Does Ring Require A Subscription?
A major consideration when choosing a smart camera or doorbell brand is whether you will need to fork out for an ongoing subscription to use it. This is particularly true of cloud-based security services like Ring, and it’s worth looking into what you can and can’t do without having that monthly fee.
Ring likes to state that you can use their security and doorbell cameras without a subscription. The question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether the functionality you get justifies the cost of the device. There are plenty of lower cost options, although build quality and performance will likely not be up to the same standard.
What Ring Features Work Without A Subscription?
Without paying for any of the Ring subscription tiers you’ll have very basic functionality from your Ring device. You’ll obviously lose the ability to record video to Ring’s cloud, but you’ll also be very limited in controlling notifications. Being able to fine tune what notifications you get, and when, is fundamental to a good camera experience. Without this control you’ll likely be stuck with a lot more junk alerts that can result in your ignoring them, or even turning them off entirely.
Here’s what you can do for free:
Receive basic motion alerts (text only, no thumbnail)
View the live stream from the camera
Use two-way talk while viewing the live stream
Adjust motion sensitivity and basic zones
Receive alerts for doorbell presses
Additional Benefits Of A Ring Subscription
Ring’s services are really tailored around subscriptions. To realize the full benefits of any Ring device, you’ll get a lot more for with a subscription, even the basic level plan. Besides having all your motion and doorbell events recorded for later viewing for up to 180 days, you’ll unlock many helpful notification features that will make it much easier to determine if a motion event is something you need to check into.
This includes things like Rich Notifications which provide a quick snapshot of the event right in the notification on your phone or smart watch. You can immediately see if it’s something you care about, like someone poking around, or if it’s mundane, like the postman.
You’ll also be able to fine tune when your cameras record and limit your motion alerts to specific areas and filter for just people rather than other motion sources like passing cars, swaying trees, or animals.
The basic subscription will cover these features for a single device, but if you plan on having more devices, then the Protect Plus plan is a better option as it covers an unlimited number for a flat fee and gives you an extended warranty on them all as well. Going for a Ring Alarm system will necessitate the highest plan. This unlocks a whole lot of extra features around that service like 24/7 monitoring and cellular internet backup.
All Ring Subscription Plan Features
To illustrate how much you lose without a subscription, it’s worth comparing the full feature list between the paid plans and the free option. I’ve compiled these into the following table for easy reference. Prices are in US dollars. You’ll get a discount of around 17% if you pay annually.
The Protect Pro plan in only available in the few countries where the Ring Alarm is offered. This is primarily limited by the Z-Wave frequencies supported by the hardware since these vary by region. Currently supported regions are limited to North America and Europe.
Protect Plus $10/mo
Protect Pro $20/mo
|180 Day History|
|180 Day History||✘||✔||✔||✔|
|Saving and Sharing|
|Saving and Sharing||✘||✔||✔||✔|
|Alexa Guard Plus|
|Alexa Guard Plus||✘||✘||✘||✔|
|eero Digital Security|
|eero Digital Security||✘||✘||✘||✔|
Some of these features warrant some explanation to cut through the marketing speak.
This applies to ‘select’ products on Ring’s own store and on Amazon.
This provides a backup internet connection in the event that your normal service is offline. It covers both the alarm and any connected Ring devices, including your cameras, but has a limited data cap of 3GB per month, with extra data costing $3 per gigabyte.
Alexa Guard Plus
This provides a tighter integration with Alexa by allowing for hands-free emergency calling and extra alerts via Alexa.
eero Digital Security
This is an optional security subscription offered for eero routers that gets thrown in as part of the Protect Pro subscription. This is included because the Ring Alarm base station includes an eero Router to provide backup internet service in the event of an outage of power failure. Eero and Ring are both owned by Amazon, hence the integration.
A new service on their Alarm base station that allows you to record and save videos from your Ring cameras locally on a microSD card.
Can you use a Ring security or doorbell camera without a subscription. The answer is actually yes, but it’s a very compromised experience. You’ll be paying a premium price for the device with most of its functionality locked away from you. If you just want a video doorbell without a subscription, there are plenty of good options that won’t leave you wanting for features.
The Ring cloud service is very capable, however, and is one of the best performing in terms of recording response and notification times in my experience. If you’re looking at a Ring device, it’s worth considering if you’d be interested in expanding that investment into a more comprehensive whole-home security setup. If that’s something you might be looking towards, then the Ring subscription is actually good value when compared to the competition.