Arlo vs Ring video doorbells: which one is right for you?

Video doorbells from Arlo and Ring give you reassurance by showing you what’s going on outside your front door, even when you’re not there

With so many manufacturers vying for a slice of the home security market, the big question is which company’s products should you trust to monitor who’s knocking at your door?

To help you decide we’re taking a look here at wireless video doorbells from two of the biggest brands on the market, Ring and Arlo.

Ring Video Doorbell 4 and Arlo Video Doorbell on walls outside homesCredit: Ring / Arlo

Ring is the wireless security camera brand owned by Amazon, the online retailer and delivery service.

Given how Jeff Bezos’s company has single-handedly revolutionised the world of online shopping, its 2018 acquisition of Ring now seems like an inspired and entirely logical extension to its business model.

Arlo, meanwhile, is part of Verisure, which claims to be the number one provider of monitored security systems in Europe. Verisure only uses Arlo cameras, which enhances the brand’s experience developing reliable home security solutions.

It’s a real sign of confidence that if you install Arlo products on a DIY basis today, you also can opt to integrate them, as part of a 24/7 monitored Verisure alarm system, at any stage in the future.

They may be competitors but Arlo and Ring take very different approaches when it comes to marketing wireless video doorbells. Arlo offers just a single model – the Wire Free Video Doorbell – while Ring attempts to cover as many bases as it can with a range of seven models (at the time of writing), each designed for slightly different use cases.


Models overview

Arlo’s current range

Price: from £179.99
Video resolution: 1080p
Viewing angle: 180 degrees horizontal and vertical
Power: rechargeable, removable battery (hardwired option)
Battery life: 6 months
Audio: two-way audio
Size: 14.3 x 4.7 x 3.7cm (HxWxD)
Siren: yes
Colours: black, white

Buy the Wire-Free Video Doorbell from Arlo

Ring’s current range

Price: from £59.99
Video resolution: 1080p
Viewing angle: 185 degrees horizontal, 90 degrees vertical
Power: hardwired
Battery life: N/A
Audio: two-way audio with noise cancellation
Size: 10.1 x 4.57 x 2.2cm (HxWxD)
Siren: no
Colours: black, 12 optional interchangeable faceplates

Price: from £219.99
Video resolution: 1536p
Viewing angle: 150 degrees horizontal, 150 degrees vertical
Power: hardwired
Battery life: N/A
Audio: two-way audio with noise cancellation
Size: 11.4 x 4.9 x 2.2cm (HxWxD)
Siren: no
Colours: satin nickel (additional free faceplate via redemption)

Price: from £349.99
Video resolution: 1080p
Viewing angle: 160 degrees horizontal, 90 degrees vertical
Power: PoE (Power over Ethernet)
Battery life: N/A
Audio: two-way audio with noise cancellation
Size: 11.9cm x 6.9 x 5.5cm (HxWxD)
Siren: no
Colours: four faceplates included: satin nickel, pearl white, venetian, satin black

Price: from £179.99
Video resolution: 1080p
Viewing angle: 160 degrees horizontal, 84 degrees vertical
Power: removable, rechargeable battery (hardwiring/solar charging options)
Battery life: 6 to 12 months
Audio: two-way audio
Size: 12.8 x 6.2 x 2.8cm (HxWxD)
Siren: no
Colours: satin nickel (additional free faceplate sent after set-up)

Price: from £159.99
Video resolution: 1080p
Viewing angle: 180 degrees
Power: removable, rechargeable battery (hardwiring/solar charging options)
Battery life: 6 to 12 months
Audio: two-way audio
Size: 12.8 x 6.2 x 2.8cm (HxWxD)
Siren: yes
Colours: satin nickel (additional free faceplate sent after set-up)

Price: from £99.99
Video resolution: 1080p
Viewing angle: 155 degrees horizontal, 55 degrees vertical
Power: fixed rechargeable battery (hardwiring/solar charging options)
Battery life: 6 to 12 months
Audio: two-way audio
Size: 12.6cm x 6.2cm x 2.8cm (HxWxD)
Siren: no
Colours: satin nickel or venetian bronze

