It’s hard to have a smart home without a few hubs to connect all your smart devices, but is it really necessary to have a box that, at first glance, doesn’t do much, tucked away in a closet? The Aqara Camera Hub G3 answers in the negative: it is not only a security camera, but also a Zigbee hub, which allows you to connect a whole series of sensors and buttons to home automation.
Like its big brother, the Camera Hub G2H, the G3 is both a smart home hub and a VERY feature-rich smart security camera . Although her cat ears can make her quite cute, it’s best not to be fooled by appearances. In-camera AI object/person recognition, motion tracking, compatibility with other smart systems and powerful rules that can be set make this product beyond just another surveillance camera cheap. Through this test we will discover the great potential of this camera.
- Aqara Camera Hub G3: Unboxing and Accessories
- Aqara Camera Hub G3: Design and Features
- Aqara Camera Hub G3: Initialization
- Aqara Camera Hub G3: Hands-on testing
- Aqara Camera Hub G3: Possible integrations
- Aqara Camera Hub G3: Our review
Aqara Camera Hub G3: Unboxing and Accessories
The camera arrives in white packaging highlighting its key features such as 360° vision, night vision, AI recognition… Several logos are also affixed to the side of the box to highlight its wide compatibility with connected system environments such as Apple Homekit.
On the back side you find a person interacting with the camera via hand gestures. Below, a few lines highlight the eco-system (connected accessories) of the brand.
Once the camera is out of the box, you will notice that the famous cat ears are already mounted. The device does not look cheap at any time and its weight of 284 grams is rather reassuring.
You will find in the box with the camera a small instruction manual available in French, as well as a mains adapter supplied (which is not the case with all brands). To connect the whole thing, a 2-meter USB-C to USB-A cable (a good point) is also present.
Aqara Camera Hub G3: Design and Features
Aqara is rapidly evolving its range and significant improvements have been made over the old G2H model. A 2K resolution sensor (2304 x 1296 pixels) has been added, a 2.4 and 5 GHz dual-band Wi-Fi system , as well as infrared night vision provided by 940 nm LEDs .
It features face and gesture recognition, as well as person and animal detection . Not only can this AI notify you with notifications, but you can also set up routines based on what the camera sees.
Most security cameras look boring, but the Aqara Camera Hub is different. With her cute little ears, she looks like a robot from a Pixar movie.
For those concerned about their privacy, no worries. The Aqara Camera Hub G3 features a privacy shutter that covers the entire camera lens and can be activated manually or automatically. When in “privacy” mode, the camera rolls its lens up, out of sight, revealing two little sleepy eyes (isn’t that cute?).
When the camera is raised, its “mouth” serves as a microSD card slot . This can accommodate a card up to 128 GB for offline recording.
This G3 can rotate 340 degrees horizontally, plus 30 degrees up and 15 degrees down . Given the camera ‘s 110-degree field of view , the movement is enough to capture an entire room. You can make this panning function happen automatically (cruise), control it manually or even enable it as part of an automation with rules.
Power is supplied via the USB-C input on the bottom rear of the camera. A very significant point when many competitors like Arlo and Reolink still use the old micro-USB port on their products.
Addition which can be useful for some, under the camera is a thread allowing to fix it on a foot in height.
Aqara Camera Hub G3: Initialization
Installing your Aqara Camera Hub G3 is very simple. After unpacking the product, download the Aqara app from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) . Then create an account if you are not already a member.
Once connected, you will need to “add a device”. Click on the “+” in the upper right corner of the application. This will take you to the “Add Accessory” page. Select Camera Hub G3 and follow the setup instructions. Make sure you have your Wi-Fi password handy, as you will need it to add your Camera Hub to your home wireless network.
The total installation time is 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your Wi-Fi connection and the functions you want to activate initially. A strong broadband connection is recommended as the Aqara Camera Hub G3 is two devices in one. And security cameras need a good signal to transmit the videos.
During my test an update was available for the camera. I had to go back to it several times to activate the update, blocking itself in progress. To remedy this, I glued the smartphone to the camera and the update was done without any problem. This maneuver must therefore be done via Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi apparently.
You can also use the Type-C port with video output to stream videos and photos to a computer or laptop . The port supports low latency high definition video output via UVC protocols .
Aqara Camera Hub G3: Hands-on testing
The camera is Wi-Fi 5Ghz compatible which is really great. You benefit from much better bandwidth and above all better responsiveness. Having tested many security cameras, this compatibility is still too rare today. At Reolink for example, some cameras are 5Ghz compatible, but you have to modify several network parameters on the administration of your Box in order to make them compatible. On the Arlo brand side, if you do not have the brand’s Hub, you will be confined to 2.4Ghz on compatible models.
Once connected to the 5Ghz network, access to the camera is almost instantaneous in 720p, and a second is enough to display the stream in 1296p . This is the fastest system I have ever seen!
During our testing, one of the features we liked was the dashboard to control for the G3 camera in the Aqara app. The app has all the controls you want for a smart security camera. Users can easily activate features with just a touch of the screen.
On the main camera screen you can easily move the camera up and down and side to side with the controls or if you switch to landscape mode you can slide your finger across the screen in the direction you want the camera to turn. This screen also has other main functions, such as infrared remote control and preset position, which can be easily activated with the touch of a finger.
And if you click on the Advanced button at the bottom of the dashboard screen, it brings up the other special functions which are tracking people , tracking dogs and cats , moving according to a routine , detecting faces and gesture identification . Just click on the icons to activate or deactivate the function. The application is well organized and very simple to use to activate the functions. Setting up some of these features (like gesture controls) is a bit trickier, especially for smart home newbies.
