The Best Wi-Fi Cams with Facial Recognition

Nest IQ indoor camera on a table
Nest

If you just need a simple Wi-Fi cam that can capture video, then there are plenty of options available. However, if you want one that has facial recognition, the list gets much shorter. The good news is that there are still some great options to choose from.

Face Detection vs. Facial Recognition

Before we go over some options, it’s important to know the difference between face detection and facial recognition, because you’ll see both of these terms used in the description of Wi-Fi cams when you go look at the features. They may seem like the same thing, but one is far superior.

Face detection is when cameras can differentiate a person from another object. So while cameras can still detect motion for cars, animals, trees, and more, they can also specifically detect a person, which can be extremely valuable to the homeowner.

Facial recognition takes this a step further and not only detects a person, but can also detect who that person is, specifically. So with a little help from the user and after a few weeks of learning, the camera can eventually know who came to your door, whether it was the postal worker or your neighbor.

With that said, if this is the kind of feature you’re yearning for, here are the best Wi-Fi cams that have facial recognition technology available.

Nest Cam IQ ($299)

Nest IQ camera
Nest

Perhaps the best all-around option for a Wi-Fi cam with facial recognition is the Nest Cam IQ. It detect specific people and it even doubles as a Google Home of sorts.

The camera itself can record 1080p HDR video and has a 130-degree field of view. It also has night vision capabilities, and has a speaker and microphones built in for two-way talk. That same speaker and microphone array is also used with Google Assistant, so the camera has a built-in Google Home Mini.

As for the facial recognition, you’ll need to pay for Nest Aware, which is a subscription service that starts at $5/month. This will give you the facial recognition feature that makes it possible to detect specific people. Nest Aware will also give you 24/7 continuous recording and up to 30 days of video storage.

Netatmo Welcome ($199)

Netatmo smart camera
Netatmo

A slightly cheaper option is the Netatmo Welcome, which comes with a smaller sensor than the Nest Cam IQ, but can still do 1080p video and facial recognition.

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Do You Miss Touch ID? I Certainly Don’t

With the launch of the iPhone XS and XR last year, Apple has gone all-in on Face ID. And while there may be some users who miss the fingerprint sensor, I’m not one of them.

The latest batch of new iPhones that came out in September 2018 was the first not to include Touch ID at all. After owning my first Touch ID-less iPhone for several months now, I can’t say that I’m upset by this move from Apple.

Face ID Is So Much More Convenient

Face ID animation

Touch ID is already pretty convenient—way more convenient than typing in a passcode every time—but Face ID takes it to a whole new level. It’s like Touch ID, but you don’t even have to scan your fingerprint.

Both techniques still require a bit of action on your part to unlock the phone and get to the home screen, but with Face ID it’s just a swipe up from the bottom. Whereas with Touch ID, you have to make sure to place your finger in a specific location on the phone and then wait for it to unlock.

In other words, you don’t even really have to think about unlocking your phone with Face ID. Instead, it just happens, and that’s the kind of convenience I’m after.

It’s More Accurate Than Touch ID Ever Was

Touch ID on the iPhone 6

Having used Face ID for a while now, I can say that the number of times it hasn’t recognize my face has been a lot less than the number of times Touch ID hasn’t recognized my fingerprint.

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The Best Video Doorbell with Facial Recognition

Nest video doorbell
Nest

A lot of video doorbells can differentiate between a person and another random object, but what if you want to know exactly who rang your doorbell? There’s really only one video doorbell on the market that can do facial recognition, but it’s a great option.

Face Detection vs. Facial Recognition

Before we get into that, though, it’s important to know the difference between face detection and facial recognition, because you’ll see both of these terms used in the description of video doorbells when you go shopping for one. They may seem like the same thing, but the latter is far superior.

Face detection is when cameras can differentiate a person from another object. So while cameras can still detect motion for cars, animals, trees, and more, they can also specifically detect a person. The camera won’t know exactly who that person is, but it will at least know that it’s a human being and not a tree.

Facial recognition takes this a step further and not only detects a person, but can also detect who that person is, specifically. So with a little help from the user and after a few weeks of learning, the camera can eventually know exactly who came to your door, whether it was the postal worker or your neighbor.

