A good spy camera can have all sorts of uses, even for those of you who aren't secret agents. Good spy cameras come in different forms, shapes and sizes, and can be used for home security, as well as keeping an eye on kids and pets when you aren't in the room with them. Spy cameras are generally inexpensive, and some even come disguised as household objects like clocks or glasses, allowing you to be super-unobtrusive.
We've put together this guide to spy cameras to help you pick out the best one for your home. Some are simple small cameras that can be placed somewhere that most people won't notice them, while others are disguised as objects like photo frames or USB chargers. We've even found a camera that's disguised as a light bulb! As you might imagine, there are loads of creative options in this area.
Spy cameras tend to have a wide-angle lens, allowing them to capture as much of a given area as possible. This makes them great for home security. Video quality tends to vary; some will provide basic and functional video, enough for you to see what's going on, while others produce high-quality footage that's good enough for sharing. Which one you choose will of course be dependent on what you plan to use the camera for.
Some spy cameras also offer 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 some crossover between spy cameras and heavy-duty, all-weather camouflaged trail cameras as well as action cameras, home security cameras and pet cameras. If you're interested in spy cameras, we definitely recommend checking out these other types of camera as well in case they suit what you're looking for.
Price is a factor of course, and you don't need a huge budget to get a quality spy camera. We've included options at many different price points on this list, and many of them are also designed to be super easy to use, so don't worry about needing expertise to understand what's going on! Often, getting them to start recording is as simple as double-tapping the power button.
So, lots to get through. Let's get cracking with our recommendations for the best spy cameras you can buy right now in 2020!
The first device in our run-down is the Blink Indoor 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. If you need a fully waterproof version opt for the Blink Outdoor.
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.
The Insta360 Go is an amazingly tiny wearable camera that can easily be used as a spy camera. It's unbelievably light, somehow weighing less than 20g, and can still capture fantastic footage at an impressive frame rate. It comes with a magnetic clip that allows it to be attached to practically any metallic surface, meaning you can stick it up somewhere unobtrusive with a good view of a room or area. While it won't continuously record for a super-long time before needing a charge, the Insta360 Go has many useful time-lapse functions that'll give you a good overview of what's going on, which you can access by wirelessly connecting to the camera with your phone or other Bluetooth-enabled device. The optional Charge Case can be attached to provide you with a little extra battery power to keep on shooting for longer,
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.
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• The best trail cameras for wildlife photography and nature watching
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