Wemo Smart Video Doorbell review: Ding-dong, this HomeKit cam shows who’s there
at a glance
Quick and easy installation
Fully HomeKit compatible
Wide field of view
Compatible only within the Apple ecosystem
Depends low-voltage wiring (no battery option)
HomeKit fans don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to video doorbells; Fortunately, Belkin’s Wemo Smart Video Doorbell is an excellent first effort.
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Homeowners who are deep into Apple’s HomeKit smart home ecosystem don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to video doorbells. Belkin’s Wemo Smart Video Doorbell is just the third product in its class. While its $250 price tag is $50 higher than the Logitech Circle Doorbell, it’s $50 lower than the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell.
Like its competitors in the HomeKit space, the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell depends on low-voltage wiring, so it’s best suited as a replacement for an existing wired doorbell and chime box. If you have the wiring but no chime, you’ll only hear visitor notifications on your iPhone and other Apple devices. (You can read our HomeKit introduction if you’re not familiar with the platform.) Designed exclusively for HomeKit, you must have an iPhone 7 or later—it’s not compatible with Android phones. You’ll also want to have a HomeKit hub installed on your network. That can be a HomePod, a HomePod mini, an Apple TV, or an iPad.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best video doorbells, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
The video doorbell connects to your home network via Wi-Fi—both 2.4- and 5GHz networks are supported—and everything can be seen on the Apple Home app.
Measuring 4.9 x 1.7 x 1.4 inches (HxWxD), the Wemo doorbell is similar in size but thicker than both the Logitech and the Netatmo products, both of which are 1.1 inches deep. This means the doorbell sticks out from the wall it’s mounted on. Happily, the Black and dull silver device has a very high IP65 weatherization rating that should stand up to rain, snow and dust storms (we have in-depth explanations of IP codes at the preceding link). Three LEDs and a horizontal light bar show the unit’s status. The blue light and white bar show it’s on and active.
Able to work with a variety of existing mechanical chimes that run on between 16- and 24 volts, it mated well with my 20-volt model. It gave me the option of continuing to use the existing mechanical chime or bypass it so that it only registers on the app. This doorbell won’t work with a digital door chime.
It comes ready for installation with a mounting bracket, power converter, screws, mounting anchors and even a T6 Torx driver and drill bit. You’ll need to supply your own drill and a small Phillips-head screwdriver.
Inside the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell
The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell squeezes a lot into its black and gray case. It has the camera lens at the top and the doorbell button below. Rather than a tight view of who’s at your door, the Wemo doorbell has a very wide 223-degree diagonal field of view, which shows more than the 140- and 160-degree diagonal views of the Logitech and Netatmo devices respectively. The doorbell’s camera captures video in 1,200 by 1,600 resolution, and it has excellent infrared night vision.
The camera supports Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video technology. That means your video recordings are uploaded to your Apple iCloud account with end-to-end encryption. Since video analysis cannot be performed on encrypted video, face recognition is performed locally, on your HomeKit hub.
Setting up the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell
The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell is extremely easy to install and comes with a detailed booklet that provides step-by-step instructions. I started by turning off the power to my existing doorbell and removing it. I then screwed the included small power converter into my existing chime’s terminals and attached the doorbell’s mounting bracket to the wall. With the plate in place, I connected the doorbell’s two wires to the bracket’s contacts.
I wanted the camera to point straight out, so I snapped it on to the plate directly and screwed the T6 Torx screw in place to close it up; be careful, it is very easy to lose this tiny bolt. If I wanted the camera to point left or right, I could have used the included wedge-shaped spacer.
With the power back on, the LED and lightbar glowed blue, showing it was ready to connect to my iPhone 12. I used the doorbell’s NFC abilities to connect with the Apple Home app on my phone. Alternatively, it can be configured manually using the HomeKit Setup Code that’s thoughtfully printed on stickers underneath the doorbell camera as well as in the installation booklet. All told, a five-minute set up.
Using the Apple Home app
The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell doesn’t have its own app, relying instead on Apple’s Home software. At any time, I could watch a stream of what’s going on in my doorway (such as when waiting for someone to arrive), watch recorded clips (to check on a missing delivery), and even zoom in on any action by pinching the screen .
The Home app integrates all your Home Kit products in one convenient place. For instance, it can link with a HomePod Mini to act as a chime as well as an Apple TV to see who’s at the door. More to the point, the Smart Video Doorbell works with items like the Level Lock or Yale Assure Lock SL to open the door for a guest or turn a compatible exterior light on. There are customization options that range from turning the chime on or off to setting notifications.
Wemo Smart Video Doorbell in the real world
Over the course of two weeks of daily use, the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell performed well under difficult circumstances, including rain, snow, ice, and temperatures that dropped to single digits. With a camera that provides plenty of facial detail, visitors can be as far as four or five feet from the camera and remain recognizable. Because of its wide view, at the extremes the view suffers from barrel distortion that makes straight lines look rounded.
The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell is an excellent product if you’re all in on HomeKit, but it only works with Apple gear and is not compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Samsung SmartThings. As a HomeKit device, it’s every bit as good as the Logitech Circle View Doorbell, and it’s less expensive than Netatmo’s product (which has some features—such as onboard video storage—that neither Belkin’s nor Logitech’s product have). You won’t get the full benefit of this product unless you also have a HomeKit hub. And if you want broader smart home compatibility, consider the best that Ring or Nest have to offer instead.
Brian Nadel is a contributing writer for TechHive and Computerworld and is the former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing & Communications magazine.