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Arlo Pro 4 vs Essential (2021): Which Wireless Security Camera Should You Get?

Creating a safer home is easier these days, thanks to consumer-grade security cameras. In this market, Arlo is one of the more reliable brands. The Arlo Pro 4 Wireless Security Camera, for instance, is a solid mid-range model with 2k video recording capabilities. If you’re on a budget, the entry-level Arlo Essential offers a lower video quality but comes with most of the surveillance features of the Pro 4. So is it time to spend more or stick to the budget? To find out, we put the spotlight on two of Arlo’s best-selling devices.

Arlo Pro 4 vs Essential Wireless Security Camera Comparison Chart

ModelArlo Pro 4 3-PackArlo Essential 3-Pack
 Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera - 3 Pack - Wireless Security, 2K Video & HDR, Color Night Vision, 2 Way...Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera - 3 Pack - Wireless Security, 1080p Video, Color Night Vision, 2 Way...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Camera Sensor4MP
Video Modes2k, 1080p, 720p1080p
Field of View160º diagonal130º diagonal
Zoom12x digital zoom12x digital zoom
Built-in SpotlightYesYes
Night VisionYesYes
Two-Way AudioYesYes
Noise and Echo CancellationYesYes
Weather ResistantYesYes
Requires Smart HubNoNo
Removable BatteryYesNo
Battery Life6 months6 months
ConnectivityWiFi, USB 2.0WiFi
Dimensions89 x 52 x 78.4mm89 x 52 x 78.4mm
Weight316g331g

Design

Except for the subtle differences in their faceplates, the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential are identical.

Arlo Pro 4 vs Arlo Essential Wireless Security Camera Design
The Arlo Pro 4 (left) and Arlo Essential (right) are both weather and UV-resistant.

Arlo keeps its approach to design simple. All of its outdoor cameras share the same oval-shaped form. With the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential, you’re also getting cameras just under 350g — that’s about the weight of a can of soup. Both cameras have a white enclosure and a simple, black faceplate. Their backs also have a threaded hole for mounting to a swivel mount. Arlo’s Pro 4 model, however, comes with a magnetic mounting option.

If you’re being particular, the design of the faceplate does have subtle differences. The Arlo Essential’s facade is halved by a line, with the main components located on the upper half. On the Arlo Pro 4, an oval ring encloses the camera sensor and speaker. Its faceplate bulges a bit more, too, compared to the flat surface of the Essential. Most of the features on both the Pro 4 and Essentials are the same, though. These include the spotlight, status LEDs, and microphone.

Aside from the startup guide, Arlo will include the wall-mounting hardware for both cameras. You can also get the devices in an all-black model.

Key Features

Arlo’s Pro 4 has more advanced features than the Arlo Essential.

Arlo Pro 4 vs Arlo Essential Wireless Security Camera Features Comparison
A built-in spotlight for low-light conditions (left); in-app motion notifications (right).

The Pro 4 camera system features a 4MP sensor that supports 2K video recording. You can also switch to 1080p or 720p modes, enjoy auto-tracking, and use 12x digital zoom. The Essential, on the other hand, uses a 1080p camera with a similar 12x digital zoom. Unlike the Pro 4, however, there’s no support for auto-tracking and auto-zoom. The budget model also comes with a lower 130-degree FOV compared to the Arlo Pro 4’s 160-degree FOV.

Still, there are a couple of things in common with these devices. For instance, the Pro 4 and Essential both have HDR. They also use similar IR LEDs for color night vision and employ powerful 6500K spotlights. Like other Arlo cameras, you get full-duplex, two-way audio here as well. On both devices, the microphones are equipped with noise and echo-cancellation, too.

Similar to other security cameras, additional features are available with a subscription plan. But out of the box, you do get live video streaming and motion notifications for free. Arlo’s Pro 4 and Essential cameras integrate with smart home assistants, too. Currently, they are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Ok Google, among others.

Performance

The Arlo Pro 4 has the edge when it comes to image quality. The Arlo Pro 4 and Essential, however, are comparable in their audio performance.

