Article updated on May 9, 2024 at 6:00 AM PDT

Google Nest Cam With Battery Review: Feature-Filled Ease of Use

The Nest Indoor/Outdoor battery cam is a little large, but the free object recognition and handy magnetic mounting make it one of the best for your home.

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Tyler Lacoma Editor / Home Security
For more than 10 years Tyler has used his experience in smart home tech to craft how-to guides, explainers, and recommendations for technology of all kinds. From using his home in beautiful Bend, OR as a testing zone for the latest security products to digging into the nuts and bolts of the best data privacy guidelines, Tyler has experience in all aspects of protecting your home and belongings. With a BA in Writing from George Fox and certification in Technical Writing from Oregon State University, he's ready to get you the details you need to make the best decisions for your home. On off hours, you can find Tyler exploring the Cascade trails, finding the latest brew in town with some friends, or trying a new recipe in the kitchen!
Expertise Smart home | Smart security | Home tech | Energy savings | A/V
Molly Price Former Editor
David Anders Senior Writer
David Anders is a senior writer for CNET covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining CNET, David built his industry expertise writing for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. In his 5 plus years covering broadband, David's work has been referenced by a variety of sources including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. David is from and currently resides in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
Expertise Broadband providers | Home internet | Security Cameras
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8.2/ 10

Nest Indoor/Outdoor Cam (Battery)

Score Breakdown

Performance 8/10Usability 9.5/10Features 9/10Design 8/10


  • Free smart alerts with incredibly accurate AI
  • Indoor/Outdoor application
  • Great Home app interfacing with Google and Alexa
  • Free video storage
  • Easy-to-use magnetic design


  • Pricey
  • Video storage limited to 3 hours

The nest cam tries to do a little of everything while staying easy to use. It's battery powered, rated for outdoor and indoor use, and is filled with a hefty range of smart features plus a particularly solid design. But is it really the best? Wee, it's certainly one of the best.

At $180, the Nest quite expensive for specs that range from unique to mid-range. It's also a little bulky compared with some of the compact security cams on the market. What you do get from Google (something very few others offer) are excellent and primarily fee object recognition, activity zones and some free video storage. At first, we were disappointed by the lack of support beyond Nest, but a series of updates in recent years has also made the cam compatible with Amazon Alexa and Echos, solving our primary complaint. The result is a camera that's very easy to recommend for homes that don't have a security cam yet.


Technically, the Nest Cam is called the "Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery)," but that's a handful to type, so we'll refer to it simply as the Nest Cam, which comes with an IP54 rating to resist milder types of outdoor weather, although you'll need to keep it sheltered from very stormy conditions. It is battery-operated, but you can buy a $35 weatherproof power cable to go with it if you'd rather opt for a wired outdoor installation.


The Nest Cam comes with a charging cable and wall plate for mounting. 

Molly Price/CNET

The camera itself is magnetic and snaps onto the included base easily. Even though this thing is nearly a pound at 14 ounces, the magnet feels strong enough to firmly keep the camera on the base. The Nest Cam is 3.27 inches wide, and while the design is sleek and simple, those stats add up to a chunky feeling device. 

If you're opting for indoor use (I wouldn't, but more on that later) you can place it on a $30 sold-separately stand that comes with a charging cable to act like a dock of sorts.

Specs and battery life

This Nest Cam has all the camera stats you'd expect to see, like 1080p HD video, night vision, a 130-degree diagonal field of view, 6x digital zoom and two-way audio. Those aren't standout specs. No, you really don't need better tech than that to surveil your backyard. At these prices we would have really liked to see the resolution bumped up to 2K, but HD is fine for most viewing needs.

I would've liked to see a wider field of view, especially since the camera on the magnetic stand isn't very adjustable. I had to find just the right height shelf in order to view my living room and not the ceiling. The indoor stand improves this slightly.


A charging stand for indoor use is sold separately. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Battery life is the big question with smart home devices like cameras, locks and doorbells. Nest wins on one front right away: The magnetic base makes it easy to pop the cam off and recharge when you want, no tools or screws needed.

Google estimates the battery to last somewhere between one and half months and seven months, depending on those factors. I charged our camera to 100% and 24 hours later, I was down to 97% in default battery mode with the automatic battery saver enabled. That's about four months of battery in those exact circumstances, which matches with the other Nest camera devices we've tested from this generation. There are options in the Home app to adjust frequency of event recordings, video quality and length of clips. There are also three battery modes to choose from if you don't want to cherry-pick power settings. 

