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Ring Battery Doorbell Pro review: An expensive but effective porch security camera

Even with some dated design elements, Ring's latest camera offers plenty to like.

Ring, we need to talk. You all but pioneered the video doorbell industry and now claim some of the top-rated models on the market. So how, how could you make such a bone-headed design decision for your new Battery Doorbell Pro — an otherwise solid product for home security? OK, hang on, I'm getting ahead of myself. This new-generation porch camera has plenty to recommend it, including a few nifty features not found elsewhere. It also suffers from some quirks and annoyances, which you should definitely know about before buying. Here's my Ring Battery Doorbell Pro review.

Rick Broida/Yahoo News

VERDICT: A great video doorbell overall, but there's not enough "Pro" in the Battery Doorbell Pro to justify its high cost, especially considering the outdated battery technology.

Pros
  • High-quality head-to-toe video
  • Above-average companion app
  • Can use Echo speakers as doorbell chimes
  • Excellent night vision and two-way audio
  • Useful Neighbors feature increases community awareness
Cons
  • Minimal, confusing printed instructions
  • Micro-USB battery charging
  • Mediocre battery life at default settings
  • Many features require Ring Protect subscription (which now costs more)
  • No support for Apple HomeKit or Google Home
$230 at Amazon
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If you're not especially tech-savvy, be prepared for some challenges getting started. Ring provides only a tiny printed quick-start guide, one that lists all the included installation hardware but doesn't actually cover installation. Instead, it directs you to download the Ring app, scan the tiny QR code on the front of the guide and then "remove protective film" (but you're not shown from where).

To its credit, the app walks you through the rest of the process (see below), but I still think anyone unfamiliar with this kind of product is likely to experience confusion along the way.

Unlike the hardwired models in Ring's lineup, the Battery Doorbell Pro is a wide, chunky-looking device — necessary to accommodate its removable, rechargeable battery, but largely unchanged from its original design. Although the BDP can be used with existing doorbell wiring, you can get a slimmer, sleeker model in the form of the otherwise identical Wired Doorbell Pro. Even though it's priced the same (odd given that it doesn't have a battery), I'd choose the latter if you don't need or want battery power.

That battery was the source of some initial confusion — and consternation. To access it, you pop off the bottom section of the doorbell, then push a metal tab to slide it out. Easy enough, but that's when you discover the battery has a micro-USB charging port. In 2024. I'm utterly mystified by this decision, and more than a little annoyed. It's beyond comprehension that a major tech product from a major tech company would fail to incorporate USB-C.

Is it really that big a deal? Yes, because not only is micro-USB less convenient, it's much slower for charging. Ring estimates anywhere from 5-10 hours to get a full charge, meaning you could be without doorbell power for the better part of a day (or night).

A photo of the quick-start guide's battery instructions alongside the instructions printed on the battery itself.
Left: The quick-start guide seems to indicate that the battery is fully charged when one LED remains lit. The diagram on the battery itself tells a different story. Neither one reflects what actually happens. (Rick Broida/Yahoo News)

What's more, I was baffled by the charging instructions on the quick-start guide; the diagram seems to be at odds with the one on the battery itself (see above photo). The latter shows green and red LEDs, but they're actually green and orange. The printed guide suggests the battery is fully charged when the lower LED is the only one still lit. The battery diagram suggests a full charge when only the green LED — the top one — is fully lit. But here's the kicker: Even after 12 full hours of charging, both LEDs stayed lit. And just to further confuse matters, Ring's online battery-charging instructions refer to a blue LED. Huh?

Why are there even two LEDs to begin with? Why not just one that flashes while charging and then turns solid when done? If there's any good news here, it's that the Ring app reported a 100% charge when I put the battery back into the doorbell.

If you're wondering how long will it last before needing to be charged again, Ring doesn't provide an estimate, which is puzzling and a potential deal-breaker. Before I buy any battery-powered device, I want to know how often I'll have to recharge it. Every six months? Every two? Obviously, the number will vary depending on usage, but at least give me a ballpark. (Keep reading to learn what my testing revealed.)

For the record, although my house has existing doorbell wiring, I opted not to use it; this is the Battery Doorbell Pro, after all.

Setup within the Ring app requires a number of steps, including creating a new Ring account, linking your Amazon account (optional but recommended) and setting up two-step verification for security purposes (mandatory). You also need to provide your home address. None of this is complicated, but it does take a few minutes to plod through the various verifications. And somehow I ended up with duplicated location entries for my home, with no obvious way to delete the extra one.