For gesture controls , you will configure them in the Alert section of the app. Note that you will need to set up face detection before you can enable gesture detection. Then you can choose between two types of gesture identification, one hand or both. If you are using both hands, the gesture should be done simultaneously. Then you select the detection region or area of the app where you need to gesture for the Aqara camera to determine it’s you. This setup took a while, and the camera didn’t always recognize our gesture. The new firmwares, however, are working, among other things, to optimize this function.
Alerts can be activated by face detection, human detection, or cat and dog movements. You can also set up alerts to record the action if you want and for how long. But you will need to insert a MicroSD card for these alerts to be activated.
For video settings, you can enable a timestamp for each recording and an identification box that will show when identifying a human or a cat/dog. Everything you rarely find in a smart security camera today and very easy to set up.
Regarding the video quality, it’s a bit noisy, more at night, but the quality is more than enough for a security camera. Below you will find two unmodified shots taken with the application:
The field of view is rather small (110 degrees) for a security camera, but the 340 degree pan and tilt capabilities as well as 2k video resolution, night vision, people (and pets) tracking as well as home integrations with Aqara smart devices more than make up for it. If you add to that facial recognition, physical tracking and compatibility with major voice platforms, you get a one-of-a-kind smart security camera that can monitor everything it sees, with no blind spots.
After several tries, the tracking of my movements by the camera and the facial recognition worked perfectly. It’s amazing for a device offered under the 100€ mark.
Like any self-respecting security camera, you can of course activate alerts and an alarm according to several available modes and with different compatible connected devices.
Regarding what can be detected, it is very comprehensive. You can choose between the following:
- Detection of abnormal noise
- Motion detection
- Facial recognition
- Unrecognized face
- Person detected
- Dog or cat detected
- Gesture detected
In terms of power consumption at the socket, the camera uses 2.7 Watts in daytime activity, 4.1 Watts in night vision and 4.7 Watts when using the motor. Note that its consumption in standby (with the hidden objective) is the same as its activity during the day, i.e. 2.7 Watts.
Aqara Camera Hub G3: Possible integrations
The Aqara Smart Home Platform supports a diverse smart home ecosystem. It works with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, If This Than That (IFTTT), Yandex Alice and VK Marusya . But keep in mind that not all Aqara Hubs are compatible with these platforms. The Aqara Camera Hub G3 is a smart Hub (home hub) with built- in Zigbee 3.0 and security camera in one device .
The hub function of the G3 only allows control of Aqara devices using the Zigbee wireless protocol and the Aqara mobile app. If you want to control other Zigbee devices, you will need to get a Zigbee gateway/hub, use IFTTT applets, or voice commands from one of the smart home voice platforms. But keep in mind that the G3 Hub camera features will only work with devices compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit.
If you are an Apple HomeKit user, the Aqara mobile app will look very familiar to you. It’s almost identical to Apple’s HomeKit app. The color scheme is slightly different, but the features are very similar. This is not surprising since Aqara is compatible with Apple HomeKit. If you have other Apple HomeKit-enabled devices, you can make them work with Aqara’s Camera Hub G3, but you’ll need to set up those integrations in the HomeKit app and in an Apple HomeKit hub (that’s i.e. Apple TV or Apple HomePod Mini). You can also configure Siri to perform voice commands with your Aqara devices. The Aqara app is where you need to go to set up integrations between Aqara devices only.
You can use the Apple HomeKit app to record your videos and watch them from anywhere using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV. And none of the videos will count for your iCloud storage. But the camera hub will record videos in full HD 1080p and not 2k. Also, Pan/Tilt control is not available due to current HomeKit technology limitations. This is something you should be aware of if you plan to use Apple’s HomeKit app and HomeKit Secure Video feature.
Aqara Camera Hub G3: Our review
After several months of testing the Aqara Camera Hub G3 in an actual home, we found it to be one of the most powerful and versatile smart security cameras we’ve tested. Installation was easy and camera functions worked as expected. The movement tracking of people and the recognition of faces are stunning. The video quality is good, the app is easy to use, and the pan and tilt controls worked well. However, the G3 has a few downsides, all of which depend on how you want to set up your smart home.
For users who want to build a DIY smart home security system, it is important for you to know that Aqara Camera Hub G3 is actually just a powerful pan and tilt indoor smart security camera that can work with Aqara smart devices and is compatible with Apple HomeKit and other popular voice platforms. It integrates Zigbee 3.0, but you need another Zigbee gateway or hub to integrate other Zigbee devices. If you have a lot of Zigbee devices and want a smart home hub that can also function as a camera, the G3 isn’t the hub for you. But,
Finally, we’re seeing new smart security cameras working like smart baby monitors. If you are an Apple user and looking for a smart baby monitor, we recommend you go for Aqara Camera Hub G3. Although the G3 doesn’t monitor baby’s breathing or sleep patterns like many newer smart baby monitors, it can still keep an eye on your child. And with all of its features, including face detection, gesture controls, and night vision, you’ll always be able to see who’s entering and leaving the room, day or night, using the HomeKit app. from Apple. All at a price that’s half the cost of a smart baby monitor.
Overall, the Aqara Camera Hub G3 is a good smart security camera that can control Aqara devices in an easy-to-use mobile app or with voice commands using any of the global voice platforms. It’s a good device to have if you’re building a smart home on Apple’s HomeKit platform. There is no cloud cost for storing your videos and you get a ton of valuable and effective security features at an attractive price.
- Low price for all on-board technology
- Supported by Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Compatibility with 5Ghz Wi-Fi
- No blind spot thanks to pan and tilt lens
- No interface in French
- Only controls Aqara devices