Aqara pulled out a rabbit from their hat and released Aqara Camera Hub G3 (AmazonUK, AmazonUS). This IP camera is everything. At some point, folks at Aqara HQ sat down at the table and said to each other: Last time, we released an IP Camera that is also a ZigBee 3.0 hub (Aqara G2H Pro), how do we beat this? They made a list of things that would be great to have released the Aqara Camera Hub G3! You should seriously check it out, as they made IP cameras cool again.
Aqara Camera Hub G3
If you are not into “cute animal” aesthetics, don’t worry, the silicon hood with ears can be removed at will, but for once, someone had fun with their design and made a gadget that makes you smile. Aqara Camera Hub G3 may not have every single feature that I will personally care about, but it has enough to get my attention instantly.
Inside the box, you will find the Aqara Camera Hub G3 – a WiFi camera that doubles as a ZigBee 3.0 hub for HomeKit and Aqara ecosystem. With each review of the Aqara product, I always say they find a way to deliver a premium home automation gadget with interesting features. This time isn’t different and Aqara Camera Hub G3 comes with top of the spec configuration:
- 2.4GHz/5GHz WiFi support
- 2K stream quality
- 2-way conversations
- ZigBee 3.0 hub with support for up to 128 sub-devices
- IR blaster
- 360 rotation
- USB-C port with video passthrough
- AI gesture and face recognition (no cloud needed)
- privacy shield
- NAS and local storage
I was already in awe with their take on a ZigBee PIR with competition-beating 1-sec timeout settings and 5-year battery support and now, I get to smile at this little gadget! The first thing I have noticed after powering it up is that Aqara Camera Hub G3 is silent. Rotations on both axes are smooth and soundless. A nice change from the usual buzz associated with inexpensive servos. I bet, there is a stepper motor inside instead.
The camera has a MicroSD card slot “under” the lens. It supports up to 128GB cards (check these micro SD cards on Amazon). Moving the lens assembly reveals a cute sleepy face which indicates when the privacy mode is enabled. I’m easily impressed, I know, but I love things like that. At the back, you will find a speaker and the front of the camera has a button that can be used for calls and pairing (it indicates when the stream is accessed, gestures and faces recognised and more), a microphone and IR LEDs. The base isn’t magnetic, but it has a 1/4″ tripod mount to ease your mounting needs.
Aqara Camera Hub G3 is an indoor camera, but with a 2K resolution, 20 FPS and great dynamic range of the sensor, it can be used for outdoor scenes (hopefully through the window, as the camera isn’t rated for outdoors). The image is genuinely great. While some artefacts are present when the camera moves, the image quickly gets corrected and you can enjoy details even when slightly zoomed in.
In my tests, Aqara Camera Hub G3 handled the bright sky very well, and despite the bright sky in the frame, shadows were filled with details. Using it indoors, you will appreciate that as no matter where you point the camera – you will see the environment clearly.
Two-way conversations are possible thanks to the built-in microphone and speaker. The microphone is sensitive and picks up sounds clearly in the call mode and the speaker produces the sound much better than I’d expect, if not one of the best I had on my hands. There is a distinct reason for that, which I will mention when we reach the AI section.
The nighttime performance is good. The IR LEDs give enough black light to illuminate rooms and areas around and the increased resolution helps capture it all.
Detection options are aplenty. From motion detection, and human detection to active tracking for pets and humans (separately). While I don’t have any pets to try it on, following humans is so good and silent, that should it ever come to film a burglary in action, offenders won’t be aware of the IP camera following them.
Each detection event comes with separate timeline settings, colour markers and a list of options from sensitivity, detection area schedules and custom timeouts. These can also be linked to push notifications, trigger (or not) recordings and home automation and so much more. Honestly, this topic alone is probably 3 chapters long. Trust me, you will find the settings that you are after.
If motion detection isn’t your thing, you can also enable abnormal sound detection. Annoyingly, one of the most useful actions – camera cruise can’t be triggered from the automation panel. You could totally shout at the camera to make it look for you! For now, I need to download all the sounds from the Portal game and deter intruders with “Are you still there?
Aqara Camera Hub G3 is capable of recognising faces and gestures, and does that locally, without access to the cloud. It’s an awesome feature to have, however, comes with one limitation – you can have one or the other activities at the same time. It’s shame, as I’d already envisioned gestures that perform custom automations based on the person making them.
Known faces can be used to trigger events, but so it goes for the unknown faces. If you want to tell people to keep out, you will be able to do so when a stranger’s face is in the frame. Another cool option is the ability to play templates and custom sounds. If you don’t like the list of sounds included, you can always use a microphone on your phone to make your own or upload other mp3 files.
