This SwannBuddy Video Doorbell review is a good place to start if you want one of the best video doorbells but you're not keen on paying extra for a monthly storage subscription like you do with Ring or Arlo devices.
Swann is a very well known security company and while they might not be the first that comes to mind when you're kitting out your smart home, they're definitely worth considering because they have a growing portfolio of products with some of the best security cameras you can buy.
A video doorbell is a must-have for anyone who is worried about the security of their home or for those who tend to receive a lot of post when they're away.
They allow you to take a look at who is at the door and you’ll get a notification on your phone every time someone approaches. If you're not in, you can let them know when you'll be back or ask them to leave your parcel elsewhere. It's a really handy piece of kit!
SwannBuddy Video Doorbell review: price and features
You can buy the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell starting from $150 in the US, £120 in the UK and AU$180 in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page to find out where you can pick one up in your region.
There are a few key features worth mentioning here. The first is that you’ll be able to use this video doorbell wirelessly thanks to the built-in battery or if you already have wiring set up from your old doorbell then it can be used with that as well.
After filming footage in 1080p HD, this doorbell will securely store clips to the included 32GB MicroSD card. If you prefer there is an option to store them in a cloud-based service but that will cost you extra so I'd imagine most people will stick to the local option.
Videos have a 180-degree viewing angle with a 1:1 aspect ratio to help you see everything happening outside whether that's a parcel on the floor or a delivery driver's face. It uses heat, motion and person sensing to detect activity and has a two-way microphone that lets you talk to whoever’s at the door as well.
SwannBuddy Video Doorbell review: design and setup
A simple black device, the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell is largely made from plastic with a shiny finish across the front. The camera is housed in a square module on the top with a button below it, it’s very clear what a visitor needs to do because of the bell icon in the middle and it’s surrounded by a thin light strip that turns blue when you press it.
Thanks to its IP56 rating, this doorbell will be fine to leave outside in the rain although it’s not fully protected so installing it under a porch would still be preferable.
In the box, the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell comes with a separate chime so you can hear the bell ring from inside the house. The small square device isn't any eyesore and can be discreetly tucked away where no one can see it. You get the choice of six melodies for it to play when someone hits the buzzer. In all honesty, they're all pretty annoying and go on for a bit too long but you'll soon get used to it.
Before you mount the doorbell, you'll need to set it up. It's very quickly and easily done through the Swann Security app. You’ll first need to create an account, choose to add a new device and then make sure it’s in pairing mode by pressing the button on the back of the doorbell. After that, you’ll just need to select where you’re going to place it from the list and the app will do the rest for you.
Once the tech is ready you can go about installing it using the included wall mount. How you mount it will depend on whether you want to use it wirelessly or if you would rather make use of existing wiring. Unlike some other doorbells, it’s very easy to remove the video doorbell from the mount to charge it up again, you just unscrew it at the bottom and pull it off. It literally takes seconds.
How long the battery lasts will depend on how often the doorbell gets used. Swann reckons it’ll last between 2 and 3 months for the average person, and it’ll take about 6 hours to recharge it.
SwannBuddy Video Doorbell review: smartphone app
The Swann security app looks pretty basic but that also means it’s very easy to navigate although the software itself can be a little buggy and it's not quite as in-depth as you’d get elsewhere.
When you open it up, the first page you'll see is the Live View from the camera. It does sometimes take up to 10 seconds to load the feed which is annoying if you're in a rush to see what’s happening outside.
In a strip along the bottom of the screen, you'll find everything else you need to manage the device.
You can go back in time and scroll through past 'events' when the sensors picked up a person near your door and started filming. They are organised by date and time so it's very straightforward to find what you're looking for.
There’s an option to see stats on the doorbell’s usage as well. You can take a look at how many times it has detected motion or been rung today or in the past week, it's very painless to digest because the information is laid out so clearly. Another tab on this page shows you a list of your notifications from that day.
You can set the doorbell to Home, Away or Night through the app as well. Each mode can be adjusted to suit what you need from it, like if you didn't want to receive any notifications at night or if you wanted to adjust how sensitive the motion detection is when you're at home.
One problem with these modes is that you have to switch them on yourself whereas other options would switch them on automatically when your phone leaves a set radius of the house or during specified hours when you’re usually asleep.
SwannBuddy Video Doorbell review: performance
When someone rings the doorbell, it comes through like a video call on your smartphone with a view of the outside. If you are away, you can either answer through the two-way microphone or choose a pre-recorded message to respond with.
In comparison to other similar devices, the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell is far from being the fastest or most efficient when a visitor arrives at your door.
It sometimes suffers from a delay between the doorbell and your phone. For instance, when someone rang the bell it didn’t always come through straight away and the chime sometimes completely failed to work.
Another time the delay could get annoying was when I was talking to someone through it, it didn’t seem to be an immediate back and forth conversation.
Clear and bright, the footage itself was actually pretty good in the daytime. You get a good view of the front of your house from the floor up to the sky and it's very easy to make out faces although admittedly it could look a little grainy at times.
The motion detection was accurate as well. It uses a combination of motion and heat detection so it doesn't get set off by anything other than a person. It seemed to work well while I was testing it out and was only triggered by human movement. Admittedly, it would be even better if you could set activity zones to ensure that people walking up to your neighbour's house don't activate it.
SwannBuddy Video Doorbell review: verdict
The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell keeps things simple: it’s not the sleekest, slimmest or most feature-packed video doorbell in the world but it's not trying to be either.
Admittedly, it does have its faults and it won’t always work quite as well as you’d expect. The most significant problem was the fact that it didn’t always send a chime through the house when someone pressed the buzzer so you could end up occasionally missing a delivery.
On the flip side, the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell was great at detecting motion outside. Every time someone approached I got a notification pop up on my phone and it accurately recorded the times and days of each one.
This bundle is really good value for money because you get a video doorbell and a battery-powered chime included, most other options make you buy these separately.
But what really sets this apart from the crowd is that you don't need to pay any monthly subscription fees to store the footage in an online cloud, instead it comes with a MicroSD card to keep everything safe. That in itself is a reason to consider buying the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell!
SwannBuddy Video Doorbell review: also consider
If you want a chime included in the box then you could consider the Ezviz DB2 Battery Video Doorbell Kit as well. It’s only a little cheaper than this but it tends to be a bit more reliable and footage is filmed in 2K so you can expect slightly better quality as well.
You can get a video doorbell much cheaper if you’re willing to wire it into your front door. The Ring Video Doorbell Wired is a fraction of the price but you get a lot of features including HD video, two-way talk and night vision.