Price: from £119.99
Video resolution: 1080p
Viewing angle: 155 degrees horizontal, 55 degrees vertical
Power: removable, rechargeable battery
Battery life: 6 to 12 months
Audio: two-way audio
Size: Mounted indoors: 11.2 x 5.7 x 2.9cm; Mounted outdoors: 9.7 x 4.7 x 1.98cm (HxWxD)
Siren: no
Colours: satin nickel

Buy a Ring Video Doorbell from Amazon

Size and design

Think angle, look and illumination

Arlo’s single doorbell offering is a little longer and more elegant than most of Ring’s rather chunky, if iconic models.

Physically, there’s not much else to differentiate them, the exception being the Ring Video Doorbell Elite which is much bulkier than the others as it’s primarily intended to be neatly recessed into an external wall, a job usually left to pros.

DIY installation is pretty straightforward for all the other doorbells, aided by the fact they come with all the screws and fixings you’ll need, as well as horizontally-angled and flat mounting plates.

The former will get cameras mounted to the side of your door facing at the correct angle to fully capture motion. Additionally, Ring also offers optional wedge kits for several models.

These allow several of their doorbells to be correctly vertically angled if, for instance, you plan on fixing them to external feather-edge type weatherboarding outside your home.

Arlo Video Doorbell fitted to doorframe, in the rainCredit: Arlo
The Arlo Video Doorbell doesn’t come with ‘wedges’ like Ring’s offerings

It’s a commonly encountered issue but, oddly, Arlo doesn’t market an equivalent to Ring’s wedge kits: you’ll have to investigate third-party options from Amazon or Ebay, instead.

Once installed, both Arlo and Ring’s doorbells are pretty hard to miss. Press their buttons and the resulting flashing lightshows leave visitors in no doubt their presence has been registered.

If you get a lot of ‘traffic’ during the evening it’s worth noting that only mains-powered Ring doorbells are illuminated at night — battery-powered ones remain dark, either until you ‘accept’ a motion alert or the doorbell button is pressed.

At night, the Arlo doorbell will start to flash slowly when it detects movement, staying dark until then. Having some supplementary lighting to illuminate the area outside your door will make spotting and using these doorbells much easier.

From an aesthetic point of view, the most significant deciding factor might be that Arlo’s Video Doorbell only comes in black or white/black, there are no other faceplate colour options.

A finger pressing the button on a Ring Video Doorbell 4Credit: Ring
Ring’s distinctive design (such as the Video Doorbell 4 above) is common on streets across Britain

The majority of Ring’s offerings, by comparison, come with a standard satin nickel finish. But, depending on the exact model, you either receive a free, additional alternative colour faceplate (once you’ve set up the doorbell via the Ring app), or can purchase extra ones in various colours.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro and Elite actually come with four different coloured faceplates as standard.

Opt for the Ring Video Doorbell Wired and you can pick from a veritable rainbow of colour options, with 12 optional faceplates available.

Power and battery life

Wired or wireless, that is the question

Arlo’s wireless video doorbell is powered by a rechargeable battery, but it can also be hardwired into your mains (a relatively straightforward process if it’s replacing a traditional AC-powered doorbell).

Battery life is stated as six months, depending on usage, although that’s academic if it’s constantly being trickle-charged via mains hardwiring.

Not surprisingly, Ring’s extensive range of video doorbells offer a far wider variety of power options.

If you’re simply replacing an existing mains-wired doorbell, or can connect to a Ring Plug-In Adapter, the Video Doorbell Wired is the cheapest, most basic option.

If you want a mains-powered model but fancy a more extensive feature set, the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is your step-up.

