Camera-based home security systems with top-of-the-line equipment
When it comes to Arlo, they come out with multiple new security cameras every year, so it can be hard to decide which is the right one for your home security needs. In this Arlo Pro 2 vs. Arlo Ultra vs. Arlo Pro 3 review, we’re going over everything from the cameras’ designs to their installation processes, from their video, audio and night vision to their smart platform integrations, storage options and artificial intelligence capabilities. As you can see, we have a ton to go over, so let’s get started!
On the surface, all of Arlo’s cameras look exactly the same, and they’re all good for indoor/ outdoor use. Of course, it’s what lies beneath the surface that matters most…
Now, keep in mind that all of the Arlo cameras require the Arlo hub, which must be placed within 140 feet of the cameras. That’s a pretty big drawback of Arlo, as some security cameras don’t require additional hubs, however, this is going to help with battery usage, as the cloud storage uploads will occur in the hub rather than the camera. Okay, let’s jump in!
Arlo Pro 2 Design
The Arlo Pro 2 has an IP rating of 65, meaning it’s completely protected from solids and can even handle low-pressure water jets! As long as you don’t blast it with high-pressure water jets or immerse it in water, things should be fine. Plus, the camera works in temperatures from negative four to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a good option for a variety of climates.
The Arlo Pro 2 is the only camera of the three that can be wireless or plugged in, depending on your prefer. It comes with a siren over 100 decibels loud, which is about the noise level of a handheld drill. Unlike the Arlo Pro 3 and the Ultra, the Arlo Pro 2 doesn’t have a spotlight, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.
Arlo Pro 3 Design
The Arlo Pro 3 has a temperature range that’s better for warmer climates. It’ll work from 14 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. UV and weather-resistant, this camera also boasts a spotlight, which you can either control manually or have it follow motion, a built-in siren, plus a magnetic charge cable that conveniently snaps into place. This camera is completely wireless, and the battery lasts anywhere from three to six months. If you need to charge it, however, it’ll only take three to five hours, which is pretty impressive.
Arlo Ultra Design
Finally, we have the Arlo Ultra, the most expensive camera out of the three. Like the Arlo 3, the Ultra has a motion-activated spotlight, a siren, and a wireless design. However, I found that the battery drained pretty quickly on this camera, which was why Arlo initially pulled it from shelves upon its first release. So while a wireless setup is convenient in theory, I found it to cause some major issues with the Arlo Ultra camera.
Now, these cameras all come from the same company, which means they have some major similarities that you should know about before making your buying decision.
Your recorded footage will be stored locally in the Arlo hub with any of these cameras, which is a good thing. I prefer having both cloud and local storage with my security cameras, so so far, so good. Of course, we’ll get to cloud storage shortly.
Similarly, all of the cameras have speakers and microphones allowing for two-way audio. That means that you can speak to whoever your camera is in front of, which, believe me, is going to come in handy if you do end up having an intrusion, god forbid. Of course, it’s also useful if you want to tell your kids not to color on your nice white couch.
Artificial intelligence may sound like a phrase that’s only relevant in sci-fi movies, but it’s actually a common feature on smart security cameras today. Mainly, it comes in the form of person detection, meaning that the camera can differentiate between humans and other moving objects (cars, pets, what have you). That means that you won’t be notified every time Scruffy runs past your Arlo camera.
Now, unfortunately, none of the Arlo cameras come with person detection for free; however, you can purchase it through Arlo Smart, which each camera comes with a trial of. I recommend signing up for Arlo Smart, as it starts at only $2.99 per camera per month. Plus, you get cloud storage, but again— we’re saving that for a bit later.
Of course, the differences between the cameras are what’s most going to influence your buying decision, and these cameras have some pretty major differences between them.
When it comes to video, the Arlo Pro 3 is winning, despite the fact that the Arlo Ultra is supposed to have 4K quality, twice as many pixels. The truth is that, while Arlo advertises the Ultra to record in 4K, I couldn’t get this to work in practice. Instead, I found that it worked at the industry standard of 1080p HD, much like the Arlo Pro 2. It was the 3 that impressed the most, with 2560p HD plus 2K HDR, which helps improve the lighting if you’re using the camera outdoors.
One advantage the Ultra does have, however, is it’s field of view. At 180 degrees, it has the widest field of view possible, 50 degrees wider than the Arlo Pro 2 and 3. However, the Arlo Pro 3 wins again when it comes to zoom with the ability to zoom in digitally 12 times, four more times than its predecessor. All in all, the most impressive video is clearly the Arlo Pro 3.
