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Nest Doorbell (Battery) Review: The Doorbell for Every Google User?

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: $179.99
The Nest Doorbell (battery) on a white desk
Cameron Summerson / Review Geek

The Nest Hello doorbell has long been the doorbell for Google/Nest users. But it comes at a high cost of entry, including a sometimes difficult installation process. That’s where the new Nest Doorbell (battery) comes in. It’s almost as good as the Nest Hello, but simplifies installation and brings the cost down.

For several months, I’ve been using the Nest Hello—which was renamed to “Nest Doorbell (wired)”—and I love it. My house is old (built in 1953, y’all), and the doorbell wiring was shot when we bought the house. So I hired a professional to install the Nest Doorbell (wired), and even he couldn’t get it to work properly. We had to drill a hole through the wall to run a traditional power cable to the Nest Doorbell (wired) and skip the house’s built-in chime.

If the Nest Doorbell (battery) would’ve existed back then, it would’ve saved me a lot of time, trouble, and money. That said, the experience provided by the Nest Doorbell (battery) isn’t quite as robust as the Nest Doorbell (wired). It’ll be up to you whether the simplicity of the (battery) model is worth the slightly watered down experience, which I hope to help you decide today.

Let’s talk about it.

Here's What We Like

  • Dead simple installation
  • Really good battery life
  • Lives in the Home app (finally)
  • Most alerts don’t require Nest Aware

And What We Don't

  • No always-on option
  • Narrower field of view compared to Nest Doorbell (wired)
  • It’s huge
  • More lag compared to the wired model

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Installation: Headache Free

The Nest Doorbell (battery) mounting bracket
The mounting bracket. It’s literally just two screws. Cameron Summerson

As I’ve already established, my wired Nest Doorbell was a hoot to install. The guy who installed it (and my Nest Thermostat) was here for several hours getting everything set up, and it wasn’t easy. Granted, a lot of that has to do with the fact that my house is super old, but there are lots of old houses out there, so I know I’m not alone.

The new battery-powered doorbell, however, is the opposite. You just install the baseplate beside the door, lock the doorbell in, and you’re done. The physical installation is dead-simple—it took me about 10 minutes, including putting the doorbell on my Wi-Fi and all that. So easy.

Of course, you can install the new doorbell with a wired connection, too, which will complicate the setup. But I figure most people considering this doorbell are doing so for the wireless, battery-powered aspect, so that’s what I’m going to focus on for the most part.

The back of the doorbell, showing the wiring mounts and charging port
The wiring points and charging port on the back. Cameron Summerson

That said, I want to talk about the wired option very briefly (and then never speak of it again). You might think that wiring the Nest Doorbell (battery)—have I mentioned that I dislike this naming scheme? It makes for some super awkward writing, ugh—will basically turn it into a Nest Doorbell (wired). Nope, not the case. The (battery) model still isn’t capable of 24/7 monitoring like the (wired) model. Wiring it simply makes it work with your home’s chime (alongside powering it), which seems like a bunch of unnecessary hassle to me.

Installing this guy with just the battery is the way to go. If you want it wired, you’re honestly better off getting the dedicated (wired) model for the extra benefits, like an always-on video feed.

However, if you’re trying to decide between the two, there’s one more thing to consider: the size. The Nest Doorbell (wired) is a pretty small little thing. It’s obvious what it is, but it’s not really obtrusive. The Nest Doorbell (battery) is a big ol’ thing. It’s probably twice the size of the wired model, which is wild. Maybe it’s the battery? Maybe it has more guts for all the on-device detection (that we’ll talk about shortly)?

The Nest Doorbell (battery) compared to the (wired) model
it’s a thicc boi Cameron Summerson / Review Geek

I’m not sure. But I can tell you that the size is something you should consider. I know more than one reviewer who had issues installing the battery-powered model because of the size.

Use and Battery Life: Absolutely Brilliant

This is the least resistant way to do it if you’re a Google/Nest user looking for a doorbell that will record events and let you know when someone is at the door. As previously mentioned, it doesn’t have an always-on video feed, but you can look at the live feed whenever you want. Just keep in mind that the more you view the feed, the quicker the battery will drain. But more on that in a bit.

