A few weeks ago, 9to5Mac announced that the Aqara G3 camera was now available in the US. Sporting a 2K resolution, a low profile design, and HomeKit Secure Video, it can create the foundation for your smart home if you’re just getting started with HomeKit.
HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.
There is a lot that the Aqara G3 camera can do that’s specific to the Aqara ecosystem that make it a really interesting smart home device. I really find the gesture support to be a very interesting way to interact with other smart home accessories, and I’d love to see Apple natively build it into HomeKit in the coming years. Unfortunately for this camera, these gestures can only control other Aqara devices unless you’re using some sort of bridge. Since the focus of this column is on HomeKit specifically, that’s where I’ll focus my review.
HomeKit Secure Video support
When someone asks me the most important thing to consider when looking at cameras for their house, I always tell them that HomeKit Secure Video is the most important feature. Is it perfect? No, but it’s the only solution I 100% trust to be private to me. I love the flexibility of setting cameras to only detect presence when someone is at home to control automations and then switch to a recording mode when my wife and I are both out of the house. The tight integration to iOS, location services, and HomeKit is a major benefit to using cameras that support HomeKit Secure Video.
With the upgraded features in iOS 15, HomeKit Secure Video has become even better. Now, all paid iCloud plans get access to HomeKit Secure Video. The $.99/month plan included access to one camera, The $2.99/month plan included five cameras. The $9.99/month plan now has access to unlimited cameras
Out of the box, the Aqara G3 camera works with HomeKit Secure Video and can be added to HomeKit without even using the Aqara app. Installation is a breeze with HomeKit. If you plan to only use it within HomeKit, just scan the bottom of the camera using the Home app, and it’ll run through the process of onboarding to your Wi-Fi. Once it’s in HomeKit, you can control all of the normal HKSV settings as well as set up triggers for scenes and automations using the motion sensor aspect of the camera.
Hardware-wise, the camera is a solid build. It comes with a rubber cover that seems to fit in with a baby’s room. One aspect I appreciate about it is a built-in way to cover the camera sensor by pushing it up into itself.
Low-cost HomeKit options
Since discovering the Aqara product line a few years, it’s become my go-to recommendation for getting people started with HomeKit. Once you have an Aqara hub in place, all of the other Aqara accessories can work with HomeKit, and when you compare prices – they are among the lowest on the market.
Aqara accessories that can be added to HomeKit
An Aqara hub (The G3 camera is one) can bridge almost any Aqara accessory to HomeKit so it can be used natively in the Home app as well as trigger scenes and automations.
Summary: buy or not buy?
The Aqara G3 camera is a really good value, but if you just want a basic camera for HomeKit, there are cheaper options. Where the Aqara G3 camera shines is if you want to add on a few Aqara accessories and you don’t have an Aqara hub yet. It then becomes a great combination of an Aqara Hub that doubles as a great HomeKit camera.
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