Aqara Camera Hub G2H review
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I’ve been testing a lot of indoor cameras that support HomeKit lately, and the Aqara Camera Hub G2H is the newest model to fall into this category.
HomeKit cameras can tend to be on the high side of the price scale, but we’ve had an excellent low cost model in the eufy Indoor 2K camera. That’s been my go to for the budget conscious for a while. The Aqara camera comes in at a similar price point, so I really wanted to see how it compares.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with it right from taking it out of the box. The design is unique but very practical, it’s a full featured HomeKit Secure Video camera that can run without the Aqara app, and it gets the job done as a security camera, but it’s not perfect.
The eufy cam still beats it for night vision, but I really like that Aqara not only doesn’t require an account for control or setup, but offers pure local recording and no cloud requirement. There are a few let downs, but depending on your requirements it may still be a good choice. Let’s look at the details.
Aqara G2H Overview
The Aqara G2H is a compact 1080p indoor security camera that supports Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video integration, or can be used with Aqara’s own smart phone app using a local Micro SD card for storage up to 32GB (not included). Interestingly it also contains a ZigBee hub for use with Aqara’s range of smart home security devices.
The G2H is the most compact HomeKit camera I’ve tested so far, you could almost call it ‘cute’ with it’s squat bullet shaped design. While it appears to be limited to sitting on a flat surface, the base is actually a cleverly designed ‘Z’ bracket that folds out from the underside to allow for mounting on vertical or angled surfaces using the strong magnetic base. If you need to mount it on a non-metallic surface, you can use the included metal plate which can be attached with two screws (not included) or the matching adhesive pad.
The ‘Z’ leg attaches to a rotating ring in the bottom of the camera housing allowing for horizontal rotation of 360 degrees. The combination of the two provides a fairly wide range of placement options, although you can’t level the camera view in certain angled off-center positions.
The MicroSD slot can be found in the base, in the center of the rotating ring. That makes it easily accessible if needed but not in obvious view. The back of the housing holds the speaker and the Micro USB port for power. This points straight out the back which can make it a bit tight for wall mounting, but you can adjust the ‘Z’ leg to move the camera further out from the wall to compensate.
You do get a Micro USB cable, but no power adapter. I guess Aqara figures we’re all swimming in these by now, so I can appreciate not lumbering us with another one. The camera only has a rated input of 1 Amp, so any USB charger will do the job.
Installation and Setup
The G2H has got to be the easiest camera set up I’ve done so far. Pure HomeKit Camera’s like the Logitech Circle View and Eve Cam are very simple to pair, and the process is the same here. Scan the QR code in the Home app and it does the work for you. The thing that struck me was just how fast it was. Within seconds it was on the WiFi and I was setting up name and preferences.
That’s it, you don’t have the install the Aqara app to use it in HomeKit, it just works. If you don’t want to use HomeKit, or you want to use it as an Aqara hub as well, the pairing with the Aqara app was just as quick. Once I opened the app, it auto detected the camera and asked if I wanted to Pair it. Tap the button and it’s done, confirmed by a voice notification from the camera itself.
For HomeKit use there is one thing you’d need the Aqara app for, and that’s to rotate the view if you want to ceiling mount it. In the app you can flip it vertically or horizontally, although I’m not sure why you’d want to do the latter.
The G2H supports all HomeKit Secure Video functions, include two-way talk, and can be configured in the Home app as normal. I won’t go into all the settings available here, you can see my HomeKit Secure Video guide for the details.
For use in the Aqara app you have a few extra things if you choose to use the local storage card, such as enabling motion and sound alerts, and adjusting the speaker volume. The motion detection and notification settings are pretty basic, you’ll get much more functionality through HomeKit. If you don’t have a Micro SD card, you can still use the camera locally in live view, and from there you can save still frames and video clips directly to your phone’s photo library.
How does it stack up?
The camera quality is quite acceptable. It’s a standard 1080p camera with a 140 degree field of view. That’s pretty standard for indoor cameras, and is comparable to most HomeKit cameras available at the moment. The view is clear and doesn’t have too much optical distortion. Color reproduction is very good in day mode, and night vision is decent, but it’s not up to the standard of other HomeKit cameras.
Aqara claims they use a new style of night vision that avoids the need for ominous red LEDs being visible on the camera. What they seem to have is a different filter over the IR LEDs which blocks more of the visible light while still allowing the IR to pass through. This does reduce the visibility of the IR LEDs considerably, and it’s something that has practical implications if you have young kids.
Mine are unsettled by the typical red glare of the night vision cameras, so in the corridor outside the bedrooms I’ve swapped this one in as I can have the night vision enabled without them seeing it. This can also be useful if you want the camera less noticeable in general at night.