Screenshots from the Ring app's installation tutorial.
The Ring app (shown here on iPhone) does a good job of walking you through initial installation and setup steps, but there's a lot to learn (and remember) along the way. And although the app reminds you constantly about the importance of adding a Protect Plan, it doesn't let you actually manage one. (Rick Broida/Yahoo News)

The app provides a helpful animated walkthrough that covers various doorbell-installation methods: wired or battery, brick or wood mounting surface, etc. Ring supplies a plastic wedge in case you want an angled installation instead of straight ahead.

From there you're guided through several tutorials regarding motion settings, device sharing (like with a family member), the bird's-eye feature (discussed below) and so on. These are useful, novice-friendly guides, but it's a lot to understand and remember. I review tech for a living, and honestly I felt a bit overwhelmed during the setup process.

The final step is deciding whether to pay for one of Ring's Protect Plans, though you get a 30-day free trial to help make that decision. The Battery Doorbell Pro is fairly limited without one; it can detect motion and display a live video feed on-demand, but if you want to record, save and/or share video, get person/package notifications and so on, you'll need a subscription.

As of mid-March 2024, the cost of the Basic plan increased to $5 monthly (or $50 annually) from the previous $4 monthly and $40 annually; no new features were added. The Plus and Pro plans remain at $10 and $20 monthly, respectively, with similar discounts for prepaying a full year.

My review is based on the Basic plan; any features mentioned below are included, and the pros and cons listed in the box above reflect that as well.

Ultimately, whether you need a subscription depends on whether you want to preserve video and get person/package detection. For example, I have a neighbor who just wants notifications when someone is at his door and a live video feed when that happens; he doesn't bother with a Protect Plan and doesn't care about recordings. But he works from home, so he considers them largely unnecessary.

Last thing: Because I rely primarily on Alexa-powered devices in my smart home, I had no issues with the Battery Doorbell Pro's lack of support for Apple HomeKit and Google Home. Needless to say, if you're already vested in either of those platforms, you may want to find a doorbell that's compatible.

The Battery Doorbell Pro incorporates a 1536p (tech-speak for "relatively high-definition") camera lens that produces a square, slightly fish-eye image of 150 degrees by 150 degrees. This affords an admirably complete view of my porch, which Ring refers to as "head to toe." That not only keeps any visitor fully in view when they're at the door, but it also lets me see any packages that might be on the ground (unless they're directly below the camera).

Two night-vision views from the Ring Battery Doorbell Pro and one during daylight hours.
The Ring Battery Doorbell Pro offers excellent night vision. Left: what it captured well before the sun came up, without the porch light on. Center: With the porch light on, it's almost as good as daytime. Right: Full daylight. (Rick Broida/Yahoo News)

Like nearly all modern video doorbells, this one can detect motion, capture video (in color) at night and let you speak to whoever's at your door (via the Ring app or an Alexa-compatible device like an Echo speaker). You can also view a live feed from just about anywhere — not just the Ring app, but also your web browser and Echo Show devices.

Unlike other video doorbells, the BDP supports Smart Responses — canned audio messages that can play after a set number of seconds when someone rings the bell. There are lots of these to choose from, with both male and female voices, and you'll even see some seasonal choices as well. You can also give the option to "leave a message," a nice touch.

Another unique-to-Ring feature: Bird's Eye Zones and Bird's Eye View, which can alert you when there's movement in a particular area and show you an overhead view of that movement. While I'm not sure I see a ton of value here, it does add another layer of information to the mix. For example, you could determine if someone was skulking in the bushes by your door, something the camera might not adequately capture.

Finally, there's Neighbors, a kind of NextDoor-like community feature that can alert you when other Ring users post about safety, crime, lost animals and so on. Similarly, you can post alerts of your own, with or without your own video. Notifications can reach you via the app, email or both. All this is entirely optional, of course, but I think it's a great tool that can improve neighborhood communication and safety.

These and other features are accessed and modified using the Ring app, which I found easy to understand in most areas but a bit confounding in others. Everything is very intuitive and clearly labeled, most notably the dashboard and settings pages. You're not saddled with a bunch of hard-to-decipher icons like in a lot of other security-camera apps.

Various screenshots from the Ring app.
While I like how clearly everything is labeled in the Ring app, I do think there are a LOT of settings to learn and manage. (Rick Broida/Yahoo News)

However, when I first got started, the app displayed a big orange banner regarding the Ring Protect Plan, indicating how many days were left in the 30-day trial and this message: "Tap here to save your video recordings." I tapped and was met with a plan info page and a message indicating "Plans can't be managed in the Ring App." But there was nothing about saving video recordings.

