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Yale Smart Outdoor Camera review: An effective wireless camera with no subscription required

Our Rating :
£110.00 from
Price when reviewed : £120
inc VAT

The Yale Smart Outdoor Camera is simple to use, has up to four days of internal storage and you don’t need to pay for a subscription


  • No need for a subscription
  • Internal storage
  • Easy setup


  • Occasional connection issues
  • Battery power not for everyone
  • Some features not yet available

The Yale Smart Outdoor Camera is a battery-powered security camera which, as the name suggests, is designed to be mounted outside. It goes up against the likes of the Ring Spotlight Camera Battery and the Nest Cam but costs less than either of those alternatives, while also packing the trump card of recording video locally without the need for an ongoing subscription.

A well-known producer of door locks and home alarm systems, Yale is only just getting started in the smart security space. I recently reviewed its indoor camera and gave it the full five stars, and this outdoor model shares many of that camera’s attributes.

Although it doesn’t force you to take out a subscription, Yale does offer one that adds extra features. It’s also promising more subscription tiers in future, including one with live, professional monitoring. For now, I’ll be reviewing the outdoor camera on its own.

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Yale Smart Outdoor Camera review: What do you get for your money?

The Yale Smart Outdoor Camera will set you back £120, which is fairly standard for this type of camera. It’s a similar price to the Eufy SoloCam S220 – our current favourite outdoor security camera – and its specifications are similar, too.

The Yale records video in Full HD resolution, has infrared night vision and motion detection that can tell the difference between humans and other types of movement. It includes a speaker and microphone for two-way audio. And it connects to your home network directly via Wi-Fi, while a smartphone app allows you to view video clips and live video and to manage settings.

The camera’s greatest asset, though, is that it records triggered video clips locally, something precious few of its rivals do these days. Yale says between two and four days’ worth of footage can be saved to the camera itself, ready to be streamed to the app – or downloaded to your phone – whenever you want to view it.

Like other such security cameras, customisable detection zones and privacy zones mean you can set exactly where the camera records and what it ignores; black boxes can be placed over certain areas of its view, to prevent violating your neighbours’ privacy. Yale says geofencing linked to your smartphone location – where the camera is switched on when you leave home, for example – is coming soon.

Finally, the camera records through a 154-degree lens at 1080p resolution, with the option to drop this to 720p if you’d rather store more footage, and each recording can be configured to last between 10 and 60 seconds.

For mounting, the Yale Smart Outdoor Camera ticks all the boxes. It comes with a stand that screws into the rear of the camera and uses a ball-and-socket joint to offer a good amount of adjustability. It’s also possible to flip the video recording by 180 degrees, which can come in handy if you want to mount the camera upside down. A mounting plate is also included, which slides securely onto the stand and can then be screwed onto a wall or fence; a pair of screws and wall plugs are provided, along with a USB-C cable for charging the camera’s internal battery.

Other notable features include an integrated spotlight (although this can only be controlled manually rather than illuminating when motion is spotted) and colour night vision, in addition to monochrome infrared vision. Adding colour to night-time recordings is welcome, but in very dark environments I suggest you use infrared instead, as it offers superior detail.

Yale’s optional subscription is priced at £3.50 per month, per camera, and it saves recorded video online, where it can be viewed and downloaded for up to 30 days before being deleted. The plan also enables what Yale calls Advanced AI Motion Detection. Essentially, this allows the camera to tell the difference between humans, pets and vehicles, so you can avoid being notified when your cat wanders across your garden or a car drives past the front of your house. The subscription also enables a feature that notifies you when a parcel delivery is caught on camera.

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Yale Smart Outdoor Camera review: What does it do well?

As with Yale’s smart indoor camera, the setup process is quick and easy. I especially like how Yale uses plain English to describe the camera’s features and functions. There’s no tech jargon whatsoever, and even the menu page for adjusting the camera brightness uses words (“very low”, “low”, “medium”, etc) instead of exposure values.

I also love how well Yale has implemented the detection and privacy zone functions. Some cameras really struggle to make this intuitive, whereas the Yale app simply lays a grid over the live view. You then tap the sections of the grid in which you want motion to be ignored, thus creating a detection zone everywhere else. For privacy zones, tapped areas are blacked out, so you can obscure your neighbour’s door and windows from recordings.

