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Best cellular trail cameras in 2022: camera traps that transmit images to your phone

Man attaching one of the best cellular trail cameras to a tree
(Image credit: Bushnell)

The best cellular trail camera allows you to monitor wildlife remotely, via your smartphone, wherever you go. Also known as camera traps, these cameras are designed to be placed in a natural environment and left alone. That way, you can get photos of shy wildlife that would otherwise be scared off, and see animals behaving naturally away from the presence of humans.

A cellular trail camera are a variation on the best trail cameras, which allow you to pop in a SIM card. This means that rather than having to wait until you retrieve the camera before seeing the images, you can upload them right away to a cellular network. This can be truly game-changing for wildlife and nature photographers.

You don't necessarily have to stick with your regular phone network, and some cameras come bundled with a SIM and a no-contract plan. Most will require some kind of monthly financial commitment, though, so that you can access your images remotely. Read on to discover the best celluar trail cameras available today, at a range of budgets.

Best cellular trail cameras in 2022

(Image credit: Spypoint)
The best cellular trail camera overall

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 12MP
Video resolution: 1280x720 pixels
Video length: 0-90 seconds
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes, via low-glow LEDs
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: 2-inch color LCD
Power: Solar, rechargeable lithium ion or 8x AA batteries
Cellular plans: Verizon, AT&T

Reasons to buy

+
Solar powered
+
Speedy trigger
+
Takes 32GB SD card 

Reasons to avoid

-
Hard to find in UK

The Skypoint Link-S is our pick as the best cellular trail camera overall. The integrated lithium battery and solar panel give you potentially unlimited battery life (depending on how much sunshine you get) and will save you an awful lot of trips to keep topping it up. It's usually supplied with a pre-activated SIM card too, although you'd be wise to check the running costs with either Verizon or AT&T before signing up to a plan. 

More broadly, this is a great trail camera, with a 0.07s trigger, claimed to be the fastest on market,  a 12MP sensor, 42 LEDs and a 100 foot flash range. Advanced features include blur reduction & IR boost, HD video+sound, a 100-foot detection distance and 2-inch view screen. You can add an SD card up to 32GB, although note that this is not included.

(Image credit: Bushnell)

2. Bushnell CelluCORE 30

The best cellular trail camera for resolution

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 30MP
Video resolution: 1080p, 1920 x 1080 pixels
Video length: 30 secs
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes, via infrared
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: No, mono settings display only
Power: 12 x AA
Cellular technology: LTE 4G (e.g. US, UK)
Cellular plans: AT&T, Verizon, no-SIM
Size: 112 x 176 x 98 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Very high resolution
+
Shoots Full HD at 60p

Reasons to avoid

-
Unsubtle design
-
Hard to find outside US

The CelluCORE 30 is a relatively new trail camera from Bushnell, upping resolution from the previous CelluCORE 20 to, you guessed it, 30MP. This automatically puts it streets ahead of the vast majority of other trail cameras, so while this does make files larger and means you have to think about storage and transfers, it also gives you a lot more detail in your images. 

Equipped with night vision and a 100-foot no-glow flash, the CelluCORE 30 also captures Full HD video at a super-smooth 60fps. The only real drawback to the CelluCORE 30 is that as it's relatively new, it's less available than others, especially outside of the US. We'd expect that to change as time goes on; in the meantime, the CelluCORE 20 is also worth considering. 

(Image credit: Skypoint)
The best cheap cellular trail camera

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 10MP
Video resolution: No
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes, via infrared
Audio recording: No
LCD: 3-color Status light
Power: 8 x AA
Cellular technology: LTE 4G (e.g. US, UK)
Cellular plans: Nationwide (US), no-SIM
Size: 96 x 175 x 99 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Modest price, especially for one

Reasons to avoid

-
You must buy plan for each camera
-
First-time setup can be tricky

At a significantly lower price point than others, the Link-Micro-LTE is a device well suited for those who want to get several lenses in the same area and keep an eye on the movements of bigger animals, for research or game management. 

Spypoint’s app certainly doesn’t neglect location data coming from the cameras, or taking advantage of other available data (like weather services) but ultimately this is just as suited for strapping around trees and sending back images via a 4G LTE network as the Link-S-Dark above. You’ll need to change the batteries more, though.

(Image credit: Browning)

4. Browning Defender

Solid performer you can load up with lots of batteries

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 20MP
Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
Video length: 120 secs
Data storage: Via SD, SDHC or SDXC card, up to 512GB
Night vision: Yes, via infrared
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: 2in color
Power: 16 AA Batteries
Cellular technology: LTE 4G (e.g. US, UK)
Cellular plans: AT&T, Verizon, no-SIM

Reasons to buy

+
High-resolution camera
+
Large battery bay
+
Data recording includes air pressure

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't download video by cellular
-
Big downloads push up monthly plan

Here's another great cellular trail camera, that offers a lot to like. Once the 16 batteries have been slotted into the back of this it forms a chunky unit, which means you can be confident that the power-hungry cellular radio circuitry will last a decent while. Open the door and the back-lit 4-way menu button and on-screen menu makes setup straightforward. And of course it also serves as a real viewfinder when positioning – ace. 

Video enthusiasts will appreciate the system’s ability to monitor and keep recording subjects which keep moving while photographers will love the resolution compared to some of the more game-orientated options. Those operating in busier areas will appreciate the optional security box too.

(Image credit: Skypoint)
A good way to add a cellular link to an existing trail camera

Specifications

Data storage: -
LCD: -
Power: 8 x AA
Cellular technology: LTE 4G
Cellular plans: Verizon, AT&T, no-SIM
Size: 35 x 35 x 35mm

Reasons to buy

+
Connects to existing devices
+
Works with virtually all cameras

Reasons to avoid

-
Trail camera sold separately
-
ID Cable/SD slot connection can be tricky
-
Remote setup options not available on off-brand cameras

This cube-like chunk is big enough to house eight AA cells and the 4G LTE tech to turn any existing trail camera into a cellular one. 

Naturally the manufacturers would prefer your original was a Spypoint too, but they’re not picky. In theory at least any camera which uses an SD card – and that seems to be most – should do the trick. An SD-like adapter at the end of a flat cable must be negotiated through the weatherproofing of your original device and inserted into the SD slot 

(Image credit: Reconyx)

6. Reconyx HF2XCv

The best All-American cellular trail camera

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 1920 x 1080 or 3MP at 4:3
Video resolution: 720p
Video length: 10 secs
Data storage: Via SD, SDHC or SDXC card, up to 512GB
Night vision: Yes, via infrared
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: Backlit mono text for settings
Power: AA (Lithium recommended)
Cellular technology: LTE
Cellular plans: AT&T, Verizon, International
Size: 140 x 114 x 76 mm`

Reasons to buy

+
Dual antenna design
+
5 Year warranty
+
Long range night vision (45m / 150ft)

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive
-
Lower resolution than competitors

We know many of you love to buy American. And, if you have the budget, Reconyx provide options suitable for wildlife scouting, if not high-resolution photography. 

The HF2XC “Hyperfire 2” certainly has a cool name, and we certainly appreciate the ability to use SD cards up to 512GB and survive a year on lithium batteries. It also has to be said that Reconyx know the hunting market, with dedicated software to help organize collected data called Buckview Advanced for Windows). Whether it’d be better to buy more cheaper cameras and use their apps (or Google Maps and Notes) to track bucks and make a hit list is a decision for you.

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With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook