Ring Devices Without A Subscription: What Still Works (Hint: Not Much) – New Video

Ring devices aren’t exactly cheap, so the thought of paying even more for an additional monthly subscription seems silly. Surely it’s worth just keeping the basic Ring functionality without a subscription, right?

Well… as it turns out, many of the key features only work with a Ring Protect plan – whether it’s the $3 per month per device option (the Basic plan), or the $10 per month option (the Plus plan, covering unlimited devices and your Ring Alarm system):

The video timestamps are:

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 0:38 What you get without a subscription
  • 3:15 No subscription? Keep your phone nearby
  • 3:32 The Ring Protect Basic plan
  • 4:54 The Ring Protect Plus plan
  • 6:23 Ring lighting and alarm system
  • 7:18 Ending

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. So you’ve just bought loads of Ring devices. Maybe it was Prime Day or Black Friday, or maybe Jeff Bezos set the price of everything to $1 on his last day at Amazon. Who knows! Either way, you’ve been really busy installing all your new Ring cameras and doorbells around your property. Whilst doing this, you may have noticed that the Ring app on your phone said something about ’28 days left on your Ring Protect plan’.

But PFFT, you have SMART cameras. They record into the CLOUD. You don’t need some extra plan, right?!

A month later, you’ve forgotten all about the app saying something about a ‘Ring Protect plan’, and someone tries your door handle at 3am.

You immediately check the Ring app and you don’t see anything in live view, but because you’re still half asleep (like I probably would be) you decide to just check the more detailed recordings in the morning.

Now, morning arrives, you pull out your smartphone, you pull up your Ring app and…

(looks at phone)

There’s no recordings. Uhm, what?! What’s the point of a SMART camera that doesn’t even bother to record?!

Well, this is what many people have asked themselves after forgetting (or refusing) to pay $3 per month for each of their Ring devices. As you have probably guessed by now, if you don’t have a Ring Protect plan, nothing gets ‘recorded’, essentially. According to the Ring website, without the subscription:

“You will receive alerts when visitors press your doorbell or trigger motion sensors in your device. You will also get live streaming video and two-way audio.”

Ring.com FAQs

That sounds half decent, but when you think about it some more, it requires you to have your smartphone in hand for your Ring device to actually be useful. After all, you can THEN view live video and speak to visitors, along with receiving motion alert notifications.

But if you AREN’T near your smartphone (or an Echo device) when something happens – for example an attempted break-in – then you’re out of luck. There’s no recording of this event. This is because all Ring recordings are stored in the cloud. And if you don’t pay for the Ring Protect plan, nothing gets saved.

In other words, you can’t go into your Ring app and see recordings from the past, whether they were started by motion, a doorbell press or even you manually clicking ‘live view’. It’ll just all be gone. Nada. Empty. No recordings. Even snapshot captures – which are low-res images taken every minute or so – aren’t stored either. In short, without a Ring Protect plan, your Ring devices are entirely real time.

Yikes. Not very “smart” is it? So what’s the solution? Well there’s two main options:

Firstly, you can keep your smartphone nearby, with WiFi always on and keep it on loud. Then if there’s a motion alert, you can jump into Live View and watch what’s happening.

Alternatively, you could just buy the subscription. This is clearly the option that Ring want you to go for! It costs $3 per month… per device. Yep, if you have three devices, that’ll be $9 per month. Or you can pay $10 per month for an unlimited number of Ring devices – this is called the Ring Protect Plus plan. Clearly this option is worth it if you have four Ring devices (since $10 per month is obviously better than paying $12 per month!), but the Plus plan is usually beneficial if you have just three devices too.

I’ll talk more about the Plus plan in a minute, but in general the Ring Protect ‘Basic’ plan – in other words, the $3 per month per device option – gives you: 60 days storage for all video recordings (in America, it’s actually less in the UK and some other countries), the ability to save and share video clips with other people, snapshot captures, and some extra control over your smartphone notifications.

If you just have one or two Ring devices, this costs less each month than a trip to Starbucks, so in my opinion it’s well worth the money – and I say that as a coffee lover! This is especially true if your Ring devices detects – or helps to prevent – crime; you almost can’t put a price on that.

But if you have three Ring devices, paying $9 each month would cost $108 per year which starts to become noticeable. Is it worth paying? Well yes it probably is, for the same points as I mentioned earlier, but it may actually be better paying EVEN MORE MONEY to Ring.

Uhm, what? Don’t worry, I haven’t gone mad. The Ring Protect Plus plan is $10 per month (or $100 per year if you pay upfront). This covers all your Ring devices, meaning if you buy a fourth – or fifth – device, you won’t pay any extra subscription fees. But in addition, you also get: an extended warranty on any devices that are still within their warranty, plus 10% off the Ring store.

Unless your devices are all out of warranty and you never buy directly through Ring.com, it’s probably worth paying for the Plus plan. That’s what I’ve done – I have three Ring devices and I just went for the Plus subscription.

Whilst it does seem a bit unfair to pay a premium for Ring products and THEN have to pay even more in subscription fees, remember that video storage that can be accessed 24/7 from any device does cost money, and in my opinion it’s not unreasonable for Ring to charge for this. However I do wish that Ring were clearer about the need to pay these extra fees.

Before I finish, I’ve only really covered Ring cameras and doorbells so far. If you just have Ring’s range of smart lighting, you don’t need the Ring Protect Plan – the lights all work fine without these plans. However if you have the Ring alarm system, it’s probably worth buying the Protect Plus plan straight away.

This is because it gives you cellular backup (which is very useful if your WiFi is down), along with professional monitoring. This can quite literally be a life saver. Plus it’s worth remembering that many ‘old school’ alarm systems charge a lot more than $10 per month, so the Protect Plus plan is still a great deal for the alarm system – especially since it then covers any Ring camera and doorbells you purchase too.

That wraps up today’s video. I hope you found it useful. If you did, please click the thumbs up button and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you!

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!

Leave a Comment