All Ring Doorbell Models Explained (Beginner-Friendly Buying Guide) – New Video

Ring have come a long way since their appearance on Shark Tank back in 2013. Heck, they now offer 10 different smart doorbells (and over 10 smart cameras).

Whilst this is good in terms of choice, it can also be pretty confusing.

As as a result, I shot this video to talk you through all the similarities and differences between each Ring Doorbell:

I start by covering the main difference – whether it’s hardwired or battery-powered – and then I move onto the specific features.

Feel free to jump to a specific section of the video:

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 1:15 Battery vs Hardwired models
  • 3:16 Hardwired model feature differences
  • 4:44 Pro vs Pro 2
  • 5:52 Battery model feature differences
  • 6:26 Ring Doorbell 1 (2020 edition)
  • 7:02 Pre-roll explanation
  • 7:52 Ring Doorbell 3
  • 8:11 Ring Doorbell 3 Plus
  • 8:35 Ring Doorbell 4
  • 9:02 Wrapping up

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. Ring have come a long way since their appearance on Shark Tank as “Door Bot” back in 2013. They started out with a single smart doorbell, but now they have 10 smart doorbells and over 10 smart cameras – when you include all the variants.

All this choice is great, but it can also be confusing – as my previous rant explained! So today’s video will cover all the Ring doorbell models so it’s clearer which one you should buy (I’ll also cover the different Ring Camera models in a future video). Right then, let’s get started – I’m going to explain the different Ring Doorbells in the form of a song… RIIINNNNGG, your doorbell from RIINNNNGGG….

Just kidding, don’t worry I won’t sing any more. So the 10 most recent Ring Doorbell models are shown on-screen now, but it’s worth pointing out that the original Ring Video Doorbell (which films in a lower resolution, 720p) is no longer sold. The Ring Doorbell 2 is also not actively for sale. Both WILL work if you already own one (or find it on the shelf somewhere), but you won’t be able to buy them directly from Ring or Amazon anymore so I’ll skip them in this video.

The first key difference is whether the Ring doorbell is battery powered or wired in. The Wired, Pro and Pro 2 are all wired into your house’s mains electricity, and they then connect to your router over Wi-Fi. The Ring Doorbell Elite is ALSO wired in, but to Ethernet not your mains power. That’s right, the very expensive Elite runs on power over Ethernet – meaning that CAT cable (also called “network cable”) is run to the doorbell and it provides both power and internet connectivity. In general, there four “wired in” models are a bit harder to install than the battery alternatives, but the constant power supply means that they often perform better since they don’t need to worry about power conservation and reducing functionality to save battery life. In other words, the all important motion detection tends to work much better with these models.

And that brings us nicely onto the other Ring doorbells – the battery ones. These have a battery (surprising, eh?) and then they connect to your router over Wi-Fi. These CAN also be ‘hardwired’ in, but this is mainly to provide a low-voltage trickle charge to keep the battery charged up. You don’t have to hardwire these in, of course, but it just means that you have to take them down and charge them up when the Ring app notifies you that the battery is running low. During this re-charging time (which can take as much as 10 hours), your property won’t benefit from a smart doorbell which is a clear downside. But the upside is that these battery models ARE much easier to install – just mount them, and connect over WiFi. There are no wires to run and no transformers are required.

So that’s the first main difference – whether your Ring Doorbells are battery powered or wired. But now I wanted to cover the specific feature differences between each of them. Sticking with the four wired models for a second, we have the Wired, Pro, Pro 2 and Elite.

All four of these have the same general features – such as recordings that are activated based on motion, and getting alerts when someone is at your door. They also have snapshot captures, live view modes, changeable recording lengths, “People Only” mode, two-way intercom-style facilities, motion snooze schedules and more. Basically all the normal features that you will have seen your friends and family use, and on the TV ads.

But in terms of differences, the Pro and Elite both offer a bit more than the Wired, and then the Pro 2 offers more than the rest. I cover all the differences between the Pro and Wired in another video, but the two main ones are that the Pro is dual-band – offering both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi support – and also the Pro can be hooked up to your existing mechanical chime to ring your old doorbell too. The Wired is stuck at 2.4 GHz support and only officially supports the plug-in Ring Chime.

The Pro, Pro 2 and Elite also offer the new quick reply and Alexa greeting features, which are designed to usefully tell visitors and delivery couriers what to do when you’re out (or busy). So clearly the Wired has some missing features, but is there a benefit of the Pro 2 over the Pro?

Well yes, I also cover this in another video, but the Pro 2 has a built-in radar, “head to toe” resolution (to see more of people when they approach your doorbell) and also an improved speaker and microphone (so you can finally speak to your visitors without the wind causing loads of distortion!). The benefit of those final two points are fairly clear, but what about the radar? Well, this allows the Pro 2 to build up a “birds eye view” map of where your visitors walked before they pressed your doorbell. I personally wouldn’t use this feature, but if you had a large front yard, it might help you see whether someone is scoping out your property.

