The $200 Logitech Circle View Doorbell is aimed at a very specific audience: Homeowners with wired doorbells who’ve embraced Apple’s rapidly growing HomeKit smart home ecosystem. This is not a cross-platform product: Android users need not apply; nor is there any support for Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The upside of this approach is that it allowed Logitech to take full advantage of what HomeKit has to offer, including HomeKit Secure Video, which uses the Apple hardware in your home to process captured video locally, versus uploading it to a server in the cloud that you have no real control over (you can upload encrypted video to your iCloud account, but you will be the only person with access—Apple won’t be able to decrypt the files).
The downside, of course, is that you’ll need to have that hardware in the first place: A HomePod, HomePod mini, Apple TV, or an iPad (provided it never leaves your house). Without any of that, all you’ll get is a live feed from your doorbell and the ability to have a two-way conversation with your visitors. We’ll dig into what all that infrastructure does for you later.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best video doorbells, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
Specs and installation experience
The Circle View is somewhat tall and thick, measuring 4.68 x 1.65 x 1.10 inches (HxWxD), but it’s 1/4-inch narrower than the 4.49 x 1.9 x .87-inch Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2. Like that Ring model, Logitech’s Circle View has an aspect ratio that’s taller than it is wide, with resolution of 1200 x 1600 pixels (WxH) and a 160-degree field of view. This gives you a crisp head-to-toe view of the visitor in front of the camera, along with any packages or other objects that might be on the ground.
The lens is connected to a 5-megapixel image sensor, and support for high dynamic range video delivers a sharp picture. Night vision is excellent, and a 4000K LED light strip beneath its lens enables color night vision up to six feet from the camera.
Logitech is one of few doorbell manufacturers to offer a professional installation option with its product, via HelloTech, but this costs adds $100 to the price. Ring likewise contracts with a third-party installer—OnTech—to provide a variety of installation services, with doorbell installations costing about the same. Vivint includes professional installation with the price of its $250 Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro, but adding more cameras—and other home security features—will add a considerable amount to your bill.
I took the DIY approach and encountered a very different initial process that has you connect the doorbell to you Wi-Fi network before you install it on the wall. Since the doorbell needs to be powered to perform this step, you’ll need a Micro-USB cable (not the Lightning cable Apple users will be more familiar with) and a 5V 2A (3,000mA minimum) AC adapter (neither of which come in the box). With the doorbell plugged into power within 15 feet of your Wi-Fi router, you’ll pair your iPhone or iPad to the doorbell using NFC.
If your device is too old to have that feature, you can instead open the Apple Home app, click the “+” button to add a device, and scan the HomeKit code from the label on the back of the doorbell or the one in the printed quick-start guide that came with the unit. Expect to wait a few minutes for the doorbell to get a firmware update during this process.
Once that’s accomplished, you’ll connect the Circle View’s chime kit to both your existing transformer and your existing analog or digital door chime. With the wiring accomplished, you’ll snap the doorbell onto its mounting plate and be done (an angle mount is included in the box if you need it). Logitech provides everything you need—apart from any tools—along with detailed and illustrated online instructions that literally take you through the process one step at a time.
Using the Circle View Doorbell
Once the Circle View Doorbell is installed, you’ll manage it entirely through the Apple Home app, eliminating the need to have another app on your phone just for this device. That flattens the learning curve for anyone already familiar with how HomeKit and the Apple Home app work. The Circle View’s camera feed appears on the Apple Home app’s main screen, and you can tap on it to see the live feed and access available options for the doorbell.
Unlocking this video doorbell’s most intriguing features depends on your having a HomeKit hub (one of the devices mentioned above) and an iCloud account with at least 200GB of storage. That will cost you $2.99 per month. If you want to connect more cameras to your iCloud account (a maximum of five per account), you’ll need to step up to the $9.99-per-month 2TB storage plan. Video from HomeKit security cameras does not count against your allotted storage in either case.
The Circle View Doorbell will analyze the motion that triggers a recording and mark events on its scrolling timeline with a relevant icon to identify if the motion was from a human, an animal, a vehicle, or something else (e.g., a tree branch blowing in the wind). These icons will help you find the recordings that are most important.
The Circle View Doorbell impressed me the most when it accurately tagged multiple motion events at once. It spotted a person walking up my driveway from 30 feet away, for example, while cats were walking around on the porch right in front of it.
Enable its facial-recognition feature, and once you’ve assigned names to faces (the people in your family or frequent visitors), those names will appear in the app’s activity log. If you find facial-recognition creepy or invasive, remember the lengths Apple goes to with HomeKit Secure Video to protect your privacy.
You have the option of disabling facial recognition, but you probably won’t want to. I didn’t find facial recognition on this device to be flawless, but it was more accurate—and better at differentiating between people and animals—than anything I’ve tested.
The Logitech Circle View Doorbell on its own isn’t the most technologically advanced video doorbell on the market. There are competitors equipped with higher-resolution cameras and wider fields of view to be sure. But the video and AI assist it gets from Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video technology delivers a raft of features its non-HomeKit competitors can’t match.
On the other hand, of course, this video doorbell will be of little interest to folks who don’t use iPhones or iPads, and the ones who do will also want to also have a HomePod or an Apple TV, plus a 200GB iCloud account to get the maximum benefit from it.