The rechargeable battery in the Arlo Video DoorbellCredit: Arlo
Arlo’s video doorbell comes with a rechargeable battery, but can also be wired in

If you don’t already have a mains-powered doorbell, or you think installation could be tricky, you’ll probably opt for one of Ring’s four rechargeable battery-powered models: the Video Doorbell (2nd Gen); Video Doorbell 3; Video Doorbell 4 or, if you need a video doorbell that integrates with a door’s peephole, the Door View Cam.

All four offer a notional 6-12 month battery life and are pretty straightforward to install, with means you won’t have to be constantly charging them up.

It’s not a massive pain to remove and recharge Ring batteries, but it’s worth noting there are also optional plug-in power and solar charger options for them. These are available for all of the battery-powered models except the Door View Cam.

Last but not least, if you’ve purchased a recently-built house with ethernet wiring pre-installed to your front door, or are able to plumb in some cable yourself, you may be able to completely dispense with mains wiring and/or batteries.

While the Ring Video Doorbell Elite is an older, admittedly slightly less well-featured model, its major USP is that it uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) to get its juice and route video alerts to your smartphone.

Granted, you’ll need to have a spare mains socket to use the supplied PoE injector, or upgrade your ethernet switch to a PoE-enabled type, but either way, PoE remains one of the neatest, most reliable ways of powering a video doorbell.

Video Doorbell Pro 2 on a wooden door frameCredit: Ring
The Video Doorbell Pro 2 (pictured) is a wired doorbell

Functionality: video doorbell

See, speak, deter

All the video doorbells from these brands deliver a common level of basic functionality. Once purchased and installed they will, for instance, detect motion/doorbell presses – during the day or night – and send an audio or video alert, via wi-fi, to your smartphone.

You can then view who – or what’s – at the door, as well as have a two-way conversation with anybody outside, all accompanied by live video, relayed via your smartphone.

Both brands’ products also have apps for iPhones and iPads (Arlo / Ring), and Android (Arlo / Ring) based-smartphones and tablets, all of which are pretty straightforward to install and use.

Whichever you end up opting for, it’s a fairly simple matter to carry out tasks like adding other members of the household as shared users, and sending Push notifications and alerts to their smartphones.

Differences? There are a few. One nice advantage of Arlo’s doorbell is that it automatically calls your smartphone (via audio or video) when there’s an alert, as opposed to forcing you to first open the app (as Ring does).

Another is that if you’ve spotted someone at your door you’d rather not be there, the Arlo video doorbell is the only one with a built-in siren and light you can trigger to scare them off.

Arlo Video Doorbell with siren activeCredit: Arlo
The Arlo Video Doorbell is the only one with a built-in siren

Life being what it is, it’s not always possible to be near a smartphone to receive alerts but, happily, you can also purchase optional wireless plug-in wireless chimes.

Commonly sold as a package with the doorbells, these will give you audible alerts indoors when somebody presses your doorbell or there’s motion detected on your doorstep. If you live in a large dwelling you can even install and sync up extra chimes to cover the whole house.

Smart home connectivity is something of a given with Ring, namely because it’s owned by Amazon, creator of the popular Alexa platform. And even though Ring (non-natively) supports other integrations, such as Google Home and Apple Homekit, it’s clear when you use its doorbells the main focus is on its own, self-developed smart home system.

And the results are impressive. It’s tremendously easy to configure your Ring video doorbell to deliver alerts via Alexa-enabled speakers, like the Echo and Echo Dot, as well as see live video from your porch via something like an Echo Show.

Arlo’s doorbell also works with the Alexa eco-system, though you have to enable an Arlo Alexa Skill to do it. Additionally, there’s support for Google Home, SmartThings and IFTTT integrations, so it’s fair to say Arlo offers a bit more versatility in that respect.

Of course, it may well be that all you want from your video doorbell are instant alerts on your smartphone, the ability to chat to people while they are at your door and audible alerts from chime(s) in the house.

If so, then all well and good, you don’t need to do anything more than just buy one of these doorbells and however many chimes you need.

