There’s a new range of Nest cameras on the block from Google, with a focus on offering versatilily and broadening their range with battery powered options you can place anywhere around your home. The new Nest range includes a new battery powered doorbell, as well as new wired Floodlight Cam and a new indoor camera which will arrive later in the year. In the meantime though Google has announced a battery powered Nest Cam which can operate both indoor and out.

The Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery), yes that name is a bit of a mouthful, is a battery powered version of the upcoming Nest Cam Indoor, which offers a wireless solution, letting you mount the camera essentially anywhere.

There’s obviously a lot of competition in this market from companies like Ring, Arlo, Swann, Eufy and more, but Google is banking on their included smarts for Familiar Face detection, as well as animal, vehicle and person detection to add a little more to the experience. 

Priced at $329, the Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery) has a big price tag for those features, so is it worth checking out? I’ve been using the new Nest Cam and here’s how it went.

Hardware and Installation

Out of the box, the Nest Cam (battery) is a fairly big unit. The size is due to a large battery that will last you several months depending on usage, magnetic mounting system and of course a camera that records from a two-megapixel sensor that offers 130° diagonal field of view with 6x digital zoom in 16:9 aspect ratio. While a two-megapixel sensor doesn’t seem large, the camera can record up to 1080p resolution at 30fps and also includes Night Vision with HDR. 

In the box you get the Camera, power brick and USB charging cable with a proprietary connector that magnetically attaches to the charging port on the underside. There’s also a magnetic mounting plate, screws and wall plugs in case you need to drill into brickwork.

There’s also some safety/warranty paperwork and instruction manual with a link to the setup instructions.

The Nest Cam (battery) connects to the magnetic base plate which can be attached via screws to a wall, or any other handy place like the side of a bookshelf. It can also mount to any standard tripod mounts using a 1/4 20 thread which you’ll find on the base near the speaker and charging port.

What it’s not good at is sitting flat on a shelf. If you do want to sit the Nest Cam (battery) on a shelf, you’ll definitely want the Nest Cam stand which is sold separately for $59. 

The Nest Cam stand offers a versatile platform for mounting your Nest Cam (battery), letting you swivel the camera or move it up or down as you require. The stand has a cushioned base with a power cable which connects to the camera through the pogo pin inserts underneath. 

It’s a good quality, sturdy stand and definitely worth getting if you want to put the camera on a shelf. Whether it’s worth getting over the upcoming Nest Cam (wired) which will sell for $169 including a similar stand is a big question but given that one isn’t available yet, if you need one now, this is your option.

Frustratingly, if you’re installing a Nest Doorbell and Nest Cam, they both require slightly different drill bits. 6mm for the Nest Doorbell, 6.5mm for the Nest Cam.

Google supplied two Nest Cam (battery) along with a Nest Cam Stand. So, I set one up indoors, and attached the other to the side of the house using the included magnetic mount. 

Once you get your mounting plate line up and marked, it’s simply a matter of drilling the holes and inserting the plugs, then screwing it in and connecting the official mount – make sure the ‘G’ is upright!

The only tip I have for installation is that you’ll want the right sized drill bit, so if you’re installing a couple of devices make sure you have a list for when you hit the hardware store. 

Setup and Installation

I’ve found that installation of smart home devices depends very much on the manufacturer. To their credit, Google makes the install process simple. It all starts with the Google Home app where you hit the ‘+’ button and then run through the setup for a new Nest device.

As with the Nest Doorbell, it’s all helped along with the use of a QR code which covers (and protects) the camera sensor. This QR code contains information on the specific camera you’re setting up so it can find it, and then apply your WiFi settings to it and connect it to the network.

Like most smart home devices, the Nest Cam (battery) only supports 2.4GHz WiFi, so having the app do all the work of finding the camera is a god-send. There’s no wandering around the house trying to find a point where WiFi drops back to 2.4GHz from 5GHz so you can install it like a lot of cheaper smart home kit which is a pleasant change. Google isn’t the only company to do this, but it sure as heck makes it easier to install your gear.

As part of the setup you’ll be asked some questions about the camera install location, indoor or outdoor, using a stand or magnetic mount and whether you want to opt into the Familiar Faces feature. 

Google recommends you install the Nest Cam (battery) at no higher than 2m for best results on Face Detection.  I have issues mounting a security camera on a magnetic mount that’s designed to be easy to remove at this height, as it’d be the first thing stolen if anything happened. I have gone for a 3.5m high installation and the Face Detection works, though the person does have to have their face angled up for the camera to recognise them.

There is of course a solution to potential theft, with a $29.99 anti-theft accessory available to order from the Google Store. 

Once mounted, the Nest Cam is ready to go, though you’ll have to remove it to charge it – or look at one of the accessories you can attach for just such a purpose. Google sells a weatherproof cable ($59) for charging if you have an external power point nearby, or a solar panel ($79.99) if you don’t. At this stage it’s starting to mount up in price, but it is good to know there are options if you need them.

