good fit with Apple’s HomeKit: while both offer iOS apps, they don’t integrate with Apple’s smart home platform in the way Hue lights or Ecobee thermostats do. Choosing either option effectively means running two separate smart home systems in the one place.

If you haven’t already thrown your money into the smart home ring then Ring looks like the better beginners’ bet: the Nest range is prettier and generally more polished but Ring’s hardware is generally cheaper, most of its doorbells don’t require expensive installation, and its all-in subscription works out considerably less expensive than a Nest one if you have multiple cameras.

Its camera range is more versatile too, with wireless and solar options as well as the standard wired models, and if you hang on for Prime Day, Black Friday or any of Amazon’s sale events, you’ll almost certainly be able to buy it at a big discount.

It’s worth mentioning here that Amazon also has non-Ring smart security products, at least in the US, where its Amazon Cloud Cam is priced to sell and integrates tightly with Amazon’s various hardware products. However, since its introduction in late 2017 it hasn’t been joined by any further devices.

Carrie Marshall


Former lion tamer, Girls Aloud backing dancer and habitual liar Carrie Marshall (Twitter, Google+) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to .net, MacFormat, Tap! and Official Windows Magazine as well as co-writing stacks of how-to tech books. "My job is to cut through the crap," she says. "And there's a lot of crap."