SimpliSafe Cameras Review 2021
We think of SimpliSafe cameras as more like a bonus than a core feature. The SimpliSafe home security system is one of our favorite DIY options, but SimpliSafe cameras? They’re just a nice extra if you want to keep an eye on your living room or your porch.
The two cameras SimpliSafe offers are the SimpliCam indoor camera and the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro. Both are decent, affordable models. You could find better versions of both an indoor camera and a doorbell camera from several other brands, but other brands won’t work as smoothly with your SimpliSafe alarm system.
|Model||Image||Price||Video resolution||Learn more|
|SimpliCam Indoor Camera||$99.00||1080p HD||View Plans|
|SimpliSafe Doorbell Camera Pro||$169.00||1080p HD||View Plans|
Data effective as of 06/16/21. Offers subject to change.
SimpliSafe frequently offers free cameras
How SimpliSafe Cameras Work
SimpliSafe cameras take motion-activated recordings and work with SimpliSafe security sensors.
Just like all SimpliSafe devices, SimpliSafe cameras are built for budgeters. The SimpliCam indoor camera costs a mere $99, and the Video Doorbell Pro is still decently priced at $169. Plus, both these cameras are easy to install yourself. The indoor camera uses a single power cord, and the doorbell camera uses your existing doorbell wiring.
Neither of SimpliSafe’s cameras blows us away from a tech perspective, but if you want cameras that put the “simple” in “SimpliSafe” and that work with the rest of your security system, then you could do worse.
SimpliSafe cameras work as standalone devices
A lot of home security companies require you to install a full system and subscribe to a pricey monitoring plan before they’ll support cameras. But SimpliSafe offers both of its security cameras as standalone devices.
You can buy either the indoor camera or the doorbell camera and use it all on its own without a single other sensor in place. SimpliSafe gives you motion-activated alerts for free, but we recommend subscribing to the video support plan. It starts at $4.99 per month and gives you 30 days’ worth of cloud storage.
|# of cameras||1 camera||Up to 10 cameras|
|Cloud storage||30 days||30 days|
|Learn more||View Plan||View Plans|
Data effective as of 06/16/21. Offers subject to change.
SimpliSafe cameras use cloud storage (only)
Neither of SimpliSafe’s cameras have a local storage option. You can either get motion-triggered notifications for free or pay the fee for 30 days’ worth of cloud storage. If you want a camera that lets you store footage on a USB drive or microSD card, we recommend something like the Wyze Pan Cam or the Eufy Video Doorbell.
SimpliSafe cameras use event-based recording
Both the SimpliCam and the Video Doorbell Pro record short clips of video when they sense motion and then store that footage in the cloud (as long as you have a video recording plan). This type of recording is called event-based video recording.
On the flip side, some cameras offer continuous video recording that keeps the camera going 24/7 and gives you a complete timeline of footage you can look through.
Most people don’t need their cameras to record 24/7, but if you’re a business owner or you just want an ongoing recording of your backyard, then heads up that SimpliSafe cameras don’t have that feature. Try the Nest Cam IQ Indoor or the Arlo Q instead.
SimpliSafe offers video verification
With video verification, SimpliSafe monitoring reps can temporarily access your SimpliCam or Video Doorbell Pro to see if there really is an intruder in your house.
You need a full-on SimpliSafe security system to use this feature, but it’s pretty cool. Video verification helps prevent false alarms, like when your children leave the door open just a little bit and set off the sensor.
When your alarm system goes off, the camera starts recording and sends the footage to SimpliSafe’s monitoring center. That way, they can see if there’s really someone suspicious or if it’s just an errant kid.
If the idea of some monitoring center rep seeing your camera footage freaks you out, no worries. Video verification is optional—you can turn it off.
SimpliSafe SimpliCam features
The SimpliCam doesn’t have any “wow” features, but we like the privacy shutter.
The SimpliCam is a basic little indoor camera. It has decent resolution, a good field of view, and standard features like two-way audio and night vision. It’s not bad for its $99 price tag, but there’s nothing about it that makes us say “wow.” It can keep an eye on your house and send notifications when it detects motion, but that’s about it.
SimpliSafe SimpliCam features:
- 1080p HD resolution
- 120º field of view
- Night vision
- Two-way audio
- Motion detection
- Person detection
- Privacy shutter
- 14°–104° F operating temperature
- Outdoor adapter kit available
- Free motion alerts
- 3-year limited warranty
You can view the SimpliCam’s livestream through the SimpliSafe app on your phone or through a web browser. The live view shows you what’s happening at any given moment. Aside from a few seconds of lag time, you have a real-time view.
The livestream is great if you want to check on pets throughout the day or keep an eye on your kids when they’re home with the babysitter. But remember that if you want the camera to store motion-activated clips, then you have to subscribe to the camera plan.
Indoor security cameras can feel a little disturbing. How do you know it’s not watching you when you sneak into the kitchen at 2 a.m. to eat the last of that leftover cake?
For peace of mind about your secret nighttime snacking (and whatever else), SimpliCam comes with a privacy shutter. Not a lot of indoor cameras have this—it’s a visible metal shutter that closes around the camera lens so you can see at a glance that it’s not watching you. Feast away.
