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 (opens in new tab), 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 (assuming coverage extends to your target location). This can be truly game-changing for wildlife and nature photographers as well as huntsmen.
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 cellular trail cameras available today, at a range of budgets.
Best cellular trail cameras in 2022(opens in new tab)
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.(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 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 have adopted a different approach, offering those aspects within their power for no extra charge. You’ll still need to fork out for 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.(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 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.(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 on 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 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 6 850nm LEDs. Placing 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).
While it might not be designed for specifically for wildlife watching, the Arlo Go 2 is a cellular security camera which will certainly spot animals wandering near it. Since it can connect to Arlo’s remote monitoring software (app or web tool) it is easy to view events, and to 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. See our full Arlo Go 2 review (opens in new tab).
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