What, you ask, might a law-abiding citizen such as yourself want with a spy camera? Well, spy cameras or micro cameras can have loads of non-nefarious functions, and as they come in all sorts of different forms, you don't have to be James Bond to find a use for one. The best spy cameras are tiny, unobtrusive little devices that are nevertheless capable of recording high-quality videos. So, whether for home security or for capturing the antics of little ones and pets when you're not around, a good spy camera can be a great, inexpensive addition to any household.
Spy cameras can be found built into all sorts of unassuming objects, from photo frames to USB chargers, and on this list we've even found micro cameras concealed in glasses and light bulbs! Many others, meanwhile, will simply be so small and slim that you can stash them anywhere, safe in the knowledge that their wide-angle lens will be more than capable of capturing what's going on.
We'll assume no one reading this is working for MI6, but spy cameras have loads of uses in the realm of home security. Accordingly, lots will have useful extra features like night vision or motion detection, meaning they can be left on for longer periods without needing to recharge their batteries. There is definitely some crossover with heavy-duty, all-weather camouflaged trail cameras as well as action cameras, home security cameras and pet cameras, and we'd encourage anyone in this market to also check out these types of cameras to see if they suit your needs.
You also don't need an MI6-sized budget to pick up a spy camera; many are available for extremely reasonable prices, and thanks to their relatively intuitive controls, very few spy cameras require the technical expertise of Q to get recording. Half the time, double-tapping the power button does the trick!
So there's definitely a lot to explore for amateur spymasters, super sleuths, or anyone who just wants a little extra peace of mind around the home. Here are our recommendations for the best spy cameras you can buy in 2020!
The first device in our run-down is the Blink XT2, which might be classed as a spy camera or simply a helpful home security camera device. What’s interesting here is the ability to talk to intruders (or simply parcel delivery folks) using the integral two-way audio system controlled via a Blink app on your smartphone. The fact this camera is powered by two AA batteries (which will last up to two years) means it's wire-free, while it’s also Alexa-compatible, letting you view live streams and arm or disarm the camera itself. Additionally, filmed clips can be stored in the cloud for up to a year with no additional service fees. Full HD video recording is provided during daylight, while at night it cleverly switches to infrared HD night vision. It’s weather-resistant too.
When you think of spy cameras your mind may go to buttonholes, pens and that sort of thing, but something like the Brickhouse Security CAM-PRO Camscura can work great if you just need something to leave around without attracting attention. A black oblong measuring 116mm along its longest edge, the Brickhouse Security CAM-PRO Camscura is a great choice if you're looking to catch some vandals in the act; simply leave it in place and the 90-degree angle of view will capture all the goings-on in 720p video. The battery lasts a decent amount of time too, though be aware that there's no night vision, so it'll need at least some light to capture the action.
The Fredi Mini Hidden Camera may be the size of an after dinner mint or a cheese cracker, but unlike both of those it is clever enough to detect motion, shoot 1080P video, capture images to an optional microSD card or record on a constant loop, and even ‘see’ in the dark. Like many of its ilk, there is the ability to set up an alarm notification to your smartphone, whereby this hidden camera will send images to your email address, so you can monitor how the nanny is getting along with the kids, or how the dog you’ve left home alone is bearing up. That’s not all though, as this miniature wonder features six infrared LEDs and a night vision distance of five metres, so you can leave it monitoring proceedings while you sleep, if desired.
We couldn’t do a round up of ‘spy’ cameras without featuring at least one option that features a lens secreted within a pair of glasses. While there are a lot of pocket money options from brands we’ve never heard of available online, the look tends to be more Austin Powers than Tom Cruise. The Bear Grylls Waterproof Action Camera Glasses sport a specification list that sits head-and-shoulders above the rest, albeit with a price three times that of some ‘no brand’ alternatives. The bonus here is an eyeline point-of-view perspective when recording hands-free full HD video, and because it’s as much an action camera as anything else, we get waterproofing and dustproofing alongside promised 100% UVA protection. An accessory kit including a safely strap with float is helpfully included, for anything your ‘missions’ might throw at you.
No one would suspect that the innocent framed photo of your child / spouse / dog / lens collection (delete as applicable) could possibly house a hidden camera, right? That's the thinking behind this photo frame camera, which can record 960p video for up to four continuous hours thanks to its lithium battery, and uses a motion detector to ensure it's only recording when something is happening. The SD card can accept cards of capacities up to 32GB, so you'll have plenty of room for your footage, and the camera itself is very unobtrusive. Easy to use, able to charge via USB, and also an excuse to get one of your images printed to display in the living room!
Whether you view the Yaoawe Hidden Camera USB charger as a spy camera that happens to also offer a comprehensive charging hub with five available ports for charging five devices, or vice versa, this Wi-Fi enabled solution is certainly a practical option. As well as being able to covertly capture video with sound straight to optional SD card, with the bonus of a relatively wide viewing angle, it also has a built-in motion detector that will sneak a picture of any uninvited guests or snooping spies and alert your smartphone instantly. This spy camera isn't just for catching burglars or unfaithful partners in the act: the manufacturer suggests the desktop device could also be used as a baby- or even pet monitor.
Perhaps the best spy camera innovation on our list is the Sonew Wi-Fi Light Blub Camera. Fitting a lightbulb with a camera possessing a 360-degree field of view may seem like a bright idea to some and a screwy one to others; but a bulb is surely one of the last places you’d expect to find a hidden camera that can record at up to 25fps, which is the case here. There is also a motion detector built in, which will transmit a notification to your phone if, says its manufacturer, an ‘abnormal situation’ occurs in your home. As well as the all-encompassing viewing angle, the camera bulb also features a two-way audio function, so users can remonstrate safely from afar with any possible home invader – and hopefully scare them off before major damage is done.
Resembling a mini droid from Star Wars, what the Kami Indoor Camera lacks in stealth it makes up for in value for money and usability. The chief appeal here is an unobtrusive desktop or bedside surveillance or security unit with a rotating camera that provides 360-degree coverage, with decent video quality and an attractive looking design. It does, however, resemble what it is (a camera), which may be a no-no for fledgling super-spies. Power is provided via a micro USB port near the base, and we were won over by the fact that the camera’s base is also motorised, enabling it to pivot and track any movement it detects. As with most things these days the camera is controllable and set up via a smartphone app, with user-selectable settings to governing behaviour. There are some down-sides here: the camera itself only stores very short six-second clips for up to one week, and additional storage comes via a subscription service that costs extra.
More security and surveillance guides:
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• The best doorbell camera
• Best dash cam
• The best body cameras
• Best thermal imaging cameras
• The best night vision goggles and binoculars
• The best trail cameras for wildlife photography and nature watching
• Best borescopes & inspection cameras