Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) vs. Ring Video Doorbell (1st Gen): What's the difference and should you upgrade?

Ring Video Doorbell 2nd Gen
Ring Video Doorbell 2nd Gen (Image credit: Ring)

Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen)

Ring Video Doorbell 2nd Gen Crop

Ring did something truly amazing. It upgraded its excellent Ring Video Doorbell without upping the price. That makes the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) the best value for a connected video doorbell on the market. Higher resolution video, better night vision, higher quality two-way audio, and better motion detection are here, all without a higher price.

Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen)

Same price, better product

Near Zone helps decrease motion capture false positives
1080p video
Better night vision
Higher quality two-way audio
Easier to install
Tough to charge battery
No support for 5GHz networks
Poor Google Assistant integration
Narrower camera field of view

Ring Video Doorbell (1st Gen)

Ring Video Doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell (1st Gen) was the pioneer in video doorbells and helped Ring make a name for itself. It has fantastic integration into Amazon's Alexa ecosystem, the ability to easily tap into the Neighbors app to see what's going on in your area, and Ring's excellent software and support. Unfortunately, the hardware is showing its age and has been discontinued.

Ring Video Doorbell (1st Gen)

Time to say goodbye

Can likely be found for well under MSRP
Super wide camera field of view
Tough to charge battery
No support for 5GHz networks
Poor Google Assistant integration
Lower resolution video

With the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd gen), Ring is changing things up. While most other Ring products iterate in numbers, the new second-generation Ring Video Doorbell keeps the original's name and swaps out a few important internal components for a better user experience. This all without raising the price or changing the looks.

That means the new Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) is the same affordable price as the original, despite launching several years later and with better features. Despite all these new features, however, the doorbell itself looks identical. The only noticeable physical difference is that the new one is thicker; something often not seen when upgrading devices in the tech space. Part of the reason for this newfound thickness is because Ring made it easier than ever to install the doorbell, something that's important since you'll need to completely remove the doorbell to charge it.

Ring Video Doorbell 2nd Gen Same looks, easier to use

Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus Screwdriver

Source: Jared DiPane / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jared DiPane / Android Central)

If you're looking to use the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) as a wireless video doorbell, there are a few things you'll need to be aware of. First, unlike the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and 3, the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) has a battery pack built-in to its chassis that isn't removable. That means you'll need to completely remove the entire doorbell from the wall and plug it into a charger when the battery gets low. Thankfully, Ring has designed an installation bracket that makes this process simpler than ever before.

If you don't want to deal with the hassle of regularly recharging the doorbell's battery, Ring offers several other options. Just like the original Ring Video Doorbell (1st Gen), the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) can be hardwired with your existing doorbell's electrical wires. If you're a renter or otherwise don't feel like being an electrician for a day, Ring also sells a handy solar-powered charger that gives the Ring Video Doorbell the ability to charge itself when the Sun is up.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen)Ring Video Doorbell (1st Gen)
Price$100$100 (no longer available)
Power SourceRechargeable battery, or hardwireRechargeable battery, or hardwire
Video resolution1080p720p
Field of view155 degrees180 degrees
Dimensions4.98 in. x 2.4 in. x 1.10 in.4.98 in. x 2.43 in. x .87 in.
Night VisionYesYes
Live viewYesYes
Two-way audioYesYes
Connectivity2.4GHz Wi-Fi2.4GHz Wi-Fi
Motion detectionAdjustable motion zones, Advanced object detection, Near ZoneAdjustable motion zones
Privacy ZonesYesNo
Smart Assistant IntegrationAmazon AlexaAmazon Alexa

Ring Video Doorbell 2nd Gen See and hear more clearly, even at night

While Ring has added significant features to the new Ring Video Doorbell, both generations can only connect to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, so those faster 5GHz networks simply won't be usable. That's a bit surprising since Ring increased the resolution on the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) to 1080p, up from 720p on the Ring Video Doorbell (1st Gen). It's also a bit odd given that this is newer hardware, which generally would be thought to support newer tech standards.

While you'll be getting a much clearer view of your front porch thanks to the big upgrade in resolution, there's always the distinct possibility that your 2.4GHz network might occasionally struggle with the speed requirements of the higher resolution video.

Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) features a better night vision camera that can see things more clearly at night, giving you a better representation of what might be outside of your door when it's dark out. That's important for catching snooping crooks or for when UPS or FedEx are just running a bit late.

Speaking of package delivery, the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) has better microphones and speakers than the Ring Video Doorbell (1st Gen), which makes talking to folks at the door easier than ever. That's particularly great when you can't get to the door or might be away from home when someone shows up at your door.

Ring Video Doorbell 2nd Gen More accurate detection and improved privacy

Ring Video Doorbell App

Source: Ring (Image credit: Source: Ring)

Ring has utilized its expertise in motion detection and now provides the same Near Zone motion detection method you can find on the Ring Video Doorbell 3. The Near Zone detects motion only between 5-15 feet of the video doorbell, helping to more accurately identify when someone is on your doorstep. Cutting out movement further away than 15 feet helps eliminate erroneous movement detection from cars or foliage blowing in the wind. Similarly, ignoring any movement closer than 5 feet helps cut out those annoying notifications caused by bugs flying in front of your camera.

The Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) also sports the same great Privacy Zones as the Ring Video Doorbell 3. That means you can block out entire sections of the video to keep them from being recorded. That could be great if you have an open bedroom window and don't want your video doorbell to record it. It's also great if you're sharing video to the Neighbors app, as it can keep private portions of the video from the prying eyes of the public.

Ring Video Doorbell 2nd Gen vs 1st Gen Same great price, greater capability

Ring Video Doorbell 2nd Gen Press Button

Source: Ring (Image credit: Source: Ring)

The Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) is an affordable way to get a big upgrade without breaking the bank. It'll still work with your entire smart home setup, including your Amazon Echo and Alexa routines. Despite the low price, you'll be getting much higher resolution video, better night vision, improved two-way audio for talking to folks at the door, and even enhanced motion detection and privacy features over the first-gen product.

It's an impressive upgrade that's a no-brainer if your Ring Video Doorbell battery is on the fritz, or if you are just looking to get a better overall doorbell. It's less expensive than the vast majority of video doorbells on the market, and Ring's excellent software and compatibility with many smart home systems make it a great choice for new and current Ring owners alike.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu