Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
If this $20 indoor security camera by Seattle-based smart home company Wyze looks familiar, you'd be right. This cheap cam, called the Wyze Cam, is very similar to iSmartAlarm's Spot. The Spot used to cost $99, but is now available from iSmartAlarm for $40. While affordable, that's still double the price of the Wyze Cam -- and it looks like Wyze has made a couple of design updates (although I don't have a Spot handy for a direct side-by-side comparison).
The Wyze Cam has the same key performance and features as Wyze's $30 Cam Pan, another solid, affordable indoor camera from the brand. But instead of a panning base, the Wyze Cam has a static base that you can manually angle, raise and lower. It has free person alerts (though see below), free 14-day event-based cloud storage and a microSD card slot if you want continuous, local recording. The value of those free features alone is a big deal -- factor in its cheap initial cost and solid performance, and the value is totally bonkers.
The Wyze Cam is among my favorite indoor security cameras to date, making it easy to recommend and easy to designate as an Editors' Choice award winner.
Editors' note, Nov. 27: In January 2020, Wyze will end its partnership with Xnor.ai, the company providing the Wyze Cam's person detection feature. Wyze says it is working on in-house person detection software for next year and that it will continue to be free, but hasn't given a specific date of availability for the feature. This news has not affected our review score since the camera is still a very strong value. Our review, originally published on Nov. 26, follows with minor adjustments.
When I began testing security cameras in 2013, most DIY indoor cameras cost $200, or somewhere in that ballpark. But, as I've written before, that camera paradigm is shifting and Wyze is one of the companies at the forefront, offering solid products for significantly less than the competition. The Wyze Cam is a big part of that shift.
Again, here are the things you get with your $20 purchase -- no subscription required. I've put the ones that often come with a fee on other security cams in bold:
So, that's a lot of features. For free, with the exception of the microSD you'd have to buy if you want to go the local storage route. I love a good deal almost as much as CNET's Rick Broida, aka The Cheapskate, who writes about the best deals on consumer products -- and the Wyze Cam's value is hard to beat.
More good news: The Wyze Cam also performs well, provided your Wi-Fi network connection is decent. During my initial testing, I received quick and accurate motion, sound and person notifications.
As mentioned above, in January 2020, Wyze is ending its partnership with the current provider of its person detection feature and person alerts. In an email sent to customers on Nov. 26, Wyze said, "We are preparing to roll out our own in-house version of Person Detection next year, which will remain free for our users."
We'll keep an eye on that to test out Wyze's own person detection feature if and when it launches.
The motion detection zone was easy to set up and worked well. I wish you could create more than one, but it's solid for a free feature. I haven't tried out the smoke and carbon monoxide feature yet.
The live view is crisp, although, not as clear as Nest's IQ cameras with their 4K image sensors. But for 20 bucks, the Wyze's view is pretty great -- you can adjust it in the mobile app between standard and high definition, too, if your connection is spotty. It also has auto night vision, or you can adjust it manually. And again, the cloud database saves footage for two weeks that you can review for free.
You also have a lot of customizability in the app, from adjusting motion and sound sensitivity to opting in -- or out of -- features like the smoke and carbon monoxide alerts and person alerts (which might raise privacy concerns for some).
Related to privacy, you can check out Wyze's privacy statement for more details. The company uses cloud platform Amazon Web Services for cloud storage and Xnor.ai for person detection, again, until January 2020.
I'm impressed. For $20, you get a camera with free two-week cloud storage, optional local storage (with the purchase of a microSD card), person alerts, a detection zone and advanced audio detection.
It's a great camera and at just 20 bucks, it's definitely affordable. The Wyze Cam isn't perfect. Mostly, I wish you got more than one detection zone, but for the price, that doesn't bother me much. I'm also annoyed that person detection and person alerts are going away in January and that Wyze won't yet commit to when in 2020 its new in-house person detection feature will go live.
I plan to continue testing the Wyze Cam over time, especially the smoke and carbon monoxide feature -- and its new person alerts, whenever they arrive. But I can comfortably say, even if the person detection feature disappeared completely, that the Wyze Cam is the budget camera worth buying if you want an affordable indoor camera with features you typically only find on cameras that cost a lot more.