Also impressive is the quality of the video itself. Yale has stopped short of offering 4K footage, but that’s a good move given the battery life and storage constraints of wireless cameras such as this. A 4K resolution would of course be sharper and offer more detail, but for a view of your garden or driveway the Yale’s Full HD does a perfectly reasonable job. There’s a good amount of detail and colour reproduction is decent, although I found the brightness needed bumping up a bit, just as it did with Yale’s indoor smart camera. The 154-degree lens captures an image that’s plenty wide enough, albeit with a bit of distortion towards the edges.

I like how Yale’s latest security cameras are powered by USB-C. In this case, the outdoor camera’s battery is charged by removing the USB-C port’s weather-resistant cover and connecting a charger. Only a cable is included in the box, but I’d be surprised if any household doesn’t have either a USB-C or USB-A charger readily available. The port is easily accessible on the rear of the camera, but the need to charge means it has to be positioned somewhere accessible; whether that requires leaning out of a window or propping a ladder against the wall is up to you.

Yale doesn’t say how long the battery should last. That isn’t too surprising, though, as this will vary based on how frequently the camera is triggered by movement, how long it records for on each occasion, and how often the user views footage on their phone. A half-day of setting up and testing the camera for this review saw the battery drop from full to 80 per cent.

This might sound alarming, but once properly set up it will only record when human movement is spotted in a tightly controlled area of my driveway. With just a handful of recordings per day, I expect the battery to last several weeks between charges. Helpfully, the battery percentage can be viewed in the app and a notification arrives when the camera loses power.

To remove this complication entirely, Yale sells a solar panel charger for £35 and an outdoor USB cable for £17. A mains-powered installation is also available, but this more than doubles the price of the camera.

Notifications tend to arrive via the Yale Home app in about ten seconds. This means you might not catch a live view of the potential burglar, but footage recorded from the moment movement is detected is available to stream from the camera right away. It will remain available to view and download for the next two to four days, depending on how quickly the camera’s internal storage fills up and older footage is overwritten.

The Yale camera’s limited storage (and the fact that the company doesn’t disclose the capacity) is something to be aware of, but this is still preferable to how other companies, such as Ring, offer no free or local storage at all. Lastly, Yale’s outdoor smart camera is compatible with the Google Home and Amazon Alexa smart home systems, meaning you can ask your voice assistant to show a live video feed from the camera on a compatible smart display, such as those from the Amazon Echo Show range.

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Yale Smart Outdoor Camera review: What could it do better?

Just like Yale’s indoor smart camera, there’s very little cause for concern here. That said, the usual limitations of security cameras remain. This includes how the infrared function only works up to six metres away, so movement beyond that distance won’t be reliably seen or recorded.

There’s also the usual requirement that you take a trial-and-error approach to the initial setup process. You’ll need to spend a while experimenting with the camera’s brightness setting, motion sensitivity and recording duration, as well as the privacy and motion zones. This can be a slightly frustrating process, especially when the camera seems as though it isn’t working properly. But often you just need to make sure all the changes you’ve made have been saved, then close the app, step back, and give the camera an hour or so. That way, you can see if it’s responding to the right sort of movement and alerting you accordingly.

Also similar to Yale’s indoor camera is how this one occasionally throws up a “camera unavailable” error. Although annoying, this is always fixed by force-quitting and reopening the Yale app. Thankfully, the error doesn’t stop footage from being recorded, but is instead a brief issue with viewing a live stream.

A slightly higher resolution would have been welcome, along with HDR, but I understand why a battery-powered camera misses out here. I’d rather have Full HD and longer battery life.

Lastly, while I welcome the fact that Yale doesn’t effectively force users into taking out a subscription, charging £3.50 a month per device will be expensive for anyone wanting to kit out a large home with multiple cameras. At the time of writing (February 2024), Yale hasn’t announced a price for its Secure Plan, which provides AI features and 30 days of cloud video storage for multiple cameras. I’m hoping this will be better value than, say, a trio of single-camera subscriptions.

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Yale Smart Outdoor Camera review: Should you buy one?

It really is hard to fault this camera. Its upfront price is higher than some rivals but, unlike alternatives such as the Ring Outdoor Camera Battery, the Yale gives you access to recorded video clips without a subscription. Since Ring has just pushed up its subscription prices to £5 per month per camera, there’s no better time to consider a more cost-effective alternative.

The Yale Smart Outdoor Camera records in Full HD and has useful features such as infrared night vision, a speaker and microphone for two-way audio, a strong and reliable Wi-Fi connection and that all-important internal storage. It’s a top-quality, simple-to-use and effective home security camera that just does the job.

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