The Ring Video Doorbell 3 and 3 Plus are two of the latest additions to Ring’s growing lineup of smart home products, and we’re big fans of some of the new and improved features built into both third-gen offerings. But which new Ring bell is the better of the two? It’s a difficult decision to make, as both new bells are actually quite similar in many ways. But for the buyer who wants it all, there are one or two key differences that could make or break either new Ring product.
Whether you’re weighing options for your first video doorbell purchase, or simply want to upgrade your existing bell, we break down both the Ring Video Doorbell 3 and 3 Plus to help you decide which new bell is right for you. Read on to see which model we would choose to install in our own homes.
From an aesthetic standpoint, both the Ring 3 and Ring 3 Plus are the exact same size: 5.1 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide. Compare that to 4.98 inches tall for the Video Doorbell 2 (the width of the Doorbell 2 is the same as both Doorbell 3s). Color options between the Ring 3 and Ring 3 Plus are also identical, with satin nickel or Venetian bronze as the two choices — the same color options as the previous generation.
In a side-by-side of Series 2 and Series 3, users may be hard-pressed to tell both gens apart. But coming in at a slightly taller height than their older brethren, both the Ring 3 and 3 Plus also feature Ring’s improved faceplate design, with easy-to-grab side tabs on the front of both camera bodies. This makes it easier to remove the faceplate when you need to recharge the battery pack. Camera size on both the 3 and 3 Plus is also exactly the same, featuring a 160-degree field of view, which also the same as the Doorbell 2.
Both the Ring 3 and 3 Plus record and display video in crystal-clear 1080p HD, which is the same resolution as the Doorbell 2. Do note that for any video recording, you’ll have to sign up for a Ring Protect subscription. Prices start at $3 per month and will net you unlimited video and photo capture. Neither the Ring 3 or 3 Plus have the ability to store video locally, which means no SD-card offloading for either bell.
With the Ring app, users still have access to Ring’s Live View feature for both bells, which allows you to watch real-time video straight from your camera. Night View is standard for both cameras, too. Like previous generations, Ring also rewards wired doorbell users with Color Night Vision, which uses data gleaned from daytime Live Views to replicate daylight colors during Night View.
Both the Ring 3 and 3 Plus come equipped with stronger assembly screws and an automatic chime that rings out when the faceplate is successfully connected. Setup from unboxing to up-and-running is the same for both bells, and the Ring app (for both Android and iOS) walks you through the whole process. Just mount the faceplate, attach the battery, connect the doorbell to your Wi-Fi, and your new bell is good to go.
Both the Ring 3 and 3 Plus can also be manually wired in to your home’s existing bell system. In order to work with your new Ring, doorbell systems must be 8-24 VAC, 40VA max, and your home must include a 50/60Hz doorbell transformer.
This is where things get a little different. But first let’s begin with similarities. Both the Ring 3 and 3 Plus offer major Wi-Fi and motion-tracking advancements. For Wi-Fi, both doorbells now sport 2.4GHz and 5GHz antennas (802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi connection), which is huge for the overall health of your home’s network. 5GHz bands offer a stronger connection for devices that are closer in proximity to your home’s main router. Homes are often designed to have the front door (where your Ring doorbell will likely be mounted) open straight into the living room, which is where a home’s main router is typically located. Assigning your Ring doorbell to your router’s 5GHz band can also help free up bandwidth for the other devices on your home’s Wi-Fi. In situations where nearby interference may be wreaking havoc with your 5GHz signal, or the doorbell is located too far away from your router, you can just as easily assign your Ring bell to the 2.4GHz band.
The other big change for both new systems is Ring’s improved motion-tracking capabilities. This comes in the form of an additional “near” motion zone that provides motion tracking in areas only 5-15 feet in front of your home. This will keep your doorbells from firing off rapid-fire Motion Alerts every time your outdoor cat crosses the frame. You can customize the exact range of the new near-zone in the Ring app. Returning favorites from Series 2 include Ring’s two-way talk option for both doorbells, as well as smart home integration with Amazon Alexa. Unfortunately, Ring has yet to add support for Google Home and other voice assistants.
Now for the major difference between the Ring 3 and 3 Plus. It’s a new feature called Pre-Roll and it’s only available on the 3 Plus.
What exactly does Pre-Roll do? Very simply, when a motion event occurs, the 3 Plus camera will allow you to see an additional four seconds of video before the actual motion was detected. This is a first-to-market feature exclusive to Ring products. Pre-Roll is truly a game-changer. That extra four seconds of recording can be crucial to identifying package thieves and other unwanted perambulators on your property. Do note that Pre-Roll video is displayed in black and white and in a lower resolution to conserve your doorbell’s battery life. The feature also only works during daylight hours.
Winner: Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 retails for around $199, which is the same as the Doorbell 2’s cost when it first launched (now a $99 price point). Meanwhile, the 3 Plus runs for a meaty $229, a big $130 difference between Ring’s second- and third-gen doorbell offerings.
While it might seem like an attractive idea to save over $100 and go with the Doorbell 2 (while supplies last), we would actually advise spending the extra dough on either Series 3 offering instead. Yes, it’s never fun to spend more money when there’s a cheaper option staring you down, but with improved network performance and a more responsive suite of motion-detection features, Ring’s few Doorbell 3 improvements are too good to turn down. At least in our opinion.
Between the Ring 3 and 3 Plus however, the call might be harder to make. Our thinking is that it’s worth it just to spend the 30 extra bones on the 3 Plus for the very handy Pre-Roll function. In a perfect world though, we think Ring could have just upped the price of the base model Ring 3 by $15 and made Pre-Rolling a standard feature.
Winner: Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus
Both new bells offer big advances over Ring’s previous generation of smart doorbells, but for the extra $30, we have to go with the Video Doorbell 3 Plus. Yes, it’s definitely a little frustrating that there are not more features to be gained from those extra $30, but we would have a hard time sleeping at night if we knew we could have spent a little more for Pre-Roll, but we didn’t.
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