TP-Link Tapo C420S2 review: affordable, reliable security camera

The TP-Link Tapo C420S2 records footage in 2K resolution and stores each file locally

TP-Link Tapo C420S2 mounted on a wall outside
(Image credit: TP-Link)
T3 Verdict

An affordable smart home security camera, the TP-Link Tapo C420S2 delivers impressive 2K image quality with local storage on an SD card, plenty of battery life and sensitive motion detection.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    2K video resolution

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    180-days battery life

  • +

    Two-way talk and intruder alarms

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Uses an ethernet-connected hub

  • -

    Only records footage when motion is detected

  • -

    Needs a subscription for some features

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TP-Link Tapo C420S2 review TL/DR: If you want high-quality security cameras around your property without spending too much on either the kit or ongoing subscriptions, then this offers a pretty good package. 

TP-Link Tapo has a growing number of smart home devices under its belt from the best security cameras to some of the best smart bulbs, and what we really like about them is that they’re often much more affordable than elsewhere, without making too many sacrifices when it comes to performance or features. 

A new security camera system will give you peace of mind when you’re away or at night, allowing you to keep an eye on your home, inside and out. Gone are the days of these systems costing an eye-watering amount of money, now you can get set up with a two-camera system like this for less than £200 / $200. 

You can buy a set of two TP-Link Tapo C420S2 2K security cameras from Amazon for £200 in the UK, $200 in the US and AU$380 in Australia. Keep an eye on the prices in the widgets on this page, as these devices are regularly discounted. We've seen them for as little as £125 / $150 on Amazon.

TP-Link launched its Tapo line of security cameras back in 2022, primarily made up of budget devices. The TP-Link Tapo C420S2 is much pricier than the rest of the series but gives you much more in the way of features and image quality - this camera has 2K resolution, with 180-day charge, Colour Night Vision, AI Detection and SD Storage.

TP-Link Tapo C420S2 on a black surface with stand attached

(Image credit: Future)

Open up the box and you’ll find two TP-Link Tapo C420S2 cameras, a hub, two brackets, mounting screws, mounting templates, two battery packs and the necessary wires to connect it all.

The cameras are cylindrical, largely made using solid white plastic with the lenses housed in a black panel on the front, where you’ll also find an IR sensor and two LED lights. They’re not particularly big so won’t be too obvious when installed - each camera measures 110.6 x 64.2 x 64.2mm. The bracket screws into the back of the camera and can either be used as a stand or as a mount to place up the camera on a wall. The cameras are both IP65 water and dust-resistant which means they can be used outside as well as inside.

Setting up the cameras was easy. First, you need to plug the hub into power and then into your Wi-Fi router using the included Ethernet cable. Once the hub is ready to go, you can set up each camera by slotting in the battery pack, twisting it into the locked position and following the (super simple) on-screen instructions. Overall the whole process only took me between 5 and 10 minutes.

My only issue with the setup was the need for the hub. As things stand, my router is running out of available ports because of all the extra hubs I need for various bits of tech dotted around the house. It creates even more wire mess in that spot too which is a pain.

Luckily, hanging wires won’t be a problem for the camera itself as that relies on a battery which should survive about 180 days in total give or take. If you don’t ever want to take the camera down to charge it then you could also invest in the TP-Link Solar Panel - it’s weatherproof and will provide non-stop 4.5W power for the camera, although a wire connecting the two will need to come into play.

TP-Link Tapo C420S2 security camera from the side

(Image credit: Future)

A 4MP lens delivers 2K QHD video clips straight to your phone, but you can also record in 720p or you can have the camera automatically switch between the two - the option you choose will inevitably affect the battery life. 

Generally, this set of cameras does a great job of producing images which are sharp, bright and smooth with very little pixelation. Ultimately that means that they won’t miss important details like some other home security devices, you’ll easily be able to see people’s faces and colours are true to life as well.

Coloured night vision ensures that these cameras are able to record usable footage no matter what time of day it is. During testing, I was quite impressed at how much detail the cameras managed to deliver at night, although it was understandably nowhere near as effective as during daylight.