To add a face to Aqara Camera Hub G3, all you need is a picture from your album or a camera. It will store the face match and let you create silly automations the moment your face is recognised.
It creates excellent opportunities to be greeted at home with personalized playlists, light settings and whatever your imagination desires by simply entering your household when the camera is looking.
Switch back to gestures, and the camera will be able to recognise up to 5 gestures and linked these with actions in the automation panel. For them to work the camera must be looking at you, but it’s a small price to pay. One of the first things I tried was to secretly record a cheap IR remote that turns fairly lights on in my partner’s “cocoon” seat, then asked her to “high five” me from the distance. When the lights turned on, she was in awe, especially since she could see the remote in the distance.
Gestures can be further customised by using single and both hands modifiers, adding recognised faces, so no stranger can use them and limiting the area where gestures are triggered. There is plenty there to keep you playing with settings and make it fun.
I’m using it with Alexa Show 8″ speaker, and the skill connects within 3-4 seconds with is even quicker than SwitchBot! The delay of the feed is minimal (less than a sec) so you won’t have any issues talking to people on the other end.
Unfortunately, I can’t control the camera orientation without setting additional scenes to execute via Aqara’s app. It’s doable but less than ideal.
What’s stunning is the number of triggers and actions available in the Home Automation panel. The list covers almost every feature that Aqara Camera Hub G3 brings on board (apart from the ones I mentioned which are not included). It looks like anyone playing with this IP Camera will have a great time coming up with scenarios and automations!
Just look at these screenshots:
It’s a hub after all so all Agara sensors and devices that work over ZigBee can be linked to Aqara Camera Hub G3. Aqara devices may not be the cheapest, but they often lead the way in quality. I already have blinds, which I linked to the OK gesture of the camera, sensors that supply the data back and more.
I already mentioned that this isn’t just an IP camera, Aqara Camera Hub G3 is also a very capable ZigBee 3.0 hub which allows you to add up to 128 subdevices (this limit implies you have other routers in your mesh network).
Just as before with Aqara G2H Pro, the router has a very good range, not impeded by 2.4Ghz bandwidth as you can connect to WiFi via 5Ghz. It’s a wise thing to do
The range is similar to Aqara G2H Pro and it covers the entire 2 story building for me. As this is ZigBee, you should care more about the mesh than the actual range of the coordinator to make sure devices work without issues.
Another cool addition is the IR blaster, which can learn IR signals and replicate them to control lights, TVs, radios and more. As the IR blaster “shoots” from the face of the camera, Aqara Camera Hub G3 should be facing the gadget you want to control, but you can also experiment with adding a “move to position” action in the home automation panel.
Aqara ZigBee 3.0 line up so far:
- Aqara Contact sensor (AmazonUS, UK, AliExpress, Banggood)
- Aqara Temp & Humidity (AmazonUS, UK, AliExpress, Banggood)
- Aqara Vibration Sensor (AmazonUS, UK, AliExpress, Banggood)
- Aqara Leak Sensor (AmazonUS, AmazonUK, AliExpress, Banggood)
- Aqara PIR with Luminosity (AmazonUS, UK, AliExpress, Banggood)
I asked Aqara about Aqara Camera Hub G3 and Matter protocol. Their Motion Sensor P1 will support Matter when the protocol is mature enough, so I wondered if Aqara Camera Hub G3 would end up with a similar upgrade. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as right now, no IP cameras can be certified as Matter device and as such, it won’t support it via OTA.
I don’t know if RTSP protocol is on the cards, or NAS backup right now (Aqara is looking into it). 10 sec event recording is provided on the house as a cloud solution with Apple users capable of using their iCloud and HomeKit integration to store the files.
Another curious thing is the support for UVC through USB-C. I was able to plug the Aqara Camera Hub G3 into my computer and access the feed from the camera over USB, but I had issues with drives and the feed suffered from latency and compression issues. I believe this is caused by a lame driver installed by me to make it work in haste, but if you have the patience and free USB-C ports (I run out of both) then you can make it work better.
You will have to pay a pretty penny for this camera. Aqara Camera Hub G3 (AmazonUK, AmazonUS) is priced at £109.99 which at first may seem like a lot of money, but if you look at the competition in this space, Aqara made sure you are getting your money’s worth. I appreciate everything this camera is doing, to turn it into perfection, Aqara please add Cloud API for your products and enable RTSP – then my soul is yours. Let me think what you think about this camera in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.