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Google Nest Doorbell (battery) review: Smart and chunky

Google’s first-party smart home products have always been a great option for those firmly in Google’s ecosystem. The Nest Hello video doorbell was itself an excellent option, thanks to its awesome design and super smart features. Now, there’s a follow-up, in the Google Nest Doorbell.

Now, the Nest Doorbell doesn’t actually replace the Nest Hello. In fact, Google is rebranding the Nest Hello to the Nest Doorbell (Wired). Instead, the new doorbell is aimed at offering a wireless alternative to the wired model, while retaining the awesome AI features, and even adding a few of its own. Alongside the Nest Doorbell (battery), the company launched a new Nest Cam, and you can read our full review of it here.

Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) Price: Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Does the Nest Doorbell hold up? I’ve been using it to find out.

Google Nest Doorbell design

The first thing to notice about the battery-powered Google Nest Doorbell is its design, and it’s not a bad-looking product. That said, it doesn’t really look much like the wired model. So, when you’re choosing between them, you’ll have to choose based on both how its powered, and how it looks. Note, you can use the new battery model in wired mode too, so if you prefer it and don’t want to deal with batteries, you can still use it.

Perhaps the biggest reason the battery-powered Google Nest Doorbell looks so different is the fact that it’s much larger. In fact, it’s pretty huge. The device measures in at 6.3 inches tall, and 1.8 inches wide. If you’re looking for something to place on a doorframe, you’ll need to make sure it fits.

Google Nest Doorbell Battery Colors
Different colors of the Google Nest Doorbell Image source: Google

The doorbell is available in a few different colors. I’m reviewing the “Ash” model, but it’s also available in “Snow,” “Linen,” and “Ivy.” It’s not a bad look, but I can’t help but prefer the look of the black-and-white, glass covered wired-only model. The new model offers a big button at the bottom, with an LED light ring that lights up around it when the button is pressed.

Apart from the doorbell itself, in the box, you’ll get the hardware to mount it flat or at an angle, a charging cable, and the wiring to attach it to your existing chime. It’s pretty much everything you’ll need.

Ultimately, the battery-powered Nest Doorbell is a good looking product. But it is pretty bulky, which is worth keeping in mind.

Google Nest Doorbell setup

Setting up the Doorbell is a breeze. You’ll start by taking it out of the box and plugging it in. Then, download the Google Home app if you don’t already have it, and scan the QR code that comes in the box. Follow the on-screen instructions, and you should be good to go.

During the setup process, you’ll be asked about a range of different features. For example, you’ll be asked if you want to enable Familiar Face Detection, which can recognize faces and alert you to who’s there. We’ll get a little more into the image recognition tech later.

Setting the Doorbell up physically is a little tricker than setting it up with your Google account. You’ll need to find a good place to mount the device, and decide if you want it angled or not. And, if you want to use it in wired mode, you may not have a choice as to where you mount it. If that’s you, you’ll really need to make sure the device fits before you buy. You’ll get mounting screws and a wiring harness in the box, and the setup instruction in the app will help you in that process.

Google Nest Doorbell features and battery life

Like any recent Google smart home device, the battery-powered Google Nest Doorbell is packed with smart features. Unfortunately, some of the best ones are locked behind a subscription.

Lets start with the basics. When someone comes to the door and presses the button, you’ll get an alert on your Google Assistant-powered smart speakers, and a notification on your phone. You can pull up the camera’s live feed to talk to the visitor through the two-way audio, and the camera will start recording. So far, that’s pretty basic smart doorbell stuff.

When it’s not just being used as a smart doorbell, it essentially acts as a security camera outside your home. You can set activity zones, and you can get notifications based on activity in those zones. For example, you can set them to ignore animals moving, but alert you to people. You can also set general alerts based on the entire video. And, you can get specific notifications when there’s a package at your doorbell.

Google Nest Doorbell Battery Top
Top of the Google Nest Doorbell

If you pay for a Nest Aware subscription, you can get access to more features. Some of them make sense — you can up your video storage to 30 days with Nest aware, and 60 days with Nest Aware Plus. Familiar Face Detection also requires a Nest Aware subscription. To get the most out of this product, you’ll definitely want to think about subscribing.

The battery life on this device is only fine. Google estimates around 2-3 months of normal use, which is a little low. Ring’s doorbells can last as long as a full year on a charge. The Arlo Essential doorbell can last up to around six months. We didn’t have the Nest Doorbell long enough to test how long the battery can last.

Google Nest Doorbell app

The Google Home app has gotten better and better, and it’s now relatively easy to use. If you have lots of smart home devices in there, you’ll be able to browse through them and tweak their settings.

There are a lot of settings for the Google Nest Doorbell to go through, and some of them can be slightly tucked away. Once the device is set up, it’s worth going through all the different menus.

In the app, you can also see a history of recorded events, see a live feed from the camera, and so on. You can also set quick responses for when people are at the door. That means you can quickly tap “You can just leave it” when there’s a package and you can’t actually talk to the person that’s there. Those kinds of things seriously add to the overall experience.

Google Nest Doorbell video

The video quality on the battery-powered Nest Doorbell is fine, but it’s not amazing. The camera offers a 960 x 1280 resolution, with support for HDR and Night Vision. It has a 145-degree field of view, which isn’t bad for a smart doorbell in this price range. Keep in mind, that’s a vertical field-of-view, and the horizontal field-of-view is much lower than that. This product is built to help you see people and packages right in front of your door, and not necessarily to see a wide view outside the front of your home.

Google Nest Doorbell Battery Top 2
Top of the Google Nest Doorbell

If you’re looking for the most detailed view at what’s happening outside your door, this camera probably isn’t the way to get it. But still, it’s definitely good enough to make out the faces at your door, and to see some detail of the camera’s surroundings. You can toggle between different video qualities in the app too. This can impact battery life and data bandwidth. I generally kept it at Max.

I would have liked to see a better video quality in general, and a wide horizontal field-of-view. But again, it’s a little hard to complain given the price range, and the fact that the camera is so feature-packed.

Conclusions

The battery-powered Google Nest Doorbell probably isn’t the way to go if you just want the best-quality video. But if you’re plugged into Google’s ecosystem, and care more about the cool, smart features, then this is absolutely the smart doorbell for you. That said, to really get the most of the doorbell, you will need to pony up for a Nest Aware subscription.

The competition

There’s a lot of competition in the smart doorbell space, but much of it is a lot more expensive. Perhaps the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is the biggest competition. It’s slightly more expensive, and offers a slightly higher video resolution. But while it does offer plenty of great features, it doesn’t quite integrate with the Google Home app as well as the Nest Doorbell.

It’s also worth considering the Arlo Essential Doorbell, which is available in wired and wireless models. The Arlo Essential, again, has a slightly higher resolution, and it integrates with more smart home ecosystems. If you’re not sure if you want to stick within the Google ecosystem, it’s probably the way to go.

Should I buy the Google Nest Doorbell?

Yes. If you’re invested in Google’s ecosystem and don’t mind the huge size, the Google Nest Doorbell offers all the features you need. That’s especially true if you’re willing to pay for a subscription.




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