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Arlo Essential 2nd Gen vs. Arlo Pro 4: is the Arlo Pro 4 worth it?

The Arlo Pro 4 has long been one of the best outdoor security cameras, but that might be changing with the arrival of the Arlo Essential 2nd Gen. This refreshed camera supports up to 2K footage capture, offers a similar design to that of the Arlo Pro 4, and clocks in at a much lower price.

But should you rush out to replace your Arlo Pro 4 with the new Arlo Essential 2nd Gen? And if you’re new to the market, which is the better purchase? Here’s a closer look at both to help you find the right one for your smart home.

Pricing and monthly fees

The Arlo Essential 2nd Gen mounted outside.

The Arlo Essential 2nd Gen is offered in two formats. The HD version costs just $50, while the premium 2K version costs $100. The Arlo Pro 4 regularly costs $200, though it’s typically on sale for less than $150. Both cameras also support Arlo Secure — a monthly subscription that unlocks useful features such as cloud saves and video history.

Membership starts at $5 per month for a single camera (and it’s highly recommended you sign up). Higher tiers are also available, though these are intended for larger security systems with more than one camera or homes that want 24/7 professional monitoring.

Design and installation

The Arlo Pro 4 home security camera installed outdoors.

The new Arlo Essential 2nd Gen shares a lot of the same design elements as the Arlo Pro 4. This includes a black front-facing camera and a white enclosure. The Essential is a bit smaller than the Arlo Pro 4, though most visitors to your home will have a difficult time telling the two apart.

Installation is simple for both cameras, thanks to a wire-free setup process. The Pro 4 slightly beats out the Essential in this category, as it uses a magnetic mounting plate so you can easily attach and detach the camera. For the Essential, you’ll make use of a sliding mechanism to lock it into place.

Resolution and night vision

The Arlo Essential at night.

As mentioned earlier, the Essential is offered as both an HD and 2K device. Regardless of which you pick, you’ll also get color night vision — which is especially attractive on the cheap $50 HD version. The Arlo Pro 4 is only available in one format, 2K. It also supports color night vision. What sets it apart from the Essential is its 160-degree field-of-view, which allows it to capture a massive portion of your property. The Essential is no slouch, but its 130-degree field-of-view is noticeably narrower.

Features and spec list

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The majority of specs are shared across the Essential and Arlo Pro 4. This includes two-way audio, 12x digital zoom, an integrated spotlight, and weatherproofing to handle inclement weather and extreme temperatures (down to -20 degrees Celsius and up to 45 degrees Celsius). One of the only differences between the cameras is battery life — the Essential lasts up to four months and the Pro 4 lasts up to six months. This will vary depending on your usage, but expect the Pro 4 to get a bit more juice than its more affordable sibling.

Which is the better security camera?

The Arlo Pro 4 is without a doubt the better outdoor security camera, but it may not be the right one for your home. There’s no denying its battery life and viewing angle are better than that of the Essential 2nd Gen — but considering almost everything else is shared, frugal shoppers should opt for the Essential. This is even more true if you have a smaller property to cover, as the viewing angle won’t be as important. And if you don’t mind downgrading to HD, you can save a bundle of cash with the Essential.

For users with a large property to cover — or who need that extra battery life — the Arlo Pro 4 is still the better option. It’s even more enticing if you can snag it on sale, as it’s often listed for as low as $130 during big shopping holidays. Rest assured that both cameras are excellent options, though the Arlo Pro 4 narrowly beats out its newest sibling.

Looking for something with more battery life? Check out our comparison of the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential XL 2nd Gen.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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