Spy cameras have become increasingly popular for both home and small business use. Due to technological developments, it’s now possible to own your own spy camera without breaking the bank. In our article, we’re going to be covering 10 of the best options that are currently available. We will also help you make the best purchasing choice by outlining several important factors you should consider beforehand in our buyer’s guide.
Best Spy Camera Comparison Table
|Product||Night Vision||Motion Detection||Recording |
|Storage Capacity||Power Supply||Check Price|
|SCS Enterprises Black Box||No||Yes||720P||8GB||Plug|
|SCS Enterprises Mini Pinhole||No||Yes||720P||your microSD||Plug|
|ELValley||No||Yes||1080P||32GB||2500 mAh Rechargable battery|
|Phylink||No||Yes||720P||up to 128GB||AC Adapter|
|IPS IP Smart||Yes||Yes||1080P||your microSD||Plug|
|Daretang Spy Pen||No||Yes||1080P||32GB||Rechargeable battery|
|FabQuality Spy Pen||No||Yes||720P||16GB||220mAH Rechargeable battery, USB Plug|
|DareTang||Yes||Yes||1080P||your microSD||2,000 mAh Rechargeable battery, Plug|
|Facamword||Yes||Yes||1080P||your microSD up to 128GB||Rechargeable battery and USB|
|AES||No||Yes||720P||Up to 32GB SD Card||Plug|
Best Spy Camera Reviews
Black Box from SCS Enterprises – Best Quality Spy Camera
Have you ever wanted a nondescript black box to sit in the corner of your room and spy on all ye who intrude? Boy, did you get lucky! Grace your sanctuary with this apparently-does-nothing apparatus that sits there like a duck on a lake and eerily eyes the whole room for your siblings, roommates or parents rummaging through your belongings. They won’t suspect a thing — well, until they see the pinhole maybe.
We’ll be completely frank: SCS’ device wins no style points, but it does the job in expert fashion and is reasonably well concealed behind a very boring aesthetic. If you find a stack of random junk in the corner of your room to mix this in with or maybe drop it in next to your gadget stash, this is a well-hidden solution for protecting your home and belongings.
Other specifications include a rather weak 1.3 MP camera with a 1/2.8″ sensor. Translated for the less savvy: The pictures are right around 1080p while the sensor will struggle with low-light settings and provide a rather narrow window of view on the scene. However, think about the concept of a pinhole: It’s freakin’ tiny, man. We’ll laud this one for being an easy-to-hide and functional piece of equipment that comes with its own inbuilt Wi-Fi to keep you updated throughout the day while you’re out and about.
SCS Enterprises – Best Mini Spy Camera
Here’s one of the smallest cameras you could ask for, measuring roughly to the same diameter as a quarter and utilizing the good ol’ pinhole setup to prevent that conspicuous “pearly camera-eye effect” that sometimes gives away the fact that you’re spying on a territory.
Obviously, we don’t condone using this for the wrong reasons — spying on your neighbor’s wife is probably not what the OEM intended here — but this offering from SCS Enterprises slides in at a reasonable price to provide a plug-in powered solution for maintaining overwatch in sensitive areas of your home or office.
The camera isn’t anything to write home about, but for a pinhole solution, it is what it is: 1.3 MP, 720p HD, and a rather crappy 1/2.8″ sensor. Make sure the area is well-lit when using this as the sensor is probably blind otherwise. The rapid N-speed Wi-Fi should more than do the trick of streaming data to your cloud service for later review, and you can refer to these files through an app for Android and iOS smart devices or through a PC. If Wi-Fi isn’t tenable, you always have the option of recording straight to your microSD card instead.
ELValley – Best Wireless Spy Camera
Were you hoping for an all-in-one camera deal to protect your stake? This insanely inexpensive device does it all inside a tiny form factor with photos, 1080p video, motion-sensing, and app support with fast Wi-Fi support to boot.
We’ll admit one thing, however: It’s not terribly discrete once someone happens to be looking straight at it. This owes to the terribly obvious camera eye that we’ve all grown accustomed to in our favorite spy movies — you know, that iridescent black pearl that you suddenly notice peering from a teddy bear’s eye sockets. Still, the tiny design should make it easy to hide nonetheless.
This device is able to shoot in 1080p because of how conspicuous the camera eye is as compared to pinhole cameras, which are usually 720p because of their incredibly limited size. This improved size also means that ELValley’s offering should fare better in low-light settings although we wouldn’t count on such a small camera to pick up much in unlit rooms at night.
The inbuilt motion sensor can be used with the Android and iOS apps to help convey when there’s someone present, which can alert you and engage active recording. Thanks to the Wi-Fi, you don’t need to worry about packing a microSD card to the brim and unloading it night after night. Multi-user and local access protocols are also supported on this model, which is both pleasing and surprising for the size and price that this nifty little camera comes with.