When it comes to night vision, the Arlo Pro 3 and the Arlo Ultra both offer color and infrared night vision, while the Arlo Pro 2 only has the latter. Now, I’m a fan of infrared over color night vision, but the more, the merrier. No matter which camera you get, you’ll be able to see clearly at night.
Only the Arlo Pro 2 comes with a week of free cloud storage. With the Arlo Pro 3 and the Ultra, you’ll get no free cloud storage after your Arlo Smart trials are over. However, you can buy 30 or 60 days of cloud storage for really reasonable prices for any of the cameras. Still, the 2 clearly wins when it comes to cloud storage.
Smart Platform Integrations
Now, typically products from the same companies work with the exact same smart platforms, but that’s not exactly the case with these cameras from Arlo. All of the cameras work with Alexa and Google Assistant, the two most popular voice assistants. However, only the Arlo Pro 2 also works with Apple HomeKit, allowing you to command it using Siri, plus IFTTT and Stringify, allowing for triggers galore with other connected devices.
Strangely, the Arlo Pro 3 only works with Apple Watch in addition to Alexa and Google Assistant, while the Ultra doesn’t have any additional offerings. If you’re looking for a security camera that will work with the most connected devices, or if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, then the Arlo Pro 2 is the way to go.
Now, I’ve brought up Arlo Smart more than a few times in this review, so I want to make it clear exactly what it gets you:
- 30 or 60 days of cloud storage: While Arlo Smart and Smart Premier will get you 30 days of cloud storage, Smart Elite will get you 60.
- Person detection: All of the Arlo Smart plans include person detection, improving your camera’s notifications.
- Activity zones: Activity zones let you tell your camera which areas to focus on and which areas to ignore, for example, your neighbor’s lawn.
- 911 button: If you’re ever in a sticky situation and don’t feel safe calling 911, you can contact them with the touch of a button through the Arlo app’s safety button.
- Notifications showing footage from lock screen: If your camera detects any person, the notification will show the footage on your lock screen, which is incredibly convenient.
All of these cameras include trials of Arlo Smart, and I recommend keeping up with it after the free trials are over. It’s worth it for the person detection alone!
The Arlo App
The Arlo app is where you’ll livestream footage, speak through two-way audio, review storage, receive notifications, set up any smart platform integrations, and control the settings of your camera. All of the cameras reviewed in this article use the same Arlo app, which currently has a 4.5 on the Apple store and a 3.6 on the Google Play store.
Now, 3.6 is a bit lower than the last time I checked, so I decided to look a little closer. I saw that many people with Androids had issues with the cameras not detecting all movement. Rita C., for example, wrote in a recent four-star review,
“This app is really good, serves the purpose of what I am using it for. Night vision is also quite good. I do find that sometimes it skips and does not detect movement and no recording but overall great system works great and has a lot of configurable options.”
Overall, the Arlo app is easy to use on both iPhones and Androids, so it’s definitely not a drawback overall, despite some negative comments.
If I had to pick one, I’d choose the Arlo Pro 3 over the Arlo Pro 2 and the Arlo Ultra. Not only is it the most affordable option by about $20, but it also has superior video and night vision, two factors not to be taken lightly. However, different strokes are for different folks, so let me break down who each camera would be good for.
Go with the Arlo Pro 2 if you want…
- Apple HomeKit, IFTTT and Stringify integrations: The Arlo Pro 2 works with the most connected devices, allowing you to create triggers and automated actions.
- Plug-in option: If you don’t want to worry about recharging a battery, the Arlo Pro 2 can be plugged in to a wall.
- Week of free cloud storage: While the Arlo Pro 3 and the Arlo Ultra give you no cloud storage on the house, the 2 gives you a week.
Want to learn more? Read my review of the Arlo Pro 2.
Buy the Arlo Pro 3 if you want…
- 2K HDR: When it comes to video, the Arlo Pro 3 takes the cake.
- Apple Watch integration: Get notified about the Arlo Pro 3 on your Apple Watch!
- Affordable price: At $199.99 for an add-on camera, the Arlo Pro 3 is also the cheapest option of the three.
For more information, read my individual review of the Arlo Pro 3.
Purchase the Arlo Ultra if you want…
- Widest field of view: The Arlo Ultra has the widest possible field of view, 180 degrees.
To learn more, read my full review of the Arlo Ultra.
- Which Arlo camera is best?
I prefer the Arlo Pro 3 over the Arlo Pro 2 and the Arlo Ultra. Not only is it the most affordable option by about $20, but it also has superior video and night vision, two factors not to be taken lightly.
- Does the Arlo Pro 2 require a subscription?
No, the Arlo Pro 2 doesn’t require a subscription, although paid options are available through Arlo Smart.
- How long do the Arlo Pro 2 batteries last?
The Arlo Pro 2’s batteries last three to six months.