Aqara G2h Camera ReviewSource: Christopher Close / iMore

For fans of Apple's HomeKit, 2020 will almost certainly go down as the year of the camera. 2020 has seen the once sparse accessory category explode with an onslaught of quality HomeKit cameras, with many supporting Apple's HomeKit Secure Video feature. Cameras of all shapes and sizes have hit stores recently — indoors, outdoors, and even the first HomeKit doorbell, although it was missing a rather significant feature.

So, it should come as no surprise that the latest HomeKit accessory release is another camera, the Aqara Camera Hub G2H. Despite being yet another camera, Aqara's offering comes with a playful design, HomeKit Secure Video, and an affordable price tag. I have been testing out two of the G2H cameras in my home over the past few weeks, and while they provide excellent image quality for the price and are blazing fast, the hub portion of the camera's name is where it shines.

Playful protector

Aqara Camera Hub G2H

Bottom line: Aqara's G2H combines a solid HomeKit Secure Video camera experience with Zigbee hub functionality that makes it so much more than its playful appearance and price suggest. Blazing fast live view speeds, and superb reliability, put it at the top of the HomeKit camera list.

The Good

  • Affordable price
  • Playful, compact design
  • Fast response times, reliability
  • Acts as a Zigbee hub
  • Supports HomeKit Secure Video

The Bad

  • Aqara app is clunky
  • Integrated alarm features are not exposed to HomeKit
  • Only available in white in North America


HomeKit Secure Video-enabled

Aqara Camera Hub G2H: The features

Aqara G2h Camera Review UnboxingSource: Christopher Close / iMore

Aqara's G2H Camera sports a clean and playful design, with a soft touch all-white frame with a gentle curve to round things off at the top. The indoor-only camera is compact and light, measuring around three and a half inches tall when in a flat stand position, and two and a half inches wide. The stand folds out from underneath the camera, giving it the ability to pivot and tilt, plus it is magnetic, allowing it to stick surfaces without an additional mount piece. For non-magnetic surfaces, Aqara includes a metal plate that fastens to a wall and a pad that attaches via mounting tape. Oddly though, Aqara doesn't provide the actual screws for the metal plate in the box.

Aqara also includes a micro-USB cable and power brick for supplying the G2H with its juice in the box. The camera doesn't require the specific brick; it works just fine with standard 5V USB outlets, and the same goes for the USB cable. Just like you would expect, the power input sits on the back of the camera, underneath a set of ports used for the internal speaker. Finally, Aqara includes a small tool that looks eerily similar to Apple's sim-ejection device provided with iPhones for resetting the camera.

Aqara G2h Camera Review BackSource: Christopher Close / iMore

The front of the G2H is rather bare, with the lens portion of the camera taking up around half of the visible side. The camera can record and stream video in 1080p high definition resolution with a wide 140-degree field of view. For night vision, the G2H uses a standard infrared system that provides a black and white picture in the dark, and an option is available to flip its orientation to accommodate its flexible mount.

Underneath the lens is a small indicator light used to communicate its statuses like solid blue for power and connection, and red for active streaming and recording. Just below the LED is a small port for its noise-canceling microphone, which enables two-way audio in conjunction with the onboard speaker. Underneath the folding stand is a micro-SD card slot, which supports up to 32gb for local recordings, and the tiny pinhole that accommodates the reset tool to wipe everything clean.

Aqara G2h Camera Review SdcardSource: Christopher Close / iMore

Even though it consists of just a single button, the top of the G2H is where things get interesting. The lone button acts as a way to leave video messages for others in the home by holding it down for five seconds, which is the first time I have come across this feature on a HomeKit camera. However, the real action begins by pressing the button three times in rapid succession, which fires up a Zigbee 3.0 radio within the camera. This function allows the camera to act as a hub for Aqara's other accessories, including temperature sensors, light switches, buttons, and more. In most cases, accessories that pair to the camera will also work with HomeKit automatically, essentially making the G2H a full-fledged alternative to Aqara's existing hub.

Aqara G2h Camera Review Pairing ButtonSource: Christopher Close / iMore

Unlike other Aqara accessories, the G2H connects directly to 2.4ghz Wi-Fi networks without needing the company's other hub. The camera pairs using either the Aqara Home app, or entirely through Apple's Home app using the standard HomeKit code scan process. The camera does not require an Aqara account when used in this manner, which is fantastic for privacy. Still, it leaves all of the recordings up to HomeKit Secure Video, which does require an iCloud storage plan.

Through HomeKit Secure Video, the G2H benefits from Apple's standard feature set as with other compatible cameras. Smart notifications powered by local image analysis by a HomeKit resident device like an Apple TV, ten days of rolling recordings, and easy sharing of the camera through family sharing and Home app invitations. Plus, with the recent release of iOS 14, the camera has access to custom Activity Zones that allows it to ignore specific areas within its view, and Face Recognition that adds additional filtering and even smarter notifications.

More than just a camera

Aqara Camera Hub G2H: What I like

Aqara G2h Camera Review MountSource: Christopher Close / iMore

As previously mentioned, Aqara's camera takes a different approach to design, opting for a more playful look, which I adore. The design makes it perfect for a nursery, playroom, or just as an accent accessory around the home as it looks unassuming. Moving over to the camera's stand, I like how it folds away if you wish to set it down on a flat surface, giving the whole package a nice clean appearance. I would certainly like to see this kind of stand applied to more accessories, as I find the typical narrow indoor camera stand design to be a little on the ugly side.