The magnetic mounting system though is very good. There’s a strong magnetic attraction between the camera and the mount, but it’s still easy to position it – which you do as part of the setup.

Using it

To access all your Nest Cameras you now use the Google Home app instead of a dedicated Nest app.

All your Nest cameras, including the one in the Nest Hub Max, appear in the Cameras section of the Google Home app. Your camera previews are presented as one long scrolling list, as opposed to other makers who offer a tiled view which can make it a little tedious to find the right camera, but it’s definitely convenient to see your Nest cameras there – as well as any other Google Assistant enabled cameras you have around the place as well. 

There’s options to view footage, and even sort the footage using filters to find Familiar Faces, Unfamiliar Faces or other events that were recorded due to things like smoke alarms, glass breaking and more. It’s an easy way to find things if the camera is monitoring a high-traffic area

My outside camera isn’t in a high traffic area, so events are fairly irregular. This means the battery life should be fairly high and after just under a week I’ve used just 1% of battery. If you are in a high-traffic area, then the solar panel or weatherproof power cable are a great idea.

The battery is especially handy when paired with the three hours of Event Video able to be stored on the camera. The camera operates even without internet access and can upload any footage once it can connect back online.

Quality wise, the camera looks pretty good with 1080p at 30 FPS video. There’s also a decent night mode which includes a decent night vision mode as well thanks to IR LEDs. You can download the video from the cameras through the app by viewing events.

Google offers you a chance to set up Home/Away modes in the app, and also utilises things like your location (with your permission of course) on your phone to help set the cameras to various modes. Of course with a lockdown affecting most people in NSW/ACT and at various times other states, this hasn’t gotten very much use, but it could be very handy for scheduling when internal cameras switch on.

Responding to any alerts is simple, you tap on the notification and can either see the event that triggered it, or check the live view to see if anything is happening right now. It’s an easy process, and if you choose to, you can talk through the camera to the person in frame. 

One thing I note is missing from the Nest Cameras is a siren. Other manufacturers have chosen to include a siren, anywhere up to 150dB (Thanks Ring) which can have quite the dramatic effect on unwanted visitors, especially ones skulking around in the dead of night. Sure the neighbours may not love you for a minute or two, but it certainly grabs attention and would be great to see.

Conversations through the camera are quite easy and your voice comes through the speakers clearly, and at a decent volume. 

One feature you’ll want to check out is the Activity Zones. You can manually select an area so you can get alerts specifically for that zone. Using zones you can determine areas in frame that you want alerts for, and those you don’t. With my external setup I can catch whoever is dumping stuff in my bin, without finding out when the neighbours come and go through their side gate.

Sharing videos can be a bit finicky, you have to go into your camera in the Google Home app and select ‘Full History’ from the drop down menu. From there you need to select ‘Event Details’ from the video. From there you can download the video by hitting the download button that appears. It’s not exactly intuitive to have to go into Event Details to get the download button, but it’s there if you need it.

Nest Aware

Using the Nest Cam battery is pretty simple. You set it up, opt in for things like Face Detection if you want to, and then it’s a matter of sit back and wait for a notification or a need to check the live feed.

There’s great functionality out of the box. You can stream live video to your phone, or Google Assistant smart display. The only real feature you need a Nest Aware subscription for is the Familiar Face detection, or if you want to retain event recordings for 30 or 60 days – or retain 24/7 recordings in the cloud for 10 days. 

You do get a 30-day trial to check out all the features of Nest Aware, but it’s really only required for Familar Face Detection, or the extended video saving. 

As it stands you don’t need a Nest Aware subscription if you just want basic video monitoring. If you’re starting to look at it more seriously with a requirement for keeping any footage, then the Nest Aware sub is definitely worth it.

Me? I’ve been getting Familiar Face alerts as neighbours, and family are seen and I’ll definitely be springing for a Nest Aware subscription when the 30-day trial elapses.

Should you buy it?

The new Nest Cam (battery) is an interesting new entrant in the video security space. It’s definitely a more expensive option than the competition and isn’t totally overflowing with new features and specs to set it apart.

The camera itself is easy to set up, use, and it fits in very well with an existing Google ecosystem. It doesn’t clearly knock it out of the park when it comes to feature sets, though Familiar Face is handy, it’s not a feature I’d be paying a premium for. 

Google has made the camera an option for anyone wanting wireless mounting around the home or business, though the new indoor wired Nest Cam is on the way with built-in stand and at a much reduced price it’s hard to justify the Nest Cam for indoor use. 

Outside, the Nest Cam offers more options though it still runs into hefty competition from other battery powered models including the Ring Stick Up Cam (battery) or even the Ring Spotlight Cam which is still cheaper but adds in a spotlight, whereas the Nest Cam simply offers night mode. It’s a decent night mode, but not as handy if you’re outside and need a spotlight in that area.

Overall, the Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery) is a solid option which has decent features and being completely wireless it lets you put a Nest camera anywhere you need it. There’s other options on the market, but the Nest Cam is a good option to add to your Nest ecosystem.