Ring's plug-in Ring Chime Pro in a kitchenCredit: Ring
You can buy additional Ring chimes to place around your home

But we’re guessing once you’ve got one and seen what it can do you’ll probably want a little more from your new window onto the outside world.

That’s certainly what the manufacturers are hoping. To satisfy your desires for a richer user experience, they’ve made a host of useful extra features and functionality available but, predictably, you have to pay for an associated subscription storage plan to unlock most of them.

There are alternative video doorbells available on the market which don’t require ongoing subscriptions, so it’s worth shopping around if Arlo or Ring aren’t quite what you’re looking for.

Functionality: security camera

More than just a doorbell, they keep an eye out for you

Video doorbells are a logical evolution of traditional, weather-resistant security cameras so it’s no surprise that they have inherited a lot of the same features. That’s not to say, however, that they’re all exactly the same. Far from it.

Arlo, for instance, makes much of the fact that its wireless video doorbell offers a wider ‘square’ viewing angle than most competitors, being 180 degrees in both vertical and horizontal planes.

In practice, this means you’ll see more detail of the person at your door, including any packages that may have been left on the ground.

Hand holding a smartphone with the Arlo app on screenCredit: Arlo
Keep an eye out for packages, and send quick responses with the Arlo app

By contrast, Ring doorbells deliver ‘landscape’ type 16:9 images, the exact viewing angles varying according by model. The brand counters with some clever abilities on certain models, such as Package detection alerts on the Video Doorbell 2nd Gen and Video Doorbell Pro 2.

The downside is you’ll eventually need a paid subscription to take advantage of them.

Night vision is another common feature to all these doorbells, as is HDR (High Dynamic Range).  The latter is essentially a software enhancement that boosts detail in both highlights and shadows.

The Arlo has it programmed as a default setting, while it can be manually enabled on the Ring Video Doorbell 3, Doorbell 4 and Door View Cam.

Pre-roll video, available in colour on the Ring Video Doorbell 4, gives you the chance to view up to four seconds of video prior to when an alert was triggered.

Arlo offers the same capability – it dubs the feature Foresight – but you’ll need, wait for it, an active subscription, as well as your doorbell wired up to the mains, to access it.

Motion notification from the Ring app on a smartphoneCredit: Ring
Mobile notifications keep you informed with what’s happening at home

Pricing and subscriptions

It’s not just about the upfront cost

With Arlo’s only current wireless video doorbell costing £179.99 and Ring doorbell prices ranging for £59.99 to £349.99, there’s undoubtedly a massive range of choice on offer.

All of the doorbells from both manufacturers can record and save video in 1080p HD resolution, but it’s worth noting that none of them contain any built-in memory.

Instead, both brands primarily rely on cloud-based servers to store footage, though with the Arlo doorbell, at least, you have the option of saving video alerts locally on (extra cost) Smart Hubs equipped with either SD card or USB memory storage.

Otherwise, the only way for video doorbell owners to access cloud-stored recordings is via the respective app on their smartphones.

Finger pushing button on Ring Video Doorbell WiredCredit: Ring
The Ring Video Doorbell Wired is the cheapest of the bunch

The only way of seeing that footage – once the respective trial periods are over – is to sign up for a paid subscription: that’s your passport to storage, replay and sharing of audio/video content.

Without that in place, regardless of which brand’s doorbell you’ve bought, you’ll only get free motion alerts, a ‘live’ look at who (or what) is outside the door, plus the ability to have a two-way conversation with visitors.

Both brands also let you give preset Quick Replies to visitors and record quick messages from visitors, a bit like an answerphone.

The good news is that subscribing may not cost you as much as you think. When you purchase a Ring doorbell, for example, you automatically get a free 30-day trial to its Protect Basic service when you first set up your doorbell.

Once the 30 days are up, it costs £3.49 a month / £34.99 a year to continue the subscription. Not extortionate, by any means.

The benefits of taking out a Ring subscription include: up to 180 days video storage; Person (as opposed to just motion) alerts and ‘richer’ notifications (i.e. photo previews that don’t require you to open the Ring app to view).