The Google team provided these estimates for battery life: 

  • Busy: About one and a half months battery life (about 20 to 25 recorded events per day)
  • Typical: About three months battery life (about nine to 12 recorded events per day)
  • Quiet: About seven months battery life (about two to four recorded events per day)

Home app screenshots using the Nest Cam.

Screenshots by Molly Price/CNET

Feature freebies

The Nest Cam benefits from Google's excellent AI features, although not quite to the extent of the Doorbell model. At no extra cost, the Cam can identify animals, people and vehicles, letting you set specific activity zones and alert actions depending on what it recognize.

That makes it very easy to cut down on all false alerts and get only the updates you want (only people entering a space, notifications when a dog jumps the fence and vanishes, etc.), and Google's detection never seems to get it wrong.

That compares very favorably with other cloud storage options, which usually require a subscription fee for any cloud use at all. But there's an obvious catch: You have to act within 3 hours to save the footage, and sometimes I found the cam catching me by surprise after the window to act had passed. You can fix this limitation with a Nest Aware plan, which brings me to the subscription side of things. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Google Nest Cam subscriptions

Subscribe to Nest Aware for $8 per month and you'll get familiar face detection and sound alerts (smoke, glass breaking and carbon monoxide), the ability to call 911 from the Google Home app and 30 days of event video history. Upgrade to Nest Aware Plus for $12 a month, and you'll get all of those options plus 60 days of video history and 10 days of 24/7 video recording if your Nest Cam is hard-wired. 

The included free smart alerts are likely plenty for most folks. Familiar Faces is a nice touch, but definitely something I'd categorize as a luxury. Add Familiar Faces and your camera will notify you of people by name, as synced in your Google account. Sound alerts for alarms or glass breaking are perhaps more practical, especially if you travel often and want to know when something's not right. 

Privacy and security

If you're concerned about security, Google is ready to pitch its latest promise. Video footage on the new Nest Cam is encrypted while in transit and while at rest on Nest servers. According to the Google team, these are the most vulnerable points in the data lifecycle. 

Processing for those animal, person and vehicle detections -- as well as Familiar Faces recognition -- all happen locally on the device. The Nest Cam's machine learning chip handles all that. There's no cloud processing. That's not the strongest encryption on the market, but Google remains largely free from the data breaches that have dogged some security brands like Ring and more recently Wyze.

A green LED light lets you know when the camera is processing or streaming video to a viewer. Add the camera to your Home and Away routines, and you can choose to record video only when you've left home. Home and Away presence detection is powered by either your mobile device or sensors in select Nest products

One other security related thing caught my eye on the Google Store's page for the new Nest Cam. If someone removes your camera (easy to do with the magnetic camera-to-base application), they'll replace it for free. What's the catch? You'll need to file a police report and provide Google with a copy within 30 days. You can read more about camera theft replacements on the Google support page


Nest Cam mounts magnetically to its base.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Nest vs Arlo vs Ring vs Eufy

You have options these days when it comes to outdoor cameras. Google's Nest Cam is an excellent all-rounders, but other cams do have it beat in specific areas. Arlo's feature-packed 5S Pro cam offers a 2K resolution, more compact design and nearly every feature you could want, including Apple support (but the subscription is more or less a necessity). The Eufy S350 adds pan/tilt features with 2K/4K dual lenses and intelligent tracking for a complete indoor cam package, plus it supports local storage if you want to stay off the cloud and away from subscriptions (all at a lower price). And Ring's Spotlight Cam Pro is a more expensive $230 option that adds a targeted LED light and some Ring specialties like 3D motion detection.

Watch this: Nest Cam with battery is smart and unsurprising

Should you buy it? 

If you have your heart set on a Nest Cam, don't fret. The Nest Cam does everything I'd expect and is incredibly easy to use. With the added Alexa support, unfaltering AI and free video storage window, it's one of the best one-time purchases on the market that gets better with a Nest Aware subscription. I also really like that magnetic design, a rarity in the home cam world apart from some offerings by TP-Link and a couple of other brands. But $180 is still a lot to spend on an HD cam, so consult carefully with your wallet.

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