Diving into the world of smart home accessories — beyond your usual lineup of smart speakers or displays — is an exciting, costly proposition that can involve modifying your home to accommodate your new gadgets. It's not enough to just buy a bunch of hubs, bulbs, and cameras from your local Best Buy. They have to work together with whatever ecosystem you've found yourself in, even as Matter finally arrives to put an end to our long smart home nightmare.
Ring's Video Doorbell 4 aims to simplify at least one headache that comes with buying these gadgets: installation. Rather than relying on existing wiring alone, Ring offers flexibility — wire it directly into your existing system or switch to the included rechargeable battery for easier placement. In theory, that should open it up to anyone willing to install a video doorbell on the front of their house, but as it is becoming the norm, subscription costs might be enough to limit the audience for this camera.
The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is a great alternative to Nest's latest doorbells for Alexa fans, but it's harder to justify for Assistant users. A lack of Nest Hub support — not to mention a pricey subscription that recently went up in price — might turn off many Android users.
- Video Resolution: 1080p
- Field of View: 160 degrees horizontal, 84 degrees vertical
- Power Source: Wired or battery
- Brand: Ring
- Hub Required: No
- Integrations: Alexa
- Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi
- Voice Compatibility: Alexa
- App Compatibility: Ring, Alexa
- Operating limits: -5°F to 120°F
- Measurements: 5.1 in. x 2.4 in x 1.1 in (128mm x 62mm x 28mm)
- Can be battery-powered or wired
- Excellent image quality
- Customizable face plates
- Big and bulky
- All but requires a paid subscription
- No real Assistant support
Ring Video Doorbell 4: Design, hardware, what's in the box
Nothing about Ring's fourth-gen video doorbell hints it's a new product. Hold it up next to the original model from several years ago, and it's difficult to tell the difference. While there's certainly something to be said for brand recognition — walk down any neighborhood in the US and it's easy to tell which houses have Ring doorbells — I think it's a dated look that could do with some streamlining.
Instead, Ring has kept a sleeker look exclusive to its Pro models, while the standard Video Doorbells maintain a bulky exterior. Being able to swap out the garish two-tone silver look for a free face plate of your choice post-purchase — with dozens of colors to pick from — no doubt helps, but overall, I think it's high time for a new design. Nest's current-gen doorbells have their fair share of problems, but their appearance is far more modern.
The Ring Video Doorbell 4 makes installation easy, no matter how your house or apartment is laid out. If you have an existing doorbell, you'll likely want to go the wired route — it'll stay charged without worrying about taking the battery out. In my case, not only is my current doorbell busted, but the frame of my house wouldn't allow Ring's bulky body to fit in the space anyway.
That's where the removable, rechargeable battery comes in. Thanks to this flexibility, you can drill and install the doorbell anywhere on your residence — like on shutters next to the door, in my case. Once I found a place to fit the camera, installation only took a few minutes. The removable battery cover is secured with a security screw that pairs with a bundled tool to pop the battery out. It's a smart design, though to keep the doorbell charged, you'll want to put that tool in a secure place.
Whether or not you use a wired connection to power your doorbell, the Ring Doorbell 4 does not support continuous monitoring. Instead, you're limited to event recording only, though paid subscribers can activate a snapshot mode that captures photos every three minutes.
Ring estimates six months of battery life on a single charge when using default settings, but that will vary dramatically based on how many events it detects. After just five days in front of my house, my device was down to 90%. It's hard to say exactly the toll that the next few weeks will take on its charge, though I would expect it to fall far short of estimates. Based on current performance, I'll probably have to charge the doorbell once a month.
To my absolute frustration, Ring is still using microUSB on its removable battery packs to charge, requiring you to keep an outdated cable around the house at all times. There's no excuse in 2022 for a product to charge using an older standard like this, even if the company still includes a cable in the box.
Aside from the doorbell itself, you get mounting hardware, the aforementioned charging cable, and the usual set of instructions and documentation. Ring also includes a corner kit for angling the doorbell as necessary.
Ring Video Doorbell 4: App support and setup
Setting up a Ring camera is about as straightforward as you can hope for from any modern smart home device. Once you're armed with an account and the app is installed on your phone, just scan the QR code on the device's body. Ring takes care of the rest from here, connecting to your Wi-Fi network and downloading any pending updates. All told, it takes about five minutes, though this might depend on the speed of your home internet.
The app has a problem found in most modern smart home hubs: an overabundance of options and features. If this is your first Ring product, diving into the app feels overwhelming, without a whole lot of guidance on where to start. Accessing your live view is easy — just tap on the camera from the Dashboard view to be booted into a streamlined video feed. You can tap to go live or scroll through the timeline to view events. This space is also the easiest way to access your camera's preferences, with easy toggles for Ring and motion alerts, motion detection, and warnings.
