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The Best Security Cameras That Don’t Require a Subscription

After interviewing security experts on what they look for in security cameras, there was one common answer among all of them: AI. When asked about the most important features in a security camera, Jeff Dickerson, head of sales for Sunflower Labs, an outdoor security company, said “People want to know when a person or vehicle comes onto their property and the more information associated with their alert, the better.” Many security cameras keep their AI features available only through subscription, but there are a few gems that leave most of their feature set unlocked for users that want to forgo the monthly subscription.

Subscriptions are one pesky inconvenience that often deters people from getting or using a home security system. Many home security cameras and video doorbells keep features within their subscription. Even though subscriptions are often relatively cheap — generally $3, $6, or $10 a month — they add up over time and can be annoying enough to keep people from investing in a security camera. 

“I pay $7 per month for a cloud service and I feel that is reasonable. If the price increased more than that, I would consider either another brand or service,” said Reilly Johnson, Senior UX Manager at Becklar, a connected-safety solutions company. Even though Johnson currently pays for a subscription, like Dickerson, he considers the AI and performance to be the most crucial aspect of a security camera’s quality. “Other than resolution, the software/app/AI needs to work, and do so quickly. If the app takes too long to pull live video, then what’s the point?” asked Johnson. 

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If you’re looking for the best security cameras that don’t require a subscription, you’re in luck — not all cameras put their awesome AI tech behind a paywall, and you don’t have to start wading through junky “nobody has ever heard of this brand before” options for quality AI either. “It’s all about the quality of the analytics. We had one security cam that had bad noise detection and even on the lowest settings, one creak in the house and I would get a notification,” said Cameron Richter, Sales Representative for AvantGuard Monitoring Centers. Richter continued, “If the AI isn’t good, the camera won’t be good.”

The Top Security Cameras Without a Subscription: At a Glance

BEST OVERALL

Google Nest Cam (Battery)

Buy Now On Amazon $177.00 Jump to Details
best video doorbell

Google Nest Doorbell

Buy Now On Amazon $152.99 Jump to Details
best night vision

eufy SoloCam E40

Buy Now On Amazon $123.00 Jump to Details
Best Security camera light bulb

Symynelec Security Camera Light Bulb

Buy Now On Amazon $39.99 Jump to Details
best for tracking

eufy Security Solo IndoorCam P24

Buy Now On Amazon $54.99 Jump to Details
value video doorbell

Blink Video Doorbell

Buy Now On Amazon $94.98 Jump to Details
baby monitor pick

Reolink E1 Pro

Buy Now On Amazon $54.99 Jump to Details
honorable mention

Arlo Ultra 2

Buy Now On Amazon $454.39 Jump to Details
also consider

Kasa Smart 2K Security Camera

Buy Now On Amazon $44.99 Jump to Details
Best newcomer

eufy Smart Video Door Lock

Buy Now On Amazon $349.99 Jump to Details

Below are our top picks for the best security cameras without subscriptions. All of these cameras provide great features and video recording — all without a subscription.

John Velasco | SPY
BEST OVERALL

Best For: Anywhere inside or outside your home since it’s battery-powered and can continue to work through power and internet outages.
Full Review: Google Nest Cam (Battery)

Key Specs:

  • 3 free hours of event-based video history
  • 1080p at 30 FPS with HDR video recording
  • Works through internet & power outages

Why We Chose It: Really, it’s one of the very few on this list that can still detect events even when the power’s been cut due to inclement weather.

This camera is packed with features without needing a subscription. It’s smart enough to recognize people, vehicles, and animals, so you know what triggers notifications without looking at the video. You also get three hours of video storage you can access. The video quality is sharp at 1080p, and you can place it virtually anywhere, thanks to its wireless design.

Pros

  • Continues working during power & internet outages
  • 3 hours of free video event history
  • Stores video locally
  • Top-notch AI-assisted detection

Cons

  • Free video backup is limited to the last 3 hours
John Velasco | SPY
runner up

Best For: Travelers on the go who need to set up a security camera anywhere for continuous recording, even when there’s no internet connection.
Read More: eufy vs. Wyze

Key Specs:

  • IP65 weatherproof rating
  • 1080p at 20 FPS with color night vision
  • 130-degree field of view

Why We Chose It: Pop a microSD card into its slot, and you’ll have the option to record locally continuously.

Who would’ve thought this cube-shaped security camera could pack so many features? The Wyze Cam Outdoor is an ideal option for anyone who travels a lot and needs a simple security camera to capture activity, without paying for a subscription to access those saved clips. That’s because users can set it to Travel Mode, allowing them to save clips directly to a microSD card.

