The best spy camera needs to be small, unobtrusive and easy to use. While home security cameras can do exactly the same, they're usually more obvious and easy to spot. Spy cameras need to be hard to detect and easy to disguise in discrete places. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a James Bond, you can also get wearable spy cameras for filming on the go.
The best spy cameras are small enough to place in unexpecting places and won't draw attention to themselves. You can even get spy cameras that are disguised as simple household objects such as a clock or lightbulb or as sunglasses if you fancy yourself as a bit of a James Bond.
Other than size and how easy they are to hide there are a few other things you should be looking out for. Firstly, you want the camera to have a wide field of view so It can see as much of its surroundings as possible.
While resolution is really important with most cameras, it doesn't matter so much with spy cameras as you're more interested in the content you're recording rather than the quality of the image. Why bother having to process massive 4K files that take up a lot of space when 720p will more than suffice?
There are certain features that are really handy to have but not imperative such as night vision and motion detection as it means recording will only start when something moves.
"Spy camera" is a pretty broad term, and there's quite a bit of overlap with other types of camera. If you're interested in the cameras on this list, we'd suggest also checking out trail cameras as well as action cameras, home indoor security cameras and pet cameras, as many of these provide similar functionality to a spy camera.
For this guide, we've included spy cameras at a range of different price points, so there should be something for every user.
Best spy camera in 2022
The Fredi Mini Hidden Camera may be the size of an after dinner mint or a small 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.
You could argue the Blink Indoor is more of a home security camera than a spy camera but let's be honest, they do the same things. If you don't need to hide the fact you're 'spying' this camera offers better quality video than some of the smaller, harder-to-see devices. It has a handy feature that gives it the ability to talk to intruders using the integral two-way audio system controlled by the Blink app on your smartphone. It's completely wire-free and powered by two AA batteries which can last up to two years so you don't need to worry about replacing them all the time. Additionally, it's compatible with Alexa so you can view live streams or disable the camera using just your voice. Full HD recording is available during daylight hours but at night it switched to infrared HD night vision so you never miss a second. While it is weather resistant, we recommend the Blink Outdoor camera if you want a fully waterproof version.
One of the best home-security spy cameras, the Arlo Essential Spotlight can be placed pretty much anywhere with its screw-in mount. Unlike many other products in the Arlo range, it doesn't require the Arlo SmartHub in order to work, although you can connect it if you do have one. It's a well-featured spy camera, with motion detection and an effective "vision" range of 300 feet. There's also a spotlight, if you want to use it as an intruder deterrent.
The battery in the Arlo Essential Spotlight can last a good long time (the manufacturers say up to six months) though be aware that it's non-removable. This means you have to take the entire rig down when charging time comes. It's also worth being aware that the Essential Spotlight records only Full HD, not 4K. This probably won't be a deal-breaker for most, but still.
Setting up the camera is an easy process, and once it's connected to your phone via the app you'll be able to control a host of functions, though with the caveat that it's a lot less useful if you don't continue your free trial of the Arlo Smart subscription service.
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, however, 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.
The cheapest camera in the Blink range, the Blink Mini is a solid choice for anyone who wants a simple spy camera that doesn't cost too much. It's easy to set up, and its diminutive dimensions make it easy to put somewhere out of sight. The camera can shoot Full HD video, and comes with a suite of security features, including motion detection and infra-red night vision. Plus there's two-way audio, in case you need to use it to tell off a pet that's getting too close to the snack drawer.
The only real downside to the Blink Mini is that it has no SD slot, and in fact, no internal storage at all. This means that to save footage and images, you're stuck either signing up for a subscription plan to get some cloud storage, or paying the same price as the camera again for the Sync Module 2 hub, which allows you to offload clips to a USB stick or similar device. This is hardly ruinous as the camera is so cheap to begin with, but it's something to factor in before you buy.
A great spy solution for a bookshelf or a bedside table, this LCD clock looks completely innocent in your home. It has a built-in slot for a microSD card, so it can record footage. Additionally, you can get alerts and monitor the room via the smartphone app. With night vision and a 140 degree viewing angle this gives great security coverage at any time of the day. Like many hidden spy cameras, it does have a serious use – while many intruders might spot a Blink or other regular home security camera a mile off, they won't see this one.
A pleasant looking spy solution, that won't look out of place in an office or kitchen. The camera is well hidden, so it is unlikely to be discovered – and the clock works, so it can has an everyday use. The video recording is motion activated - triggering an app on your phone, but also recording footage to an SD card. Clocks are proving a very popular spy camera disguise!
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.
The Kami Indoor Camera somewhat resembles a mini droid from Star Wars but what it lacks in stealth, it makes up for in value for money and usability. It may nit be the most discrete unit but it does provide 360-degree coverage thanks to its rotating camera, it offers full HD recording and it's a pretty smart design. It does however, look like a camera so if you're trying to spy on someone it'll be a bit of a giveaway. It's powered by a micro USB port close to the base which is also motorized so it can pivot and track any movement it detects. Like with so many of the spy cameras on this list, it can be controlled and set up using a smartphone app and the user can select the settings that govern its behavior. The biggest downside to this camera is it only stores six-second clips for up to a week and you'll need to invest in a subscription service for additional storage.
More security and surveillance guides:
• Best indoor security cameras
• Best outdoor security cameras
• The best doorbell camera
• The best dash cam
• The best body cameras
• Best thermal imaging cameras
• The best night vision goggles and binoculars
• The best trail cameras
• Best borescopes & inspection cameras