Phylink PLC-128PW – Best WiFi Camera
This tiny spy camera brings motion-sensing and 720p HD video with app-based notifications for Android and iOS to keep you updated on what’s up, dog. It can be used as a nanny cam if you so choose, but one reckons that’s just OEM fluff for the books since just about any home surveillance system can be used for this purpose.
You can insert a 128 GB microSD card and fill that up with plenty of HD video for your own review although there’s also a Wi-Fi option if you so please. We’ll go ahead and point out that you might actually be able to store up to 2 TB through the microSD port since support for 128 GB indicates that a 64-bit computing environment is at play here. However, it could be a motherboard limitation, so we’ll disclaim that as “we aren’t entirely sure“.
The icing on top is the one-year warranty and lifetime tech support that are provided by the manufacturer, which tells us right off the bat that Phylink is confident in their product. If there’s one thing we all love to see when we’re seeking out a new product that costs a chunk of change, it’s that the OEM supports their own offering.
IPS IP Smart — Best Spy Camera for Home
One of the problems that many folks have when they’re shopping for a camera is the inability to leave the device plugged in. While there are several cameras on this list that support this, it’s worth noting that, design accounted, there will obviously be no batteries involved here.
That’s right: This is a spy camera that’s disguised as a USB wall charger for your phone or tablet. We’ll go ahead and point out that while the pinhole camera is a nice touch in this device, we think that a darkened glass panel would do more justice than the obvious pockmark in a glossy chassis. IPS IP Smart would have done better to apply a matte coat instead as that would better conceal the fact that this is a spying apparatus.
With that said, the price isn’t shabby, and the recording quality is surprisingly good for the size. In fact, you can shoot 1080p from that little pinhole, and the sensory suite that gathers light is enhanced thanks to 16pcs LED lights — all invisible — that help clear up what the camera sees. This offsets the pinhole’s conspicuousness since you can just leave it in a dark room unlike other pinhole cameras that need plenty of light to pick anything up. Basically, IPS IP Smart did a clever job at covering up its tracks. For the record, the camera pinhole is on the front facing of the charger; this is easy to confuse with the pinhole that’s on the side of the charger next to the USB port.
Daretang – Best Spy Pen Camera
Yeah, you probably did, you liar. We all thought we’d have flying cars by now, but alas, crime is still a problem in this day and age, so we put our resources into a little pen that keeps track of the folks around you. You can leave in on your office desk or kitchen counter in your home to keep track of pets, kids, roommates and intruders alike. Loop recording and local storage options should help you out with keeping that 1080p rolling throughout the day until you get it hooked into your PC or Mac to offload the contents.
The battery is all of 260 mAh, which is pretty small but not terrible for a pen-sized apparatus if you’re looking to record in short bursts. This is large enough to support 75 minutes of 1080p recording, or that’s what the manufacturer says. We want to protest and say that this really weak for a spy camera, but also keep the incredibly small price tag. Heck, some fountain pens cost more than that just for the sake of being pens and nothing else. We’ll take it!
FabQuality – Best Spy Camera Bundle
- A spy pen
- A 16 GB microSD card for local storage
- A multifunction DVR for internet-based control and review
- Ink refills for said pen since you can still write with it
- And there’s a USB plug on top of all else for charging
Naturally, this means that you’ll be running this spy camera off battery power for the most part, but one supposes that you could leave it plugged into the USB for a constant charge if you intend to record long sessions. With that said, we find it comical that a spy camera would come shipped with ink refills so you can use it like a normal pen otherwise. Seriously, what a touch. We’re impressed.
There’s also a microSD adapter included, so you can offload the contents to your PC or Mac. The whole idea with this package seems to boil down to some James Bond-esque Batman-level surveillance of your home or office space, which we wholeheartedly approve of. The price is pretty good for all of it too.
All said and done, the 220 mAh battery isn’t going to last you very long, so you’re getting what you pay for here: a tactical spy solution that works only when you need it to. Otherwise, you’ll probably just use this as a pen; we promise that feature doesn’t draw from the battery.
DareTang – Best Spy Camera Alarm Clock
Unless your intruder has a reason to mess around with the clock, we’re safe in saying that the camera won’t be spotted here even with closer inspection. Since clocks are typically placed where they’re easy to glance at, you should have no troubles inconspicuously placing this where the camera has a good angle over the area that you’re trying to protect.
Included in this clock is the option to store everything locally via microSD in the event that you don’t have Wi-Fi, and you can shoot everything in 1080p for the crispest playback. Again, as we say with all of these cameras, the quality isn’t going to be like your flagship smartphone, but there is an IR feature that allows for shooting video in darkness, which is rare to find in these cameras.
Facamword – Best USB Spy Camera
With the pettiness out of the way, we’d like to get straight to the point of how awesome this tool is. Coming in the form of a multifunction alarm clock, one would never suspect that so many clock-based features would be packed into something that’s ultimately designed to keep an eye out on the environment that it’s placed in. Making the good price better is the fact that you now have a new clock for your bedroom or office.