With that said, if this is the kind of feature you’re looking for, here’s the best video doorbell that can get the job done.

Nest Hello ($229)

Nest video doorbell
Nest

Not only doe the Nest Hello come with facial recognition technology, but it’s also one of the best video doorbells to begin with.

The Nest Hello can record 1080p video and supports HDR. It also has two-way talk capabilities and night vision. It’s also the perfect size—small enough to easily fit on door casing and go over the spot previously occupied by your old doorbell.

The face recognition is pretty good, although it’s not perfect. Expect a hiccup here or there in the beginning, although total mismatches are incredibly rare. Most of the time you’ll find, in the beginning at least, it may ask you to identify a person you’ve already tagged (just with a photo from a different angle). This is to be expected when it’s learning faces, though.

The tough pill to swallow is that you need to be subscribed to the $5/month Nest Aware subscription in order to get access to the facial recognition. However, this will also give you seven days of video recording storage, as well as 24/7 continuous recording. That’s a small price to pay for instant and reliable recognition of the people who come to your door. And, as a pretty awesome bonus feature, if you’re using other Google family products like the Google Home Mini or Google Home Hub, it integrates very well with them, even announcing the name of the person it has identified like “John the Mailman is at the front door!”

What Could Come In the Future

Ring video doorbell
Ring

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Deal Alert: Grab a New Apple Watch Series 3 for $50 Off

If you’re in the market for a great deal on a last-generation Apple Watch, you’re in luck if you don’t mind a silver aluminum model with a white sport band. You can get a Series 3 brand new for just $229.

This is a decent $50 discount from the usual price of $279, and even though it’s the previous generation, it still does the job really well for those who really don’t see the need to have the latest and greatest—the Series 4 is definitely an upgrade, but most casual users probably don’t really need the newer features.

The Series 3 still comes with GPS built in, better water resistant than previous generations, and a much faster processor than older models. So you’re still definitely getting a good product even if it is the last-gen Apple Watch.

The Best Battery-Powered Wi-Fi Cams

Arlo Ultra battery-powered camera
Craig Lloyd

Most Wi-Fi cameras require a power outlet, which puts a real damper on where you can place them. Battery-powered Wi-Fi cameras, while not as numerous as their wired counterparts, offer much more flexible placement. Here are the best models available.

If you’re not interested in tearing up your walls to run wire (or paying an electrician to do it), wireless battery-powered security cameras are pretty appealing. There’s no video feed cable, no power outlet required, and if you’re willing to charge the batteries a few times a year then installation is as simple as screwing the mounting point into the wall or even just setting the camera on a shelf in your home.

Arlo Ultra ($399)

Arlo Ultra
Arlo

If money really isn’t an issue and you simply just want the best battery-powered Wi-Fi camera on the market, you can’t go with the Arlo Ultra.

The Ultra can record in 4K HDR, which is quite impressive for a battery-powered camera. It also can do color night vision thanks to the built-in spotlight, making it easier to recognize objects (unlike the typical black and white night vision that most other cameras that makes it more difficult to distinguish between things on the video feed). It has two-way talk capabilities and a really wide 180-degree field of view so you see much more of your yard or home.

It’s also weather resistant, so you can place outside if you’d rather keep tabs on the outside of your house. Plus, it has strong magnetic mounts to make it easy to mount the cameras but just as easy to dismount it whenever you need to recharge it.

The downside is that a proprietary hub is required in order to operate the Ultra cam, but once you have the hub installed, you can add as many cameras as you want with little hassle.

Ring Stick Up Cam ($179)

Ring Stick Up Cam
Ring

Ring doesn’t only just make video doorbells. They also make standalone Wi-Fi cameras as well, and the Stick Up Cam comes in a battery-powered version that works great anywhere around your house.

While it doesn’t do 4K video like the Arlo Ultra, it can at least churn out 1080p video and comes with all the features you’d want, including two-way talk and night vision, as well as motion alerts and plenty of different ways to mount it.

If you only need one or two Wi-Fi cams in your house and need them battery powered, this is definitely the way to go.

Budget Option: Arlo Wire-Free ($249 for 2)

Arlo Wire-Free
Arlo

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