Melanie asked: “My son and I both use iPhones and would like to find a CHEAP camera to place at my front door that either of us could see who is at the door from our phone. I don’t need night vision because the front porch light is always on at night. I don’t need audio. I prefer not to have to subscribe to a monitoring service/pay monthly fees/etc. I don’t currently have internet at my home as my connection comes from my T-Mobile cellular plan.
-If we need to use our laptop/iPad we use our hotspot via t-mobile as well
(Which I assume we’d have to use to connect to the camera to see who is at the door. However- If the only option is to obtain internet service, then I’d need to also know what speed/etc that I have to subscribe to for the camera to work to make sure I don’t get the wrong plan)
My front door has no windows and you can’t see who is at the door through the front windows due to landscaping and I can’t change stuff because I rent the home”
Melanie, realistically, we don’t think a camera that’s viewable through your iPhone will work for you, and here’s why:
You need a peephole camera, since you can’t see who’s outside through the windows, peephole cameras that are iPhone compatible assume there’s an internet connection and usually offer services like notifying you when you’re away and playing the video live for you.
All that comes at a cost, even generic smart peephole cameras cost around $100, with brand name cameras usually costing at least twice that. If you want a cheap solution, these are not for you.
From your point of view as a user, unless you paid for home internet, which would cost you more than one of those monthly smart doorbell subscriptions you’re trying to avoid, you’d have to hear the doorbell ring, then grab your phone, turn on your hotspot, wait for the camera to realize there’s a network nearby it can connect to, then connect the phone to the camera to see who’s at the door. That means you’ll probably give up, get up and go see who’s at the door.
Your best bet may be to buy an older type wireless peephole camera that doesn’t work with a smartphone, but instead just displays the video to a standalone monitor.
The big advantages for you of choosing a system like that are 1) cost, It would probably cost you around $30, 2) speed, it would work instantly so you may actually use it, and 3) it would not force you to pay for an internet connection that right now you don’t feel you need.
Unfortunately, the monitor will probably have to sit somewhere that both you and your son can get to, since we haven’t seen any systems that come with two screens.
If you do decide to go for one of the smart systems and pay for internet, just about any modern broadband connection will do, you won’t need extra fast speeds or high data caps, so feel free to go cheap on that if you need to, just keep in mind that the camera itself won’t be cheap.