Arlo Go 2 versus Eufy 4G Starlight: LTE camera head-to-head

The Arlo Go 2 ($249) and the Eufy 4G Starlight ($229) are two new 4G LTE smart security cameras that stream or send footage over a cellular data connection. They’re among the few solutions for monitoring places where Wi-Fi may be unreliable or unavailable: an off-grid cabin in the woods; the far end of your backyard; a construction site; or a storage facility.

They can also be used to keep an eye on your RV, camper van, or tent site when you’re camping or watch over your boat while docked. A cellular security camera is also a good option if you’d like a camera at your property that you know will stay up even if the Wi-Fi and power are down. Or perhaps you travel a lot and want to surveil your Airbnb or hotel room when you’re out and about and not rely on public Wi-Fi.

Overpriced trail cams used to be the only option for a truly wireless camera setup like this, and it’s exciting to see more options tailored to security rather than just spotting animals (although they still do a great job of that). The Arlo and Eufy models look and work the same way their company’s standard outdoor smart home security cameras do — just with bigger batteries and a cellular radio on board. This means they don’t need a Wi-Fi connection to record or stream video, but you will need to pay for cellular data to use the camera, which can be an expensive add-on.

I put these two LTE-connected cameras to the test in different locations: the Eufy at my in-laws’ off-grid cabin in Alaska and the Arlo at the bottom of my garden in South Carolina, where there’s not a whiff of Wi-Fi to be had. Both did what they said on the box, running reliably and impressively on only one to two bars of cellular service. But there are some critical differences between the two.

Most notably, the Eufy doesn’t need a cloud subscription to view or save recorded video, while the Arlo does. The Eufy uses edge computing to process the data entirely on the camera; all the footage lives on the camera’s 8GB of local storage. When you view video in the app, you are connecting directly to the camera. But if you run out of data or your camera is destroyed, you won’t have access to any footage.

In contrast, the Arlo stores its recordings in the cloud, and you’ll need to pay for its Arlo Secure service ($3 a month) to view motion-activated recordings in the Arlo app. (There’s the option of a microSD card, but that can only be accessed locally.) The Arlo is the second-gen of the Arlo Go, and it adds Wi-Fi, which the Eufy doesn’t have, plus it supports a wider range of smart alerts.

Eufy 4G Starlight versus Arlo Go 2: specs and setup

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The Eufy 4G Starlight is a white camera with gray accents.

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The Arlo Go 2 is all-white, but you can buy a black housing for the camera.

The cameras both follow the design language of their respective non-cellular smart security cameras, with sleek white oblong bodies and stark black faces. The Arlo has the option of a black casing, which would be more discreet in an outdoor setting. Eufy says it has plans to sell a camouflage skin.

Both cameras are fully weatherproof: the Eufy Starlight is rated to IP67, and the Arlo Go 2 is slightly lower at IP65. This means the Eufy could survive underwater for a bit and against higher pressure water jets, but both will stand up to heavy rain and thunderstorms. Both also work down to negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit; the Arlo Go 2 is rated for up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit and the Starlight for a blistering 131 degrees Fahrenheit.

The standard security camera features are offered on both: two-way audio; spotlights and sirens to scare away any potential trouble; and color night vision. (The Eufy has a starlight sensor for improved night vision in low light, as the name indicates, while the Arlo does not). Both also have built-in GPS to help you locate the camera should you forget where you put it.

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I tested the Arlo Go 2 at the farthest end of my yard in South Carolina, attached to a tree house.

The Arlo can record and livestream in up to 1080p HD video, whereas Eufy is capable of 2K. The Arlo has 12x digital zoom for getting a better look at any action compared to Eufy’s 4x, but with the higher resolution of the Eufy, this difference isn’t as large in practice as on paper. The Eufy is slightly smaller and lighter, but they both have the same massive 13,000mAh battery capacity, and both have optional solar panels to keep the batteries topped up.

The Arlo also includes a Wi-Fi radio, meaning it can double as a standard security camera if and when you have access to Wi-Fi and don’t want to pay for cellular data. This is also handy as a fail-safe option in a home security camera setup, meaning you’ll still have at least one camera you can access remotely in a Wi-Fi or power outage. The Eufy only works on cellular.

Setup for both cameras was straightforward. It’s exactly like installing any of their Wi-Fi counterparts, just with the extra step of inserting a SIM card. However, neither of them works with their respective brand’s hub (which also means no HomeKit compatibility for either). They do both work with Amazon Alexa and Google Home ecosystems, and you can livestream footage to a smart display. Arlo also works with IFTTT.

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I installed the Eufy 4G Starlight camera on a small outbuilding at my in-laws’ cabin in Alaska.

You’ll need a data SIM card and a data plan to get the cameras up and running on a cellular network. Arlo offers the option of buying the camera direct from compatible carriers through its website. It works with Verizon ($20 / month for “unlimited” 15GB), US Cellular ($15 / month for 1GB data), or T-Mobile ($20 / month for 5GB). If you go this route, the camera will come with a SIM card, and you can also choose to spread the cost of the device out over two to three years. The Arlo also works with European carriers.

Eufy says it includes an IoT-specific Eiotclub SIM with its camera (in my testing, I used an AT&T SIM). This is a virtual operator that uses the AT&T and T-Mobile networks and offers a $10 / month plan with 2GB of data. You can also use an AT&T SIM; a tablet / hotspot plan starts at $25 monthly for 20GB. Eufy recommends the prepaid $35 for 15GB AT&T data plan. (You can’t use a T-Mobile SIM card in the Starlight cam, even though it supports T-Mobile’s 4G bands.) The Eufy also works with these carriers in the UK. For any of these plans for either camera, you might get a discount down to as low as $5 if you’re an existing customer of the carrier.

Eufy says the Starlight will use 60MB of cellular data to stream five minutes of live, 2K video or roughly 500MB / month if you access the live view 10 times daily for 10 seconds each and record 25 events for 10 seconds each. Arlo says the Go 2 will use between 700MB to 2GB monthly depending on the number of motion triggers and length of recordings. The large difference here is because the Arlo uploads automatically to the cloud, whereas the Eufy only uses data when you access the camera.

Eufy 4G Starlight versus Arlo Go 2: performance and features

The Eufy 4G Starlight captures a young bull moose at a cabin in Alaska.

The Arlo Go 2’s daytime footage from the bottom of the garden in South Carolina.

The key feature of any security camera is video quality. The Eufy edges the Arlo here, delivering a clearer, crisper image in daylight, with more detail in the background than the Arlo, which loses some clarity further out. The Eufy did a great job catching a young bull moose in all his glory at the Alaska cabin, and the Arlo showed my 70-pound dog prowling around the backyard clearly, although the chicken coop behind him was slightly blown out.

Both cameras have color night vision, and the Eufy has starlight night vision, using a starlight sensor to pick up more detail in the darkness (which can include color). The Arlo relies on activating the spotlight for any color night vision. The Eufy can also be set to turn on the spotlight at night based on motion, and both offer infrared black and white night vision.

Unless you need to see what color T-shirt an intruder has on, I find the infrared night vision, which both cameras have, to be better for catching detail at night. In my testing, both cameras performed fine at night in the two comparable modes, with the Eufy being better at capturing more detail and decent distance, aided by its starlight sensor. I did have trouble testing the Eufy’s starlight-only night vision option; in this mode (with no infrared LEDs or spotlight), the picture was very dark and not at all clear. However, there is no complete darkness in Alaska in summer, and in my previous experience with starlight night vision, it worked best in true darkness.

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Arlo Go 2 nighttime footage with spotlight (triggered by a raccoon that you can just make out).

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Arlo Go 2 infrared nighttime footage, which is much clearer than the spotlight footage.

Both record in 1080p HD, with the Eufy capable of going up to 2K, but you can opt for lower in the app. If you’re on a limited data plan, you might want to stick with 1080p. Arlo has a more impressive digital zoom at 12 times, but it gets very pixelated very quickly, making that less useful than on Arlo’s 4K Wi-Fi cameras. Arlo has a slightly wider field of view at 130 degrees compared to Eufy’s 120, but this difference isn’t very noticeable in practice.

The Arlo has much better two-way audio, using full-duplex audio, which is like having a phone conversation, whereas the Eufy is only half-duplex, which is like using a walkie-talkie. This can be frustrating if you’re trying to have a conversation through the camera. Both had loud and clear audio while talking or listening.

Both cameras suffered from a common problem with motion-activated, battery-powered cameras; they picked up motion late. The battery has to wake up the camera once the motion sensor is triggered. This meant a lot of my test videos were of the back of my head as I walked away.

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The Eufy 4G Starlight’s spotlight-enhanced night vision is clearer than the Arlo’s.

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Eufy 4G infrared night vision.

But they both delivered alerts of motion promptly, with rich notifications (I tested with iOS) that included a snapshot. On the Arlo, you can long-press the notification and see a preview of the recording as well as access a shortcut to activate the siren or call 911. Eufy doesn’t offer this. But you only get these features if you pay for the Arlo Secure subscription (for $3 a month with a three-month trial when you buy the camera).

With an Arlo Secure subscription, you can tailor your alerts to tell you only about people, animals, and / or vehicles rather than all motion. You can also add activity zones to focus the camera on specific areas. Eufy has people detection and activity zones for free but no animal or vehicle alerts. Arlo Secure also adds a smart e911 feature (US-only) so that if you are calling from another location, you’ll be connected to emergency dispatch at your camera’s location — not yours. (You can only have one address per subscription, so if you set up the LTE camera somewhere other than your home, you’ll need to pay for a second Arlo Secure subscription for this feature.)

Eufy doesn’t offer any cloud storage service for the Starlight, and it doesn’t charge any fees for access to its features. Instead, the app accesses footage directly from the camera. Eufy says its 8GB local storage can store up to six months of events (based on 15 “movement events” per day with each “event” lasting 15 seconds). I tested the camera for a month, and all the videos were still viewable in the app. I was also impressed with the speed of notifications for the camera and the ease of pulling up the live view; there was little to no lag.

Arlo Secure lets you store up to 30 days’ worth of videos in the cloud. Arlo uses AES encryption to secure recordings in transit to and from the Arlo camera, and the app requires two-factor authentication. The Go 2 does have a slot for a microSD card for local storage, so you can record videos without paying for Arlo Secure. But that footage can only be viewed by inserting the SD card into a computer, not in the Arlo app, meaning you have to physically be at the camera to see any footage it’s captured.

The disadvantage of no option of any cloud storage is that if the Eufy camera were destroyed to the point it could no longer receive an LTE connection, you wouldn’t be able to view any previous footage unless you had already manually downloaded it to your phone’s camera roll from the Eufy app. At one point during testing, all the clips disappeared from the Eufy app because the preinstalled SIM had run out of data. When I topped up the data and the Starlight camera reconnected to the internet, they reappeared.

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I tested the Eufy camera with its compatible solar panel charger, and it kept the camera charged above 90 percent during one week of testing.

Battery life was about the same. Both cameras have 13,000mAh batteries on board. In three weeks of use, the Eufy was at 65 percent — about 11 percent a week and on track for two-ish months. Eufy estimates it will last three months, but the camera was in a poor service area, which the app warned would reduce battery life. In my one week of testing, the Arlo was at 89 percent, also 11 percent a week. Arlo claims its camera has four months of battery life on 4G, but that didn’t hold up in my tests.

The Arlo has a removable battery, so you can have a spare on hand (extras cost $59.99). But, if you are looking at installing a cellular camera somewhere remote, you will want to pair it with a solar panel to keep it charged. Both companies sell compatible ones for $59.99. (The Eufy is often on sale in a bundle for $249.99).

I tested the Eufy solar panel, which was simple to install and comes with a weatherproof connector for the USB-C charging port, and it was able to keep the camera close to 100 percent. The Eufy camera charges using a USB-C cable, whereas the Arlo uses the proprietary magnetic cable that its higher-end cameras use. You can buy an outdoor charging cable and power adaptor for the Arlo for $49.99, but it uses the same connection as the solar panel, so you can’t use both at once.

For a camera you may leave out in the woods, some anti-theft features are important. Both have built-in GPS to track the camera. The Eufy also has an Anti-Theft Detection Mode that will sound the alarm if the camera is moved, although that’s just going to give the thief a headache. Arlo has a Theft Replacement Program that will replace the camera if it’s stolen as long as you bought the camera new, have an Arlo Secure plan, and file a police report.

