Nest Cam IQ: 6 cutting-edge reasons to buy it… And 1 rather basic reason not to

The new state of the art in wireless security cams, with 4K capture, smart panning, face recognition and a suitably premium price

Nest made its name with a smart thermostat which, arguably, kickstarted the current wave of interest in connected home products. 

Since then, it's largely concentrated on security cameras, with Drop Cam (Nest purchased the brand in 2014), Nest Cam and Nest Cam Outdoor. And now, there's the £299 Nest Cam IQ, shipping in late June in the UK.

This is undoubtedly on the absolute cutting edge of connected home cameras. Should you buy one? Eh… Probably not, given that much cheaper devices give the same key benefit. 

However, feast your eyes on the Cam IQ's list of high-tech attributes and then tell us you aren't at least tempted…

For those not quite sure what sort of camera this is, the Nest Cam IQ is one of a growing breed of web-connected security-focussed video cams. 

It constantly uploads its video feed to the cloud, and thence to your mobile phone. It offers alerts when certain actions occur (people appearing in shot, most particularly), and you can also access the feed manually at any time.

1. It shoots in 4K HDR, sort of

The sensor used is an eight-megapixel, 4K job, lensed to give a 130 degree field of view.

Almost needless to say, given the current state of the world's connectivity, it doesn't stream in 4K to the cloud (for backup) and your phone (for you to check live feeds.) 

Instead, the video is stepped down to 1080p. 

However, having a 4K sensor is not as pointless as it sounds. The higher initial resolution and HDR mean the 1080p footage you see is noticeably crisper. 

It also allows for much more detailed zooming, up to a maximum of 12x, so you can not only see that someone is stealing your laptop from your lounge, you can also identify that it's the guy from the pub who's always smoking the massive vape.

The higher resolution also gives a big potential element of future proofing, for when 5G mobile connectivity comes online, or some other future development makes 4K streaming less burdensome.

2. It recognises people

Yes, we know you can recognise people, but for a smart camera, this is a big deal. 

Where some standard cameras look for movement and alert you, regardless of whether that movement is a cat, a plastic bag blowing past the window or even a shadow shifting as the sun moves, Nest Cam IQ knows when it sees a person.

Better still, it will automatically zoom in on and track them, making full use of that 4K pixel count. That way you can tell if it's your spouse, flatmate, Hamburglar, Hannibal Lector or Dracula.

Nest calls this Supersight: showing an HD, 130-degree view of the room, and a close-up tracking view of the person in the home, in a picture-in-picture format. You can click on either element to enlarge.

Add a Nest Aware subscription (£8 per month or £80 per year) and you can make use of facial recognition, so the Cam IQ not only knows it's a person, it knows who they are, or at least that it's seen them before. 

You just need to add names to the faces it shows you.

It is not true to say this feature is unique to Nest Cam IQ – Netatmo, notably, has been pushing it for years – but with Google's faintly terrifying face-recognition software underpinning it, Nest's application of it looks sound.

3. It can see in the dark, discreetly

A pair of 940nm infrared LEDs gives the Night Vision beloved of security professionals and stalkers, but without alerting visitors to your home – there's no visible, reddish glow with this type of infrared light.

4. It's a powerful speaker phone

Nest Cam IQ's speakers are '7x more powerful than the original Nest Cam'. Add an array of three noise-suppressing mics and you have clear, two-way communication between your mobile device and the camera.

Hence you can listen in on your sleeping baby, tell your partner you're on your way home, and ask burglars if they wouldn't mind awfully putting that PlayStation down and leaving the area.

5. It's properly secured

It seems ridiculous that this should be a selling point, but many older/crappier cloud-based security cameras are actually not very secure. You may recall that Russian website that showed the unsecured feeds from thousands of such cameras…

By contrast, Nest Cam IQ boasts on-device encryption, 128-bit AES with TLS/SSL secure connection, two-step verification of your identity and automatic over-the-air security updates.

6. Nest Aware makes it even better

Well, given that Nest Aware costs £80 per year, it should. The benefits include the aforementioned familiar face alerts, but also intelligent audio alerts, so it'll listen out for people talking or even dogs barking – at an intruder, for instance, or the sofa. 

You also get access to the likes of a 10- or 30-day, browsable video history and 'Activity Zones' with 'automatic door detection for even more precise notifications.' 

…Okay, here's a possible reason not to buy… 

At just shy of £300, the Nest Cam IQ is almost double the price of the previous leading-edge, smart home security cameras (as opposed to more traditional security cameras, which are managed and monitored by the company that supplies them).

Yes, it gives you better video footage, but it's questionable that it detects intruders any better than rivals such as Netatmo Welcome, Logitech Circle and, er, Nest Cam.

Given that it's an internal camera, and not tied into an alarm system, the deterrent benefits of this (and most similar cameras) are questionable, to put it mildly.

And finally, in the UK, if you don't catch a burglar literally in the act, it would appear the police are increasingly unlikely to attend the crime scene. This raises the question of whether you should rush home to defend your property – not a prospect that fills most people with joy, let's face it.

On the plus side, the higher resolution footage, zoom functionality and smart face tracking employed by the Nest Cam IQ could definitely make an intruder more identifiable, and subsequently more prosecutable. 

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."