Over the last few years, we’ve seen an influx of smart devices designed to replace and improve upon the everyday household items we use so often. Today, you’re even able to outfit your home with a smart doorbell, which has quickly become a necessity for many people.
If you’re in the market for a smart doorbell, you’ll soon learn that there are two frontrunners in the smart doorbell industry, and you’ll likely find yourself choosing between these two when it comes time to make your purchase. But, which is truly the best smart doorbell available? Skybell or Ring?
We took a closer look at the most popular products from these two companies, and today we’ll take a deep dive into the specs and features of the Skybell, Skybell Trim Plus, Ring Pro and Ring 2, so we can crown a winner in the battle of Skybell vs. Ring.
Which to Choose When
In a hurry? Here’s the bottom line, right up front.
Go For a Skybell if:
Go For a Ring if:
Here’s an easy way to look at the difference between the Fire TV and the Fire Stick—imagine the Fire TV is the premium version of the same car. One may be more capable, but is it worth the extra cost?
If you’re not sure, keep reading—we’ll be answering that question as best we can.
Key Features - Skybell HD
How much time do you have? When it comes to key features, the Skybell brings a seemingly endless array of important and desirable features to the table. Here are some of the highlights:
The Skybell HD offers full HD 1080p video with a framerate of 30fps. You’re also able to downstream the video quality to 720p or 480p if necessary. The Skybell also offers 5x zoom, which is beyond the capabilities of both the Ring Pro and Ring 2.
The video is crisp and clear in day or night settings, thanks to Skybell’s color night vision, which is another feature unique to Skybell. The Skybell is also able to take pictures at a resolution of 1920x1080.
Another impressive aspect of Skybell’s video capabilities is its field of view. The Skybell shoots video with a full 180-degree field of vision, so you’ll be able to capture every aspect of what’s happening in front of your home, without having to worry about blind spots.
Another unique feature of the Skybell HD is free cloud storage. Skybell will store your videos in the cloud for seven days from the date of recording. Other smart doorbells also offer cloud storage, but unlike the Skybell HD, it’s a paid service that runs $30-50 per year.
When there’s someone at the door, you’ll be able to use the Skybell’s built-in speaker and microphone to communicate with whoever is at your front door.
Perhaps the area where the Skybell HD shines the brightest is with its impressive range of integrations with other smart home products. The Skybell has always led the way with integrations and has featured Amazon Alexa and IFTTT support since its inception. More recently, the Skybell has added integrations with Google Assistant and Samsung SmartThings.
Here’s the full list of Skybell integrations:
- Amazon Alexa
- Google Assistant
- Samsung SmartThings
- Moni Smart Security
The Skybell app is comprehensive, and it allows you to control fully each aspect of the Skybell. From the app, you can watch on-demand video, view any previously recorded video or pictures that have been stored in the cloud, and modify the settings of your Skybell. The app also allows you to control the different integrations, and sync your Skybell with your existing smart home products.
Unfortunately, Skybell has yet to develop a web application, which means you’ll only be able to access video from the mobile app on your smartphone or tablet.
An onboard motion sensor allows the Skybell HD to detect motion across any of its zones, prompting it to begin recording immediately. Through the app, you’ll be able to control the motion detection sensitivity and set it to high, medium, or low.
We think the motion sensor on the Skybell HD is a bit sensitive, and depending on how far back your house is from the street, you may find that the Skybell begins recording every time a car passes by your home. But, on it’s lowest setting, the Skybell HD can pick up on what it should be recording, while ignoring the things it shouldn’t.
When it comes to installing a Skybell HD, the process is fairly straightforward. Of course, you’ll have to contend with some very basic electrical work to complete the installation. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, you may wish to hire a professional.
Keep in mind that this is unavoidable, there’s no non-wired installation option with the Skybell HD, so you’re going to have to dust off your electrician hat for this job. For the most part, there’s no alternative to wired installation for smart doorbells. The original Ring doorbell had a battery powered option available, although Ring has done away with that for the Ring Pro and Ring 2 models.
Before you get started with the installation process, you’ll want to take a look and see what kind of doorbell chime you have. The Skybell is compatible with mechanical doorbell chimes. A mechanical chime uses two metal cylinders and a tiny hammer that strikes the cylinders to produce that famous “ding-dong” sound.
Many newer homes are equipped with digital doorbell chimes, which replace the traditional mechanical chime device with a speaker which plays the sound of a doorbell when there’s a ring at the front door. To use your Skybell with a digital doorbell, you’ll need an adapter from Skybell before you get started.
Installation takes just a few minutes, but when it comes to the Skybell HD, there’s one caveat, and that’s the size and shape of the doorbell.
With its circular shape that’s nearly 3” in diameter, mounting the Skybell HD on a standard door frame is not a possibility. As a result, mounting this doorbell on a standard door frame isn’t possible, unless you don’t mind half the doorbell hanging over the door frame on one side.