You even get the ability to take snapshots of the area outside your door throughout the day, regardless of whether or not you have had any visitors.

Video playback in the Ring AppCredit: Ring
You’ll need a subscription to access all the features in the Ring app

Arlo is more generous than Ring in that it gives new doorbell owners a 90-day trial to its ‘Secure’ subscription (up to 2K video quality, cloud storage for 30 days).

Once the Arlo trial period is over, you’ll pay £2.79 a month to access your doorbell’s footage when it’s stored on their cloud servers.

Extra features that the Arlo subscription unlocks include the ability to have specific Person, Vehicle, Animal and Package alerts sent to you from your doorbell (as opposed to just general motion alerts), which can be useful if you only want to be alerted to particular types of activity.

Be warned though, ‘tailored’ video alerts, from whatever brand of video doorbell, inevitably take more time to process and can slow the initial arrival of alerts.

As with Ring’s offerings, you’ll need to pay for more expensive Arlo subscription plans if you decide you want to start investing further in the brand’s other security cameras and products.

Which is right for you?

Choose what works for you

As you will have gathered by now, there are quite a few factors you’ll need to consider before investing in one of these video doorbells.

Firstly, and most obviously, you’ll need to think about whether you are going to need a wireless battery-powered or hard-wired mains-powered system. To an extent, that decision will be determined by whether you already have a wired doorbell, or if you can physically get new mains wiring outside to the intended location of the doorbell.

If you can’t do the latter then a battery-powered model is likely to be the easiest option to install. The good news is that both Arlo and Ring will serve you equally well in that regard.

Finger pushing button on the Ring Video Doorbell 3Credit: Ring
Ring offers a wide selection of models, both wired and wireless

Secondly, you’ll need to consider what features and integrations you’re going to want.  Inevitably, unless your needs are very basic, this will mean thinking about subscriptions as that’s the main way you’ll be able to store, replay and share the content of video alerts.

Thirdly, you’ll to ask yourself if you intend to purchase other security cameras from either Arlo and Ring. While you can certainly use products from the two brands in the same house, you’ll inevitably end up accessing them via different apps and paying for multiple subscriptions.

It can all get very messy, very expensive, very quickly. We’d recommend you to stick with one brand/eco-system for all your security monitoring needs.

Arlo Video DoorbellCredit: Arlo
Arlo has the backing of security brand Verisure, opening up a bigger ecosystem for the future

If you currently own a few Alexa-enabled products, we’d suggest that Ring’s video doorbell offerings are your default best buy. The advantage of being able to conveniently receive alerts via a number of devices already dotted around the home can’t be overestimated.

Ditto Ring’s remarkably simple set-up process, wide range of installation accessories and slick smartphone apps.

If you aren’t already invested in the Ring eco-system, however, the wider viewing angle of the Arlo video doorbell, its built-in alarm siren, superior aesthetics and direct-to-smartphone alerts are compelling benefits that warrant serious consideration. Especially, if you’re contemplating upgrading to a fully monitored alarm system down the line.

Kulwinder Singh Rai

Written by Kulwinder Singh Rai


Kulwinder Singh Rai is a contributor to Saga Exceptional. Kulwinder has been a journalist, editor and public relations consultant for more than 30 years, specialising in technology, home entertainment and cars. During those decades he’s tested, benchmarked and written about hundreds of products for both media and manufacturers, sifting out the wheat from the chaff.

At the tail end of the last century he was there for the birth of home cinema, the arrival and transformation of the first PDAs into smartphones, as well as the invention of the digital camera. Over the years, he’s written for the likes of The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and the London Evening Standard, as well as countless technology and motoring media.

When he’s not scribbling about tech or testing the latest gear, Kulwinder can usually be found immersed in the latest sci-fi blockbuster, inevitably being played far too loudly via his Dolby Atmos home cinema system, or out for a relaxing walk with his ever-faithful companion, Barney the Poochon.