The G2H is so fast that it strips the crown from the previous HomeKit speed champ, the Yobi B3 Video Doorbell, which is impressive considering its low price.

Performance of the G2H has been quite good, with the camera's live view loading almost instantly after tapping its thumbnail in the Home app — it's that fast. The G2H is so fast that it strips the crown from the previous HomeKit speed champ, the Yobi B3 Video Doorbell, which is impressive considering its low price. Aqara's camera has also been highly reliable in the few weeks that I have been testing it. The camera has loaded on-demand each time I tried to peek in, and I have not seen any No Response messages from it so far.

Aqara G2h Camera Review Day ViewSource: Christopher Close / iMore

Speaking of the camera's live view, the G2H produces detailed images with accurate colors in both well-lit areas and through IR night vision. It certainly isn't perfect, as you will see some instances of pixelation around edges, but for a budget 1080p camera, it is good enough for most scenarios. The G2H can also keep up with motion in the live view or through recordings, with minimal smearing or drops seen.

Audio from the camera gets the job done with noises from the environment relayed to the live view with a one-second delay. The camera's speaker was plenty loud to have a two-way conversation, but I will note that turning on the mic from the Home app does produce an audible noise at first that will alert those in the room. Sticking with audio, I was shocked to see that the camera's speaker can play alarm sounds when the camera detects motion; and other Aqara security accessories. The Aqara app provides several different alarm sounds to use, along with volume controls, and these little touches make the camera feel like a real home security solution.

Aqara G2h Camera Review Night Vision ViewSource: Christopher Close / iMore

Now, as much as I like the camera's speed, reliability, and imagery, my favorite feature is the inclusion of the Zigbee radio in the G2H. Allowing the camera to act as a hub for other Aqara accessories is brilliant, as it opens the doors to a whole range of affordable smart devices. Aqara's lineup of HomeKit-compatible accessories features some of the cheapest options around, with many available for $20 or less. The company's Water Leak Sensor, in particular (review coming soon!), is half the price of its closest competitor.

Aqara G2h Camera Review Home AppSource: iMore

Before setting up the camera, I expected the hub functionality to be a complicated process that relied on using the Aqara app to enable its pairing mode. Surprisingly, this was not the case at all, as you can enter the camera's pairing mode directly from the camera itself by just pressing the button on the top three times. The camera will announce that it is looking for devices, and putting an accessory nearby is all it takes. After pairing, it is automatically added to HomeKit and the Home app if compatible, without having to scan a code and without having to use the Aqara app at all — it just works.

Missing colors, alarm limitations

Aqara Camera Hub G2H: What I don't like

Aqara G2h Camera Review ColorsSource: Christopher Close / iMore

Aqara G2h Camera ColorsSource: Gearbest

I don't have much in the way of complaints about the G2H, so my list consists of just a few minor things. While I love the G2H's playful design, I was a little bummed to hear that Aqara's camera won't come in the same variety of colors that it does in China. For my review, Aqara first sent over a G2H in a red-ish-orange shade, giving it a unique feel compared to other camera options. Red happens to be one of my favorite colors, so I think that it looks all sorts of amazing in-person, and I could easily see Aqara's black, blue, and yellow variants being a hit.

Color nitpick aside, as expected, just like with other apps from hardware manufacturers, the Aqara Home app is lacking polish and is quite clunky. Aqara's app offers two modes for interacting with the G2H, one of which is a HomeKit specific method that provides access to basic settings and firmware updates. The other is an account-based way that unlocks all of its features, live camera view, and local storage recordings. Regardless of which mode you choose, navigating the app is somewhat confusing as multiple home screens appear to be a home overview, but each leads to different settings. Since Aqara gives you the option to use it strictly as a HomeKit camera through the Home app, you can bypass the Aqara app altogether if you want, which is excellent, but you will miss out on the alarm features.

Aqara G2h Camera Review Aqara Home AppSource: iMore

My final complaint is that the camera's siren/alarm capabilities are not available in HomeKit. I would have loved to have seen the camera displayed as an alarm system in the Home app so that it could be set to arm when away, and the ability to use the audio alarm feature with other HomeKit accessories through automation. Without HomeKit integration, using the alarm capabilities only works with Aqara accessories and only through the Aqara app.

Playful protector

Aqara Camera Hub G2H: The Bottom Line

4.5 out of 5

Despite its low price and playful attire, the Aqara G2H still manages to offer a seriously great HomeKit experience. Incredibly fast live view loading times, solid reliability, 1080p daytime visuals, and quick setup make the G2H one of the most straightforward HomeKit cameras to recommend.

If all that wasn't enough, the G2H mixes in Zigbee hub functionality and HomeKit Secure Video, only adding to its overall value. Whether you are just starting your HomeKit journey, wanting to expand your existing smart home with some unique accessories, or want an affordable indoor camera, the G2H covers all of the bases. Well, except for color options, which I hope that Aqara will reconsider.

Playful protector

Aqara Camera Hub G2H

Bottom line: Aqara's G2H combines a solid HomeKit Secure Video camera experience with Zigbee hub functionality that makes it so much more than its playful appearance and price suggest. Blazing fast live view speeds, and superb reliability, put it at the top of the HomeKit camera list.

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