How we test wireless security cameras
By Ryan Shaw
See how we uncover the best and worst wireless security cameras for video quality and ease of use. Only the very best can be Best Buys.
What makes a Best Buy wireless security camera?
Wireless security cameras can give you peace of mind when you’re not at home, as they can alert you to intruders and let you see what’s going on remotely.
Best Buy wireless security cameras have superior image quality across various resolutions, accurate motion detection that alerts you quickly if something is amiss, and are easy to set up and interact with.
We measure each camera’s recorded footage and check how pin-sharp the video and still images are, plus how accurate the colours are. We also run demanding technical tests to measure how sensitive or not the camera’s motion detection is.
We also look at how easy it is to set up or interact with the camera via the app.
Every wireless security camera we test goes through exactly the same rigorous process, mixing technical and scientific tests with real-world ease-of-use testing. We recreate the conditions of a typical home user and try out all the features, so that each wireless security camera review answers all your questions, including:
- Does the camera take clear video, with good colour accuracy?
- What’s the still image quality like?
- How sensitive is the motion detection?
- How easy is it to set up and use?
- What is the data privacy like?
- Should I buy it?
Read on to find out more about our independent testing, or head straight to the models we recommend by visiting our Best Buy wireless security cameras.
Does the camera take clear video, with good colour accuracy?
As you would expect, video quality is very important for security cameras. We use a panel of experts to judge how good the video quality is in full daylight, artificial light and at night, to see how the camera copes in varying light conditions. We also look for signs of image noise or graininess, and check whether the security camera struggles to hold its focus or keeps changing the brightness level.
We use a panel of experts to judge how good the video quality is in full daylight, artificial light and at night.
We take video of objects and colour charts in the studio to see how accurately the camera captures colour, so that the recorded footage looks correct. We also look to see whether any fine detail is lost when subjects are distant – it’s no good having a camera that has low resolution and renders any footage you’ve captured unusable.
What’s the still image quality like?
Not all wireless security cameras are created equal – the best have the ability to take still images as well as video. Decent cameras will allow you to take one snapshot at a time, while others with more features allow for still images to be created from recorded video.
We test their photographic abilities in a similar way to their video, to identify which ones produce accurate colours without any distortion.
How sensitive is the motion detection?
Motion detection is another important aspect of security cameras – it’s designed to alert you whenever something or someone crosses its path, whether the subject is moving fast or stealthily.
We also assess how well the camera alerts you, either via a mobile app, text message or an email alert. We look at the level of information the alert provides, whether you can view a live stream of the camera, and if it supports push notifications to your phone.
How easy is it to set up and use?
From how convenient the device is to set up, to the ease of using the app and viewing live or past footage, we rate wireless security cameras according to what works well and what doesn’t, so you don’t get stuck with a camera that’s frustrating to use on a day-to-day basis.
We also look at where the video footage is recorded to - whether it’s onto physical media (such as a micro-SD card) or cloud storage – and if there are any ongoing subscription fees or plans.
What is the data privacy like?
We don’t just focus on the simple stuff – we identify which cameras also take your data privacy seriously. Data privacy is very important – we uncover which models transmit your data using secure encryption methods, preventing potential attackers from spying on your network, from those that don’t.
Data privacy is very important. We uncover which models transmit your data using secure encryption methods.
Should I buy it?
Which? tests around 40 wireless security cameras a year and puts each model through a series of meticulous tests. These are designed to be both rigorous and repeatable, so you can trust in the quality of your next security camera.
All our assessments contribute to a total test score, so we can identify the best wireless security cameras as well as the worst, and compare the different models. We focus on video quality, static picture quality, night-time picture quality, field of view, alert functions, ease of use, physical setup, mobile app ease of use and data privacy, and we don’t take price into account. The total score breaks down as follows:
- Overall picture quality - 70%
- Ease of use - 30%
A wireless security camera needs to score 75% or more in our tests to earn a Best Buy recommendation. Models that score 45% or less are labelled a Don’t Buy as a warning to avoid them.
To see in-depth verdicts of all the models we’ve tested, visit our wireless security camera reviews.