You’ll be able to fit a decent amount of your property into the shot as well with a 113° field of view. While that’s not quite as wide as elsewhere (some offer as much as 160°) it managed to show the whole width of my garden and so was perfectly fit for purpose.

Live view from TP-Link Tapo C420S2

(Image credit: Future)

Another feature worth knowing about is two-way talk so you can hear what’s happening near the camera as well as speak through it, allowing you to have a conversation if needed. For instance, if you wanted to calm a pet down or tell someone to leave your property. The quality of the sound is clear, although admittedly could be a little louder on both ends.

If you were to catch an intruder, there’s an in-built sound and light alarm to warn them off. Unfortunately, it can’t be triggered by motion, you’ll need to activate it through the app yourself or you’ll need to set it on a schedule. The light isn’t quite bright enough to use as a spotlight, it’s more about capturing someone’s attention.

It’s worth knowing that these cameras won’t be recording 24 hours a day, they rely heavily on motion detection. The TP-Link Tapo C420S2 have AI detection which means that they can differentiate between people, vehicles and animals. In my experience, they did a good enough job, although they were sometimes triggered unnecessarily and they very occasionally missed things too. You can adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection in the app.

TP-Link Tapo C420S2 camera with LED lights switched on

(Image credit: Future)

One of the best things about the TP-Link Tapo C420S2 is that you can record footage to watch later onto an SD card. You’re not forced into paying a subscription fee for online cloud storage, although that is possible if you want it - prices start from £2.79 / $3.49 a month for one camera, £5.29 / $6.99 for two cameras or £8.49 / $11.99 for up to 10 devices. 

If you pay for the Premium plan, you’ll get up to 30 days of cloud-based video history, and you’ll be able to make the most out of some more advanced features like better event classification and more detailed notifications. With the extra subscription cost, you'll get alerted to events with a snapshot of the scene so you don't need to open the app to see who or what has triggered it. You'll then be able to see each clip grouped into trigger events to make them easier to sort through.

The Tapo app itself is clearly laid out and not only allows you to manage your security cameras but also your Tapo plugs, bulbs, light strips and even your Tapo Robot Vacuum. You can build a whole smart home on the Tapo system.

To take a look at the camera’s live view, you simply need to tap the device in the app, after which a stream will pop up with options below it like Talk, Voice Call, Privacy Mode, Alarm, Tapo Care and Playback & Memory. You can take a closer look a the footage, record a video or snap a still image from here too. There's also a thorough settings page to adjust how the camera is used. 

TP-Link Tapo C420S2 on a white background

(Image credit: TP-Link)

The TP-Link Tapo C420S2 security cameras do everything you need them to, and they do it reliably. The 2K resolution delivers impressive detail, the 180-day battery life is solid, the app is simple to use and there are plenty of extra features to warn off intruders like a two-way talk system and alarms. 

In comparing these cameras to competitors, it’s a shame that you don’t get a slightly wider field of view and that you'll only make the most out of the AI smart detection feature with a monthly fee. As well as that, we’d have liked to see 24/7 recording and it’d be better if you could use it without an ethernet-connected hub. 

Having said that, if you already own any TP-Link Tapo smart home devices then opting for their security cameras makes sense because you can control everything through one app. And even if you don’t already own any TP-Link Tapo kit, the TP-Link Tapo C420S2 will be a good place to start offering an affordable security system that won’t have you tied into buying pricey add-ons further down the line. 

A similarly priced camera to consider is the Eufy S220 SoloCam. After testing it out, we were so impressed that we awarded it a whopping 5 stars. Eufy is a well-trusted brand that doesn’t come with any hidden costs because you can store footage locally on the device itself, or on the Eufy Homebase if you have one. Not only did this camera do everything we needed it to and more, but it’s solar-powered so you’ll rarely (if ever) have to take it down to charge it.

If you don’t mind splashing out, then you should take a look at the Arlo Pro 4, a small, sleek security camera delivering high-quality 2K footage, 6 to 8 months of battery life and it has a spotlight built in too. We were particularly impressed by the person, vehicle and animal detection which was super accurate. It’ll be worth knowing that this option does require a subscription to make the most of everything it has to offer, though.

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.