Outdoor adapter kit
SimpliSafe doesn’t have a proper outdoor security camera, but it does sell an adapter kit that lets you outfit the SimpliCam to use like an outdoor camera. It’s really just a silicone cover that helps keep out water and dust. It also comes with a longer power cord.
The kit does expand the SimpliCam’s operating temperature range a bit: from 14°–104° F to -4°–114° F. But we don’t expect it to be the most reliable weatherproof camera around.
How to install the SimpliCam
The SimpliCam links to your Wi-Fi network wirelessly, so all you really have to worry about is the power cord.
SimpliCam installation steps:
- Once you have everything unboxed, insert the micro-USB cord into the back of the SimpliCam. Plug the other end of the cord into a power outlet.
- Slide the SimpliCam body onto the base (unless you plan to mount it directly onto a wall).
- If you don’t already have it, download the SimpliSafe app on your phone and log in with the email address and password you used when you bought the camera. Open the menu and choose Cameras, then tap the Install Camera button.
- The app will guide you through the process of naming your camera and adding it to your Wi-Fi network.
Once you have the SimpliCam set up, you can adjust settings in the SimpliSafe app.
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro features
For the price, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro could use better smart alerts.
The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro has a lot of the same features as the SimpliCam, including high-definition resolution and person detection.
As video doorbells go, it’s not the smartest model we’ve seen. (We gotta give that honor to the Nest Hello.) And there are doorbell cams with better smart features that come at a similar price, like the Arlo Video Doorbell or the Ring Video Doorbell.
For $169, SimpliSafe’s Video Doorbell Pro is decent but not amazing.
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro features:
- 1080p HD resolution with HDR
- 162º field of view
- Night vision
- Two-way audio
- Motion detection
- Person detection
- Built-in chime
- Adjustable activity zones
- Free motion alerts
Like the SimpliCam, the best thing about the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro is that it works with your SimpliSafe security system. If you don’t have a SimpliSafe system and just want a standalone doorbell camera, then we’d skip this one.
Adjustable activity zones
The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro gives you adjustable activity zones, which is great. You gotta choose a doorbell camera that lets you adjust activity zones. If you can’t, then you’re going to get dozens of notifications every day about cars driving down your street.
SimpliSafe doesn’t have the best adjustable activity zones we’ve seen. A lot of doorbell cameras let you draw which areas you want the camera to watch. SimpliSafe gives you a grid view and lets you block out tiles over areas you don’t want the camera to pay attention to. It’s not quite as fancy as the alternative, but it gets the job done.
If you want to get even fewer spammy push notifications, then you can turn on person-only alerts for the Video Doorbell Pro. This way, the doorbell will only notify you when it spots an actual human.
Person-only alerts are great if you’re tired of getting notified every time a cat walks through your yard or a tree branch waves in the wind.
How to install the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro
The Video Doorbell Pro is a bit trickier to install than the SimpliCam. This cam uses your existing doorbell connection, so you’re going to get to know some electrical wiring for this one.
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro installation steps:
- Turn off the breaker to your doorbell’s electrical wiring. (This step is very important unless electrocution sounds like a good time to you.)
- Take off your current doorbell. You should be able to pry it off with just a screwdriver. You’ll need to carefully remove the wires from the back as you pull the old doorbell away from the wall.
- Thread the wires through the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro’s mounting bracket and screw the mounting bracket into the wall. You’ll want to break out the drill for this bit. (Get it? Bit? Nevermind.)
- Wrap the wires around the screws on the front side of the mounting bracket.
- Slide the Video Doorbell Pro onto the mounting bracket until you hear it click. Screw the little lock screw into the bottom of the doorbell camera to secure it to the bracket.
- Flip the breaker back on and make sure the doorbell chimes when you press the button.
- Download the SimpliSafe app and log in with the email and password you used when you bought the doorbell cam.
- Choose the Install a Camera option and follow the instructions to connect your doorbell cam to your Wi-Fi network and adjust the settings.
If the camera works but your doorbell’s not chiming (or it’s chiming when it shouldn’t), then you might need to get a chime connector from SimpliSafe.
We think they should just include it in the package, but they don’t seem to think enough people need it. (To be fair, you probably won’t.)
Recap: Are SimpliSafe cameras good?
SimpliSafe cameras are middle of the pack: not bad, but not great either.
True to the brand name, SimpliSafe cameras are simple. SimpliSafe only has two cameras, and they both have pretty basic features we expect from any decent security camera. That said, both cameras are relatively affordable, and we think you’ll get your money’s worth.
If you already have (or want to get) a SimpliSafe security system, then both these cameras are nice because they work directly with your security sensors. They also let SimpliSafe use video verification to see what’s going on when your alarm goes off.
SimpliCam indoor camera: The SimpliCam has HD resolution and person detection, but the angle isn’t easy to adjust, and it doesn’t have any smart alerts beyond telling you when it spots a person. We do like the privacy shutter, though.
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Camera Pro: The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Camera Pro uses your existing doorbell connection, and it has a lot of the same features as the SimpliCam. We like that it has adjustable activity zones, but it’s also lacking smart features beyond basic person detection.
