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Ring Video Doorbell 4 review: Roll up for pre-roll

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £180
inc VAT

The Video Doorbell 4 introduces full-colour pre-roll to Ring’s battery-powered bells but falls short of the best around


  • Full-colour pre-roll
  • Easy to set up
  • Clear audio and video


  • Subscription practically essential
  • Limited vertical viewing angle
  • Limited upgrades over the Video Doorbell 3

Easily identified by their illuminated blue bell pushes, Ring’s smart doorbells have become a suburban staple across the UK in recent years. The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is the latest entry in the firm’s main line of ringers and the first battery-powered model to offer full-colour pre-roll.

Using an always-on camera, pre-roll enables the Video Doorbell 4 to save up to four seconds of colour footage before the device’s motion sensor is triggered. A notable upgrade over the Doorbell 3’s black-and-white pre-roll recording, this feature helps to reduce the likelihood that you’ll miss an important event.

Outside the updated pre-roll functionality, however, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 shares a near-identical spec list to the previous Video Doorbell 3. Ring may be one of the biggest names in the business but with a premium price tag and an ongoing subscription required to access many of its key features, the Video Doorbell 4 is certainly not short of worthy rivals.

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Ring Video Doorbell 4 review: What do you get for your money?

The Ring Video Doorbell 4 retails for £180 and ships with a quick-release battery, micro-USB charging cable, an optional angled backplate, a security screwdriver and all the screws and plugs you’ll need to fix it to your wall.

The Video Doorbell 4’s camera supports Full HD video with HDR during the day along with black-and-white video recording at night. The lens offers a 160-degree wide field of view (84 degrees vertical) and the device’s built-in microphone and speaker facilitate two-way audio communication.

You have the option of both battery-powered and wired installations. Battery installation is the simplest way to install and Ring states you should get several months of battery life from a full charge, but performance will vary depending on how often the device is triggered.

Alternatively, you can hook the device up to the mains, either using traditional doorbell wiring or Ring’s Plug-in Adpater. If you opt for the former then the Video Doorbell 4 can trigger a standard mechanical chime, but for all other installations you’ll need to pick up one of Ring’s wireless chimes or link it to one of Amazon’s Echo speakers. Of course, it will ring your smartphone as well.

The Video Doorbell 4 supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks and Ring recommends upload speeds of at least 2Mbits/sec to ensure an uninterrupted video steam.

Used standalone, the Ring Doorbell 4 offers instant notifications for motion detection and bell pushes, two-way talk and live view through the device’s camera. However, like most smart doorbells, many of the device’s features, most notably cloud storage for video recordings, require a paid subscription. Ring’s Protect subscription starts at £3.49 per month for a single device, running up to £8 a month for unlimited devices, and offers up to 180 days’ worth of online storage for your clips.

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review: Is it easy to set up?

Installing the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is relatively straightforward. You first need to download the Ring app, available for both Android and iOS devices, then scan the QR code on the reverse of the device to start the automated setup process.

If this is your first Ring device then you’ll probably need to spend a little while familiarising yourself with the app and dialling in your settings. If your camera is going to face a road or busy street, for example, it’s certainly worth taking the time to set up the device’s motion zones. This allows you to define areas within the camera’s field of view that you do or (just as importantly) do not wish to receive notifications for. You can also set the device to only send out motion notifications when it detects people or packages, which helps filter out triggers from passing cars or the neighbour’s cat.

Affixing the bell push to the wall requires drilling four holes (Ring sells an optional No-Drill Mount if you’d rather not) and an angled backplate is included should you want to install it into a corner.

The battery needs to be installed whether or not you plan on using it, and it simply clips into place beneath the faceplate. Accessing the battery is quick and easy – a single security screw holds down the faceplate – and Ring sells additional batteries should you want to avoid any downtime while recharging.

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review: How well does it perform?

As you may imagine, given this is the fourth iteration of the Ring Video Doorbell, the user experience is nicely polished at this point. Bell pushes and motion alerts ping rich notifications to your phone, complete with snapshot previews to let you know who or what is at the door.

Answering the doorbell remotely on your phone takes a couple of taps. The camera offers a colourful, detailed, Full HD, HDR video stream during the day and a softer but still respectable black-and-white night vision image after dark. The two-way audio microphone and speaker setup is nice and clear and allows you to easily communicate with any callers to let them know you’re on your way or to leave your package in the porch or with neighbours.

The headline feature on offer here is the inclusion of full-colour pre-roll. While it’s not the first Ring doorbell to offer it, it is the first battery-powered model to support colour pre-roll recording. With pre-roll enabled you can save up to four seconds of video footage prior to the camera’s motion detector triggering. Given that all motion detector cameras exhibit some degree of delay before starting to record, this feature can prove very useful. Indeed, without pre-roll, it’s not uncommon to find that someone has made it most of the way down my drive before being picked up on camera.

There are some limitations. Although certainly an upgrade over the Video Doorbell 3’s mono version, the colour pre-roll footage here is not up to the Full HD standard of the camera’s normal recordings, and no sound is recorded either. For the security-conscious, however, it’s a very handy feature to have.

Ring’s Snapshot Capture is also a notable nicety. Using this feature the doorbell takes still photographs every five minutes and compiles them into a timelapse you can watch back. While the five-minute interval capture isn’t going to replace an always-on security camera, it does fill in the gaps between the motion detection and bell push recordings quite nicely.

READ NEXT: These are the best video doorbells to buy today

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review: Could it be better?

While a reasonably solid all-around performer, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is not entirely without its flaws. On occasion, I found that when people passed too close or approached at night wearing dark clothes against a dark background, the camera had difficulty identifying subjects as people. The knock-on effect is that if you set the app’s smart notifications to only notify you for people, you may end up missing some of these events.

The Doorbell 4’s camera also feels like it’s falling a little behind the competition. While Full HD resolution is arguably ample for doorbell purposes, it’s worth noting that competitors such as Eufy, Nest and Arlo all offer more detailed video for around the same price.

The Ring’s widescreen aspect ratio can also feel a little limiting. While you get 160 degrees of horizontal view, vertical viewing is limited to 84 degrees. This means, unless you can set your “Package Zone” several metres away from the door (or off the ground), you won’t make much use of Ring’s Package Alerts.

As you may expect, given that Ring is an Amazon brand, it plays very nicely with other devices, but you won’t find support for Google Assistant Speakers or Apple HomeKit.

And finally, it’s worth remembering that the bulk of the Video Doorbell 4’s features, including pre-roll, Snapshot capture, person alerts, rich notifications and cloud video storage require an active Ring Protect subscription. Essentially, without the subscription-only features, there’s very little reason to pick this up over the standard Ring Video Doorbell or, indeed, the £50 Blink Video Doorbell.

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Ring Video Doorbell 4 review: Should you buy one?

The Video Doorbell 4 is, however, Ring’s best battery-powered doorbell to date. While many of its software features are mirrored across other Ring devices, its full-colour pre-roll function gives it a real edge, greatly reducing the likelihood that you’ll miss recording an important event. For users already invested in the Ring ecosystem looking to upgrade their current doorbell or add another device to their existing Ring subscription, the Doorbell 4 is the obvious choice.

Those looking to invest in their first smart doorbell, however, may wish to at least consider other options. Pre-roll aside, doorbells with higher-resolution cameras, more useful viewing angles and smarter subject recognition are available for around the same price or less. Once you factor in the near-necessity of maintaining Ring’s ongoing subscription, the Ring Doorbell 4 doesn’t necessarily represent the best value for money.

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