Reviews You Can Rely On

Nest Cam IQ Review

Top notch video quality and facial recognition, but very little video history without a subscription
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Nest Cam IQ Review
Credit: Nest
Price:  $300 List
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Manufacturer:   Nest
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Aug 24, 2017
  • Monitoring Performance - 30% 8.0
  • Video Quality - 30% 9.0
  • App Ease of Use - 25% 9.0
  • Real Time Viewing - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

Building on the legacy of the original Nest Cam, the IQ packs in improved hardware and new features. Namely the field leading 4K camera sensor that allows the camera to zoom in on faces and recognize them as a familiar person or a stranger. It also delivers crystal clear video clips and one of the highest quality live video streams we tested. This makes the IQ perfect for almost any application. The big caveat is that you get almost no monitoring services without a subscription. Without the subscription you get 3 hours of video history and that's it. If you're not interested in facial recognition we'd recommend the original Nest Cam. It offers the same level of performance, minus the facial recognition abilities, at a much lower price.
Great video quality
Smooth real time viewing
Field leading monitoring services available
Great facial recognition
Very limited without a subscription
Due to stricter than average biometric data privacy laws, residents of Illinois cannot use The IQ's facial recognition feature.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nest Cam IQ earned our Editors' Choice Award due to its high quality video and wide ranging features. Unfortunately the vast majority of those features are only available with a Nest Aware subscription, so we would only recommend this camera if you're willing to part with $10/month or $100 upfront for a year.

nest cam iq
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Performance comparison

The Nest Cam IQ came out on top in our testing. Below we discuss the finer point of the IQ's performance in all of the different tests we used to determine the best home security camera.

Monitoring Performance

The IQ's bevy of features earned it the top score of 8 out of 10 in our monitoring performance testing.

Monitoring Services With/Without a Subscription

Bottom line, the IQ offers the best monitoring services on the market. if those services were available without a subscription we would award the IQ a 10 out of 10 in this metric. However, since you get almost nothing without a Nest aware subscription (only a paltry 3 hours of video history, and you can't even download clips), we docked it a couple points. If you want something that offers more video history without a subscription Canary provides 24 hours of 10-second motion activated clips, and NetGear provides a full week of motion activated clips.

With a subscription you get 30 days of video history and the ability to save clips, activity zones, person alerts, and facial recognition (IL residents excluded). The activity zones help cut down on nuisance alerts by allowing you to select areas where the camera should and should not look for motion. Both the Samsung Smartcam and the Logitech Circle offer a similar feature, but Nest's are the most customizable and, in our experience, effective. The activity zones don't eliminate every meaningless alert, but they do a better job of it than the competitors.

nest cam iq - nest's activity zones were the best that we tested.
Nest's activity zones were the best that we tested.

The IQ is the only camera we tested that can recognize faces (the Logitech Circle can distinguish people from background motion, but can't identify individuals). This allows you to get a different alert when the kids walk in the door versus an unfamiliar person. It does this by using its 4K sensor to zoom in on each face it sees. When you open the app it shows you every new mugshot and asks you if you know the person. After a bit of user input it starts to learn the familiar faces. We found this feature incredibly useful, as you can quickly tell whether an alert is just your spouse getting home or a potential intruder.

nest cam iq - the iq asks whether you recognize any face that it sees, and learns...
The IQ asks whether you recognize any face that it sees, and learns from your responses.

Audio Quality

The IQ also has an improved microphone when compared to its predecessor. We were able to hear every conversation that occurred near this camera. The only other cameras in our tests that can claim that are the two Canary cameras and the Samsung SmartCam. The IQ also offers clear 2-way audio, so you can speak to anyone walking by the camera and be confident that they will understand you.

Video Quality

The IQ was the sole possessor of the top score of 9 out of 10 in our video quality testing While a number of cameras came close, the IQ was a step above the rest.

nest cam iq - the iq produces slightly crisper and slightly brighter video than...
The IQ produces slightly crisper and slightly brighter video than its predecessor.
Credit: Steven Tata

While this camera uses a 4K sensor, its videos are not true 4K. It mostly uses that extra resolution to zoom in on faces for its facial recognition feature. That being said, the video from this camera does look a bit crisper than the other 1080p cameras we tested. The colors are vibrant and only the very edges of the 130˚ field of view look a bit distorted. That quality transferred over to its night vision, which was the best of all the cameras we tested.

nest cam iq - the nest cam iq's night vision is second to none.
The Nest Cam IQ's night vision is second to none.
Credit: Steven Tata

While the video quality of the IQ is clearly better than that of the original Nest Cam Indoor, we don't think that difference alone is large enough to consider upgrading. If you already have the Nest Cam Indoor we would only suggest upgrading if you want facial recognition capabilities.

App Ease of Use

Nest knows how to design an app. Accordingly, it earned the top score of 9 out of 10 in this metric.

Upon opening the app you either get a quick glance of what the camera is seeing and a scrollable video history timeline or if the camera has seen any new faces since you last opened the app, a few mugshots asking you whether or not you know the person. All of the menus felt intuitive and easy to navigate in our testing. Our only complaint is that you can't set activity zones within the app. To do that you'll have to log into your account on a PC. This isn't a frequent task so it's not a huge deal, but it would be nice if everything was contained in the app.

nest cam iq - the nest app's easy-to-use menus earned top score in our ease of use...
The Nest app's easy-to-use menus earned top score in our Ease of Use metric.
Credit: Steven Tata

Real Time Viewing

Real time viewing requires a lower quality video stream, lest you risk lots of buffering breaks. Therefore the IQ doesn't use the full force of its 4K camera in live streams. This earned it the same score as its predecessor, a still impressive 8 out of 10.

the IQ delivered the lowest latency time of any of our cameras at just 2 seconds. This is as close to real time as you're going to get. The stream was also smooth, never jumpy, and was clear or clearer than all of the competitors. Just don't expect a big bump in real time viewing quality if you're upgrading to the IQ from the old Nest Cam.

Installation Notes

The IQ has a flat magnetic base that can stand on any flat surface or stick to a vertical magnetic surface. It also comes with a screw on mounting plate for non-magnetic vertical surfaces.


The Nest Cam IQ is the most expensive camera we tested. If you're willing to pay for a subscription as well, it lives up to that price by offering a wider range of features than any other camera. However, if you just want something for live viewing you can save quite a bit by going with the original Nest Cam Indoor. Additionally, if you want to be able to access video histories without a subscription both Canary and NetGear offer much more attractive non-subscription services.

nest cam iq
Credit: Jenna Ammerman


The Nest Cam IQ is the most advanced camera on the home security market. If you want something that can recognize faces this is the camera for you, just don't forget that you'll have to shell out for a Nest Aware subscription as well.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata