Letting you check who’s at the door, whether you’re on the other side of the house or the other side of the world, the Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) makes your smart home even smarter.
A smart doorbell has been one of the missing pieces of the smart home puzzle for Google in Australia. It’s one of the few areas where Google has lagged behind smart home rival Amazon, which sells its range of Ring smart video doorbells locally.
Admittedly, an internet-enabled video doorbell seems a bit redundant in the COVID age. Thankfully, Google packs in a few extra smarts to ensure you don’t miss a parcel left on your porch, even if the courier runs away without ringing the bell.
Of course, a video doorbell isn’t just for keeping track of visitors. It also lets you know when your family comes and goes. This offers a compromise on privacy if you want to check on family members coming home to an empty house without actually putting smart cameras inside your home.
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The Google Nest Doorbell (Battery)’s elegant design shouldn’t look too out of place alongside most front doors. That said, it is frustrating that it’s only available in white in Australia. Americans can also choose from beige, grey or green to better suit the colour of their home.
The fact it runs on a battery, with the option to connect it to the existing doorbell wiring, certainly adds to the doorbell’s appeal. Renters might not have permission to mess around with their existing doorbell. Even homeowners might appreciate the option to run on batteries if they can’t easily rewire their existing doorbell.
The doorbell detaches from its wall plate to be charged via USB-C. It only needs recharging every few months under normal use. When connected to AC mains power, the camera’s battery automatically kicks in during a blackout.
Google has also added four new Google Nest Cam security cameras to its line-up, two of which aren’t completely reliant on mains power.
Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) Specs
Height 160 mm, Width 46 mm, Depth 24.1 mm
1/3-inch, 1.3-megapixel colour sensor, 3:4 aspect ratio, 6x digital zoom
Field of view
145 degrees diagonal
960×1280 pixels, up to 30 FPS, HDR
Up to 3.05 metres
Two-way audio with noise cancellation
802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz) WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA3 encryption supported, Bluetooth low energy (BLE)
Built-in rechargeable Li-Ion battery 6000 mAh, 3.65 V
Option to connect to existing doorbell writing – Voltage 8–24 VAC, Power 10 VA, Frequency 50-60 Hz
–20°C to 40°C
IP54, relative humidity range 20% to 85%
The Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) comes with a great installation kit and helpful online video guide.
Along with screws for attaching the wall plate to the outside of your house, there are rubber spacers if you’re working on an uneven surface. There are also wall anchors for screwing into hard surfaces like brick.
Google recommends installing the doorbell 120 cm above the ground. Thanks to the wide vertical viewing angle, moving it about 30 cm higher or lower doesn’t make a big difference to what you can see.
Of course, having the camera face straight out from the wall won’t suit every home. For example, my doorstep is an alcove. The doorbell sits on the left of the front door, in a corner created by the adjacent wall that obscures the view to the left.
Google has thought of this, including an 20-degree angled wedge that you can insert under the wall mount. This lets you tilt the doorbell in either direction. Now you’ve got a better view of your front yard and people approaching the house.
I still wasn’t completely happy with this view. I inserted a small piece of wood behind the wedge to tilt the camera even further to the right. Now I could see even less of the wall and more of the porch and my driveway on the right.
If your porch is open and you want to see both sides of the door, you might be frustrated with the narrow horizontal viewing angle. A 145-degree so-called “diagonal” viewing angle barely reveals beyond 90 degrees horizontally. Some doorbell cameras can offer a full 180-degree horizontal viewing angle.
You can choose what happens when someone presses the doorbell. Options include sending a notification to your phone and/or playing an announcement through all the Google smart speakers and screens in your home. You can also wire up your old doorbell chime.
When someone pushes the button on the Google Nest Doorbell (Battery), it beeps so your visitor knows that it’s worked. If you’ve enabled smartphone and/or smart device notifications, there’s a lag of a few seconds before all the Google devices in your home spring to life. Not long enough to be a problem.
The smart speakers and screens all play a chime and then announce, “There’s someone at the door!” – not quite in unison, so it echoes throughout the house.
The view from the camera automatically appears on your smart screens, so you can see who is at the door before you answer. You can also tap the microphone icon to speak to them.
Alternatively, you can also tap on the notification on your smartphone to see the live view from your doorbell. You can talk to your visitor or fire off quick pre-recorded responses like “you can just leave it”, “we’ll be right with you”, or “we can’t answer the door”. This even works when you’re away from home.
Alternatively, you can call up the view from the doorbell at any time on your smartphone or smart screen.
The Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) ‘s real strength is recognising specific objects and events. Originally, you needed to pay for Google’s Nest Aware subscription to get smart object/event detection from a Google Nest Cam. Now some are included for free.
With a subscription, the doorbell supports People, Package, Animal and Vehicle detection. The $9 p/m Nest Aware subscription adds facial recognition, so if the doorbell recognises visitors, it announces them by name. It also stores a 30-day event history in the cloud.
The $18 p/m Nest Aware Plus extends this to 60 days, plus adds a 24/7 video history for the previous 10 days. The subscription applies to all your Google Nest Cams.
People and Package detection are particularly handy in the COVID age when we’ve all got more deliveries coming to our door. They ensure that you’re alerted to a delivery even if the courier sneaks away without ringing the bell. This way, your parcel doesn’t sit unattended on the porch for hours.
Paying extra for facial detection seems like overkill when you’re automatically shown who is at the door. This is more useful if you have other Google Nest Cams which can trigger events when they detect specific people in your house.
The Google Nest Doorbell (Battery)’s reliability, along with its picture and sound quality is impressive both day and night.
It does a fine job; the big potential downside is the lack of granular control over alerts. If you’re not happy with the way they work by default, the doorbell could end up being an unwelcome guest in your home.
Thankfully the doorbell is smart enough not to keep sending your alerts if you’re standing on the porch talking to someone. Unfortunately, it’s not smart enough to tell the difference between someone walking up to the door and someone walking out of the door. So you get a smartphone alert whenever someone leaves the house, even if you’re going out the front to the bins.
Unfortunately, when it comes to someone ringing the doorbell, you can’t set your smart speakers and screens just to chime. They insist on also hollering, “There’s someone at the door”. The only workaround is to disable these smart device alerts completely and wire the doorbell to your old door chime.
Once we’re all allowed visitors again, you might tire of regularly hearing “There’s someone at the door” on busy days.
The biggest frustration is the lack of control over which smart speakers and screens come to life when someone rings the doorbell. It’s all or nothing.
The more smart Google devices you have around the house, especially in the bedrooms, the more annoying that becomes. You can snooze alerts for up to two hours for the entire household, but you can’t disable them for specific devices and rooms. It could become annoying and disruptive, especially if you have young children.
The Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) is a worthy addition to Google’s smart home lineup, finally catching up with Amazon. The smart alerts really help it stand out from the crowd, especially the notifications when someone comes to the door but fails to ring the bell.
The big question is whether the usefulness of Google’s smart video doorbell outweighs the potential frustrations when it comes to the lack of granular notification controls. That will depend on what you want from a smart doorbell, who lives in your home and how many smart Google devices you have spread around the house. Give it some thought to ensure Google’s smart doorbell doesn’t wear out its welcome in your home.
If you decide to use the existing ‘ding-dong’ chime wiring you will likely need to have the power transformer changed from DC (as is found in most Australian homes) to AC. You can read all the tech info here but remember that installation should be carried out by a qualified electrician.
Would I buy it?
Yes, if I was a Google-centric home and was happy with the viewing angles and notification options.
Google Nest Doorbell (Battery)
Assuming you're happy with the viewing angles and notification options, the Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) is a smart addition to a Google smart home.