Want to learn more about SimpliSafe? Check out some of our other articles:
SimpliSafe cameras FAQ
Does SimpliSafe have outdoor cameras?
Sort of. SimpliSafe doesn’t currently have any dedicated outdoor cameras, but you can buy a silicone cover that lets you use use SimpliSafe’s indoor camera, the SimpliCam, outdoors. It makes the camera reasonably water resistant, and, with the silicone case, the SimpliSafe camera’s operating temperature is -4º to 114º Fahrenheit. (That’s -20º to 45º Celsius.)
If you want an outdoor camera that works with your SimpliSafe system, the SimpliCam can do the job. But don’t try to use it outdoors without the silicone case—it wouldn’t survive the next rainstorm.
Can you use SimpliSafe cameras without monitoring?
Yes, you can use SimpliSafe’s cameras even if you don’t subscribe to a SimpliSafe monitoring plan. You can buy either the SimpliCam or the Video Doorbell Pro by itself and view the livefeed on your phone for free. But you won’t get any motion-activated alerts, and you can’t view past recordings unless you sign up for a camera storage plan.
You don’t need a monitoring subscription to sign up for a camera storage plan. SimpliSafe lets you sign on to a camera-only plan for $4.99 per month. The plan gives you 30 days’ worth of cloud storage and will send alerts when the camera detects motion. If you want more than one camera, you can pay $9.99 per month for a storage plan that covers up to 10 cameras.
How many SimpliSafe cameras can you have?
You can have up to 10 cameras. We say 10 because SimpliSafe’s camera storage plan covers up to 10 cameras for $9.99 per month.
We think 10 is more than enough cameras for the average person, but if you really need more, then you can technically use as many as you want. You won’t be able to view past recordings or get alerts, but you can view the livefeeds of additional cameras for free. Keep in mind that cameras can strain your internet connection. The more cameras you have, the more bandwidth they’ll take up.
Are SimpliSafe’s cameras motion activated?
Yes, both of SimpliSafe’s cameras are motion activated. Both the SimpliCam indoor camera and SimpliSafe’s Video Doorbell Pro have motion activation and person detection, which lets the camera tell the difference between a human being and a car driving down your street. You can adjust the settings for the cameras to alert you about all motion or only people.
Do SimpliSafe’s cameras record all the time?
No, neither of SimpliSafe’s cameras record all the time. SimpliSafe doesn’t currently offer 24/7 continuous recording for either the SimpliCam or the Video Doorbell Pro.
That kind of recording uses up a lot of internet data, and it’s better to get a model that has local storage if you want your security cameras to record all the time. Neither of SimpliSafe’s cameras offer local storage, only cloud storage.
Does SimpliSafe make a wireless camera?
No, SimpliSafe doesn’t currently have any wireless (aka wire-free) cameras. Both the SimpliCam and the Video Doorbell Pro need some sort of power connection to work. SimpliSafe’s SimpliCam uses a regular power cord, and the Video Doorbell Pro hooks into your existing doorbell wiring. If you want a battery-powered camera, we recommend you check out Arlo, Eufy, or Reolink models.
Can you talk through SimpliSafe’s cameras?
Yes, both of SimpliSafe’s cameras have two-way audio. You can talk through the cameras using your phone, and you can hear visitors talk back to you.
You should know that SimpliSafe’s two-way audio works like a walkie talkie. You have to press the microphone button in the SimpliSafe mobile app to talk, and you won’t be able to hear what the other person says until you stop touching the mic button. Most visitors don’t know that that’s how doorbell cameras work, so sometimes conversations are a little awkward. But if you want to use the SimpliCam to talk to your kids or pets while you’re away, it’s a great way to keep an eye (and an ear) on things.
Can you view SimpliSafe cameras on your phone?
Yes, SimpliSafe cameras work with SimpliSafe’s mobile app. You can use the mobile app to pull up the camera’s livefeed and see whatever the camera’s seeing. The mobile app will also notify you when the camera spots motion or when someone rings the doorbell (if you use SimpliSafe’s Video Doorbell Pro).
You can also watch past recordings in the SimpliSafe app. If you subscribe to a camera storage plan, or to SimpliSafe’s Interactive monitoring plan, then you have access to 30 days’ worth of cloud storage in the mobile app.
Which is better, Ring cameras or SimpliSafe?
It depends on what you want. Ring has a bigger camera selection and a lot more power source options. You can get Ring cameras (and video doorbells) that run off batteries, power cords, or solar panels. Ring also has more advanced camera features than SimpliSafe, including more adjustable motion zones and smarter alerts.
But Ring cameras won’t work with your SimpliSafe security system, and it’s nice to be able to use one mobile app for both. If you use Ring cameras but have a SimpliSafe alarm system, then you’re going to be stuck using two apps to monitor your house.
Is your house ready for SimpliSafe cameras?
Even basic security cameras can impact your internet connection. If you already have some slowness or bandwidth issues, then you might want to upgrade your internet plan before you add cameras into the mix.
Here are some of our favorite internet plans to support home security systems and cameras.