Pros

  • Compact size is perfect for vacations
  • Continuous recording via microSD card slot
  • Magnetic base offers firm connection
  • Affordable cost

Cons

  • Weak speaker
John Velasco | SPY
best video doorbell

Best For: Homeowners who love intelligent alerts to know who’s at the front door.
Read More: The Best Video Doorbells To Stop Package Thieves Once and for All

Key Specs:

  • Up to 10 feet of night vision range
  • 145-degree diagonal field of view
  • 960 x 1280 video recording at 30 FPS

Why We Chose It: Yes, you won’t need a subscription to watch saved events in the cloud, but we love that it’s smart enough to discern people from animals.

Even without a subscription, you get three hours of free recording history that you can access anytime. The 3:4 video aspect ratio provides a solid range so you can see more of your front porch, and it has smart AI to recognize people, animals, and vehicles. It can run on battery power or be wired to your existing doorbell, so you don’t have to worry about swapping out batteries frequently.

Pros

  • Simple installation
  • Free 3-hour video event history without a subscription
  • Head-to-toe field of view
  • Works through internet & power outages

Cons

  • Video storage is limited to the last 3 hours
Courtesy of Anker
best night vision

Best For: Capturing events at night because of its crisp night vision performance.
Read More: The eufy Wall Light Cam Is an Ideal 2-in-1 Security Device

Key Specs:

  • 2K video recording
  • 8GB of internal storage stores up to two months of footage
  • Military-grade encryption

Why We Chose It: All footage is stored internally, so nothing is uploaded to the cloud. There is zero subscription required for this security camera.

Considering that this security camera works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, is incredibly easy to install and comes in about $50 cheaper than the Nest Cam Battery, it’s a great choice for your security camera that doesn’t require a subscription.

After reviewing the eufyCam 3, SPY writer Jonathan Knoder says he wouldn’t hesitate to use the eufy SoloCam E40, considering the high quality of eufy video cameras. Beyond the video quality, it holds 60 days’ worth of video footage locally and is smart enough not to alert you when people are near the camera — the neighborhood cat passing by won’t trigger a notification. It’s weatherproof and wireless so that you can place this security camera virtually anywhere in or around your home.

Pros

  • Outstanding night vision performance
  • Zero subscription necessary to save clips
  • Superior battery life

Cons

  • Only 8GB of internal storage
John Velasco | SPY
best video quality

Best For: Capturing all the fine details in a scene.
Read More: The Best Outdoor Security Cameras Protect Your Home 24/7/365

Key Specs:

  • 2K video with HDR
  • 160-degree field of view
  • Requires base station for local storage

Why We Chose It: If video quality is a top priority, you’ll find plenty of fine details captured here with the Arlo Pro 4.

Most cameras can detect subtle motion to trigger them to record, but what also matters is the quality of the video. You won’t find any compromise with the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight, which offers outstanding video performance with its 2K video recording enabled with HDR. Not only does it capture exquisite detail, but it’s also incredibly smart without testing.

While subscribing to Arlo Secure unlocks many of its premium features such as package detection, you can use it without any subscription by using the optional Arlo Pro SmartHub base station that lets you save clips directly to a USB flash drive.

Pros

  • Wide field of view
  • Detailed video quality
  • Good battery life
  • Easy to install anywhere

Cons

  • Needs the Arlo SmartHub to save clips locally
John Velasco | SPY
best budget pick

Best For: Budget users who can still save clips locally to a microSD card for continuous recording.
Review: Wyze Cam V3 Sets a High Bar for All Low-Cost Indoor Cameras

Key Specs:

  • 1080p video with color night vision
  • IP65 water-resistant rating
  • Continuous recording through microSD slot

Why We Chose It: Not only is the Wyze Cam V3 great for indoor and outdoor use, but it’s packed with features at a price that won’t break the bank.

Who would’ve thought this cube-shaped security camera could pack so many features? The Wyze Cam Outdoor is an ideal option for anyone who travels a lot and needs a simple security camera to capture clips — without paying for a subscription to access said clips. That’s because users can set it to Travel Mode, allowing them to save clips directly to a microSD card. SPY Editor John Velasco tested the Wyze Cam 3 and felt like the CMOS sensor was able to capture more light at night, making for outstanding night vision capabilities. 

Pros

  • Ultra-affordable cost
  • MicroSD slots lets you save clips to a microSD card
  • Works indoords and outdoors

Cons

  • 12-second recording limit when saving locally
John Velasco | SPY
Best Security camera light bulb

Best For: People don’t want to spend a lot of time installing security cameras.
Read More: Add Instant Home Security With the Best Security Camera Light Bulbs

Key Specs:

  • 1080p video with 33-feet night vision range
  • 355° Pan, 120° Tilt functions
  • 24/7 video recording with available microSD slot

Why We Chose It: You’ll save yourself time and the hassle of drilling holes and cutouts to install traditional outdoor security cameras.

