Wyze Cam v3 Tested Versus v2, Axis, And Hikvision

By Derek Ward, Published Dec 16, 2020, 09:15am EST (Research)

**** *** ******** ******* *** ********** "********, ******, *** ****** **** ever", ******** * ********* ******, ******** night ******, *** ****.

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** ********* *** **** ** *** tested ** ******* ******* *** **,**** *****-*, ************'* *********** ******, ********* *** *********:

  • *** **** *** **** *** ** compare ** *** **?
  • *** **** ***** ******* ******* ** Axis *** *********?
  • *** **** ** ******* ** *** dark **** ** **?
  • *** **** ** ******* ** *** light ** ***** **** (~*.* ***)?
  • *** **** ********* ******* ** ***, low ***** *** ** *** ****?
  • **** ***** *** ******** *** ********* with *** **** *** **?

****: ** **** ** ******* ** updated **** ******'* ****** *********,***** ** ****** **** ****, ** ** ******** ******.

*******

*** **** *** ** ** * vast *********** **** *** **** *** v2, **** *********** ******** *** ***** color *** ****/** *******, ******** ** illumination ***** *** ******** *** ** the ************ ** ****/*** ****, **** rating *** ******* ***, *** ************* lower ******** ** *** ***** *** dark ******.

*******, ***** ******* ** *** ****** is ********* ****, **** ******** ********** washed *** ******* ****** *********. ************, monitoring ******* *** ******* ** ****** phones/tablets ****, **** ** ******* *** support *** *** **** *** ** lacks *** ******** **** ******* ***** in **** **.

Compared ** **** *****-* / ********* *********** ******

******** ** *** **** *****-* *** Hikvision *********** ****** (****), *** **** Cam **'* *** ***** *** **** performance *** ************* ******, **** **** noise *** ****** *******, ********** ******* considering ****'* $** *** ***** **. $170 *** ********* *** $*** *** Axis.

*******, **** **** *** ********* ***** much ****** *** *********** *** *** option ** *** ***********, *** ******** using **** ** (**** ****** **** ******* ** ** development).

*******

*** **** *** ** ***** ***~$** *** ******** ** ****'* *******(********* ** ***-*****), ************* **** ********* than **** ******* ***-**** ********** ****** (such ** ***~$*** **** *****-****~$*** ********* **-***********-******* ****), *** ** *** **** price ** *********** **** *** **.

**** ******* ** ***** **** ***** consumer-grade *******, **** **:

Wyze *** ** *********** ******** ** ************

*** **** *** **'* ** ************ pattern ** *********** ****** **** *** Wyze *** **, **** **** ******** throughout *** ***** ** ****, ******* the **** ** ***** ****** ****** a ****** ******** ~**' ** ***** of *** ******.

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**** ****** **, *** ** ** able ** ******* ***** ****** ******* and ******* ***** ** ****. *** v2 ** *** *** ** ******* subject ******* *** ****** *********** *** line ** *** *****.IPVM Image

*** **** *** ** *** * different **** ** ** **** *** either "***" (*******/**** *****) ** "****" (indoor/close *****) ************, ***** *****. ***** lights *** **** ***** ******* ** the ***** *** ** * ********, though *** ******'* **** ****** ***** is ******* (*** *** ** ********).

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Drastic ***** *** ***** ************

***** *** ***** (** *** ** ~0.1 ***) ** ****** ******** ** the ** ******** ** *** **, with ******* *** **** ***** ******* easy ** *** **** ******* ***** and *********.

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*******, *** *********** ** **** ******* is ********* ****. **** ****** ************ in *** *****, *** ** ****** similar ** *** **, **** ************ obscuring *** ******* ******* *** **** chart.

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Strong ***** *** ***** ******* **. **** *** *********

**** *** **** *** **'* "*********" sensor, ****** ***** *** ***** ***** quality ** ~*.* *** ** ******** than *** **** *** **, ***** looks *** *** ** **** ** discern ******* **** ** ~**'. **** the **** *** ********* ******* ****** also ****** ****** **** *** ** at **** *** *****.

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**** ******* **** ** ~**', *** Wyze *** ** ** **** ** produce ****** ******* ** *** *** and ***** *****, ******* *** ***** cameras ****** ******* **** ***** ******* and ******** ****** ***** ** ****.

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**** *** ******* ******* ******* *** scene ** ~*.* ***, ** *** track *** ********* **** *** **** to *** ******. *******, ** ** difficult ** *** ****** *******, ****** the **** **** *** *** ***** of *** ******* *** ***** *** be ****.

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** ******* * ***** **** **** camera ****** **** ****, *** ***** that *** **, **** *** ********* cameras *** *** ************ ********* **** facial ******, ****** *** **** **** on *** ***** ** ** ***** identifiable.

