Is a Nest Hello Doorbell Worth it Without a Subscription?

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  • Post last modified:May 25, 2021
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The Nest Hello is one of my favourite products and features in my list of the best video doorbells in the UK. This isn’t just because I’m a big Google fanboy, but because it’s packed full of features and very reliable.

However, when weighing up whether it’s right for you, it’s important to keep in mind the ongoing cost of the Nest Aware subscription and whether or not you’ll need it.

A Nest Hello video doorbell is not worthwhile without the Nest Aware subscription as you won’t have access to key features such as recording and reviewing your footage. You’ll also lose premium features that make the doorbell stand out, such as intelligent alerts, facial recognition and activity zones.

In the rest of this guide, I’ll run through all the things you can and can’t do with your Nest Hello without the Nest Aware subscription, along with my favourite alternative without a subscription, the Eufy video doorbell.

What Nest Hello Features Can I Use Without a Subscription?

Here is a summary of the main Nest Hello video doorbell features that you’ll have access to, even without subscribing to Nest Aware:

  • Basic doorbell alerts

You’ll still get basic alerts whenever someone rings your doorbell, or the device detects that someone is at your doorstep.

The doorbell will send you a screen shot of whoever is at your door before you answer.

  • Live view of your doorstep and two-way audio

You can access the livestream of your doorstep at any time, whether someone is there or not.

There is also two-way audio via the Nest app using their HD Talk and Listen feature which gives crisp sound quality.

  • Quick responses

If you’re not able to answer (or just don’t want to), you can select one of the pre-recorded quick responses for the doorbell to say. These are:

  • You can leave it.
  • We’ll be right there.
  • No one can come to the door.

Unfortunately, you have to settle for these responses, but I’d love to see Google allow you to create your own quick responses in future.

  • Screenshots saved for 3 hours

If you miss the notification that someone is at your door, the screenshots you receive will be saved in the cloud for 3 hours after the event happens.

There is no audio or video to accompany the screenshot.

  • Visitor announcements on Google Nest or Home devices

Even without a subscription, your video doorbell will fully integrate with your Google Home ecosystem.

You’ll be able to receive visitor announcements on any Google Home-enabled speakers or screens.

Speakers will announce that someone is at your doorstep, whereas screens such as a Google Home Hub or Chromecast will stream the live feed of your doorstep.

Note that your visitors cannot be announced by name without the subscription as this is part of the Familiar Faces feature outlined below.

What Nest Hello Features Can’t I Use Without a Subscription?

Here are the key Nest Hello features that you won’t be able to use unless you have the ongoing Nest Aware subscription:

  • Intelligent alerts (e.g. parcel notifications)

Whilst everyone has access to basic alerts when someone is at your doorstep, with Nest Aware you get more intelligent alerts.

For example, it can let you know when someone has walked past or send you a notification when a parcel has been dropped off on your doorstep.

  • Activity zones

With a Nest Aware subscription, you can set up activity zones to monitor certain parts of your cameras view more rigorously than others.

You can create any size and shape zone you like with up to 4 zones in one view. Plus, if you have other Nest cameras, you can monitor the same zones from multiple views.

All of the events for the zone will be displayed in an easy to view timeline.

  • Save and review recordings (or opt for 24/7 recording)

One of the key benefits of Nest Aware is the ability to review your footage which is saved in the cloud.

For me, this is an essential feature of video doorbells, especially if you’re using it for security purposes.

Every time activity is detected, it will save and upload the recording to the cloud where it is stored for 30 days on the standard Nest Aware subscription.

Activity can then be reviewed and downloaded on your phone via the app.

With Nest Aware Plus, you get 60 days recording of any doorstep activity as well as 10 days of continuous 24/7 recording if you opt for it. Nest Aware Plus is £10 per month compared to £5 per month for standard Nest Aware.

  • Familiar faces

One of the big selling points of Nest Hello against its competitors is the facial recognition.

Using the Familiar Faces feature you can assign names against regular guests and the alerts will include their name when they arrive.

If you are using Google Home speakers or screens, it will include their name in any announcements.

What’s Included in the Nest Aware Subscription?

The biggest advantage of the Nest Aware subscription is the access to cloud storage that allows you to review doorstep activity.

Following a price structure change in 2020, there are now two levels of the subscription to chose from, Nest Aware and Nest Aware Plus.

Below is a summary of the features included with each.

Nest AwareNest Aware Plus
£5 per month (or £50 per year)£10 per month (or £100 per year)
Access activity recordings from your doorstep for 30 daysAccess activity recordings from your doorstep for 60 days
Includes all Nest Aware features (activity zones, intelligent alerts, facial recognition, etc)Access continuous 24/7 footage from your doorstep for 10 days
Covers all Nest cameras in your homeIncludes all Nest Aware features (activity zones, intelligent alerts, facial recognition, etc)
Covers all Nest cameras in your home

What’s the Best Alternative Without a Subscription?

Whilst the two biggest video doorbell brands, Nest and Ring, have gone down the route of a subscription for access to all features, one brand is jumping at the opportunity for those looking to avoid any ongoing costs.

I reviewed all of the best video doorbells with a subscription and my hands-down favourite is the Eufy video doorbell.

Not only does it have excellent 2K footage, but all recordings are stored locally rather than in the cloud which means you don’t need a subscription.

It also has some advantages over Nest, particularly as there is both a wired and battery powered version.

The battery powered version has excellent battery life and hassle-free install. It comes with a base unit which is situated inside your home and stores the footage so that thieves cannot easily steal it.


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?