Wyze Cam Pan Review: Impossibly Cheap, Improbably Good

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $37
Wyze Cam Pan
Josh Hendrickson

We like the original Wyze Cam and recommend it with few reservations. Our primary complaint, lack of panning, is resolved by the new, affordable, and appropriately named, Wyze Cam Pan.

Here's What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Solid basic features
  • App receives consistent updates
  • Notifications help when they're timely

And What We Don't

  • Panning motor is loud
  • No privacy shutter
  • No desktop app
  • Sometimes notifications can be slow

The Wyze Cam Pan continues the tradition of offering a surprising number of features for a fraction of the price of similar cameras.

Wyze achieves this by licensing cheap Chinese hardware and creating a custom firmware and app. The effort brings the Wyze Cam Pan down to around $38 with shipping. That’s significantly cheaper than offerings from anything but no-name random Wi-Fi cams off eBay or Amazon, but with features more on par with cameras that cost 2-3 times more. Let’s dig into how the Wyze Cam Pan compares to its predecessor and competition.

Wyze Cam Pan and Wyze Cam Have Many Similarities

Wyze Cam and Wyze Cam Pan
Josh Hendrickson

Before we get into what makes the Wyze Cam Pan different, let’s cover the similarities to the existing Wyze Cam. Both cameras offer motion detection capabilities that save 12-second clips to an AWS server for free. You can add a MicroSD card local storage and continuous recording.

As your MicroSD card fills up, the camera deletes old videos to make room for new. So how much video you can keep depends on the size of the card you use. Both cameras offer two-way communication to the Wyze app and similar (if not identical) 1080p image quality, and both cameras have night vision capabilities.

Panning Means You Can See the Whole Room

Wyze Cam Pan side by side with SimpliSafe Cam
The Wyze Cam Pan is noticeably larger than the Simplisafe Camera, although the latter can’t move. Josh Hendrickson

Out of the box, you’ll know the difference between the regular Cam and the Cam Pan immediately. Neither will win a beauty contest, but whereas the original camera looks like a tiny little one-eyed robot, the Cam Pan resembles a toothpaste box with a built-in camera. Honestly, the incredibly basic look to the Wyze Cams is acceptable. Fashion isn’t a Wi-Fi camera priority, and if going with a simplistic boxy design lowers cost while retaining other features, it’s a good compromise.

The Wyze Cam Pan can, of course, pan. Set it on a table in the middle of the room, and it can turn 360 degrees. The camera includes tilting capability as well. Through the Wyze app, you can drag a video stream to move your camera left right, up or down, and set up waypoints to automate back and forth scanning. Theoretically, with waypoint scanning, you can use fewer cameras in a single room. If you turn on motion tracking, the camera will follow any movement it detects, like a person walking through the room. And even better, you can combine both waypoints and motion tracking.

Mounting Options Are More Limited

Bottom of Wyze Cam Pan showing mounting screw
There’s a mounting screw, but Wyze Cam Pan doesn’t have the flexible legs of the Wyze Cam.

But all that comes with a few downsides. The original Wyze Cam has a magnetic foot, came with custom couple double-sided tape and a matching metal pedestal, and an incredibly flexible base. You could stick it to a refrigerator, a wall, just about anywhere, and then adjust the camera’s positioning to record the room.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to mount the Cam Pan so easily. The necessity of the box shape prevents the sheer flexibility the original camera enjoys. And while Wyze seems to offer a $9 mount, at the time of this review was written the link for it lead to a 404 error and we weren’t able to test it. The simplest option is to place it on a flat surface, like a table.

One other downside is the noise the motor generates. Originally I had one Cam Pan placed in a central location of the living room and set to both track motion and move between waypoints. My family asked me to turn that off. The motor’s noise is loud enough to be noticeable, which naturally led to them watching the camera as it followed them. Even when sitting on the couch and watching TV, the occasional whir of the camera turning proved to be a distraction. In the garage or other rooms not so heavily used, this isn’t an issue.

And like the original Wyze Cam, the Cam Pan doesn’t have a built-in privacy shutter. At less than $40 it’s hard to complain, especially when other more expensive cameras like the Nest Cam, also don’t offer privacy shutters.

Great Apps Improve the Hardware

Wyze Cam Pan with Tape on it, which is no longer necessary
App updates mean I don’t need this tape over the IR lights anymore. Josh Hendrickson

For the low cost, you get hardware that works exceptionally well. And it’s tied together by an app that Wyze updates regularly. As I was reviewing the camera, Wyze sent out two updates that resolved two of my most significant gripes.

First, Wyze added the ability to turn off the IR lights while keeping the night mode on. With that update, using a Wyze Cam through a window at night is much more viable, until now the best option was to put tape over the IR lights.

Secondly, with the latest update, you can now view multiple live streams at once. Until now, you had to choose each camera one at a time to see a live stream. With this update, you can group cameras and view those streams on one screen.

The app isn’t perfect, however. I have a camera pointed through a window facing my driveway, and notifications of detected movement turned on. Often that notification will come three to five minutes late. I’ve walked out of my house, started the car, pulled away from the driveway, and started a trip before getting a notification. Other times though, it was near instantaneous. I have extremely fast internet (500 Mbps), so my network shouldn’t be the issue.

Wyze Cam Pan with Multiple way points shown
Wyze

Additionally, I’ve had trouble dialing in motion sensitivity. At default levels, only someone who has passed directly in front of the camera will set off a notification. But at night any car driving down the road leads to notifications. That leaves me wanting to dial up the sensitivity during the day, but dial it back at night. But to be fair, the camera wasn’t designed for recording through a window.

At this point, the most prominent missing feature is a desktop app—if you want to look at camera streams you have to pull up a mobile app. But a desktop app would be useful, especially when it means watching video on a much larger screen.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the downsides are minor when weighed against the ultra-low cost of the Wyze Cam Pan. You can easily spend five times as much on other cameras and not gain significantly better hardware. And while you could get more intelligent software with a service like Nest Aware, that requires an additional subscription price. Nest doesn’t offer a camera with panning, so you’d lose that feature.

You’ll spend about $38, whether you buy it from Amazon or directly from Wyze. Amazon’s base price is technically higher at $37.47, but it comes with Prime shipping. Ordering direct from Wyze starts at $29.99, but tacks on $7.99 shipping for an overall price of $37.98. Wyze’s four to seven-day delivery promise is slower than Amazon’s, so if you are going to order a Wyze Cam Pan and you have Prime, Amazon probably is the best choice.

The Wyze Cam Pan, like the Wyze Cam, isn’t perfect, but for the price, it doesn’t need to be. For less than $40, you’d expect “barely serviceable,” and instead, you get something that’s downright great. Yes, better and more intelligent cameras do exist. But if you want to outfit your house with multiple cameras, it’s hard not to recommend either the Wyze Cam or the Wyze Cam Pan.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $37

Here’s What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Solid basic features
  • App receives consistent updates
  • Notifications help when they're timely

And What We Don't

  • Panning motor is loud
  • No privacy shutter
  • No desktop app
  • Sometimes notifications can be slow

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

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