Wireless security cameras are getting cheaper by the day, but few are as inexpensive as the $25 Wyze Cam. And while you may equate a low price with low quality, as often turns out to be the case, this budget indoor security camera is surprisingly good for the money. For sure, there are some trade-offs, but you get an awful lot, such as two weeks of cloud storage for free, for an awful little.
Due to the shortage of webcams during the coronavirus pandemic, the Wyze Cam picked up a new trick: A firmware update lets you use your Wyze Cam as a webcam. It's just one more reason the Wyze Cam is one of the best home security cameras you can get for less than $100 — it's one of the best cheap smart home devices, too.
While most security cameras have a circular shape, the Wyze Cam is a small white cube that's roughly 2 inches on all sides. Its face has a big black circle, at the center of which is the camera; below that is a smaller black circle that houses a motion sensor.
The bottom of the Wyze Cam has a gray base that allows the camera portion to extend upward and pivot horizontally. It's easy to move but rigid enough that the camera will stay in place.
The camera comes with a 6-foot power cord and a magnetic plate that you can attach to a wall or ceiling to mount the camera.
Wyze Cam: Video quality
The Wyze Cam has a 1/2.9-inch CMOS sensor with a 110-degree field of view. That's significantly smaller than other security cameras; the $90 Samsung SmartThings Cam, for instance, has a wide 145-degree FOV. This makes it easier to see the entirety of a room and gives you more flexibility for placing the camera. But for $25, the Wyze's more limited view is an acceptable trade-off.
The Wyze Cam also shoots video at a resolution of 1920 x 1080, which has become standard, but resolution isn't everything. In daylight video, colors were a bit more muted than with other devices, such as Samsung's SmartThings, but the Wyze Cam's colors were accurate. The video was also sharp enough that I could recognize faces from about 10 feet away, though they weren't very crisp. Also, as soon as the subject moved, things became much blurrier.
More definition was lost in nighttime video. For example, I could no longer read, or even see, a logo on a shirt that was visible in the daylight video. Motion blur was also much greater, so the subject had to be relatively still for viewers to make out his features.
Wyze Cam: Camera features
Some of the Wyze's features are a bit shallower than what you'll find on other cameras. For instance, you can set up a customizable detection zone with the Wyze, but it's limited to a single rectangle whose dimensions you can change. Samsung's SmartThings Cam, by contrast, lets you create irregular shapes, as does Ring for its security cameras.
However, the Wyze includes person detection — so you don't get a notification every time your cat walks in front of the camera — as well as a few features not found on other security cameras. It can recognize smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and record a 12-second video when it hears those sounds. It also has a microSD card slot, which you can use to not only enable continuous recording, but also create time-lapse videos.
Lastly, the Wyze Cam has one of the most generous cloud-storage plans around: 14 days of free rolling cloud storage. However, there's a catch: The maximum length of a cloud-stored video is 14 seconds. If you want to save longer videos, you'll need to save locally to a microSD card on board the camera.
Wyze’s app doesn’t make it easy to find recorded videos. If you’re in the camera view, instead of showing thumbnails of event videos, you have to select an individual day from a calendar, then scroll through a timeline to look for shaded sections, which indicate when video was recorded. It’s time-consuming and tedious. I found it much easier to find saved videos from the app’s home screen: Just click on Events.
Wyze Cam: Smart home compatibility
The rear of the Wyze Cam has a small indentation where you can insert a Wyze Sense Bridge module, which allows you to link the camera to Wyze's motion sensor, door and window sensors, and smart light bulbs. So, for example, if one of the door sensors is tripped, the camera can automatically start recording and the light bulb can turn on.
You can perform similar actions with third-party devices using Alexa or Google Assistant, but it's convenient to be able to do everything from one interface. Samsung is pursuing a similar strategy with the company's SmartThings Cam.
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The Wyze Sense kit, which costs $20, includes the bridge, two door/window sensors and one motion sensor. They're all tiny, about an inch square. Additional motion sensors cost $6 each, and a pack of four door/window sensors costs $20.
Wyze's camera also works with Alexa and Google Assistant. With Amazon's assistant, you can stream a live feed of the Wyze Cam to an Amazon Fire TV stick or Fire TV-equipped TV. You can also view a feed on any of the best Google Home compatible devices with displays, but not those made by third parties, such as the Lenovo Smart Display.
Wyze Cam review: Verdict
While it has a few limitations, the Wyze Cam is one of the better deals in smart home tech. For just $25, you get a security camera with a surprising number of features, including 14 days of free cloud storage, local storage and the ability to link to other smart home sensors. If you're looking for better camera quality and a wider field of view, look into the Samsung SmartThings Cam, which costs $90 and also offers a plethora of features. But for less than $30, the Wyze Cam can't be beat.