Honestly, we were skeptical about security camera light bulbs, but after testing a handful of them, we were instant believers. In particular, we loved how easy it was for us to get the Symynelec light bulb security camera up and running.

The only thing you’ll need is to find an available light fixture or socket, indoors or out, and just place it there. While there’s the option for cloud storage with a subscription, you can simply leverage the available microSD card slot to store all of your footage locally. In fact, there’s the option to record video 24/7 as well.

Pros

  • Hidden microSD slot lets you record continuously
  • Simple installation on any existing light socket
  • 360-degree coverage

Cons

  • Software is antiquated
John Velasco | SPY
best for tracking

Best For: Small spaces where you need maximum coverage.
Review: This Is the Camera That Follows Wherever You Go

Key Specs:

  • 360-degree pan and tilt movement
  • 2K video recording
  • It can talk to pets

Why We Chose It: Yes, it has a built-in microSD slot to save clips locally, but we love that it can pan and tilt to track a person.

While it’s only a security camera that pans and tilts for 360-degree articulation, the eufy Security Solo IndoorCam P24 differentiates itself for its ability to track a person automatically. Whenever it detects motion in its field of view, it’ll track the person, so they stay center in the frame. We also love how it can talk to pets when it sees them.

And finally, this indoor security camera doesn’t require a subscription because clips can be stored locally on a microSD card hidden under the camera lens.

Pros

  • Intelligent detection that discerns people and pets
  • 360-degree articulation
  • Local storage via built-in microSD card slot
  • Self-arming with geofencing feature

Cons

  • Dynamic range performance could be better
William Goodman | SPY
value video doorbell

Best For: Small spaces where you need maximum coverage.
Review: The Blink Video Doorbell Is a Strong Ring Competitor

Key Specs:

  • 20-feet night vision range
  • 1080p video recording
  • Clips can be stored on a flash drive via Sync Module 2

Why We Chose It: Yes, it has a built-in microSD slot to save clips locally, but we love that it can pan and tilt to track a person.

We like the Blink Video Doorbell because you get a lot without emptying your wallet. You get out of paying fees for video with a Sync Module 2 — a hub that stores video that you can pull via USB. And SPY writer William Goodman was able to get it out of the box, installed and setup via the Blink app in around 10 minutes, making it an easy add-on even for the least tech-savvy individual. 

The two-way communication is clear and can work wirelessly or be wired to your existing doorbell wires for continuous power. It’s versatile, all without the need for a subscription.

Pros

  • Included Sync Module lets you save clips to a USB flash drive
  • Straightforward installation
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • Softer looking video quality
Courtesy of Amazon
baby monitor pick

Best For: Watching over newborns and toddlers.
Read More: The Best Baby Monitors, Tested and Reviewed by Parents

Key Specs:

  • Pan and tilt function
  • 1080p video recording
  • Built-in microSD slot saves clips locally

Why We Chose It: You’ll have eyes on your newborn because it saves clips locally to a microSD card slot and has a handy four-second pre-roll function.

This indoor security camera can cover a lot of range thanks to its ability to tilt and rotate. It can tilt up to 50 degrees and rotate 355 degrees, covering an entire room. It features two-way communication and has excellent video quality at night. And, it’s affordable to boot.

Pros

  • Great night vision performance
  • Automatically tracks subjects
  • Built-in microSD card save clips
  • 24/7 continuous recording available with NVR

Cons

  • Panning is a bit jittery
Courtesy of Amazon
honorable mention

Best For: Larger homes and spaces that need maximum coverage.
Read More: The Best Home Security Cameras with Color Night Vision

Key Specs:

  • 4K HDR video recording
  • 180-degree field of view
  • Store clips locally to SmartHub

Why We Chose It: With its 180-degree field of view, it makes for a fantastic outdoor security camera that can cover areas from corner to corner — all while saving clips to a hub.

The 4K video quality is impressive on the Arlo Ultra 2. With an integrated spotlight to light up the dark and providing you with crystal-clear video at night, you get remarkable video quality regardless of whether the sun is up or down. “When it comes to resolution, I want the camera to be able to make out the small details,” said Johnson.

You will need to connect to an Arlo SmartHub to get local storage if you want to avoid a subscription. Even without a subscription, the six-month battery life, video quality, and wide angle alone make this an impressive camera.

Pros

  • Edge-to-edge field of few
  • Incredible image details
  • SmartHub lets you save video clips locally without a subscription

Cons

  • Expensive
Courtesy of Amazon
also consider

Best For: Watching over specific areas to help reduce false alerts.
Read More: The Best Places to Install Home Security Cameras

Key Specs:

  • 2K video recording with pan and tilt function
  • Continuous recording via microSD slot
  • 128-bit AES end-to-end encryption on AWS

Why We Chose It: You can create custom motion zones through the app with patrol mode, letting it watch over one area and then another periodically.