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********** *** ***** **** ~* *** and *****, *** ******* ******* **** identifiable, ****** *** ** **** ********** the ****** ******* ** *** *****, as ** ******.

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Strong **** / ** *******

** ***** **** ** *******, *** Wyze *** ** ******** ******, **** illumination ** ~**', **** *** ***** room *******.

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*** **** *** ** *********** *** Hikvision *********** ****** ****** ** **** scene, **** ******* ***** ******* *** less *****. *** **** *****-* **** not **** ** **** *** ******** no ****** *******.

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******** *** ** ******** **** ** the ** ** ***** ************ ** subjects *** ******* ****** ******* *** camera, ****** ** ***** * ****** to ******. ***** ** * ****** noticeable ******** ***** ****** *** ******* as ** **********.

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Full ***** ******* ******

** ****, ****, ********, **** **** Cam ******* ***** ******* ********** ** the **** *** ********* ******* ******.

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Poor *** ***********

**** *** **** *** ** *** v2 ****** **** **** *** ***********. In *** *** *****, *** ******** portion ** *** ***** ** ****** out, *** ***** ****** ** ** the ********, ********* **** *******.

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******* **** *** ******** ******* ** the ******* ******** *******, ***** **** and ********* ******* *** *** ***** characters *** *** *******'* **** (********* especially). ******, *** *******'* **** ******* washed ***, ****** ***** ******* *** now ** *********.

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** *** ******* *****, *** ******* walks ******* *** **** *** **'* FOV, ******* *** ******** ****, ***** blinds *** ******. **** **** *** subject ** ****** *** ******* ** scene.

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Wyze *** ** ****-*****

*** **** *** ** ** ***** IP65 *** ******* ***, ***** *** v2 ** ***. *** ***** ********** with *** ****** **** * ******** standpoint ** *** ********* ******* ****** out *** **** ** *** **, which ******* *** ********** *** *****. The ********** ** **** ******* ********, so **** *** **** **** **** of * ****** ** ********* **** power.

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** ******* *** ****** ******* ** look ** *** ****** ***** *** parking ***. *** **** ******* **** the *** *** ** ****, *** we *** *** ********** *** ***** or *********** **** *** ****** ****** the *** ** *** *******. ** plan ** ***** *** ****** ******* during * ***** ****** ***** **** week ** *** *** ** ********.

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Bandwidth **********

*** **** *** ** *** ******** to ************* **** ********* *********** **** the ** ** *** ****** ******, especially ** *****, ***** *** ***** on *** ** **** **** **** of *** **. *******, ****'* ************ levels (**-**) *** ******* ****** **** Axis *** *********, ***** **** ******* ~28-29, ******* **** **** ** **** heavily *********** ***** **** **** ******* to ****** *** *****.

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Small ******** ****

*** **** *** ** ** * slightly ******* **** **** ****** **** the **, ****** **** **** ***'* are ******* **** ********-***** ******* **** as ** *** ********. ******** ** the **** *****-* ********, *** **** Cams *** ******** ******.

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Made ** *****

**** **** **** *** **** ** China.

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Sensor & ****** ****

**** *** **** *** ** *** v2 *** ********* ***, ***** *****:

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**** ****** *** **** ** ****** uses * "*********" ******. **** ********** of **** ******'* *******, **** ****** to ** *** **** ****. ***** the ** ***** ** ******, **** size ** *** ******, ****** ** the ***** ** ** ****'* *******.

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Firmware ****

*** ********* ******** *** **** *** testing:

  • **** *** **: *.**.*.***
  • **** *** **: *.*.*.***
  • **** *****-*: **.*.*
  • ********* **-***********-*: **.*.*

Comments (22)

Derek, good work!

Some business / economics context for the $20 Wyze camera. Wyze admitted recently that the gross margin for Wyze Cam v3 is 3%, adding "what we are doing is kind of insane":

We would agree with him that 3% gross margins are 'kind of insane'. They don't detail how they calculate those margins but it's possible that they are literally losing money on every sale once all direct costs (like support and cloud connectivity and warranty) are factored in. Beyond that, they are not covering overhead with this.

On the plus side, consumers rightfully should be thrilled at the video quality they are getting at this price. And, like Amazon, where key leaders at Wyze formally worked, this 'your margin is my opportunity' approach could eventually lead to Wyze becoming a dominant IoT provider or collapsing.

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A 3% margin is absolutely ridiculous. How is this a sustainable business model?

I wanted to go to Hik and show them this, and ask why we're paying close to an order of magnitude more for their camera for similar performance. But now that the margin has been revealed that's very telling about Wyze's strategy which I don't think any rational businessperson would view as equitable or sustainable.

Still, even if at $20 USD there's profit it gives you some insight as to what sort of margins the big guys are enjoying. They certainly have room to move to remain competitive.

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Still, even if at $20 USD there's profit

The BOM of the Hikvision camera is likely higher, reflected likely in greater durability and features that Hikvision offers.

I wanted to go to Hik and show them this, and ask why we're paying close to an order of magnitude more for their camera for similar performance.

In fairness to Hikvision, it does more. For example, it integrates with other systems and has a slew of features / options that Wyze does not.

But now that the margin has been revealed

My suspicion is that all in, Wyze is actually losing money on this camera but it's not clear how Wyze is calculating all of their costs for the product.

How is this a sustainable business model?

As I mentioned in the Wyze $4.99 Monthly Professional Home Monitoring, the plus side of the model is that it is allowing them to build up a massive customer base very quickly - a customer base that virtually no company in this space has built and the few who did took many, many years. There's certainly value in having such a big customer base, whether that is enough and how well they can eventually capitalize on it remains to be seen.

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In fairness to Hikvision, it does more. For example, it integrates with other systems and has a slew of features / options that Wyze does not.

In fairness to Wyze, that sort of functionality isn't difficult or expensive to add. If Wyze chose to provide an ONVIF stream that could be picked up by NVRs and VMSes, even if it doubled the cost of the camera, that's still far below Hik's wholesale price.

I guess the $20 was a target goal of theirs because even at $30 or $40 this is still a bargain, and it would net them far more profit. Someone there obviously has a long-term strategy, I'm just very curious to know what it is. Are they VC-funded to have put out this kind of capital with so little return?

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I'm just very curious to know what it is. Are they VC-funded to have put out this kind of capital with so little return?

Yes, solid VC funding, led by Northwest Ventures, $45 million total so far.

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Market share, market share, market share. Or really, mind share. If Wyze can build a beachhead that they are the IoT system for consumers and small business, they can leverage that for kinds of higher-margin things. Monitoring, devices working together, higher quality items at higher cost, potential future app store where they get a cut, big data selling (data about homes, businesses, number of visitors, all kinds of stuff could be aggregated and sold, anonymized or not), the list goes on. By establishing the lower cost as a standard expectation (not unlike Amazon with free shipping, for example), it puts the rest of the market on their heels more than it does Wyze. It's a blind warrior cutting the lights out - now everyone is fighting in darkness, and the slighted enemies have a much harder time with that.

Essentially, it's asymmetric competition. Wyze's goal isn't margin per device, or probably not even aggregate revenue on hardware, which is markedly different from our surveillance camera manufacturers.

The question is how much (mostly unintended) collateral damage will there be on the enterprise or medium-size business market, driving prices down to levels that may be unsustainable for many security integrators to survive.

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#4, good thoughts, good questions!

they can leverage that for kinds of higher-margin things. Monitoring

I thought that too, then Wyze $4.99 Monthly Professional Home Monitoring. I don't understand why Wyze felt the need to go in at half the price of Ring (plus throw in a free system) when Ring was the lowest price mass market competitor. How low does one need to cut their prices?

collateral damage will there be on the enterprise or medium-size business market

I have not seen or heard of collateral damage on the enterprise or medium-size business market as Wyze (at least for now) is selling home-oriented products (scales, watches, etc.). Beyond that, they are certainly tapping into buyers who might not have bought any surveillance cameras with previous higher priced or less well known options.

I do suspect that residential focused surveillance providers - Lorex (Dahua), Night Owl, Ezviz (Hikvision), etc. are being hurt by this since those are the most direct competitors. Anyone with direct knowledge on this side, I'd be curious to hear feedback if I am wrong here, etc.

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Yeah, the $5 seems crazy low. Though I'm sure Wyze's pitch to their investors is how easy it is to raise prices gradually on monthly recurring charges once you have a captured customer - see Netflix, etc. And they'll argue it's even stronger since they have hardware seeded in the customer home, not just viewing habits.

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This seems kind of scary actually.

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Overall a good camera for the price point. One of my biggest complaints is the mounting ability of the camera. Unless you purchase a standard camera mount you have to mount the camera straight on to the view you want. This is also true of their wireless outdoor cam. There isn't enough movement in the included mount to put the camera in a corner and have a level view of the scene. Another complaint of the mount is the thin cheap plastic and really cheap screws they continue to provide with their products.

Wyze has an issue with trying to make their products smaller than everyone else for the most part. At some point a device, whatever it is, can be too small to be effective.

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I have two of these cameras, one in my home and one in my workshop. I have a 4 car garage that I will be adding another camera to because these little cameras are awesome and can be placed discreetly. I am alerted appropriately and the image is fantastic considering the cost. I picked this brand up a couple of years ago to try out the camera, since then I have purchased the extension cord, and the headset, as well as the alarm system. I'm impressed by it all and will continue to purchase for my personal use and have recommended to folks who have caretaker concerns. For the price, its very affordable and puts people at ease who have concerns about what is going on in the house while they are away. Yup, I'll admit I'm a big fan.

