The best spy cameras allow you to protect yourself from harm, without being noticed. They’re different from normal home security cameras in that they’re much more discrete. In other words, they’re either too small for anyone to notice, or disguised as something other than a camera, such as a clock.
The best spy camera is one with a wide field of view, so you can see as much of your surroundings as possible. It also needs to be high resolution, although there’s a balance to be struck here. You don’t want the bother and expense of processing huge 8K files when 720p will suffice. You might also want night vision and motion detection, which means the camera only starts recording when something moves.
“Spy camera” is a pretty broad term, and there’s quite a bit of overlap with other types of cameras. So if none of the devices on this list seem suitable, also check out the best pet camera as well as our guides to action cameras, and home indoor security cameras, because many of these provide similar functionality to spy cameras.
The Blink Mini blends in without being actually hidden – it just feels like part of a safe modern home. The Blink app is good, too.
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Best Hidden Camera
Best Spy Camera for fitting
The hidden camera tucks the main electronics around the corner with a flexible cable allowing very discrete positioning.
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Best spy camera for simplicity
Being hidden in plain sight makes the spy clock easy to fit quickly with no special tools, but it does the job.
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5. Arlo Essential Spotlight
If you’re looking for a solid CCTV camera, this is your best bet to keep track of intruders.
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With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones.
Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones.
He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot’s Handbook.
The best spy camera in 2024
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Low on funds? This is a solid choice for anyone on a budget. It’s easy to set up, and its diminutive dimensions make it easy to put somewhere out of sight.
The camera can shoot Full HD and comes with a suite of security features, including motion detection and infrared night vision. Plus there’s two-way audio, in case you need to tell off a pet that’s getting too close to the snack drawer.
The main downside is that it has no SD slot, and in fact, no internal storage at all. If you want to save footage and images, then, you’re stuck either signing up for a subscription plan to get some cloud storage or paying the same price as the camera again for the Sync Module 2 hub, which allows you to offload clips to a USB stick or similar device. This is hardly ruinous as the camera is so cheap, to begin with, but it’s something to think about.
Read our full Blink Mini review for more details
Best for fitting
This spy cam keeps a low profile by pushing the electronics – including the battery and microphone – back down a cable where they can be discretely hidden. That means you can have all the simplicity of a phone-friendly camera, but it’s a bit easier to hide.
Equipped with motion detection or plain recording options, the camera also has a loop mode – to keep the most recent footage at the expense of older. There is a 32GB TF card included, which you can review easily on your computer, or place a larger card in should you choose. The 30fps means you’ll get about 4 hours of recording time with that 32GB.
There are two versions on the market, one with wi-fi in the electronics pouch, so you can monitor from your phone, and the other with a plain microphone and recording device (to the card). Check which version your retailer is pushing. Wi-fi signals can draw the attention of those with signal detectors but are more convenient.
Best for simplicity
A pleasant-looking spy solution, this wall clock containing a spy camera won’t look out of place in an office or kitchen. The lens is well hidden, so it is unlikely to be discovered – and the clock works, so it has an everyday use, too. The video recording is motion activated, triggering an app on your phone, but also recording footage to an SD card.
We couldn’t do a roundup of spy cameras without featuring at least one option that’s secreted within the best camera glasses. While there are a lot of pocket money options from brands we’ve never heard of online, the look tends to be more Austin Powers than Tom Cruise. These glasses from Ray-Ban, though, are fashionably stylish as well as providing great functionality.
A tie-in between Ray-Ban and Meta, they feature dual 5MP cameras, offering a photo resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels, and video at 30fps, 1184 x 1184 pixels. The main appeal here is an eyeline point-of-view perspective when recording hands-free.
Obviously, outside of a James Bond movie, the creepy factor is high, and so Ray-Ban has included a colored light indicator on the front of the glasses, which lights up when camera recording is in use.
That said, most people still probably won’t work out that you’re filming them, so it’s up to you where you feel that using these glasses is appropriate, and/or legal.
For more details, see our full Ray-Ban Stories review
Need to protect and monitor your home? The Arlo Essential Spotlight can be placed pretty much anywhere with its screw-in mount. Unlike many other products in the Arlo range, it doesn’t require the Arlo SmartHub in order to work, although you can connect it if you do have one.
It’s a well-featured spy camera, with motion detection and an effective “vision” range of 300 feet. There’s also a spotlight if you want to use it as an intruder deterrent.
The battery in the Arlo Essential Spotlight can last a good long time (the manufacturers say up to six months), though be aware that it’s non-removable. This means you have to take the entire rig down when charging time comes.
Setting up the camera is an easy process, and once it’s connected to your phone via the app you’ll be able to control a host of functions, though it’s a lot less useful if you don’t continue your free trial of the Arlo Smart subscription service.
See our full Arlo Essential Spotlight review for more details
Best for battery life
The Blink Indoor isn’t that small, making it more of a home security camera than a spy camera. But if that isn’t a deal-breaker, this camera offers better-quality video than some of the smaller, harder-to-see devices.
It has a handy feature that gives it the ability to talk to intruders using the integral two-way audio system controlled by the Blink app on your smartphone. It’s completely wire-free and powered by two AA batteries, which can last up to two years so you don’t need to worry about replacing them all the time. And it works with Alexa, so you can view live streams or disable the camera using just your voice.
Full HD recording is available during daylight hours but at night it switches to infrared HD night vision so you never miss a second. While it is weather resistant, we recommend the Blink Outdoor camera if you want a fully waterproof version.
Best for 360
The Kami Indoor Camera may not be the most discrete unit but it does provide 360-degree coverage thanks to its rotating camera. It also offers full HD recording and has a pretty smart design.
It’s powered by a micro USB port close to the base, which is also motorized so it can pivot and track any movement it detects. Like with so many of the spy cameras on this list, it can be controlled and set up using a smartphone app and the user can select the settings that govern its behavior. The biggest downside to this camera is it only stores six-second clips for up to a week and you’ll need to invest in a subscription service for additional storage.
Best for flexibility
The Fredi Mini Hidden Camera ticks all the boxes most people look for in a spy camera. The size of an after-dinner mint, it can detect motion, shoot 1080p video, capture images to an optional microSD card or record on a constant loop, and even see in the dark.
You can set up an alarm notification to your phone, whereby the camera will send images to your email address, so you can monitor how the nanny is getting along with the kids, or how the dog you’ve left alone is bearing up. If there are also six infrared LEDs and a night vision distance of 5m, so you can leave it monitoring proceedings while you sleep, if desired.
How can I find hidden spy cameras?
There are a number of ways to find hidden cameras. You can turn off the lights and shine a torch, looking for unexpected reflections from camera lenses. You can also use RF detectors to seek out cameras that transmit radio (like wi-fi). We have a guide to the best hidden camera detector – some are quite a small investment in feeling secure in a strange room.
What do we look for in spy cameras?
There are different reasons to want to ‘spy,’ and we try to cover all the bases. If you’re just looking to keep your home and family safe, it doesn’t matter if people occasionally see the cameras – in fact it is probably reassuring. We have also included some spy-movie style discrete devices which can be hidden in different ways. Hopefully this will bring out the detective and the James Bond in you, rather than anything else.
Want to improve security in your home? Why not also check out our guide to the Best indoor security cameras, and don’t forget your yard or garden security – the Best outdoor security cameras can help there.
Other useful security camera guides include The best doorbell camera and The best body cameras.
But if you’re concerned someone may be spying on you, fight back with the Best hidden camera detector!