Next, while the Battery Doorbell Pro can leverage various Alexa-connected devices — Echo speakers, Echo Shows, etc. — for chime purposes, when I attempted to add mine within the app, it never got past a spinning "searching" wheel. I restarted the app and tried again, this time learning that I had "no compatible devices." As it turned out, the previous act of linking my Amazon account also linked the doorbell to the Alexa app, so all my devices were already engaged for chime duty.

But, hang on, there's a setting called Linked Chimes, which is effectively an ad for Ring Chimes and has no relation to the aforementioned Alexa chimes. That sent me searching elsewhere to figure out how to manage the latter; this time, I landed in the Device Settings screen and "In-home Chime Settings" — which also had no information related to Alexa chimes.

Again: In many respects the app is easy; in some, it's confusing. On the whole, I think it's better than most, but be prepared for some head-scratching here and there.

After living with the Battery Doorbell Pro for over six weeks, I've found it to be a useful addition to my home. It alerts me when someone is at my door (or rings the bell, natch) and keeps false notifications to a minimum (though I do get the occasional alert when there's no activity to speak of, as evidenced by a recorded video of ... nothing). It's great being able to quickly toggle off alerts (or snooze them for a set amount of time), like when people are going in and out during a family gathering and I don't want my phone pinging constantly.

One thing I did notice, however, is that in all my recorded videos, the first four seconds were jerky and low-res, without sound. This is the result of the Ring's pre-roll capability, which captures a bit of extra footage before a "motion event" is actually triggered and recorded. Interestingly, hardwired Ring doorbells will capture six seconds of high-res pre-roll with sound; I'm not sure why the battery models can't do likewise except that "advanced pre-roll" must have a significant power requirement.

As noted above, I find it curious that Ring doesn't provide even an estimate for how long the battery will last before needing to be recharged. Granted, there are many variables at play, including how often you look at a live feed (and for how long), whether you enable features like HDR and color night vision and so on.

For my tests, I left the default settings as they were and attempted "normal" usage of the Battery Doorbell Pro. After two weeks, the battery was down to 80%. After six, 50%. Those numbers suggest needing to recharge every 10-12 weeks, which isn't great. Ideally I'd like to get at least six months. Heck, my old Wyze Cam Outdoor had no trouble lasting that long, and it has a smaller battery.

A photo of the Ring Solar Charger for Battery Doorbells.
If your doorbell gets a few hours of sunlight every day, consider mounting it on Ring's Solar Charger, which should eliminate the need to manually recharge the battery. (Ring)

There are workarounds, though. Ring offers a solar panel mount for the doorbell that would effectively eliminate the need to recharge, provided it can get at least a few hours of sunlight each day. Alternately, you can buy a second battery, keep it charged, then just swap it in when needed.

It's worth mentioning that for several years, Ring has been in the news owing to privacy matters — first for sharing users' video footage with local police and fire departments (upon request), then, more recently, for ending that policy.

Privacy is a concern with many smart-home devices, particularly those with cameras. Eufy and Wyze, for example, have rankled doorbell and security-cam users, in one case promising encryption that wasn't there and in the other failing to catch (or admit to) system vulnerabilities.

My two cents: When you install an internet-connected camera in or outside your home, there's always a risk that the feed or footage could be hacked. But I consider that risk extremely small and the potential for harm even smaller (at least for cameras mounted outside). Meanwhile, the advantages are significant and demonstrable. In the end, it's up to you to decide your comfort level with these devices. I'll just note that I've used lots of them over the years with no privacy issues to speak of.

I have more complaints with the Battery Doorbell Pro itself than I do over any privacy concerns. Setup is more confusing than it should be, battery life is worse than it should be and the battery itself doesn't incorporate basic 2024 technology (i.e. USB-C). Meanwhile, Ring charges a minimum of $5 monthly just to store videos in the cloud, with no option for free local storage, and that's on top of a fairly expensive initial investment.

All those gripes aside, I like this doorbell a lot. Once it's installed and configured to your liking, it's easy to use and very good at what it does. I like the Neighbors feature, the Echo-as-doorbell-chime capability and the relative simplicity of the Ring app.

But here's the thing: For $80 less, the Battery Doorbell Plus has nearly all the same features (minus pre-roll and Bird's Eye, which are hardly essential). All else being equal, that's the model I'd be more likely to choose.