When you combine great video quality, the ability to cover a lot of range thanks to 360-degree rotation and 114-degree tilt, and both Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, you have the makings of a solid security camera. What also makes it appealing is it can store video locally, making it a great choice for a security camera without a subscription.

Pros

  • Patrol mode lets you sweep a room
  • 24/7 recording available via microSD slot
  • Customizable activity zones

Cons

  • Buggy software
Courtesy of Amazon

Best For: Having a smart lock and doorbell all in one.
Read More: Keep Your Clips to Yourself With These Local Storage Security Cameras

Key Specs:

  • Video doorbell, camera, and entry system
  • 2K visuals
  • Dual motion detection

Why We Chose It: The eufy Smart Video Door Lock has nearly every feature you could want in one little package and no subscription fee either.

Ultimately, sometimes you just want everything in one single package. It’s rare that you can actually get that, but the eufy Smart Video Door Lock somehow manages it. This device is a smart lock that allows for keyless entry, has a camera on it with dual motion detection, and it’s got a doorbell as well. SPY Reviewer Jonathan Knoder has the eufy Smart Lock Touch & WiFi and considers it to be one of the best smart locks he tested. Given eufy’s affinity for quality security products, it’s basically everything you could want with no subscription. The price is fairly big up front, but you’re getting a good deal if you wanted all of these qualities anyway.

Pros

  • Doubles as a smart lock and video doorbell
  • No monthly fees by saving clips to a SD card on the doorbell chime
  • Weather resistant design

Cons

  • Pricey cost

Best Home Security Camera Deals

What’s more satisfying than saving money by not having to pay for a subscription service for a security camera? Well, getting a good deal on one. We love saving money any way we can, so you’ll find some of the best deals going on right now on home security cameras — including those that don’t require subscriptions. These deals should be valid for the week of May 15, 2023.


SPY Top No-Subscription Security Camera Reviews: About Our Testing Process

Why should you trust us? For starters, our editors and contributors have tested many home security cameras. Our testing and review process for this product category consists of using a particular camera for weeks until we can adequately evaluate its responsiveness, security and privacy features, smart features, and video quality. We tested some of the models below for months before rendering a verdict.

Of course, our subjective experience of using them in a home setting is valuable, but for this particular roundup, we also assessed each camera according to the following criteria:

  • Field of view: The maximum coverage area that the camera can see. Wider is better.
  • Video quality: How well does the footage look when previewed?
  • Offline mode: Can they continue to operate if there are internet outages at home?
  • Local storage: Can video clips captured by the camera be saved locally?
  • Subscription Service: Is there a fee to access video events?
  • Geofencing: The ability of a camera to arm/disarm automatically based on your GPS location.
  • Detection zones: Reduce false alerts by setting up detection zones to monitor specific areas’ motion.
  • Two-way communication: How clear are conversations?
  • Intelligent detection: Can it detect movement based on people, animals, or vehicles?
  • Privacy: Are there any features that specifically relate to privacy in the home?
  • App usability: How easy is it to use the app, view footage, and control settings?

After rating more than 20 home security cameras according to the above criteria, we compared the results and selected only the 13 best models for this review. We tested out a broad range of security cameras that cover all price ranges and makers. You’ll find many notable brands like Google, as well as some others you may not be familiar with, such as Kasa and Reolink. As new security cameras are released, we’ll regularly update this article to ensure it’s always up to date.

Keep scrolling to see some photos taken during our testing process.

Click here to read more about how we test and review products.


The Benefits of Subscriptions

Though we certainly advocate for getting the best deal possible, especially if you don’t need the benefits of a subscription, you may find a security camera with a subscription is more beneficial for you. “Paying subscriptions is the new thing. To me, paying a subscription makes sense for a security camera. As long as that is for cloud storage or professional monitoring,” said Richter. To help you make the best decision, look at our little list of benefits of subscriptions below! And if you find that subscriptions are more your thing, check out our list of the best security cameras.

  • Fees are relatively inexpensive: Think about all of the streaming services you have a subscription for. Virtually all of them are more expensive than $3, yet none of them protect your home.
  • Cloud recording storage: For cameras that don’t have local recording, a subscription to see all of your recordings can be a game-changer, especially if you need to share video with local law enforcement. Cloud recording storage provides access to your camera’s video recordings and can often store video for long periods.
  • Additional features: Some cameras have added notification benefits such as facial recognition or differentiating between people, pets, and vehicles, and have package detection when you pay a fee.
  • Professional monitoring: Some services, such as Ring (which you won’t find below because their cameras are much better with a subscription), provide an option to have your cameras professionally monitored, so if someone were to break into your home and you didn’t have your phone with you, the monitoring service could dispatch help (like the police in this scenario) for you. “I prefer to pay a subscription fee in exchange for the company actively defending my cameras against security breaches,” said Dickerson.