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Using Wyze Without a Subscription – What Works and What Doesn’t

In order to help people get the best use out of their cameras, Wyze offers a subscription service called Cam PLUS. This subscription adds on a few enhanced capabilities, giving you new ways to enjoy your cameras.

Now while Wyze cameras aren’t necessarily expensive as compared to some other brands, you still might turn your nose up at the idea of shelling out more money for a subscription service.

Let’s face it, as cheap as Wyze cameras are, if you purchase more than one, the cost can add up. For example, let’s say you opt for the new Wyze Cam v3, which retails at about $35.98 on Wyze.com. Perhaps you purchase two for outdoor monitoring, and another two for the inside of your home – altogether you’ve just spent almost $150! Now to add a subscription service? 

Because of this, you might wonder if that extra service is even necessary. Is not having the camera enough? Do you actually need Cam PLUS as well?

What is Wyze?

Wyze, also known as Wyze Labs, Inc, is a manufacturer in the smart home sector, and as such, has created a line of smart home products designed to enhance the functionality of the modern smart home. The company, started by former Amazon employees, was created with the money-savvy consumer in mind. They wanted to offer these budget-conscious individuals options for smart home security, that won’t break the bank.

Marketing image showing the Wyze Cam Pan facing leftwards.
The Wyze Cam Pan facing leftwards.

At the outset, Wyze produced mainly smart home cameras for both the inside and outside of your home. Since then, Wyze has expanded their line to other smart home products. Though their line isn’t as extensive as some other smart home manufacturers, such as their top competitor, Ring, it does contain quite a few products that most smart home owners find useful and almost essential in their everyday lives. 

In addition to their smart cameras, they also make smart lighting, such as smart LED bulbs and light strips. Their product line also boasts other helpful items such as thermostats, robot vacuums, a home security system, and even smart watches! 

In order to use and control these devices, you’ll need to download the Wyze app and have a good Wi-Fi connection. The stronger the connection, the better, as it helps prevent lags in performance and video recordings.

They produce a wide range of useful products at affordable prices, without sacrificing quality – a win-win situation.

What does the Wyze Cloud plan offer?

The Wyze Cloud subscription plan, known as Wyze Cam Plus, was created to help you make the most of, and get the best out of your smart home monitoring devices.

Screenshot of the Wyze Cam Plus webpage
Screenshot of the Wyze Cam Plus webpage

Wyze Cam Plus gives you two billing options; you can either be billed monthly at $1.99 per camera, or annually at $15 per camera (broken down to about $1.25/month per camera). 

To put this into perspective, say you have the 4 cameras mentioned at the outset. That comes out to about $8/month if you choose the monthly billing option, or $60/year if you opt for the annual billing option.

In a case like this, opting for the annual subscription is usually preferable, as it saves you about $12 for the year. Many smart home companies price their plans like this to encourage a more long-term commitment – and it also means more money for them up front.

Cam PLUS is designed to work with:

  • Wyze Cam v2
  • Wyze Cam v3
  • Wyze Cam Pan
  • Wyze Cam Outdoor
  • Wyze Video Doorbell

With the Cam Plus plan, a new world of options opens up to you when it comes to your camera settings. 

For starters, you get longer video recordings. Instead of only 12-second clips of any motion events, you get unlimited recording of the event. What does this mean? It means that you get to see exactly what that shady character is doing, instead of just the first 12 seconds he sneaks into your yard. 

When it comes to motion detection settings, here’s where it gets even more interesting. Cam Plus offers advanced AI detection. What does this mean? Instead of your cameras recording when just any motion is detected, with the more advanced controls, you can differentiate between inanimate objects such as passing cars and trees, and actual people.

In fact, Wyze boasts that with their AI, your camera can differentiate between people, pets, vehicles, and even packages! Coming later this year, they also plan to introduce facial recognition – now that should be something!

This is a key point – Wyze appear to be adding most new features only to the paid-for plan. You won’t get fancy facial recognition (or “Event Insights and Summary”, also due later this year) with the free plan.

While some may balk at the extra cost, Wyze Cam Plus does offer some undeniably convenient and forward-thinking options.

Wyze Cam features that still work without a subscription

While Wyze Cam Plus can be a great addition to your smart cameras, you may not want to shell out the extra money per year – or month, depending on how you choose to be billed. Not a problem! You can still get a lot of great use out of your cameras.

For example, you still get videos recorded and stored either on the Cloud or the SD card. At a max of 12 seconds, these videos will be shorter. However, this usually doesn’t present a problem for most users – no one really wants to watch the delivery man for that long anyway. 

These recordings will be saved to the Cloud for approximately 30 days, at which period they will be deleted. They’re also saved to your SD card until it’s full, at which point it will start to delete older recordings in order to store the newest ones.

In addition, motion and sound detection is still available, so you can still choose to record, and be alerted to motion-detected and sound-detected events. 

All of this is controlled within the Wyze smartphone app, which also can be used with or without a subscription:

The Wyze app download page on the Android Play store
The Wyze app download page on the Android Play store

What you lose without a subscription

Unfortunately, when it comes to motion detection, your camera will no longer be able to differentiate between actual people and inanimate objects. This may cause you to have more false alarms than you’d like, and unwanted video taking up your Cloud or SD card space. That tree on your front lawn is about to get a lot more screen time.

However, this slight inconvenience may be worth it in the long run if you end up saving money.

You also lose longer recordings due to the 12 second time limit. While this may not be much of a problem to you, it can be when suspicious activities are afoot and the video cuts off just as soon as the suspect does something nefarious. 

How Wyze compares to Ring and Nest

In the grand scheme of things, you don’t lose a lot when it comes to not having a subscription with Wyze. In contrast, you stand to lose more when you have, say, a Ring camera with no subscription

Without Ring’s Cloud subscription, none of your videos are recorded – at all. If Ring detects motion, it will give you the option to view the Event live – but that’s it. If you’re unable to view the live feed, or just didn’t, you’re out of luck as you won’t be able to see what caused the motion event in the first place, just that an event occurred. 

As you can imagine, this doesn’t sit well with most consumers, especially if video evidence can help catch a burglar red-handed. Because of that, most Ring users deem the Ring Cloud plan to be necessary, instead of just a convenient add-on. Considering Ring cameras aren’t exactly cheap, this added expense can also be a sore spot for many.

When it comes to Nest Aware, similar is true. With Nest Aware, you can go back to your Event history to see what happened that triggered your cameras. Without the plan, however, much like Ring, you won’t have video of the event, just that one occurred. You would’ve had to view it live to see what actually happened.

Again, a frustrating scenario. When you buy a smart home camera, you expect it to be able to do everything that it can and have full access to all of its features. But in fine print, they add, ‘with paid XYZ subscription’. False advertising? Not necessarily. More like, selective omittance. 

Cam Plus Not Required For a Great Experience

While Wyze Cam Plus does offer some pretty nifty features, it certainly isn’t required in order to get significant use out of your Wyze cameras.

You’ll still have access to motion settings, recorded motion and sound events, and even local storage to ensure you don’t lose precious footage. Being as Wyze cameras aren’t pricey to begin with, many go for the Cam Plus, as it still works out to being cheaper than purchasing a camera, and subsequent Cloud subscription, from the competition.

So while it’s not needed, as the name states, it’s definitely a “Plus”.

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