Arlo Pro 4 vs Arlo Essential Wireless Security Camera Performance
Reliable low-light performance and two-way audio make the Pro 4 and Essential solid devices.

As expected, the Arlo Pro 4’s advanced camera delivers a better video recording than the Arlo Essential. While it’s not as high-definition as the 4K on the Arlo Ultra, the image quality remains top-notch. Videos are well exposed and with good color. Even recordings in low-light conditions are solid.

The Arlo Essential is no pushover, too. Though it maxes out at 1080p, recordings are still crisp and clear, especially during the day. Its night vision mode isn’t as impressive as the Pro 4’s, but the covered areas are well-illuminated. Both the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential, after all, use the same type of IR LEDs and spotlights.

When it comes to two-way audio, the two models offer comparable performance. Both are equipped with full-duplex audio, so they work more like phones than walkie-talkies. Arlo says the Pro 4 and Essential also have noise and echo canceling microphones. This feature helps keep communications audible and clear, although they’re not necessarily the loudest in the market.

Homeowners get about six months of battery life on the Arlo Pro 4 and Arlo Essential. The Pro 4, however, has the edge thanks to a removable battery. If your Arlo Essential drains, you’ll need to remove the entire camera from the mount to charge it.

Bundles and Subscription

Homeowners can get the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential either as standalone units or as multi-camera kits. They also work with the optional Arlo Secure subscription.

Arlo Pro 4 vs Arlo Essential Wireless Security Camera Kits and Subscription
On the left, the Arlo Pro 4 two-camera kit; on the left, the Arlo Essential XL.

Designed to work as a system, you can get the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential in bundles. The Pro 4 is available as a single-camera kit or in two or three cameras. Meanwhile, the Essential model comes in a single-camera kit, a three-camera kit, and an XL version. This XL variant features a larger battery with one-year battery life.

Both the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential also connect directly to Wi-Fi, so there is no need for the Arlo SmartHub. However, this also means you lose local storage. If you want to save copies of your videos, you’ll need to sign up for an Arlo Secure or Secure Plus plan. Both packages offer unlimited cloud storage, as well as a 30-day video history.

Aside from storage, the Arlo Secure plans give users access to more advanced features. These include intelligent notifications as well as smoke alerts. Users can also set up custom activity zones for more focused monitoring.

Verdict

Get the Arlo Essential if you’re on a budget. Opt for the Arlo Pro 4 if you’re willing to spend on upgraded image quality.

If you’re in the market for a security camera, then the Arlo Pro 4 and Arlo Essential are compelling models. For those just getting into home surveillance, they’re some of the easiest to install, too. But while they work great on their own, features are limited unless you pay for the Arlo Secure subscription. Since they don’t need a SmartHub to function, you also lose local storage and will have to pay for cloud.

Now, the Arlo Essential’s 1080p camera isn’t as impressive as the Pro 4’s. But if you’re on a budget and can live without 2K video recording, it’s a solid purchase. Moreover, Arlo’s Essential cameras are cheaper compared to the Pro 4, so you’ll save if you plan to have a multi-camera setup. Those with deeper pockets, however, might be willing to spend on the better image quality and expanded field of view the Arlo Pro 4 offers.

FAQs

📌 What is the key difference between the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential?

The main difference between the Arlo Pro 4 and Essential is their video quality. The Arlo Pro 4 is equipped with a 4MP sensor that supports 2k video recording. Meanwhile, the Arlo Essential maxes out at 1080p.

📌 Is the Arlo Pro 4 price reasonable?

Given its 2K video recording support, image quality, and smart features, the Arlo Pro 4 is a fairly priced mid-range camera.

📌 Is the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera available in different colors?

Yes, the Arlo Pro 4 is available in black and white or all-black options.

📌 Does Arlo offer free shipping?

Arlo offers free shipping for orders over $35. It also allows for free returns. The free shipping and return policy, however, is applicable only to the contiguous US.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.