Google’s Nest smart home division has produced some great products over the years, including the smart thermostat that kickstarted it all, a smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and the excellent (but pricey) Nest Cam IP camera.
What you need to know
The Nest Cam IQ is the firm’s latest security camera and, apart from a redesign and new look, its main new feature is facial recognition. Otherwise, it operates in largely the same way as the regular indoor Nest Cam and integrates with the rest of the Nest range of products via the Nest app and a range of other third party smart products in the same way, too.
Like the regular Nest Cam, the IQ captures 1080p video at 30 frames per second and it’s one of the easiest IP cameras to set up and use on the market.
Nest Cam IQ review: Price and competition
There are literally thousands of IP cameras on the market, many of which are cheaper than the £299 Nest Cam IQ, but most are aimed at business users and are difficult to set up and use. Even among consumer-friendly home security cameras, though, the Nest Cam IQ is expensive and its free cloud clip storage is limited once the included 30-day subscription has expired.
For the same money, you can pick up a twin set of Netgear Arlo cameras, each of which is battery powered and weatherproof and gives you free seven-day storage for your video clips.
Nest Cam IQ review: Features, design and setup
If there’s one thing Nest products do well is simplicity of design and ease of use and the Nest Cam IQ is no different in this regard. It’s a lot bulkier than the original Nest Cam was, but it’s just as well built and has all the necessary features for indoor security monitoring duties.
There’s a camera lens at the front, which captures a 130-degree field of view and 1080p video footage, accompanied by a pair of infrared LEDs for night vision, a status LED and LED status ring surrounding the perimeter of the front fascia.
You get a triple-microphone array and speaker for two-way communications and the camera is powered via a wall adapter which is connected via USB Type-C to a socket on the rear of the base.
That’s obviously not ideal, but there is a 3m USB cable supplied in the box, so you should be able to find a good position for the camera without too much bother.
Setup is as simple as these things tend to get. You download the Nest App, scan the QR code on the base of the camera and provide it with your Wi-Fi network name and password, after which you’ll be able to access the live feed on your mobile device (iOS and Android are both supported) and receive notifications when the camera detects motion and people it doesn’t know.
Nest Cam IQ review: Performance
When the camera does spot faces or motion, as with the regular Nest Cam these are flagged by the app with a thumbnail on a vertically-scrolling video timeline, below a live view/playback window at the top of the screen. From here you can save clips to your Nest account, or save them directly to local storage on your device for sharing via the usual channels.
The facial recognition works uncannily well. Whenever it picks up an unfamiliar face, the app alerts you and asks you if that person is known to you or not. After a couple of goes, it gets to know people and ignores them, only notifying you when someone unfamiliar appears in the frame. Alas, it isn’t advanced enough to recognise pets just yet. Perhaps that’s one.
You’re not restricted just to motion- and face-detected clips, though. Unlike most IP cameras, the Nest Cam IQ records 24/7 like a full-blown security camera system; just pick your time and you can start playing from there. It’s also possible to make your own clips, or even produce time-lapse videos of longer periods of time, and if you don’t want it recording while you’re in the house you can set it to stop recording when it recognises that your phone and those of other family members is in the vicinity and connected to the home Wi-Fi.
As for video quality, that’s pretty good. On the Nest website there’s some waffle about a 4K sensor and HDR but as long as you don’t expect Netflix levels of quality you’ll be happy. The Nest Cam IQ does deliver slightly cleaner-looking, more colourful and crisper footage than the regular Nest Cam, but there isn’t a huge amount in it. Night vision quality – in monochrome – is roughly the same.
Nest Cam IQ review: Prices and Verdict
The Nest Cam IQ is a brilliant home security camera but there is a catch and that’s that the subscription fees are very high. Too high, in fact. Out of the box, the camera comes with a 30-day free trial to the Nest Aware service, which gives you 24/7 access for 30 days.
After this, your Nest account reverts to free status and stores footage only three hours into the past; and then it keeps only motion-triggered snapshots. After 30-days the facial recognition service stops as well. You can still watch the live stream and use the two-way communication via the microphone and speaker, though.
Effectively, after spending £300 on the Nest Cam IQ, you need to factor in costs of at least $10 (£8) per month for ten-day continuous footage storage and “person recognition”; or pay $30 (£23) per month for the extended 30-day storage plan. After one year of ownership, the total comes to at least £388, which for a single security camera, I think, is too much. Do yourself a favour and buy a Netgear Arlo system instead.