Unlike the Nest Doorbell (wired), which lives in the Nest app (for Android or iOS) and is only accessible from the Home app, the Nest Doorbell (battery)’s entire existence is held in the Home app. That means you set the camera up in the Home app (for Android or iOS), and the Home app also generates all event notifications. This is great for anyone embedded in the Google smart home ecosystem, which is almost certainly anyone considering a Nest doorbell. I wish Google would hurry and move all Nest products away from the main Nest app and let them live their best lives in the Home app. One app for all of the stuff, please. Please? Please.

an image of the live feed from the Home app an image of the live feed with options from the Home app an image of an event feed from the Home app

Despite lacking an always-on video feed, the Nest Doorbell (battery) does have always-on activity monitoring and alerts. So if it sees a person, package, animal, vehicle, or general motion, it can alert you. There are a couple of noteworthy things about this: To start, the monitoring here all happens locally on the device, so it doesn’t require Nest Aware. This is in contrast to the wired Nest Doorbell, which requires Nest Aware for most advanced alerts, like package and sound detection. That said, both models require Nest Aware for Familiar Face detection because that happens in the cloud regardless.

Secondly, these alerts are completely customizable. We have outdoor cats, so I don’t want to get alerts every time my doorbell sees a cat in the backyard—yes, I know she’s there. She’s always there. Similarly, I don’t need package detection because I have the battery model installed at my back door. Motion? Sometimes. But it can get annoying, too.

Anyway, all that is to say that you can completely customize these notifications, which is nice. The fact that you don’t have to pay for most of them (save for Familiar Face detection) is also a huge bonus in the battery model’s favor. To make the deal even sweeter, I didn’t notice a difference in accuracy between the two, either. The only time the battery model sent a false positive is if someone carried a box (or similar thing) in—it thought someone delivered a package. Otherwise, I got almost no false positives from the battery model.

Compared to the wired model, one thing worth noting with the battery model is the lag when someone rings the doorbell. I’m not sure if it’s because it stays idle most of the time or what, but my Nest Doorbell (wired) takes about 3 seconds to send a notification to my Nest Hubs. With the battery model, that’s about 10 seconds, which is a significant difference. That may be a dealbreaker for you, but overall I think it’s fine—just something else to consider. The battery model also has a narrower field of view (140° vs 160°), but that’s unlikely to matter to anyone who doesn’t have both models.

Finally, let’s talk about battery life. That’s a big concern with a battery-powered doorbell because you don’t want to have to charge it every other day … or even every other week. Fortunately, the Nest Doorbell (battery) just seems to keep going and going.

an image showing 2 weeks remaining on the battery life in the Home app an image showing 23% remaining battery life in the Home app

I’ve had it installed for over a month, and I didn’t fully charge it out of the box. I think it had about 80% (or so—I should’ve taken a screenshot) battery when I put it up. Today, about five weeks later, it still has 23% remaining. That’s pretty impressive on its own because it was up during the hottest part of the year where I live—there were multiple 100F+ degree days, which I expected would drain the battery faster. But it didn’t seem to.

The other nice touch is that there’s an estimated time available in the Home app. For 23%, it tells me that it has about two weeks of juice left. That’s still quite a bit!

The key to remove the doorbell
The key to remove the doorbell. Any flat, thin metal will work Cameron Summerson / Review Geek

When it comes to charging, you simply pop the doorbell off the mounting bracket using the included key, which is really just a flat, thin piece of metal, and juice it up with a regular USB-C cable. Easy peasy—it even comes with a cable.

Nest Doorbell (Wired) vs. Nest Doorbell (Battery): Which Should You Buy?

The Nest Doorbell (battery) next to the Nest Doorbell (wired)
Cameron Summerson / Review Geek

I’d like to say this is an easy decision, but as with most similar-but-different-enough tech products, it’s not. The Nest Doorbell (wired) is superior because it has an always-on feed, but it’s equally inferior in other ways. The biggest benefits of the Nest Doorbell (battery) are the simple installation and the fact that it does more on-device monitoring for alerts, which saves money on a Nest Aware subscription.

That last point is crucial: To get the most from the wired model, you need a Nest Aware subscription, which is $6-12 a month depending on which package you go with. You may still want this with the battery powered model for event history (you get three hours free without Nest Aware, which may be enough for some), but otherwise, the only added benefit there is Familiar Face detection.

There’s also the size to consider, which may or may not be a dealbreaker for some. If you have plenty of room on either side of your door, then the big ol’ beefy battery boi may not be an issue. If not, well, you’ll need to take some precise measurements.

But ultimately, they’re both great doorbells, and I’m very happy with each of them for different reasons. You just have to decide what features are most important to you and base your decision on which ones ticks the most boxes.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $179.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Dead simple installation
  • Really good battery life
  • Lives in the Home app (finally)
  • Most alerts don’t require Nest Aware

And What We Don't

  • No always-on option
  • Narrower field of view compared to Nest Doorbell (wired)
  • It’s huge
  • More lag compared to the wired model

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is Review Geek's former Editor in Cheif and first started writing for LifeSavvy Media in 2016. Cam's been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. In 2021, Cam stepped away from Review Geek to join Esper as a managing Editor. Read Full Bio »