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Nest Doorbell Without Subscription

Doing your due diligence on how the Nest doorbell works before or after your purchase is necessary. One of the common questions is how the Nest doorbell fairs with or without a subscription. At its pricing point, shelling extra bucks to the monthly subscription can sometimes be overkill.

Depending on your doorbell model, Nest offers modest features out of the box or when the Nest Aware free trial ends. For the Nest wired doorbell 2nd gen, you can access many features without a subscription.

I’ll walk you through the features that work on the different Nest doorbell models with and without a subscription.

Can You Use a Nest Doorbell Without a Subscription?

You can use your Nest doorbell without a Nest Aware subscription. The features at your disposal with the free plan depend on your doorbell model. The 2nd gen Nest wired doorbell offers activity zones, 3 hours of event history, animal and person detection, etc., without a subscription.

Barring the Legacy Nest Hello doorbell, you can get away without a subscription on the newer models.

Before diving into what works and what doesn’t, Google offers subscription plans for its security devices, the Nest Aware and Nest Aware Plus plans.

Comparison Between the Free and Paid Nest Plans

These are the significant differences between the Nest Aware plans;

  Free Plan Nest Aware Nest Aware Plus
Event Recording Access up to 3 hours of event records.

You can download the clips to save them to your local device within this time. 

30 days event recording. Up to 60 days of event recording.
Continuous Recording No 24/7 recording No 24/7 recording Up to 10 days of Continuous recording.
Intelligent Alerts No AI-powered face detection Familiar faces

Smoke alarm

Carbon monoxide alarm

Glass breaking

Familiar faces

Smoke alarm

Carbon monoxide alarm

Glass breaking


Price $0 $8 Month

$80 Year

$15 Month

$150 Year

Google has pushed the 24/7 continuous recording to the Plus plan. You will still enjoy it if you have the legacy Nest Aware subscription for your wired doorbell.

Even when directly wired, the battery doorbell doesn’t support 24/7 continuous recording with or without a subscription. However, you can always access a live view.

Nest Aware isn’t tied to a single device unlike the Ring pricing model. You can add multiple devices to your subscription plan. However, this can work to your disadvantage when you have a single device.

Features That Work Without a Nest Aware Plan

Unlike its competitors, the Amazon counterparts Ring and Blink, Google offers many features without a plan. For example, creating Activity zones is available out of the box.

I like using activity zones to refine my cameras and doorbells’ field of view to restrict detection and alerts in my desired area.

Here are the features you get on Nest wired or Battery doorbells without a subscription;

  • Notifications and refined alerts – Get person, pet, animal, vehicle, and package detection distinction for free. Advanced person and package detection are usually tucked under subscription plans in most brands.
  • Create activity zones – customize the camera field of view to suit your needs. With each zone, you can define the notifications to receive.
  • Three hours of rolling cloud storage – Get up to 3 hours of event-based activity. You can save clips to your device before they disappear.
  • Two-way Talk – Converse with your visitors before letting them in. This also allows you to play a set of prerecorded messages in case you can’t answer the door.
  • Access live footage – Get 5 minutes on battery models or up to 12 hours on the wired models.
  • 1 hour record time without internet – This is a unique feature as most doorbells won’t record without an internet connection

You should only use the subscription plan for the storage option and advanced detection.

Retrieving event recording within the 3 hours isn’t always feasible. Say the activity happens during the night; it will be long gone without a trace by the time you wake up.

Final Thoughts

As someone who has been using a Nest doorbell for some time, I can share my firsthand experience about its performance without a subscription.

The Nest wired doorbell, 2nd gen, offers several handy features out of the box. I enjoy the convenience of activity zones, a three-hour event history, and reliable animal and person detection, all without needing an additional subscription.

Not choosing the Nest Aware or Nest Aware Plus subscription plans hasn’t significantly impacted my usage.

What I find particularly impressive is the doorbell’s capability to record for a short period even without an internet connection, a feature uncommon in many other brands.

From my experience, while the subscription plans offer more extensive features like extended event recording and AI-powered alerts, the free plan meets most of my daily needs.

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