It's here where you can really get into the nitty-gritty, controlling mode settings, linked devices and Chimes, and customizing motion settings. The motion zones, for example, allow you to customize what space in your front yard is triggering alerts. It helps prevent every vehicle driving past your home from triggering a notification on your device, but only if you take the time to really fine-tune the experience.
If you're an Alexa user, you'll feel right at home. Ring is an Amazon company, which means it works great with all things Echo. The company's smart speaker lineup means you can skip out on picking up an optional Ring Chime, and Echo Show displays are ideal for presenting a live view of your front door without relying on your phone. Ring also syncs with the Alexa app, providing a simplified view without all of the options enabled in the main app. It might be worth switching if you're feeling overwhelmed in the stock application.
If you've invested in Google's smart home ecosystem, you won't find yourself so lucky. Ring does sync with Assistant by using the "talk to Ring" command, though it's fairly limited in scope. You can start recordings, check your device's battery life, and control motion alerts, all with your voice, and while that might sound handy, user reviews speak for themselves: people don't like it. Also, Nest Hub owners are totally out of luck here — you can't use your smart display to see incoming visitors on a larger screen.
Ring Video Doorbell 4: Video quality
At 1080p, the Video Doorbell 4 isn't the highest resolution around — Ring's Video Doorbell Pro 2 boosts it to 1536p — but it's good enough for capturing your front door and the surrounding areas. During the day, I found the video looked great. All of my recordings, from 6 AM to 9 PM, are colorful and saturated, even as the sun rises or sets. Night vision is harder to crack, but Ring has also done a good job here. People walking down my street late at night or a car pulling into my driveway were all shown with detail, even in black and white. Unfortunately, color night vision is nowhere to be found here.
I was particularly impressed with how well the doorbell showed faces at night. I walked up to the camera around midnight, and even when leaning in, Ring was able to drop exposure relatively quickly to show my face. Compared to something like Nest's most recent doorbells, it's a fantastic performance.
With a 160-degree field of view, Ring's camera is wide enough to capture my entire front yard and driveway, which is about all you could ask from a video doorbell. The included wedge makes it easier to position the camera exactly where it's needed, turning the model to the left or right to better capture the space in front of your front door and anything beyond. Although my view is partially obstructed with this current placement, the wedge wouldn't help much anyway — and honestly, I don't think it's necessary. It's great that Ring includes it in the box for anyone who needs it, though.
Ring Video Doorbell 4: Subscriptions and pricing
Subscription pricing has sunk many otherwise-solid smart cameras in the past, leaving the base model useless without ponying up for a premium monthly plan. is the company's offering in this space, and there's no doubt it's controversial. The free plan only supports motion-activated notifications, real-time video, two-way talk, and theft protection. If all you're looking for is a basic smart doorbell for answering the door, you might be able to make the free tier work. However, anyone interested in using the Video Doorbell 4 for home security will need to pull out their wallet.
The Pro plan list keeps going, but this is the gist of it.
Video history, saving and sharing clips, snapshot capture, person alerts, and more are all locked behind a $4 per month plan — a plan previously offered for $3 per month, until a surprise price hike landed in June. As it stands, if you have any interest in the Ring Doorbell 4 acting as a security device, you'll need to sign up for at least Ring Protect Basic. Higher-tier options are also available for as much as $20 per month, and annual payments save you a small amount of cash if you're interested. When you're talking about dropping $220 on a smart doorbell, having to spend additional cash for something as basic as saving videos feels pretty outrageous. Unfortunately, that's the direction all of Ring's competition has moved in as well.
Pretty weird to introduce a price hike a year into a product's lifespan.
Speaking of pricing, Ring recently raised the price on much of its hardware. This Video Doorbell 4, for example, was priced at $200 from its initial launch last spring until a couple of months ago, when the price suddenly jumped up $20. Combined with the price hike for Ring Protect, this camera is suddenly a whole lot more expensive in 2022 than it was a year ago.
Ring Video Doorbell 4: Should you buy it?
At its core, I think the Ring Video Doorbell 4 does its job well. It's a flexible option for anyone with an older house or an apartment where they may not be able to wire into an existing doorbell. It tracks motion events really well — sometimes too well — and video quality is solid, even at night. Ring is a tried and true brand for their doorbells; there's a reason many of my neighbors have their cameras installed by their front doors rather than similar products from Nest or Arlo.
