The best cellular trail cameras enable you to monitor wildlife at a distance, via your smartphone. Also known as camera traps, you can place these small cameras in a natural environment and they'll capture animals as they pass.
Cellular trail cameras help you to see animals behaving naturally, and get photos of shy wildlife that would otherwise be scared off. If you're a wildlife photographer trying to determine whether it's worthwhile setting up your full cameras for wildlife (opens in new tab), scouting locations first with a trail camera is a great idea.
The best cellular trail cameras are similar to the best trail cameras (opens in new tab), which allow you to pop in a SIM card. But rather than having to wait until you fetch the camera to see the images, you can upload them immediately to a cellular network. This can be truly game-changing for wildlife and nature photographers as well as huntsmen.
Some cameras come bundled with a SIM and a no-contract plan, so you don't have to stick with your regular phone network. Most, though, will require some kind of monthly financial commitment if you want to access images remotely.
Below, we list the best cellular trail cameras available today, at a range of budgets. And we'll give you all the information you need to choose the right one.
Best cellular trail cameras in 2023
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The Spypoint 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 for 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 a 2-inch view screen. You can add an SD card up to 32GB, although note that this is not included.(opens in new tab)
This system combines Spypoint’s most popular features: solar charging of an internal lithium battery plus cellular connectivity (and you can also add normal AA batteries where the sun can’t help you). The camera isn’t short of functions too, the system can stamp photos with date, time, temperature, and the lunar phase which makes for fascinating reviewing.
Time-lapse and multi-shot are also on offer and the 42-LED infrared night light has an effective range of about 30m/100ft, so anything within the camera’s detection range is suitably lit. The two-inch color LCD and menu-driven controls are adequate for setup, even in cold conditions.
We also appreciated that the system sent decent-quality images, allowing us to choose which to download in full resolution via the Spypoint app.
The Spypoint Link-Micro-S-LTE makes it easy to transmit photos of wildlife straight to your smartphone, moments being captured. The battery is long-lasting thanks to the solar panel, making it an independent trail camera you can leave alone for days while still enjoying the images it captures. You can also retrieve higher-resolution images from the camera’s memory card later.
With a 0.4-second trigger speed and 80-foot detection and flash range, this cellular trail camera offers good value for money. Like the Spypoint Link Micro LTE (number 6 on our list), the only major downside is that it doesn't capture video clips.
For more details, see read our full Spypoint Link-Micro-S-LTE review(opens in new tab)
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 cellular 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 (opens in new tab) is also worth considering.
If you’re planning on running a cellular trail camera, you normally need to be prepared to pay extra for image storage (a cloud service) and, of course, for the cellular data account. Moultrie has adopted a different approach, offering those aspects within their power for no extra charge. You’ll still need to fork out cellular coverage, but cloud storage and species recognition are bundled with the very reasonably priced camera.
With 24 megapixels and an adequate trigger speed of 0.7-sec, there is no real compromise on the core specifications either; HD video with audio is also recorded. Admittedly there isn’t a solar panel in the box, like the Spypoint Link Micro (another fine budget choice), but a solar accessory is available.(opens in new tab)
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, and note that like the Spypoint Link-Micro-S-LTE (number 4) you can't record video.(opens in new tab)
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 make 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 that 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.(opens in new tab)
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
The DS4K isn’t the cheapest trail camera, but it doesn’t disappoint in features either. Many cellular cameras take the view that 4K video is difficult to transmit by 4G/LTE connections, so the feature is left out entirely. Here the camera can still record them locally even if it only sends 1080P or a sample GIF via its cellular connection. Previews can be seen in the Command Pro app, and images are stamped with time, date, and moon data.
Setup isn’t a painful process either; all that is required is a QR code scan and the following steps. The camera’s stills (there are two 16-megapixel sensors for different light conditions) can be caught in a burst of 9 images per triggering, and the device houses six 850nm LEDs. Placing it in a location for any length of time will need lithium batteries, and it’s worth remembering that the reliable sensing zone is closer to 60ft /20m).
It's not specifically designed for wildlife watching, but the Arlo Go 2 is a cellular security camera that will certainly spot animals wandering near it. It can connect to Arlo’s remote monitoring software (app or web tool) and is easy to view events and initiate two-way talk. Settings can also be changed remotely, for example switching from black and white night vision to illuminating subjects with its floodlight. The battery life is lower than most of the dedicated cameras, though it can be charged via a magnetic connector from below and a solar adaptor is available.
As we said, this might not a trail camera as such, but if your trail and your hunter’s cabin need remote monitoring for security as well as animals, then there is much to be said for this approach.
For more details, read our full Arlo Go 2 review
If you want to spot wildlife, you might also like the best binoculars (opens in new tab), the best portable hides for wildlife photography (opens in new tab) and the best night vision goggles (opens in new tab). These are the best spotting scopes (opens in new tab) and the best monoculars (opens in new tab).