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Blink XT2 camera review: Say goodbye to monthly fees

Blink XT2 camera
(Image: © Android Central)

Our Verdict

Bottom line: Blink's XT2 outdoor security cameras merge together quality, features, and more in a rather affordable package. You're not stuck paying off some crazy monthly access fee, there's no contract, and each camera operates on just two AA batteries that are said to last for up to two years.

For

  • Batteries should last for up to two years
  • Set up is pretty easy through the app
  • Reliable alerts and notifications
  • Can add as many cameras as you want
  • No monthly access fee

Against

  • App is clunky
  • Needs more notification preference options
  • Accessing batteries is a bit difficult
  • Too few mounting options for outside

A quick search for home security cameras (opens in new tab) will show you that there is no shortage of options on the market these days. Standing out in this crowded space is not as easy as it once was, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.

Blink, which was acquired by Amazon, has done a great job of maintaining cameras that people like, for both inside and outside of their home.

The Blink XT2 series was not met with the same initial love as previous generations, and Blink even stopped selling them for a short period of time after release to work on some kinks. Well, the cameras are back and I've been testing them for a few months and comparing them to some of the other options. There's a whole lot to like here with these cameras, as long as you're willing to overlook some minor annoyances along the way.

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From the time you start unboxing the cameras until you have things set up goes super quickly. Blink has done a great job of adding QR codes to each device so that it's as simple as scanning it into your app to get things started. I ran into some issues with my first bridge not wanting to connect to my Wi-Fi, and after some internet digging I discovered I wasn't alone in that.

The Blink XT2 handles the elements better than any camera I've seen to date, but changing the batteries is annoying.

Luckily, Blink got a new one out to me very quickly, and things were smooth sailing from there. It just takes a few taps inside the Blink app to get your devices connected, and you can add as many cameras to your system as you want.

The camera's build quality is solid, and I can see them holding up to the elements quite well. Mine have been outside for the past few months in 100+ degree heat and torrential downpours and I haven't seen any issues yet. The mounting hardware holds the camera extremely well and moves to almost any position you need when mounting.

The only real downside is that when it comes time to swap the batteries: I'll have to pull the cameras down, then put them back and do the repositioning jig all over again. Hopefully that won't be too often though (I'm banking on that battery life) but only time will tell.

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Alerts and playback have been reliable, and I haven't missed any alerts (that I know of) aside from movement that falls inside my retrigger window. Quality is great as well, though I've lowered it to save on battery and bandwidth. For both of my cameras, I've gone with a sensitivity of 5, clip length of 5 seconds (with End Clip early if motion stops enabled) and a retrigger of 45 seconds. Keep in mind, though: these settings will greatly vary for your needs and placement.

One thing that does drive my anxiety crazy is the "High usage on" notification, which makes me think I'm killing my camera's battery much more quickly than I should be, but at the same time if I reduce the triggers or recording length any more they won't really be useful security cameras.

Blink's claim to fame is that it doesn't charge a monthly fee to access cloud recordings.

One of my big gripes about the Blink system was recently fixed. Blink added the ability to schedule the cameras so that they can arm / disarm at preset times each day. This means that while I am home working I don't have to be notified that I walked through a room, and instead I can set it to only alert me when it's really useful. Additionally, now you can schedule single cameras, so I can still have an outside one record while an inside one is disarmed.

Potentially one of the biggest selling points of the Blink system is that you don't have to pay a monthly fee to access previous footage. Other companies, like Ring and Nest, charge a few bucks a month per camera. When you add more than one or two cameras, this annual costs can really begin to grow and grow.

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Instead of only basing alerts on whether a camera is armed or disarmed, it would be great if Blink added the ability to mark yourself as away, so you could get alerts when out of the house. It would be even better if the system could intelligently detect that you (your phone) is no longer present and begin sending you alerts until you return home. Nest does this really well.

To save battery, the app's home screen doesn't update with the latest footage, which can be confusing if you have multiple cameras around the house and outside.

Some of the other gripes lay within the app itself and how it performs. If you add a few cameras, the main screen gets to be a little clunky. You can have the camera take a picture to show where it's located, but that doesn't update when motion is detected, or with a live view of what the camera sees. This creates some confusion when you launch the app, especially in the evening when the last picture was during the day. Countless times I have already freaked myself out and worried the system was not working, when in reality it was. Even if it auto-updated once an hour, or only when motion was detected, that would be a great start.

Removing the back from the camera is a bit difficult because it needs to be tight to maintain a waterproof seal, but I worry that when it comes time to change the batteries out it will be quite a task to get them down. It would be nice for Blink to include an extension bar, if even only a short one, that would allow you to mount the cameras in more locations. Sure, there are some third-party ones available, but for an outdoor camera it does have limited mounting options included.

