For as long as HomeKit has been a thing, fans that shared Apple's vision of the smart home have dreamed of the day of having a video doorbell that just works. After many years of promises from the big players in the doorbell space, delays of announced products that looked finished and ready to go, and devices only available for markets outside of North America, the wait is finally over. The Yobi B3 Video Doorbell has arrived, and it is actually available for purchase and delivery through outlets like Amazon now.
While we may never know just how exactly a small, relatively unknown offshoot of a baby monitor company became the first to hit the HomeKit market, it is here, and that is all that counts. I have been testing the B3 out for the past week and a half, and while I love the fact that it is easy to install, is incredibly fast to load, and works entirely through the Home app, I can say that it wasn't worth the wait. Despite not being the HomeKit doorbell of my dreams, though, the Yobi B3 has some great qualities, and it is one simple upgrade away from being more than just the first to the party.
HomeKit with a catch
Yobi B3 Video Doorbell
Bottom line: The Yobi B3 Video Doorbell offers insanely fast response times, easy installation without an account, and is the only game in town for HomeKit. However, the lack of recording is a major omission that makes it only for the HomeKit die-hards.
- Easy installation and pairing process
- Live view extremely fast to load
- Doesn't require an account or separate app
- Bulky design, only gold color
- Does not record video
- Requires existing doorbell wiring and chime
- Slightly obstructed view
All about that HomeKit
Yobi B3 Video Doorbell: The features
The Yobi B3 Video Doorbell features a unique two-tone design of gold and black that sets it apart from its competitors. The button for the doorbell is easy to identify thanks to the color scheme, and it is surrounded by an LED indicator light, which relays status through a series of red and blue lights. The doorbell is weather resistant and is listed as having "waterproof" materials, but the provided specs do not include an exact IP rating. Yobi mentions that it can withstand "extreme" conditions, with operating temperatures between -4 and 140-degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it suitable for most locations.
Like other video doorbells, the B3 is quite large, measuring 5.98-inches tall x 2.44-inches wide. The B3 does not include an internal battery, so powering it requires existing doorbell wiring outdoors, plus an indoor chime attached to a compatible transformer. The doorbell uses a standard two-wire set up like most other doorbells, and for the chime, it includes a small power kit that installs by using a couple of easy to use harnesses that feature fast lever nut connections.
The B3 sports a Fresnel Lens, and is capable of streaming 1080p high definition visuals with a 180-degree wide field of view. The doorbell has four infrared LEDs on-board, which can provide black and white night vision for distances up to 29.6 feet, plus it supports Facial Backlight Compensation. Since the doorbell is flat, Yobi includes two support pieces in the box, one that can put the B3 at an inward angle, and another that positions the doorbell so that it captures more of the ground in front of it. Yobi's doorbell also has a built-in speaker and microphone, which enables two-way audio for having conversations with those within its view.
Of course, the main highlight here is that the Yobi B3 supports Apple's HomeKit. The doorbell doesn't just support the feature though, it only works with HomeKit, and it is managed completely through the Home app. Yobi does have an app for the doorbell, but it advises owners that it is only built for delivering updates and it does not include any additional settings, although you can view the live feed from it if you really wanted to. Without a full-fledged app or local storage, and because the doorbell only supports standard HomeKit features, not HomeKit Secure Video features, recording video is not available currently.
The B3 connects to home networks via 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, and setup occurs through the Home app, with a familiar code scan using your phone's camera. Through the Home app, the doorbell can deliver notifications for button presses, and for motion events. The on-board motion sensor can also be used with other HomeKit accessories for automations, although the actual button cannot, at least, not through the Home app. When the doorbell's button is pressed, the Home app will send a notification along with a thumbnail image, and users can "answer" the door with just a tap.
Fast set up, fast response times
Yobi B3 Video Doorbell: What I like
Installation of the Yobi B3 was quick and easy, as it consisted of a series of steps that are fairly typical for the category. After installing a small power kit into an indoor doorbell chime, the bulk of the job was attaching the mounting plate and the existing doorbell wiring to the back of the device outside. The relatively simple process is made even easier as pretty much everything that is needed for the installation, including a screwdriver, drill bit, and wire extensions, are all included right in the box. I really like little touches like this, as I have seen my fair share of video doorbells that just assume that everyone will have everything on-hand.
Connecting the doorbell to my home network was just as quick and easy, with the entire pairing process taking place via Apple's Home app. I absolutely love how the doorbell does not require a separate app or registering for yet another account, all it takes to get up and running is a scan of the HomeKit pairing code. Because it is managed by the Home app, there is no jumping back and forth between apps to adjust settings, and outside of notification settings and HomeKit basics like room assignment, there are really no settings to be found at all.
Each and every time, the B3's live view was available within a second, so I have no reservations about saying that it is simply the fastest HomeKit "camera" around.
Moving over to performance, I was really impressed by just how fast the B3's live feed loaded in the Home app. As someone who has tested quite a few HomeKit cameras, I was expecting the live view to take the typical 3-5 seconds to load, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the B3's feed spring to life within a second. The ultra-fast loading times were so quick that I made an effort to check it often during different times of each day, and after long periods of inactivity. Each and every time, the B3's live view was available within a second, so I have no reservations about saying that it is simply the fastest HomeKit "camera" around.
In addition to impressive response times, the B3 has also been rock-solid reliability-wise. In my testing, I have not come across any instances where the camera failed to load at all, and it has never experienced any issues with it showing "No Response" in the Home app. Motion events and doorbell notifications sent from the Home app arrived within a second or two, and to see the action, all that is required is a tap which brings up a live view, which again, loads extremely fast.
Speaking with a visitor at the door was slightly slower, as I did notice a brief delay, but the actual quality of the on-board speaker and microphones was good enough actually to have a conversation. The same goes for the doorbell's visuals, which are detailed enough to determine who is at the door both in a daytime setting and with night vision, but I did find the overall quality to be a little on the soft side and definitely not as good as some competitors.
You had one job...
Yobi B3 Video Doorbell: What I don't like
As mentioned, while passable, the B3's video quality is not the best that I have seen, and it also suffers from a somewhat obstructed view on one of the sides. On my doorbell, a thin portion of the camera's frame can be seen in the corners of one side, which wouldn't be terrible in itself as it doesn't cover any critical areas on my porch, but it doesn't match the other side, making it stand out.
Sticking with the hardware, the Yobi B3 is, well, quite ugly with its gold color, and is incredibly bulky. At six inches tall, the B3 is the biggest video doorbell that I have installed to date and coupled with it being around two-and-a-half inches wide, it does make its presence known. Since it is so large, you will more than likely have to drill new holes for mounting it, plus it uses four total screws to keep it secured, not two like most other doorbells. Rounding out my hardware complaints is that the finishes on the doorbell do not seem to be very durable, as I already have several scratches near the lens and on the outer trim.
Despite the live view being insanely fast and the doorbell being responsive pretty much 100% of the time, I did notice one small issue within the Home app. The doorbell, for some reason, doesn't refresh its thumbnail in the Home app automatically, like other cameras. This is definitely not the biggest of deals, but it is odd to see the doorbell's thumbnail being from the previous night or day when browsing the Home app, and actually get it to update is through tapping into the live view (other cameras refresh every 10 seconds).
Finally, the biggest flaw with the Yobi B3 is that it does not support recording at all. Yep, you read that right, the Yobi B3, a video doorbell, does not have the ability to record video. There is no micro-SD card slot, no accessible on-board memory, no Yobi cloud service, and no support for Apple's HomeKit Secure Video. This means that the only form of history that you will get with the B3 is the image that the Home app attaches to notifications, and if you dismiss the notification, then it's gone for good. To make matters worse, the Home app sometimes decides it doesn't want to include the image along with the notification, so yeah...
For HomeKit die-hards only
Yobi B3 Video Doorbell: The Bottom Line
Unlike the long wait for a HomeKit-enabled air purifier to finally hit the market in North America, which was definitely worth it, the same cannot be said for the first video doorbell. The Yobi B3 Video Doorbell and its lack of recording fail to meet one of the most basic reasons for owning a connected solution, and its bulky design with questionable color choice will definitely send some running to other non-HomeKit options. This is not only a bad look for the doorbell itself, but also for HomeKit in general, as there will undoubtably be some disappointment and sour tastes left in the mouths of those ordering one just because of the Works with Apple HomeKit badge.
With that being said, though, there are some good aspects to the B3 that show that it does indeed have the potential to be a good, if not great, option over time. The incredibly fast live view loading times, fantastic reliability, and lack of a required account or app are important factors for the category. Plus, Yobi could release a firmware update that adds support for HomeKit Secure Video at some point, which would solve its biggest flaw. Until that day comes though, the B3 is a video doorbell that is only for those that absolutely must have everything under the HomeKit roof.
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