Smart doorbells like this provide a dual function; they let you answer your door wherever you are via a phone app (at least as a disembodied voice) and they provide a discrete security camera. Ring, owned by Amazon, is a leading brand with the advantage that they also provide accessories like a Chime (which we tested alongside this doorbell) to save internal wiring, as well as security cameras and devices which will pair with the same phone app.
The Video Doorbell 3 has been superseded by the pricier but similar-looking Video Doorbell 4, and faces a good deal of competition from other Ring products as well as an ever-growing army of competitors. As such it remains the sensible mainstream choice for those looking to take the smart doorbell route without paying the ‘tax’ for cutting edge.
Field of view: 160˚ horizontal
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Dimensions: 128 x 62 x 2.8mm (5 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
Temperature range: -20 to 48˚C (-4 to 118˚F)
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Build and handling
The Video Doorbell 3 (like its near-identical predecessor and successor) is a good looking two-tone design with a gloss black around the camera and a silver plastic faceplate. It’s chunky, to accommodate the battery, and Ring provide one free alternative faceplate in a different tone if you choose. This is done via a digital voucher, so avoiding plastic waste, which is to be applauded. In fact, the packaging in general is impressively efficient (perhaps pleasing Ring’s parent company).
Installing the doorbell involves popping the faceplate off and following the clear instructions. If you need to mount at an angle a wedge is included. You can attach the doorbell to existing low-voltage wiring in the UK or US, or simply charge the battery and install without wires. The battery has a MicroUSB socket built in and a charging cable is included. While the cover is off, you can see Ring’s ring of LEDs which provide animated visual feedback – your home will be able to give visitors a spinning beachball!
Once installed, the app will – assuming you pay the $3.99 / £3.49 monthly subscription – store motion clips. The doorbell can also act as a kind of answering machine, with a choice of messages (including some fun seasonal options).
In general, the Ring Video Doorbell 3 served more reliably than many competitors. It’s clear that time has been spent refining the app and we appreciated that choices were clarified in clear English and their likely effect on the battery life made plain. We also really liked The breadth of features that arguably counterbalance the one weak spot: the main camera.
It’s not a bad camera, handling lighting conditions well, but it is mounted horizontally which means that – unlike, for example, WeMo or Nest’s offerings – the view doesn’t extend as far down to the step as you might hope (or as far up if you’re mounting low). The wide-angle balances this to some extent, and most of the time it isn’t an issue, but it does seem to render the package detection feature somewhat redundant.
Video sample: In glaring sunlight the camera still produces clear video.
A slight irritation is the seemingly entrenched Ring battery design. It’s great that the battery is interchangeable with so many other Ring devices (like the Stick-Up Cam or Spotlight Cam Plus), but MicroUSB does seem a little retro now. Charging is slow and, unless you keep a spare battery, means several hours with your doorbell out of action.
The Doorbell 3’s camera provides good quality video which makes it easy to view visitor’s faces, and the app (as well as decent mic and and speaker) make communication clear. We weren’t concerned about the camera quality (it copes well even when the sun is on it) but the horizontal mount feels a bit outdated. The one thing that can be said for it is that it looks in keeping with other cameras in a multi-camera install.
Some might find the automated replies a little inhuman, but for those who take time answering the door it could be a godsend.
The Ring ecosystem has some nice touches too – we liked the Chime, and the fact it could make different sounds for motion alerts on other cameras as well as being the main doorbell. You can also have one camera (or doorbell) activate others for better coverage. All of this goes some way towards making up for the $100/£80 a year cloud subscription for unlimited Ring devices.
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