Nest Cam IQ Indoor review: Nest's 4K camera has the specs, but few will want to pay

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The Good The $299/£299 Nest Cam IQ has an 8-megapixel, 4K image sensor and improved 12x digital zoom for access to new livestreaming security features. A hardware upgrade improves the audio quality of Nest's two-way talk function.

The Bad You still have to pay at least $10 per month for continuous cloud video storage. The camera's price doesn't quite match up with the features added.

The Bottom Line The Nest Cam IQ is a solid camera that costs a little too much to readily recommend to most home security DIYers.

7.4 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 8
  • Design 7
  • Performance 8
Automate your locks, lights, home temperature and more. See all the products that work with Nest.

Editors' note (April 13, 2018): The Nest Cam IQ Indoor now doubles as a Google Assistant smart speaker. Read more about the new feature here.

The $299/£299 Nest Cam IQ is unquestionably smart, but I can't recommend it as readily as Nest's other security cameras. My main reason? Price.

Like the $199/£159 Nest Cam Indoor and Outdoor, the indoor-only IQ has 1080p HD livestreaming, a 130-degree field of view and advanced motion-sensing smarts. It also relies on the same Nest app and works with the same smart home partners. 

Read more: Google is replacing Works with Nest with Works with Google Assistant and it could make your smart home worse.  

The IQ's key differences are improved two-way audio and a larger 8-megapixel, 4K image sensor. The 4K sensor allows for 12x digital zoom and a free, IQ-exclusive feature called Supersight that focuses in on faces for an up-close look at who's in your house. 

While the IQ has more advanced specs and features than any Nest cam to date, I'm not sold on its value. If you don't mind paying more for this specced-out camera, go for it -- you will see a little more detail in the live feed. Regular ol' 1080p (without a 4K sensor) will likely do the trick for most, though.

Getting the Nest Cam IQ online

Follow these steps to get your Nest Cam up and running:

  • Create an account -- download the Nest app for Android, iPhone or the web
  • Enable notifications -- opt-in for real-time alerts when motion activity takes place
  • Name your house -- give your house a name; ours is the CNET Smart Home
  • Enter your address -- provide the address where your IQ is installed 
  • Allow Home/Away Assist -- give the Nest app permission to use your phone's location
  • Sign up for Family Accounts -- create individual Nest accounts for every family member

Many of these steps are optional, but enabling them all gives you full access to your Nest Cam's features. Providing your address, for instance, allows the software to track whether you and the rest of your family are home or away. This initial configuration process should take only a couple of minutes.

Now you're in your Nest app, but your camera hasn't been connected just yet. Here are the next steps for getting your Nest Cam IQ connected to your local Wi-Fi network:

  • Select "Add" on the app's home screen
  • Click "OK" when the app asks to access your camera
  • Scan the QR code on the bottom of the camera from the Nest app
  • Tell the Nest app where you're installing your IQ -- our CNET Smart Home camera is in the living room
  • Plug in the camera with the included power adapter; the app will automatically begin searching for the camera
  • Select your Wi-Fi network from the provided list and enter your password; your camera is now online
  • Opt-in to Nest's Familiar Face Alerts feature (optional, and only available for Nest Aware subscribers)

This may seem like a lot of steps, but most of them are very straightforward. The whole process should take less than 10 minutes, assuming your Wi-Fi network is strong and connects easily. Note: Always confirm the strength of your Wi-Fi connection where you plan to install your camera; a sluggish network can inhibit the live feed and other important features.