Arlo Pro vs. Pro 2 vs. Ultra: Which should you buy?

Arlo offers a robust security platform with a number of highly mobile, home and business-friendly cameras that you can use individually or as a set, both inside and outside. We have taken a look at them, and are impressed with a number of models—but that can also be an issue, because there are a lot of models to choose from!

The average home or business owner doesn’t have a lot of patience to look through the specs on a bunch of similar Arlo cams, so we’re making things easier for you. Let’s look at three of the most popular Arlo models: The Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, and Arlo Ultra. Here’s how they match up, and which is best depending on your own needs.

Design

Arlo Pro 2

This is an easy one: All the Arlo cams have the same design! Despite a few minor differences from upgrade features, the cameras are hard to tell apart. All have the same oval-like design, with similar attachments that can be screwed into walls or ceilings as you want. All have rechargeable batteries and compact forms that make them easier to place in even cramped locations — although you can choose direct cable connections for power, which has its advantages. They’re also all weatherproof! There’s really no need to pick a winner here.

Camera

Arlo Pro vs. Pro 2 vs. Ultra: Which should you buy?
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

For sheer camera power, the Arlo Ultra is an easy winner. However, the other cams have strong features as well. Let’s take a look.

The Arlo Pro starts with a 720p resolution camera that can see up to 25 feet at night and has a 130-degree field of view. It can be activated by motion or sound to turn on when it senses activity. You can also zoom in when watching live feeds.

The Arlo Pro 2 upgrades to 1080p resolution, but keeps the 25-feet night vision and 130-degree field of view. It also comes with motion and sound sensors, but adds extra customization that lets you adjust the sound detection levels more freely and choose up to three activity zones for the motion detection, so the cam has a better idea of what to look for (unfortunately, most of these features require a subscription to an Arlo Smart plan). Digital zoom is also included.

The Arlo Ultra, meanwhile, has a 4k camera with a powerful digital zoom, auto tracking, great color night vision, and a 180-degree diagonal field of view.

Obviously the Ultra has, by far, the superior camera – although this also increases the price. The greater level of detail can be particularly useful for businesses, which tend to have more reasons to capture high-res images and zoom in if necessary.

Additional capabilities

Arlo Pro vs. Pro 2 vs. Ultra: Which should you buy?

All three Arlo cams come with built-in two-way audio, which means they have both a mic for listening and a speaker for communicating if necessary. They also all have sirens that can produce alarms over 100 decibels when necessary. The cams include a limited amount of onboard storage but do include an option to attach either a USB drive or SD card to the cam to offload footage if you prefer.

Really, the only significant difference between the added features is that the Ultra includes an integrated spotlight, something the other models don’t have. Again, this is a feature more suited toward businesses, but certain homeowners may appreciate a spotlight as well.

Smart compatibility

Arlo Pro vs. Pro 2 vs. Ultra: Which should you buy?
Google Home Compatible

All Arlo cams can push alerts to your phone if they detect motion or sound, allowing you to tap into the cam remotely and watch or talk. The cams also save recorded footage to the cloud for a certain number of days, allowing you to access it again when necessary.

The three cameras are all compatible with Alexa, so you can control them with voice commands when convenient (this works especially well on an Echo Show). Google Assistant compatibility is currently up in the air due to Google’s revamp of the service, but it’s possible that Assistant voice control will come in the future.

Finally, the Arlo Pro 2 is somewhat unique in that it is the only cam that can also work with platforms like IFTTT and SmartThings, which makes it a tempting option for those with highly integrated smart homes.

Pricing

Arlo Pro vs. Pro 2 vs. Ultra: Which should you buy?

Arlo costs are divided into two sections — buying the physical models, and buying any Arlo plans. As we mentioned before, the cams have to include a base model, which adds to the price. While an Arlo plan isn’t required, it does enable some extra features and better storage: Without a plan, the Pro and Pro 2 still have a 7-day rolling record of video footage, which means it expires after 7 days unless saved elsewhere. The Ultra model, on the other hand, comes with a free year of the Smart Premier plan, but after this it can only save recordings for up to 3 days on just one cam.

Now that the details are out of the way, let’s take a look at pricing. Here’s the information for the hub unit and lowest number of cameras. Other packages may offer various discounts for adding more cameras to the set, but this is a great starting place.

As you can see, while deals shift over time, right now the two-cam Arlo Pro 2 bundle has the best value by far. While not available on Amazon, a one-cam Arlo Pro 2 bundle has an MSRP of $300, which gives you an idea of just what a good discount this is.

Then there are the plans. If you want to choose a plan, you can pick the Arlo Smart or the Arlo Smart Premiere. The Smart plan increases your cloud footage rollover to 30 days, so videos stay a lot longer, and adds A.I. detection and customizable activity zones for the sensors (not available on the Pro model). You also get lock screen notifications, so alerts show up without you needing to unlock your phone or check your app. This plan costs $3 per month, per camera.

The Smart Premiere plan offers all this, plus an online emergency call service that will help you get professional aid when you need it. It costs $10 per month, and covers up to 10 cameras (there’s also a final upgrade to the Smart Elite plan, but that really only extends the cloud storage options again and isn’t very necessary). Again, there’s a pretty clear line between home and business services, but keep in mind a plan isn’t necessary to use the cams.

Conclusion

If you need a more casual security setup with just one or two cams, choose the Arlo Pro 2 model. If you need a more elaborate or professional setup with multiple cameras — especially if you have a larger ongoing budget to work with — the Arlo Ultra is probably a better choice. Currently, there’s not much reason to use the Arlo Pro.

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