The Skybell HD is ideal for homes where the existing doorbell is located on the house itself, and not the door frame. You could certainly relocate the doorbell from the doorframe to the house, but this will involve considerably more work.
Appearance and Build Quality
The Skybell HD is available in two finish options: brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronze. Both look expensive and elegant and are sure to complement your home’s exterior.
The Skybell HD is built to last, and it performs in seriously adverse conditions as well as it would on a sunny Spring day. The Skybell HD can perform in temperatures as low as -40 Fahrenheit, or as high as 140 Fahrenheit.
Key Features - Skybell Trim Plus
The Skybell Trim Plus provides all of the key features from the Skybell HD. But, there are a few slight differences that are important to note. The Trim Plus also addresses the installation caveat seen with the Skybell HD.
The Skybell Trim Plus maintains the same 1080p video quality from the HD model, with one major difference. Unlike the HD, which shoots video at 30fps, the Trim Plus only shoots video at 15fps. This measurement refers to the number of frames the camera shoots per second. The higher the frame rate, the smoother and crisper the video will appear.
Despite the fact that the Trim Plus shoots half the amount of frames per second as the HD, the difference in video quality won’t be a major concern for most people. After all, we’re talking about video recorded by your doorbell, not a professional video camera.
Cloud Storage, Two-Way Voice, Build Quality & Integrations
The Trim Plus is identical to the HD regarding cloud storage, two-way voice ability, and integrations. You’ll be able to enjoy the same free seven-day storage, two-way voice communications and broad range of integrations with the Trim Plus. When it comes to the build quality, you can count on the same color configurations and build quality from the HD. The Trim Plus also can operate in the same extreme conditions as the HD.
Another major difference between the Trim Plus and the HD is the ease of installation. Both models require wired installation, and neither should take more than 15 minutes to install on your house.
However, the Trim Plus maintains a footprint similar to a traditional doorbell. The Trim Plus can be installed in the same location as the doorbell it’s replacing, which makes the Trim Plus an ideal option for door frame installs.
Key Features - Ring Pro
The oldest and most popular smart doorbell company, Ring, manufactures a few different models that can hold court with the Skybell HD and Skybell Trim Plus.
The Ring company was recently acquired by Amazon, so you can expect even more from them in the way of integrations and exciting new features moving forward. Here’s a closer look at the most important features the Ring Pro provides.
The Ring Pro provides full HD 1080p video recording with zoom. The zoom isn’t quite as comprehensive as what Skybell offers, but it should be more than enough for your needs.
The field of vision on the Ring Pro is 160 degrees, which means that anything to the far left and far right of the camera will be lost. There’s also some noticeable barrel distortion around the edges of the video.
The video quality of the Ring Pro is exceptionally crisp and clear, and the night vision video is also clear and detailed out to about 25 feet. However, the Ring Pro does not have color night vision like the Skybell offerings.
Like the Skybell HD, the Ring Pro also shoots video at a cinema quality 30 frames per second. Unlike the Skybell, you can’t use the camera to take pictures.
Ring also uses cloud storage which allows you to view, store and download any video taken by the Ring Pro. However, with Ring, this is a paid service.
Customers can choose between two options: a $3 monthly ($30 yearly) plan, which provides 60 days of cloud storage and access to all the recorded videos from your Ring Pro, or a $10 monthly ($100 yearly) pro plan.
The Pro plan allows you to view, store and download videos from an unlimited number of cameras, which is useful if you have other Ring devices, such as the Ring Floodlight Cam. The Pro plan also extends the warranty on your Ring Pro smart doorbell from one year to a lifetime warranty.
While we appreciate the ability to store videos for 60 days, and the addition of the lifetime warranty is a great feature with the Pro plan, we aren’t thrilled by the idea of enrolling in a monthly service just to be able to view and store videos.
Two Way Voice
The Ring Pro offers crisp and clear two-way voice communication thanks to its onboard speaker and microphone. You’ll be able to communicate with whoever is at your door from wherever you are.
These days, the most important aspect of any smart doorbell is the number of (and quality of) integrations it has. Much like the Skybell, you’ll be able to sync your Ring doorbell with virtually any smart device in your home, thanks to its IFTTT integration. The Ring Pro is also compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
The Ring app provides all of the functionality and features you’ll need to take full advantage of all of the Ring’s features. There’s a comprehensive set up section that helps to walk you through set up, right on your smartphone or tablet. Once you’re set up, the Ring app will let you set up and control different integrations, view and download videos from the cloud, and view on demand live video.
One major advantage of Ring compared to the competition is their web application. Unlike other smart doorbells, you can also access the features of your smart doorbell from your laptop or computer as well.
Motion detection is an area where the Ring Pro truly shines. Unlike other smart doorbells, which rely on predefined motion zones to detect motion, the Ring Pro allows users to create custom zones.
By creating custom zones, you’re able to exclude areas that would frequently generate “false positives,” like the street in front of your house, or the sidewalk. That way, the Ring Pro will only record genuinely important events, like someone walking up to your front door.