Unfortunately, the lack of robust Assistant support is a major turn-off, and Ring's all-but-forced subscriptions only accentuate it. Paying $40 per year — more if you're paying monthly — is a lot of money just to access basic security options like saving videos. The company has also demonstrated a willingness to bump up subscription prices with little to no advance warning, which could result in an even more expensive product down the line. Considering that many of Ring's rivals (specifically Nest) also force subscriptions onto consumers, there are only so many options if you're looking to avoid paying a monthly fee. Still, some potential buyers might be better off buying a more affordable video doorbell and pairing it with a security camera capable of recording content locally onto an SD card. It might feel a little clumsier, but you'll save money in the long run.
You should buy it if…
- You're in the Alexa ecosystem, particularly with an Echo Show device.
- You don't mind paying a few bucks a month (or more) for a subscription.
- You want the flexibility of a wired or a battery-powered device.
You shouldn't buy it if…
- You own a lot of Assistant-powered gadgets, particularly Nest Hubs.
- You don't want to add another subscription to your ever-growing collection of fees.
- You're looking for a slim and sleek doorbell.
UPDATE: 2022/11/03 17:34 EST BY WILL SATTELBERG
I've continued to use the Ring Video Doorbell 4 over the last four months, effectively replacing my home's (non-functional) doorbell. I got my hands on the free replacement plate that Amazon offers new Ring owners, swapping out the basic silver shell for a green one that better matches my home. It's a nice touch from a design perspective, and I'm glad I did it. I've also allowed my Ring subscription to expire out of exhaustion for subscriptions and to see how the Doorbell works without it.
Let's talk about subscriptions because I suspect it's the most important aspect if you're considering picking up a Ring Doorbell ahead of Black Friday. Here's the short answer: No one wants to receive a gift that keeps them on the hook for monthly payments. This gadget works great as a doorbell without a subscription, but absolutely not as a security camera without a subscription. I can't count how many times I've seen a motion notification a minute or two late, only to open my phone and see no one at my doorstep. If you're quick enough, pre-roll will give you some insight into what Ring spotted, but you better be ready to open that app as soon as the notification chimes.
In fact, if you plan on using the Video Doorbell 4 without a subscription, I'd recommend turning off motion alerts altogether. If it's not your friendly neighborhood postal carrier or a pedestrian who wandered a little too far off the sidewalk, you're probably just getting an alert from yourself. Seriously, I've had to mute alerts every single time I've done any yard work — even simple tasks like mowing the lawn or raking up leaves. And hearing Ring's (extremely annoying) default sound as I'm pulling my car out of the driveway makes me want to tear my hair out.
But as I mentioned, it's a totally adequate doorbell for our video-centric world. Answering the door with two-way audio is great, as is pairing the Doorbell 4 with an Echo Dot to chime whenever someone's at the door.
Otherwise, the Ring Doorbell Video 4 has mostly sat next to my front door without me giving it much thought. I've only had to charge the battery a couple of times so far, although I'm currently due for a charging cycle. Plan on powering it up once every couple of months if you're using it as a doorbell, and once per month if you're using it as a security camera with a subscription. And while the winter weather that Buffalo is known for has yet to roll in — it's been an unseasonably warm fall — Ring's weatherproofing can certainly survive a power washer.
Ultimately, if you aren't planning on using this doorbell with a subscription, it's probably not worth the price. Ring's competition often works just as well as a smart upgrade to your usual doorbell without dropping over $200 on a unit. However, it is a decent security camera if you're comfortable shelling out a few bucks every month.
Q: How does the Ring Video Doorbell 4 compare to the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2?
For $40 more, the Video Doorbell Pro 2 might be a compelling upgrade for anyone looking for a sleeker variation on Ring’s usual design. It’s narrower, shorter, and thinner, which should look less clunky on most homes. It’s wired, though, which means plenty of users won’t be able to hook it up without some electric work. That said, if you already planned to hook up your Video Doorbell 4 with a wired connection, it might be worth it. Improved resolution, color night mode, and a wider degree of motion tracking are all benefits provided by the Pro 2.
Q: How does the Ring Video Doorbell 4 compare to the Nest Doorbell (battery)?
It’s best to think of the latest battery-powered Nest Doorbell as the Google-edition of Ring’s Video Doorbell 4. It’s sleeker, cheaper, works with Assistant and all other Google Home-powered devices, and it supports Wi-Fi 5, something Ring does not. That said, it takes a major drop in resolution, down to 1280x960, and its field of view is narrower. It basically requires a subscription to be used as a security camera, much like Ring’s unit, but at $6 per month, it’s even more expensive. Ultimately, Ring’s Video Doorbell 4 is the better buy for most people, unless they’re truly dependent on Assistant and other Nest devices.