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Does anyone know specifically which wireless protocol is uses? I found "2.4GHz WiFi" online.

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Great study but missing a key finding: the brand and the model of the CMOS sensor. Many things can be tweaked by the camera manufacturer in the firmware (such as WDR timing, compression ratio), but the sensor defines the fundamentals (such as light sensitivity, which is mostly proportional to the pixel size, crosstalk between pixels, S/N, sensor-level autofocusing). There are only several sensor vendors around (Sony, Samsung, ON Semiconductor and OmniVision), and each has only a couple active sensors for security applications, which is a much smaller market than camera cellphones - i.e. it should be possible to pinpoint based on pixel count and packaging type. Cellphone people do teardowns (or just ask manufacturers) and track what's used and where, as Samsung Galaxy S8 uses Sony IMX320 while iPhone 6 has IMX145 with PDAF (on-sensor autofocusing) function. In other words, you would do the eval differently had you known that say Waze 3 and Hikvision had the same sensor inside.

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but missing a key finding: the brand and the model of the CMOS sensor.

Yes, as we mentioned we were unable to identify the brand and model. We did post pictures of Wyze v3 and v2 sensors if anyone has input.

you would do the eval differently had you known that say Waze 3 and Hikvision had the same sensor inside.

No, because users cannot swap or pick sensors inside COTS IP cameras like Wyze or Hikvision.

I do think academically it would be interesting to know if Wyze somehow how is tuning sensors better than Hikvision but, in practice, buyers are stuck with the sensor the vendor picks.

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The picture and "starlight" tag point to a new ON Semi AR0221 with 2.1 MPix resolution. Is this the resolution you measured? If that's the one, this is a sensor with giant 4.2 mu pixels, which would beat most other CCTV cameras on the market in terms of light performance. But I doubt it's the one since AR0221 is a $27 sensor in qty 1000!

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Looks like somebody's bringing the Amazon business model to our industry. Try to lose as little money as possible to attract as many investors as possible, until you turn a profit.

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Update: Wyze has effectively raised the price on the v3, noting:

Some of our key suppliers informed us they would only be able to supply about ⅓ of the chips we need to make Wyze Cams.

Here's how AndroidPolice describes it:

Right now, there are two ways to buy the Wyze Cam v3. Cam Plus subscribers already paying for a subscription can pick one up for $20 (plus $5 for shipping, as usual). Everyone else will need to either pay $35 (plus $5 for shipping) for a Wyze Cam v3 plus a year of Cam Plus, or you'll need to subscribe to Cam Plus separately ($2 a month or $15 a year) and qualify for that $20 pricing. Additional cameras on top of the $35 price will only cost $20, so you can add one $35 camera to your cart and then load up on the $20 versions, and the Wyze Cam v3 does not need Cam Plus to work, so you can buy one for a friend or cancel your subscription after purchase.

Wyze says they also will be selling more non IoT products:

We’ll be launching more non-IoT products.

Our data and user research shows that high-quality tech products with Wyze pricing are still sought after by our users even when they aren’t WiFi-based. Our new handheld vacuum, for example, sold out

It will be interesting to see how much of a shift this represents to being a general electronics relabeller/supplier. It could be more profitable certainly than losing money off of each Wyze cam (or those losses could be viewed as an investment to acquire a customer base to sell vacuums and other gadgets to).

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I absolutely am a fan of Wyze, which during the pandemic and lockdowns has enabled us to remotely check the garage, the irrigation system, the pets, intrusion, everything. Integration with their own sensors and with IFTTT. And yes, I'd love these to be more "open" and support Onvif or RTSP, so that I could run my own video analytics, or enable integration with 3rd party sensors... but I totally get how it'd go against their interests. The only reason for them to be selling this gem at such a low price point, is in order to have a huge captive locked-in market for premium services and add-ons. And also with such a large customer base they're amassing, at some point a large player will pay a lot to buy the company. Or they could go for an IPO.

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UPDATE: Wyze's support page now says they are no longer committed to developing RTSP firmware:

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Previously, they said they were "working" on v3 RTSP support (below) and supported RTSP on the V1/V2 and Wyze Cam Pan.

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Update: Wyze released RTSP firmware for the v3 camera today:

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We have not tested this. I personally have multiple v2 cameras with RTSP firmware which has been stable, but no v3s.

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Much as I hate the term, this is a "game changer".

Can the major VMSes receive, record, and analyze RTSP feeds?

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The Wyze Cam v3 sells for ~$20 USD directly on Wyze's website (currently on pre-order),

Update: 1 year later, the Wyze Cam v3 sells for nearly double the price, still relatively inexpensive but now $35.88:

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