Through the Ring app, you’re even able to schedule specific times throughout the day or week where your motion detection is turned off. That way, you won’t have to worry about your smart doorbell generating false positives when your garbage gets picked up, or when the children in your neighborhood are walking home from school.
Appearance & Build Quality
The Ring Pro features a sleek appearance that’s complemented by its four different faceplate options (which are included in the box). That way, you’ll be able to customize the look of your doorbell to fit the aesthetic of your home.
The doorbell itself feels well-made and built to last. However, it doesn’t quite bring the same level of performance as the Skybells when it comes to extreme heat or cold. The Ring Pro will function properly in temperatures between -5 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Installation of the Ring Pro is straightforward and easy, and you should be able to install the doorbell with no issue easily. Ring provides detailed instructions in the box, and for those who are particularly intimidated by the idea of installing a smart doorbell, they also provide videos to walk you through the entire setup process from start to finish.
Unlike the Skybell HD and Skybell Trim Plus, the Ring Pro is compatible with mechanical and digital doorbell chimes, so you won’t have to worry about purchasing an additional adapter if you have a digital doorbell chime.
The Ring Pro features a similar footprint as a traditional doorbell, so you shouldn’t run into any issues mounting the Ring Pro on your door frame, or wherever else your old doorbell was located.
Another issue worth noting regarding installation, the Ring Pro allows you to use either standard 2.4ghz WIFI or the newer 5ghz option. This helps ensure that you’ll have the bandwidth you need for your Ring Pro to run at it’s best, and it also helps eliminate any wireless interference you may be dealing with.
Thanks to its slim design and the comprehensive instructions and available installation videos, the Ring Pro may be the easiest smart doorbell to install.
Key Features - Ring 2
The Ring 2 is the latest smart doorbell from Ring. Here’s what you can expect from the key features of this product.
Like the Ring Pro, you’ll be able to enjoy full HD 1080p 30fps video with this model. Like the Ring Pro, it also features a 160-degree field of vision. Also, like the Ring Pro, it suffers from slight barrel distortion along the edges of the video as well.
This model also lacks color night vision, but it still delivers crisp and clear video at night. In fact, the video quality at night is improved over the Ring Pro and provides a crystal-clear picture up to 30 feet out.
Two Way Voice
The voice module of the Ring 2 is slightly improved as well and includes a second speaker. The result is two-way communication that’s even more clear than the Ring Pro.
Cloud Storage, App, Integrations & Motion Detection
All of these key features are identical to the Ring Pro we just discussed earlier.
With the Ring 2, you’ll still be able to choose between two different storage plans ($3 or $10 a month), you’ll still use the Ring app to control every aspect of the doorbell.
You’ll be able to make use of the same great suite of integrations as the Ring Pro, and the industry-leading motion detection remains the same as well.
Appearance and Build Quality
Looks wise, the Ring 2 is surprisingly large. Usually, newer models tend to be slimmer and more streamlined. However, Ring appears to have gone in reverse with this Ring 2, which clocks in at a massive 5” wide.
Extra faceplates are included with this model as well, although you’ll receive two (matte black and matte silver) instead of four.
Just like the Ring Pro, this smart doorbell is rated to operate at temperatures between -5 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Compared to the Ring Pro, installation is even easier with the Ring 2. Of the doorbells we’ve covered, the Ring 2 is the only smart doorbell that allows for wireless, battery-powered operation.
The Ring 2 also allows for wired installation, and the installation procedures for this model are the same as what you’d expect with the wired installation for all other smart doorbells.
If you decide on the battery-powered route, you’ll get between three and six months of operation from a single charge. When it’s time to recharge, you’ll pop the doorbell off the mounting bracket and plug it into the included micro USB cable to charge.
While we appreciate that the Ring 2 can run on battery power and eliminate the need for a wired installation, it does come at a price. Compared to the Skybell HD, Slim Plus, and Ring Pro, the Ring 2 is massive in size. It measures in at 5 inches wide by 2 ½ inches tall, which will create some installation issues if you planned on installing it on your door frame.
Since it can run on battery power, it’s easy to relocate your doorbell from the door frame to an exterior wall. But, if your old doorbell was located on the door frame, you’ll then have to figure out a way to hide the holes and wiring left behind when you remove it.
One final installation note: Unlike the Ring 2, the Ring Pro can only operate on 2.4ghz WIFI, so the 5ghz option is off the table with this product.
Our reviews have been critical of all of these products, but it’s important to remember that you can’t go wrong with any of these impressive smart doorbells. These four options represent the cream of the crop, and regardless of the one you choose, you’ll be getting one of the best smart doorbells on the market.
That said, our overall winner is the Skybell HD. While it lacks the impressive motion detection options of the Ring Pro and Ring 2, it manages to outperform the Ring doorbells by every other measure, making it our clear choice as the best smart doorbell of the year.