And that’s basically it for the four “wired” doorbells. The Pro 2 is the best on paper, although whether it’s worth $80 more than the Pro 1 is debatable. The Wired is available at an awesome price ($60) considering it has all the basic Ring features, whereas the Elite is the only option open to you if you want a smart Power over Ethernet doorbell.

Now onto the battery models. There’s quite a few of these, but the original 720p Doorbell and the Doorbell 2 aren’t sold anymore so I’ll disregard these for now – especially since the Doorbell 2 isn’t much different from the Doorbell 1 2020 edition. That means that there’s four battery models to discuss: the Doorbell 1 2020 edition, the Doorbell 3, the Doorbell 3 Plus and the recently released Doorbell 4. This is where it gets a bit confusing… thanks Ring.

Let’s start with the easy case: the Doorbell 1 2020 edition. This is a bit like the “Wired” model: it has a lot of the basic Ring features (I’d argue, 90% of the important stuff) but nothing more. It doesn’t offer quick replies, it’s stuck at 2.4 GHz WiFi, it doesn’t have a quick-release battery, you can’t change the faceplate, and it doesn’t offer pre-roll. But that’s not to say that it’s BAD – it costs less than $100 and it’s still a really convenient product that records at full HD… or Ring’s version of “full HD”, anyway (Ring compress the video down via a low bit-rate, so it’s not really true HD).

Before I move on, I need to mention “pre-roll”, as this is an important topic for the next 3 doorbells. Ring’s battery doorbells have traditionally started recording right before someone clicks your doorbell, which isn’t always useful – especially if you suspect that crime has been committed. As a result, the wired doorbells and the newer battery ones have “pre-roll” which record between 4 to 6 seconds of extra footage – depending on the model. This is sometimes a black and white clip shown on-top of the existing recording, whilst with the wired doorbells it’s a full 6 seconds of HD footage that gets added to the beginning of the clip – making your recordings 1 minute and 6 seconds long, not just 1 minutes.

Right, with that said, let’s move onto the Ring Doorbell 3. This doesn’t have pre-roll footage or quick replies, but it does offer dual-band WiFi, a release battery, and interchangeable faceplates. Of course, it’s almost double the price of the Doorbell 1 2020 edition, so I’d argue it’s not really worth the price – but that’s just my opinion. For $20 more, you can get the Doorbell 3 Plus and this DOES offer pre-roll – and quick replies.

Whilst the pre-roll is a good feature for battery doorbells, it’s a bit like skim milk – you know it’s not as good as the real thing. The pre-roll on the Doorbell 3 Plus is low resolution and only 4 seconds long. It’s better than nothing, but it’s still not great.

That, then, brings us to the Doorbell 4… it’s a pretty good product. It costs the same as the Doorbell 3 Plus ($199) BUT it has full color pre-roll – albeit it’s still limited to 4 seconds. The color pre-roll does seem a lot nicer on the Doorbell 4 though – there’s something a bit… odd, about a smart device that delivers black and white footage (like the Doorbell 3 Plus). The Doorbell 4 also has improved motion detection and night vision performance.

Okay, apart from an upcoming rant about Ring, I think that’s almost everything I have to say. The Ring website is fairly good at showing comparison tables and FAQs that detail the differences between their models. I’d say that if you’re in the market for a wired doorbell, the choice is fairly clear at each price point – the Wired, Pro and Pro 2 all offer a sensible set of features for their respective price.

However on the battery side of things, it’s a bit of a mess. I mean, the Doorbell 1 2020 edition makes sense – it’s less than 100 bucks and still offers a good amount of features. Plus it’s battery powered, meaning it’s easy to install compared to the wired versions. But then you have the Doorbell 3 at $179, the Doorbell 3 Plus at $199 and the Doorbell 4… also at $199. But yet the Doorbell 4 is a much better option in pretty much every case. I don’t see the point of the Doorbell 3 Plus anymore, and the Doorbell 3 doesn’t justify its $20 cheaper price tag.

My hunch is that Ring will kill the Doorbell 3 range completely in the future, but right now it’s just confusing for us customers . People might even think that the “3 Plus” is better than the 4, even though… it’s not. It’s just not. My suggestion to you – as a potential Ring doorbell customer – is to either buy the Doorbell 1 2020 edition at $99, or the Doorbell 4 at $199. Disregard everything else. And my suggestion to Ring is: sort it out! Kill the Doorbell 3 and just offer two battery choices: the 1 and the 4. Simple.

Right, that wraps up today’s video. I hope you found it useful. If you did, please click the thumbs up button which will tell YouTube that more people should watch this video. Please also consider subscribing, and pressing the bell icon which will notify you when I release a new video. Thanks!

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

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