Looking for the best HomeKit camera to create an Apple-centric security set-up? This guide will tell you what to look out for, suggest the best models, and help you find them for the best deal.
HomeKit is Apple’s answer to Alexa or Google Assistant but the approach is distinctly different. Their goal is to provide a single consistent place you can control different brand’s products – the Home app – as opposed to lots of different apps.
Not only is that really helpful in terms of allowing you to mix and match brands (especially in a world where new products arrive all the time), but it saves a lot of screen navigation. It also allows for cool integrations (the living room lights coming on when the garden camera senses motion, for example).
Apple also have a very definite approach to privacy which means to carry the ‘Works with HomeKit’ badge, devices shouldn’t use the cloud if they don’t need to (for example if you’re turning on the light from your couch, a remote server won’t know).
That means the system needs a ‘hub,’ though which devices can communicate. This might be built into a device, for example an Apple TV or HomePod. It also means certain smart tech firms who’s owners do a lot with data (Ring, Nest) have been very slow to adopt the system, but plenty of options are emerging for those in the Apple ecosystem now.
HomeKit Secure Video
It’s important to state that HomeKit Secure Video, a newer feature, is not the same as ‘Works With HomeKit’. The former lets you access cameras and view live video, while the Secure Video service offers iCloud recording services and intelligent features.
Unlike a majority of competitors, which transmit video of your home to remote servers for AI analysis (from which person/animal/car detection takes place), Apple’s approach is to do the analysis on your in-home hub. Video is optionally encrypted and sent to the cloud for storage.
This is done with an existing iCloud account but (generously for a tech firm) doesn’t count against your data limit, instead there is a fixed time limit.
The best HomeKit cameras in 2021
With an IP64 rating the stylish Logitech circle can live inside or out; it won’t spoil the décor in either spot which is appreciated, though outdoors it’ll need to be sheltered under the eve. As well as the HomeKit encryption, privacy is built right into the design in the form of a simple hinge – it’s reassuring to be able to point the camera down at its own stand or press the physical button on the back. We also really appreciated the quality visible in the glass optics which makes this a great choice for a premium environment. The steady refinement of the Apple workflow means setup is painless, too, and in-home analysis can be accessed in the Apple app.
The Aquara makes a nice choice for those relatively new to the HomeKit game, since it provides a built-in Zigbee hub, side-stepping the need to invest in an Apple TV or HomePod Mini to reach certified products. It’s also a pleasingly subtle design so it doesn’t matter that it won’t be in the cupboard with the router, and it has the magnetic base we always appreciate (makes it easy to stick to the fridge). The camera also boasts local storage (MicroSD card)
There are certainly cheaper smart doorbells out there, but there is also much to be said for linking with HomeKit and neither of the big players (Google’s Nest or Amazon’s Ring) are cooperating for their own reasons. The Netamo’s higher price will also likely be offset not only by the good deal you’ll find via our links (sorry, couldn’t resist) but the fact this device stores video clips to an internal MicroSD rather than insisting you fork out for a monthly cloud subscription. We really appreciated the crisp HDR video which makes it easy to see people even in unforgiving light. Apple fans will appreciate that they can use their HomePods as chimes. Overall, as a wired system, this is a great project for a DIY fan.
Eufy is an established brand in the home security world and recent releases have started adding HomeKit compatibility to their range. The tiny C24 is a little indoor camera which won’t have a big impact on the wallet but will immediately add an extra live view into the Home app for Apple users as well as extending the options for dedicated users of the Eufy system. We appreciated the fact the camera didn’t tie customers into a contract, either, however since it doesn’t support Secure Video the detection features or storage will either require a storage card or signing up to Eufy’s cloud service (but not, to be clear, Eufy’s Homebase service, which it won’t work with, not that it’s needed if you have HomeKit).
The Netatmo is an established product, not that you’d know it. It used to be called ‘Presence’ when launched in 2016, though obviously the firmware has changed a bit (support is always a good sign). The elegant aluminum housing will definitely survive a long time outside, even in high levels of UV rays. If you opt for it, it can contains a real 105db siren too – no 2-way chat and re-purposed audio speaker here. Thanks to the system’s ability to distinguish people from animals and cars at up to 20m (65ft), the siren need not be triggered for every movement; this is the way to turn neighbors into friends (your author is sad to report his neighbors have not invested in such a device).]
Eufy’s system already achieves much of what you might hope for from a security system; it has secure on-site storage (a whopping 3TB encrypted at 256-bits), built in human detection, and an app capable of alerting you to live events and setting up detection zones. The idea of installing a complete system with premium cameras in one go – and with the simplicity of wireless cameras – is very tempting though and Eufy achieve it as well as seems possible at the moment. That is to say the tech and app are great, but unless the cameras aren’t activated at all the batteries do tend to need topping up closer to monthly than the 180 days suggested (color night view means activating that LED floodlight, though at least it is optional).
Other useful buying guides:
Best outdoor security cameras in 2021
The best body cameras for personal security