You may not be a professional spy (yet), but the best spy cameras can be useful in loads of unexpected ways. Whether you're looking for a good tool for home security, or just something to keep an eye on kids and pets with when you're in the other room, the best spy cameras are an inexpensive way to give yourself peace of mind.
Spy cameras can be a lot of fun, too, with some that are disguised as regular objects like alarm clocks, photo frames or even glasses! Others are just simple, unobtrusive cameras that can be placed somewhere out of people's eyelines where they'll go unnoticed. There's a lot of creativity in the world of spy cameras, that's for sure.
Certain features tend to be common to most if not all spy cameras. A wide field of view is pretty much a given, as a good spy camera needs to capture as much of the area as possible. Video quality may be as high as 4K, or it may not even be Full HD; it varies massively depending on the price of the camera. Whether you care about this or not of course depends on what you're planning to do with the footage. If it's just for peace of mind at home, then it's no bother. But if you want a spy camera for more artistic reasons, then you'll want to factor in video quality before buying anything.
There are also useful features that crop on in plenty of spy cameras, such as so offer night vision and motion detection. Some are battery powered, while others need to be plugged in. Many also offer smart connectivity, and can be monitored and controlled via a smartphone.
The world of spy cameras overlaps considerably with other genres of camera, and if you're interested in these models, then we'd suggest also checking out trail cameras as well as action cameras, home security cameras and pet cameras.
We've included spy camera options at many different price points on this list, and many of them are also designed to be super easy to use. This means they're great even for complete novice users who've never so much as held a camera before. In many cases, getting a spy camera 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 2021!
Best spy camera in 2021
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.
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 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!
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.
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. A downside of the design is that the clock hand triggers the recording - which can prove a bit irritating!
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 body cameras
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• The best night vision goggles and binoculars
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