I’ve been specifically testing this alongside a eufy Indoor 2K camera as a direct competitor in the budget space. The eufy cam has my best rating for nightvision, it uses 8 large IR LEDs and really lights up the space clearly for the camera. The G2H also uses 8 LEDs and lights up the space just as well, but the image is a bit washed out for some reason. It’s still clear enough in practical use, but it really stands out when comparing the two.
The Aqara camera is more subtle than eufy’s in another sense, and that’s the very noticeable click the eufy Indoor makes when switching night vision on and off. The G2H doesn’t do this, which also helps to keep it discrete.
The Aqara camera is also more compact than eufy’s, which was previously the smallest HomeKit camera available. It’s very stable sitting on a shelf, and the base can be extended just slightly for adjusting the up or downward angle to get the best framing. I also like the magnetic mounting as it can offer some easy, non-invasive install options which can be great for rentals. Metal door frames, or the side of the fridge can make good spots for a camera, and I’ve now installed it on a door frame at the end of a hallway.
A significant benefit for me is that fact that Aqara doesn’t require any cloud connecitvity for their camera to work. You can either use it directy in HomeKit, or you can use it with Aqara’s ecosystem using local storage. Aqara doesn’t offer a cloud storage option, and doesn’t require internet connectivity to the camera, unlike eufy.
On the audio side, the G2H speaker is quite loud and clear, and I had no issues hearing and understanding someone talking to me from the far end of the hallway. The reverse is not true, however, with the small microphone hole on the front of the camera having trouble hearing me from more than a few paces away. This bears out in recordings as well, with sounds further from the camera being very faint.
More troubling is that I’ve found the recorded video has serious sync problems with the audio, with the video lagged several seconds behind. This seems to be a general problem with video processing on the camera side, as I’ve also witnessed some choppy live streams and even a recording that was just a still frame with audio playing over it in one case.
I’ve compared this with other cameras in HomeKit and they have recorded perfectly in the same time period, so it’s not a wider issue with my network. Testing the two-way talk seemed OK and synchronized, so it’s more an issue with recorded clips. If you aren’t concerned about audio sync in those cases then the camera works fine for capturing events. The recorded video starts before the event and runs the duration without any other issues.
Eufy’s 2K indoor Cam (see full review) is an amazing value proposition, and is still the cheapest HomeKit Secure Video camera available. The Aqara G2H comes in close, but still retails slightly higher under normal circumstances.
Eufy has an excellent camera in those model, both in light and dark conditions, and supports local storage like the Aqara G2H through eufy’s app.
I have a few issues with the 2K cam, though. First is that the snapshots that show in the Apple Home app are delayed by up to 60 seconds. Every other HSV camera I’ve tested updates instantly on demand, but for some reason the eufy cam lags way behind. Live video and recordings are fine though, so it may not be an issue for you.
Second, while the eufy cam supports two-way talk, for some reason it’s not enabled in HomeKit, only in their own app. It’s an obvious feature win that everyone other camera has, so this is also an odd issue.
Third, eufy requires the camera to be connected to the internet. Their app controls settings and preferences through their cloud platform, even if you don’t use their cloud storage offering. It does work fine offline in HomeKit, but it will flash a warning light at you constantly to tell you it’s ‘offline’.
While you should be able to set it up directly in HomeKit, I was unable to get it to work and had to create a eufy account first. If you want pure HomeKit cameras and no extra accounts, this is a problem that may not be worth the cost savings.
The Logitech Circle View (see full review) is the second foray into HSV cameras for Logitech, and they’ve learnt a lot from that first attempt. The Circle View is my current best choice for HSV camera’s based on it’s solid build quality, perfect performance, added extras like the ambient light sensor, and it’s outdoor weather rating as a bonus.
The Circle View sits at the top of the price range, but it’s well designed, stylish, and works really well. With night vision on par with the eufy 2K Indoor cam, excellent microphone and all metal body you can’t go wrong with it, so long as price isn’t a factor.
If you’re looking for a budget indoor camera that supports HomeKit Secure Video, or just works on it’s own with local storage, the Aqara Camera Hub G2H is not a bad option. It delivers decent camera quality, super easy installation and a smart, compact design that supports all HomeKit features.
If audio is a big requirement for you, however, this may not be the one to go for. The microphone is limited in it’s range, and audio sync is an issue on recorded video clips.
For the budget conscious you may want to look at the eufy 2K Indoor cam, but while it does offer better camera quality, you’ll need a eufy account and internet connectivity to the camera in order to manage it’s settings, even using HomeKit for recording.