Is an Arlo Video Doorbell Worthwhile Without a Subscription?

  • Post author:
  • Post last modified:May 25, 2021
You are currently viewing Is an Arlo Video Doorbell Worthwhile Without a Subscription?

Arlo may have been late to the game with their video doorbell, but it was worth waiting for and earnt a place in my list of the best video doorbells.

The Arlo Smart plan gives you cloud storage and other features for an ongoing fee, but is the doorbell still worth buying without subscribing?

Yes, an Arlo video doorbell is still worthwhile without a subscription providing you also have a compatible Arlo Smart Hub for storing your doorbell footage locally.

However, you will still miss out on a number of features including cloud storage for accessing recordings remotely, intelligent alerts and activity zones.

In the rest of this guide, I’ll outline all of the things you can and can’t do without a subscription and what this means for daily use.

Which Arlo Video Doorbell Features Can I Use Without a Subscription?

Here are the basic features that you can access on your Arlo video doorbell with an Arlo smart subscription

  • Basic doorbell alerts

You’ll receive notifications to your phone whenever it detects any kind of motion at your doorstep.

With no subscription you’ll receive all motion detection alerts, however you can still adjust the sensitivity to give you some level of control.

  • Live stream of your video doorbell

Using the Arlo app, you’ll be able to check in on your doorstep whenever you like thanks to 24/7 live video streaming in HD.

  • Two-way audio when someone rings the bell

When someone rings your doorbell, it will call you just like an incoming call.

Unfortunately, there is no screenshot before picking up like some other devices, so you’ll have to answer before you get the live video.

You can then speak to them with the two-way audio or simply hang up.

  • Doorbell footage saved locally if you have an Arlo Smart Hub

A new feature that was announced by Arlo is the ability to connect your video doorbell to Arlo smart hubs.

The benefit of this is that you can store all footage locally on either an SD card or external hard drive depending upon which Arlo smart hub you have.

There is automatic overwrite which means older footage will be overwritten when the storage device is full.

You can access the recordings on the Arlo app; however, the caveat is that you need to be on the same WiFi network as the Smart Hub to do this so you can only see them whilst at home.

You don’t need a subscription to access local recordings, however you will need an external storage device and either the Arlo Smart Hub VBW4540 or VBM5000.

  • Integration with Alexa and Google Home

Arlo’s video doorbell works nicely with both Alexa and Google Home.

With Alexa, Arlo can announce on your Echo smart speaker when someone rings your doorbell or stream your front door to an Echo Show or Firestick.

As for Google Home, the functionality is similar with Google Home smart speakers or any device with a screen such as Nest Hub or Chromecast.

Which Arlo Video Doorbell Features Can’t I Use Without a Subscription?

Here are the features that will require an Arlo Smart subscription to access:

  • Recordings saved to the cloud for 30 days

The main benefit of the Arlo Smart subscription is the cloud storage.

All of your recordings will be stored in the cloud for 30 days and accessible via the Arlo app wherever you are in the world.

  • Intelligent doorbell notifications

With a subscription, you’ll have access to Arlo’s advanced object detection which allows it to tell the difference between people, animals and vehicles.

When your doorbell detects activity or is rung, it will provide the extra information about what has been detected so you can act appropriately.

You can also turn off certain alerts, for example you can stop notifications if it’s an animal.

It is surprisingly accurate and very useful if you live in a busy street.

  • Activity zones

You can use Arlo’s cloud activity zones feature to focus in on a certain area of your camera when detecting motion rather than using the whole view. This helps prevent false alerts.

  • Theft replacement guarantee (for one year after purchase)

Arlo’s theft replacement program is only valid if your video doorbell is connected to a paid subscription.

This guarantees a replacement device if it is stolen. Whilst many video doorbell manufacturers offer a lifetime guarantee, Arlo’s is only valid for one year after purchase.

What’s Included in the Arlo Smart Subscription?

The main benefit of the Arlo Smart subscription is the cloud storage access which enables remote viewing of recordings and other premium features.

There are two Arlo Smart plans; Premier and Elite. For the video doorbell, you’ll need a Premier plan.

Here’s a summary of what’s included with the Premier and Elite plans:

Premier PlanElite Plan
£2.49 per month (or £7.99 for up to 5 cameras)£3.99 per month (or £12.49 for up to 5 cameras)
Up to 2k cloud storage for 30 daysUp to 4k cloud storage for 30 days
Cloud activity zonesCloud activity zones
Intelligent notificationsIntelligent notifications

What’s the Best Video Doorbell Without a Subscription?

Although Arlo’s video doorbell is still worth buying without the ongoing fee, you’ll need to purchase a Smart Hub to store recordings locally and there are still several features that you won’t have access too.

If you’re looking for the best video doorbell without a subscription, I would recommend considering the Eufy video doorbell instead.

This device comes with local storage built in and subscription-free access to all of the features including activity zones, human detection and instant responses.

Like the Arlo, the Eufy doorbell is available as both a wired and battery version.

The battery powered version has great battery life and comes with a base unit that stores the footage inside your home where it is safer from thieves.


I have been building up my smart home since 2016 so I'm a bit of a smart home expert by now. On this blog, I share my favourite smart home devices that I've tested along with tips and tricks I learn by watching countless YouTube videos, scrolling through forums, and tinkering around with my own smart devices. I've always been a Google Home user but I'm starting to think Alexa might have the edge, what do you think?