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Overall, I'm a big fan of the Blink XT2. Setup is the only pain point, and until the batteries need swapping, I don't foresee any issues with my cameras. A few added settings within the app could help improve things greatly, but my experience has been great for the most part. I love that I can put these little guys in important places and have 24/7 monitoring without a ton of overhead.

3.5 out of 5

The ability to add additional cameras as needed is a huge benefit, and I plan to do just that soon. I still wonder exactly how long I will get out of a set of AA batteries, but I guess even if it just lasts for 18 months that's pretty good. The fact that these cameras only require an initial investment in the hardware, and a pair of AA batteries each about once a year, makes them worth considering.

By day, Adam is a writer for multiple Future Publishing brands with over fifteen years of experience. He's expertly researched and written hundreds of articles ranging from mobile phones to mobile homes to baby mobiles. By night, he's a gadget geek, avid disc golfer, 80s nerd, cord cutter, cook, husband, dad, and memory collector.
10 Comments
  • I have three Blink XT cameras (original version) that have been outside my house for nearly 2.5 years. I've replaced batteries once in 2/3 of the cameras and just replaced my second time in the other camera. That camera is triggered a lot more often. All of them have held up great with our huge variance in weather (Wisconsin), 90+ degrees and humid in the summer and got as cold as -40 this past winter. I have an arming schedule for the typical times we're at work and overnight when sleeping. When we're out of town I'll turn off the schedule and just arm them. They aren't perfect but they work well and work a ton better now due to updates than when they first came out.
  • Yes I agree. Use the schedule to determine when your cameras should arm or disarm. If you're on batteries then it'll prolong the life of the batteries, particularly if you've got a small house and/or don't have a lot of windows (I affectionately liken my house to being a bunker as it's all brick and most of my windows are enclosed by my backyard fence with only two windows facing the street), and you tend to notice when people come up to your house. If you're on solar panels like I am then it'll prolong the life of the batteries in the panel giving you more time powered. The batteries in each solar panel are rated so as to power the camera they're attached to for a week in overcast weather before needing a recharge. I expect to get a few additional days on top of that week as I only power the cameras at night using the scheduler or when I go out (which I'll then arm manually). So I'm not using power to watch videos of kids walking to school or the mailman or trash truck comes by. My actual home security system can take care of doors and windows while I'm home and I live in a small house so if I'm awake I'll very likely see you and run you off...
  • These are good cameras, as long as they work and you don't need support. One of my Blink indoor cameras stopped working two weeks ago. Support was pretty useless, and didn't have any actual support resolutions.
  • The Blink XT2 has more problems than the author realizes, as I found out when attempting to replace my Arlo due to repeated cloud problems.
    1. The app only notifies you AFTER the initial motion event. If you have it set for 30 seconds, that's when you get notified. Plus the time to launch the app and review the clip. A visitor could very likely have left before you could attempt to talk with them thru the camera.
    2. There is a wait time before you can have the camera make a second recording in the same event. The minimum is 10 seconds. A lot can happen in 10 seconds and it won't be recorded.
    3. The camera can't Livestream and record at the same time. If it's recording you have to wait till it's done to get a live view.
    There mount on the back of the camera allows anyone to just pull down on it and the camera releases. Way too easy to steal. Someone with s6 cap pulled down over their face can get your cam and never be identified. Stolen cameras can be reused by anyone as there is no stolen cameras database to report to and check when a new device is being set up.
    All of this and more made me return them and go back to Arlo. The Blink is devastatingly under powered and ill-conceived. It needs way too much work for a second generation product.
  • I set up the originals for my parents, and have a few additional gripes to add- 1- Even with sensitivity of 6, the clip starts recording long after someone's entered the frame. I have one mounted above my parents' front door, and I should be getting feed triggering the camera from 20 feet away. But every clip starts with someone right on top of the door, which means that I have virtually no angle on their face. 2- You can only view the clips in the app- there's no web-based way to do this. This isn't a big deal for most people, but my tech-illiterate folks don't really use smart devices. They would pay a lot more attention to the cameras if I could bookmark a page for them. 3- As someone else mentioned, there's no security screws on these cameras. Great for when you need to pull them down to replace the battery, bad when someone walks up and just pulls it off and smashes it. If you're looking for a cheap, relatively casual solution, and aren't overly concerned with the cameras getting ripped off, these work well. But if I had already suffered through break-ins, I wouldn't want to rely on these to be able to ID a thief.
  • I wonder how these compare to the much cheaper wyze/neos cameras.
  • I'll see if Wyze has an outdoor cam. Good thought!
  • Wyze doesn't. But there are some third party enclosed mounts that'll let you put Wyze cameras outside, they're officially rated for being indoor use only. However Wyze cameras are designed to be constantly powered, so you'll find yourself running USB cables for power around your house and into attic spaces or wherever you need to go into the house. Wyze cameras transmit their information wirelessly so far as I know so you'll also have to deal with transmission and reception of command issues if you put one way away from your modem/router. But several people have cobbled together an outdoor security net using Wyze cameras to go along with their indoor Wyze cameras and seem to do good by them. Check YouTube for videos people have posted and Amazon for the mounts and reviews.
  • Yeah, Wyze doesn't have outdoors cameras but they are supposedly developing one. They do work outside just fine so long as they aren't in the direct line of weather. I put one of the standard V2's out on my front porch in the winter last year (the lowest it got was around 10 degrees) and it never glitched not a one time on me. It worked perfectly the entire time and it survived some pretty hefty winds and some rain (that blew in with the winds). You can get housing/cases for them on amazon that gives them some water protection. The biggest issues are that they require continuous power and continuous wifi connection (and only 2.4ghz at that). The continuous wifi isn't so bad so long as you have a good network but the continuous power can be a problem as you might be able to counter the lack of water resistance to the camera with housing but making sure the power source never gets wet is a whole other issue. So long as you don't put it out in the middle of a field it'll be fine.
  • I have four Blink XT (first generation) cameras which have both their pros and cons. Thoughts:
    1) They’re very inexpensive compared to the benchmark competition, Arlo cameras. If you’re unable because of a budget or otherwise unwilling to spend a lot on a wireless security camera then Blink cameras can be a possible answer. In the run up to my purchases and still later I priced cameras and for what I would have paid for one or two Arlo or Ring cameras I was able to purchase three Blink cameras. 2) Free cloud storage of about two hours. It’s a rarity as it seems everyone is out with a subscription fee so as to nickel and dime you each month. Two hours may not seem like much but these are wireless security cameras we’re talking about, what do you need to keep on a permanent basis? I use mine primarily overnight while I;'m at work and all I get are quick videos of the occasional car going by, rabbits and stray cats in my yard and owners walking their dogs before it gets too late. Needless to say I delete all this the next morning when I arrive home. If something actually did happen worthy of keeping, which already has, then yes there is an option to download the footage to your phone. 3) You’re not going to get the two year battery life that is promised. I bought my cameras in part because of the advertised two year battery life and I got maybe six months. To qualify my statements however I must tell you that while I thought I lived on a slow interior corner of my neighborhood, my cameras have proven that I actually live on a busy interior corner of my neighborhood – I’ve had cats, rabbits, what I thought might be a coyote, cars and late evening / early morning walkers with/without dogs. The two year battery life must be with conservative settings – only a few seconds of record time, a long refresh time and in a slow area. I burned through the included
    non-rechargeable batteries, ordered some rechargeable batteries but quickly grew tired of climbing the ladder to replace them as I was burning through them as well. I finally did some research and opted to go with some third party solar panels that are designed to work with the cameras through the rear USB power port. These panels can cost less than forty bucks and I look forward to never changing a battery again. Whatever camera you buy - Blink, Arlo, Nest, Ring or someone else - consider going solar... It'll save you a lot of aggravation. 4) You get what you pay for. I get alerts for the aforementioned cats and rabbits. Blink cameras don’t have any kind of AI so they aren’t going to learn what to alert on and what not to. If something moves in front of the camera it’s going to record and alert. Night vision is black and white but serviceable. They record in color and fine during the day, but do you really need 4K color night vision to know something is going on at your house in the evening hours? Color or not if I get an alert and someone’s trying to break into my house at 3am while I’m at work, that’s all I need to see to call the police. If you’re home overnight you’re going to sleep through the alert likely anyway (it’ll be your home security system that’ll wake you up when someone forces a window or door)… 5) Yes the included mounts, both the original included with the first generation and now the redesigned included with the second generation, are kind of spindly. They easily screw into place and snap onto the back of the camera. I’ve had storms hit my house this past June 2019 with straight line winds strong enough to take down my wooden fence but my cameras held strong. I suppose someone could easily reach up and grab it off the mount, but that could also be said about Arlo, Nest and Ring cameras. If you think that might be enough of an issue, then there are any number of cheap third party mounts on Amazon that screw more robustly into the house and then clamshell over the camera with being screwed together. But even then, someone wants to steal or knock your camera about badly enough they will. 6) The only serious changes I would make is the ability to record while an alert is being immediately pushed to your phone, that and local storage with an SD card as sometimes getting video footage has proven to be slow as well as to record while doing a live view through the camera (maybe perhaps it would know to offer that ability if you power the camera through the attached rear USB port). Also beef up the connectivity as my cameras I can watch the little connected to internet scale fluctuate depending upon time of day. But I’m also sure any wireless internet security camera can fluctuate also. I like my cameras but I’m also not sure if I’m going to buy anymore. There’s a rumor going around that Amazon, which owns both Blink and Ring, only bought Blink for their self-created technology about energy efficiency in their chips. That Amazon will be using that in future Ring cameras if they haven’t already and will support Blink but more or less let them wither and die on the vine. The reported Blink video doorbell for instance has already been cancelled. So while Blink isn’t necessarily going anywhere, I don’t know what to say about future products.