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Arlo’s app experience is smoother than Eufy’s, which has a few too many advertisements and slightly confusing settings menus.

Another important point of comparison is the apps. Here, Arlo’s experience edges Eufy’s, primarily because the Eufy app has one too many pop-up ads, plus a whole tab devoted to selling you more products. The Arlo experience is much cleaner. However, both work fine for viewing a livestream from the camera or recorded video. They both pull up the feed promptly after tapping on a notification, with the Eufy being slightly faster — as it doesn’t need to go through the cloud. Both also have a useful Event (Eufy) / Library (Arlo) view where you can filter recordings by the type of motion and the date of the recording.

Both apps also have good options for fine-tuning motion detection and event recording lengths, plus options for tweaking settings to save battery life. An option on both cameras lets you schedule it to turn on or off at a set time or based on geo-locating your phone.

Eufy 4G Starlight versus Arlo Go 2: which should you buy?

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The Eufy 4G Starlight is a good choice if you want to avoid monthly cloud storage fees.

These are both very good cameras, and the freedom from hanging on to a weak Wi-Fi connection was liberating. I loved finally being able to get a reliable digital eye on the chicken coop at the bottom of my garden so I could watch out for the many things that want to eat my chickens. My in-laws were very impressed with the quality of the Eufy camera, especially compared to the cellular trail cam they use to keep tabs on their cabin, which has a narrow field of view and low resolution. If you have a need for a non-Wi-Fi-dependent security camera, either of these cameras would be an excellent choice.

The Eufy 4G Starlight is cheaper to buy and run (cellular data plans aside). There is also no monthly fee for cloud storage, smart alerts, or activity zones — Arlo charges $3 a month for these. The Eufy also has a higher video quality, better night vision, local storage, and on-device processing. So, you will want this camera if you are leery about storing your video on someone else’s server. But it comes with the tradeoff that if the camera is destroyed or loses its data connection, you can’t access any footage you haven’t manually downloaded. If that’s a scenario that worries you — say you’re monitoring a cabin in an area with a wildfire risk — the Eufy’s local-only storage may give you pause.

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The Arlo Go 2 has more features than the Eufy, but you will pay more money.

The Wi-Fi radio in the Arlo also gives you more flexibility than the Eufy’s cellular-only option and means you can use LTE as a fallback. Arlo’s smart alerts and interactive notifications provide a better monitoring experience with fewer false alerts to check, and e911 support could be crucial depending on where you plan to use the camera. Arlo’s digital zoom is also better, and its two-way audio is much easier to use.

Options outside of Eufy and Arlo are limited. Reolink has a couple of cellular models, including one that pans and tilts. But I haven’t tested any Reolink cameras, whereas I’ve spent a few years testing both Arlo and Eufy’s cameras and ecosystems and am comfortable recommending both.

If you are already invested in either camera security ecosystem, I would definitely go with the road already traveled. Bear in mind you may need to get a second Arlo Secure subscription for the Go 2 if you’re putting it in a different location. If you aren’t adding this to an existing system and aren’t put off by the subscription plan or cloud storage, the Arlo Go 2 is an excellent choice. If those are deal-breakers for you, the Eufy 4G Starlight will fit the bill very well — just remember to keep that cellular data topped up.

Arlo Go 2 and Eufy 4G Starlight specs comparison

Category Eufy 4G Starlight Arlo Go 2
Category Eufy 4G Starlight Arlo Go 2
Price $229.99 $249.99
Price with solar panel $289.98 $309.98
Subscription fee no yes (from $3 / month)
Connectivity 4G LTE 4G LTE and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
Highest resolution 2K 1080p HD
Digital zoom 4x 12x
Local storage yes yes*
Smart alerts people people / animals / vehicles ($)
Battery 13,000mAh 13,000mAh
Siren / spotlight yes yes
Two-way audio yes, half-duplex yes, full-duplex
GPS tracking yes yes
Weather rating IP67, -4 to 131 F IP65, -4 to 113 F
Removable battery no yes
Works with Google Home / Amazon Alexa Google Home / Amazon Alexa / IFTTT
*requires microSD card

Created by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy

Photography by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz