Best Spy Camera for Hidden Filming & Surveillance
Spy Cameras are handy gadgets to keep an eye on pets, nannies, cleaners, package deliveries, kids, housemates or elderly parents.
With video recording features such as motion detection, night vision, live feed, loop recording and smart connectivity, hidden spy cameras are a popular addition to homes in 2021.
The best spy camera models serve a dual purpose, often disguised as everyday objects like light bulbs, smoke alarms, phone chargers or photo frames, making them inconspicuous as well as useful.
They’re also affordable and simple to use, but be sure to check your local surveillance laws for both hidden camera video recording and audio surveillance.
(This is particularly important if you’re thinking of using hidden cameras in Airbnb’s or rental properties.)
You should also tread carefully when using spy cameras for prank videos or secret store filming too.
Whatever your motivation, spy cameras are excellent as entertainment or security and surveillance devices.
So, let’s look at the top models available right now.
Table of Contents
What are the Best Spy Cameras on the Market in 2021?
|Arlo Essential Spotlight||View Price →|
|Blink Indoor||View Price →|
|Mini Spy Camera||View Price →|
|Reolink Argus 2||View Price →|
|Spy Camera Charger||View Price →|
|Smoke Detector Spy Camera||View Price →|
|Photo Frame Hidden Camera||View Price →|
|Wall Clock Hidden Camera||View Price →|
Arlo Essential Spotlight
- Sharp 1080p video
- Color night vision
- Stylish design
- Weather-resistant casing
- Flexible mounting options
- Two-way audio
- Battery is non-removable
- Mounting brackets are plastic
Arlo is known for making some of the best spy cameras on the market, and their Essential Spotlight model strikes a particularly good balance between features and price.
As well as delivering sharp video quality at 1080p, it also captures detailed night vision footage in colour – perfect for surveillance after dark.
Measuring a tidy 3 x 2 x 3.5 inches (7.6 x 5 x 8.9 cm) in its attractive housing, the Arlo offers a commendable 130-degree field of view.
It’s certainly appealing for its slick, minimal design. If you intend to mount your spy camera in plain sight, the glossy white cover and black faceplate of the Arlo won’t put a dent in your home’s aesthetics.
One slight inconvenience is that the battery of the Arlo Essential Spotlight is non-removable, meaning you have to dismount the camera to charge it. On the upside, the battery lasts for up to 6 months between charges – so you won’t have to dismount it very often.
If you subscribe to Arlo’s Smart Plan, you’ll get some neat extras, like 30 days of rolling video footage and an Advanced Motion Detection feature that can distinguish between vehicles, animals and people.
With those and other great features for a much lower price than Arlo’s Pro cameras, the Essential Spotlight is definitely one of the best all-purpose spy cameras around.
- 1080p video
- Excellent battery life
- Local and cloud video storage
- Temperature alerts
- Stylish design
- Easy to set up
- Often out of stock
- Requires a hub
The Blink Indoor is another tiny camera that’s stylishly designed – though inconspicuous enough that no one’s really going to notice (just what you want from a spy camera!).
Measuring 2.7 x 2.7 x 1.2 inches (around 7 x 7 x 3 cm), the Blink Indoor camera comes with the caveat of not being weatherproof. So, as the name suggests, you’ll have to keep it indoors.
If you’re looking for a hidden camera to mount in your work or living space, the Blink Indoor is a stellar option. You get sharp 1080p video, infrared night vision, two-way audio, temperature monitoring and alerts, and a 110-degree field of view.
It runs off two AA batteries that last for up to two years of battery life – which is pretty impressive, really. They’re also easy to change.
The Blink requires a hub to run (included in the camera kit), though its inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to give it voice commands through Amazon Alexa (note that Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit / Siri are not supported).
All in all, if you’re looking for a hidden spy camera for your home, office, or other indoor space, the Blink Indoor camera is one of the best options around.
Mini Spy Camera
- Extremely affordable
- 1080p HD video
- Wide angle lens for 140-degree view
- Motion detection
- Not aesthetically pleasing
- Limited battery life
Looking for a tiny hidden spy camera that gives you plenty of features on an equally tiny budget? Then check out this pick.
The Mini Spy Camera gives you a 140-degree field of view thanks to its wide-angle lens. It offers 1080p HD video plus 12 MP photos. Nighttime footage is black and white, but good quality.
While charging, you can run this hidden camera 24/7. Alternatively, set it up to record using motion detection and it’ll give you 60 minutes of battery run time.
Add a 32 GB micro SD card, and you can use the Mini for loop recording.
One downside of the Mini is that it doesn’t look as nice as the best spy camera on this list. However, given its low price point (and the fact that you’ll probably be using it as a hidden camera anyway!) that’s probably not an issue.
Bottom line: If you’re on a budget, you really can’t afford to miss this one.
Reolink Argus 2
- 1080p HD video
- 130-degree view
- Durable build
- Wi-fi not required to run it
- Easy installation
- No integration with other smart home devices
- Downloading video can be fiddly
If you’ve decided it would be wise to mount a hidden spy camera in an outdoor area, you’re likely after something weatherproof, durable, with motion detection and a reliable night vision feature.
The Reolink Argus 2 checks all those boxes.
On top of that, it’s a perfect security camera for remote areas because no wi-fi connection is needed to run it. Just record locally on a micro-SD memory card if you’re out of range.
The Argus 2 uses a rechargeable battery that lasts up to six months between charges. Remove the quick-release battery pack to charge it, or simply plug in the whole camera.
For about 30 bucks extra, you can even pick up a weather-resistant solar panel so it’ll charge itself!
All in all, this is an excellent wireless camera for recording footage outdoors.
Spy Camera Charger
- Well disguised hidden camera
- Loop recording on SD card
- Surge protection
- Wi-fi not required
- Very affordable
- No night vision
- No battery
Now, what if you want to really go all James Bond with your hidden camera? Let’s look at some of the best spy cameras that are stealthily disguised as everyday objects.
One of our favourites is this DivineEagle spy camera that comes in the shape of a USB charger. Not only is it cleverly designed to hide out in the open, but it’s also super affordable.
Despite the low price, video quality on the Spy Camera Charger is crisp at 1080p full HD, and the motion detection sees it snapping into action at the slightest movement.
As for the downsides, you do have to keep it plugged in at all times as this tiny device lacks a battery. It’s also lacking a night vision feature.
Beyond that, though, this nifty DivineEagle spy camera is a great way to catch thieves in the act – while simultaneously charging your USB devices!
Smoke Detector Spy Camera
- Realistic smoke detector design
- Night vision
- Full HD video
- Real-time alerts
- No actual smoke detector function
- Can be fiddly to mount to the ceiling
Ah yes, the classic smoke detector spy cam. Not just a thing of the movies, it turns out!
This cleverly hidden camera is designed to look like the real thing, so no one will give it a second look after you mount it to the ceiling.
It records in crisp quality HD footage (though audio recording isn’t included) and you can also watch it from anywhere in real-time.
The motion detection feature in the Smoke Detector Spy Camera can be set up to send your smartphone an alert any time movement is detected, and the infrared lights will make sure uninvited guests are captured even after dark.
This camera works on battery power, so to charge it you can either plug it directly into a circuit in the ceiling or remove it when the battery runs out.
It’s important to note that this spy cam is purely an impersonator: it won’t detect smoke, so be sure to install a real detector as well.
Photo Frame Hidden Camera
- Aesthetic choice
- Easy installation
- No wi-fi needed
- Can be used day and night
- Slightly lower resolution
- Simple with no smart features
If the best spy camera is one that flies under the radar, then this photo frame cam is another contender.
Like most cameras in its category, this spy camera will automatically start recording when it detects motion – though at 960p, the video resolution isn’t as good as some other options.
The spy camera records continuously to Micro SD card, with a loop recording feature that kicks in when space runs out.
It uses a polymer lithium battery that gives you four hours of video recording at a time.
The thing we like best, though, is that you get an aesthetically pleasing spy camera that holds photos of your loved ones and doesn’t feel out of place in any home.
For a simple, affordable, easily disguised camera, it’s hard to beat that.
Wall Clock Hidden Camera
- 1080p HD video
- Live-stream or record
- Easy to set up
- Inconspicuous design
- No night/infrared recording
- Only 90-degree field of view
On the face of it (pun intended) this looks like a simple wall clock. Little would anyone know it was taking video recordings as well as telling the time.
This hidden camera films 1080p high-definition video, which you can live-stream to your phone or laptop, or record on an SD card for later.
When motion is detected, the Wall Clock Hidden Spy Camera also capture images (three of them) and send them, along with an alert, to your mobile device so you can check out what the situation is.
The camera uses a lithium-ion battery, but it’s recommended you also keep it plugged in via USB at all times.
It might not be the most sophisticated option of the bunch – but if you’re looking for an inconspicuous hidden camera that looks good on the wall, it just might be time to check this one out. (Ok, sorry for that one!)
FAQs about Spy Cameras
How do you hide a camera in plain sight?
The best hidden cameras are those that are disguised as everyday objects, such as the ones reviewed above.
However, when you need to hide your spy camera in plain sight, here are some options to prevent it from being spotted.
- Get a camouflaged camera case that can easily blend in with your decorative items.
- If you’re working with a mini spy camera, you can conceal it in a picture frame by drilling a tiny hole in it. Make sure you choose a picture that doesn’t draw attention.
- Consider getting a fake pot plant that doesn’t need watering as a solution for your hidden camera.
- If you have a bookcase or shelf packed with objects, use that. More visual noise will help to conceal your spy camera in plain sight.
Where should I hide my camera in the bathroom?
Need to check if your kids are properly brushing their teeth? Or maybe you want to spot burglars who enter your house via the bathroom. Here’s how to conceal a spy camera with no one noticing.
- Install a two-way mirror and set up your hidden camera behind it.
- Towel hooks are rarely the center of attention, so they can easily disguise a mini spy camera.
- Decorative pieces are a good way to blend in a hidden security camera.
- Bathroom vents often have slits where you can mount your device.
How do hidden cameras work?
A hidden spy camera can be wired or wireless. They usually start recording when motion is detected (though some also record continuously) and record the footage to a memory card, to cloud storage, or to both.
Some also have a live-stream function so you can view the footage in real-time from anywhere around the world.
How do you detect hidden cameras and microphones?
You can start by getting physical and checking smoke detectors, speakers, light bulbs and different electronic devices – use a flashlight and look for signs of tampering.
Look out for decorative objects with glassy surfaces and for wires that seem to be out of place. If there’s a device recording video or audio it can make some kind of noise or have a LED light, so make sure you scan the room with minimal light and no background noise.
In case you want to get serious, get a radio frequency detector and sweep the area that might be bugged.
Is it illegal to have a spy camera?
The laws on using spy cameras vary depending on the state and country. For example, some local laws allow for nanny cameras to be placed in one’s own home.
On the other hand, it’s usually illegal to plant hidden cameras in places people expect privacy (like bathrooms and locker rooms) or to mount them on other people’s private property.
Always check your local laws to be sure you’re using them correctly.
Hopefully, this list of the best hidden cameras has helped you find the right product for you.
Do you have any other suggestions or recommendations? Or any experiences of your own to share?
If you have any questions or comments, drop them below and we’ll get back to you.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.
Tania Braukamper is an Australian-born writer who also loves to take pictures on her banged-up (yet surprisingly resilient) Canon 5D Mark III. She currently lives in Portugal.