You can hook this clock up to an app to remotely view what’s happening and review stored content. There’s also microSD support for local storage in case there’s no Wi-Fi to depend on. You have the option of turning motion-based recording on or off; take note that leaving this on will cause the camera to record only when the motion sensor picks up movement, which is ideal for saving space. None of the data that’s stored on the microSD card is shared with external servers, so when you access the data remotely via the app, you’re doing so directly from the card.
If you’re all about US manufacturing and support, you’ve come to the right device. However, the most important detail is the concealed nature of this camera, which is hidden inside a clock interface that looks entirely inconspicuous.
No, we’re not being sarcastic: You really can’t tell that there’s a camera behind the glass panel on the front of the clock. As such, there’s no pinhole, which means that even close inspection of the device would show nothing of interest to intruders or snoopers.
The price is high, we admit. That’s made worse by the recording resolution being limited to a mere 720p although that’s still plenty of clarity for capturing what’s happening in the environment. However, not having IR sensors like the other clock-based camera designs means that you’ll also have a difficult time in darker settings, so you’ll want to plan for a night light or some other discrete source of illumination to help out with nighttime shooting.
Finally, there’s support for motion-based capture, which can be toggled according to your desires. Since there’s apparently no Wi-Fi support built in, you’ll need to rely on a microSD card, which makes motion-based recording a more sensible option.
Best Spy Camera Buying Guide
When looking for the best spy camera for you, there are many different types of factors that you should carefully consider first. Some of the more common examples of things you should take into account are:
- Recording environment
- Recording quality
- Storage capacity
- Power source
The Recording Environment
By far, the recording environment is one of the most important factors you should consider when shopping for the best spy camera.
For many of you reading this, you are likely looking for a basic spy camera for use in your home or office. For these types of environments, you generally should stick with cameras that have automatic light detection settings to adjust camera settings like exposure.
Cameras with automatic night vision modes are also particularly beneficial. With these cameras, they will automatically switch over whenever low-light conditions are detected. Sticking with a camera with automatic night vision helps ensure that you will continue recording throughout the night with little minimal effort on your part.
Another important thing to take into account when examining the recording environment is how busy the area is. For areas that tend to see less foot traffic, it may be best to stick with cameras that offer motion detection technology. These types of cameras usually have battery lives that are far superior to cameras that remain recording 24/7.
Recording Quality Matters
With spy cameras, recording quality really matters when making your final purchasing decision. The most common types of recording formats you will see are:
With 480p, this is one of the lowest qualities currently available. This type of resolution was most commonly seen during the early days of plasma televisions. While not being the best quality by far, 480p can fulfill the needs of most basic home surveillance needs.
If you own a high-definition television, you are likely already familiar with 720p formatting (HD Ready). Cameras with this level of resolution will offer much clearer details than 480p models. This is ideal for picking out finer details like tattoos facial piercings in low-light videos.
With 1080p (Full HD), this is the top of the line for most spy camera models. This offers some of the clearest picture quality available and is great for small print that is commonly seen on vehicle license plates as they pull away from a scene. If you can afford it, it’s likely best to stick with 1080p cameras whenever possible.
As mentioned earlier, 4K video resolution is primarily limited to select full-fledged cameras and high-end computer displays. At this time, 4K spy cameras are not commonly available due to the degree of miniaturization needed to make an effective spy camera. When they do become available, they will offer some of the clearest picture quality available.
A Look At Storage Capacity
The total supported storage capacity is another one of the most important factors you should consider when shopping for spy cameras. With most models, their storage can be divided into two different categories:
- For budget-friendly models, they likely use an onboard storage mechanism. These types of devices are much more affordable and slightly simplify the operating process.
- For enhanced functionality, many of the more popular models offer a separate memory storage slot. With these models, you select the size of card you want to use to store your video and audio content. The two most common card types that are used are SD cards and micro SD cards.
With traditional SD cards, they are often very cheap and come in sizes of up to 2TB.
For micro SD cards, they are much more common in the smaller camera types. Due to their decreased size, they are a bit more expensive than their traditional SD card counterparts. With micro SD cards, the current maximum size is around 512GB.
Consider The Power Supply
With many spy cameras, they are powered via traditional wall outlets. These cameras have the advantage of being traditionally more affordable.
However, there are also options that come with built-in battery packs that are an ideal choice in emergency situations.
In periods of high looting following a natural disaster like a hurricane, it’s common for the power to be out for large areas. Times like this are when battery powered spy cameras shine for providing uninterrupted recording when you need it most. If you can afford it, consider sticking with a camera that has a built-in battery pack for better dependability and performance.
The 10 spy cameras we covered in our article are all great choices for you to consider. With features like night vision mode and wireless compatibility, they are among the best options currently available. Remember to take your time browsing our recommendations and to carefully consider the points we outlined in our buyer’s guide. By keeping these points in mind, you can help guarantee that you will pick the best spy camera for your needs.