- Wireless Trail Camera Reviews
- What is a Wireless Trail Camera?
- Who Needs Wi-Fi Trail Cameras?
- Who Needs Cellular Game Cameras?
Trail cameras make remote surveillance possible, but one of their few downfalls is how inconvenient it can be to retrieve the photos they take. Thanks to advancements in wireless communications, it is now possible to view the photos stored on certain trail cameras without ever having to physically access them. Whether you are a hunter monitoring the movements of game animals or a homeowner protecting your property, retrieving SD cards from trail cameras can be problematic. But there is another way. Wireless trail cameras, also known as a cellular trail cameras, are hunting cameras that uses a cellular network to transmit photos to a viewing device.
The ultimate in modern convenience, this type of wireless trail cam can simplify the life of any hunter or property owner. Once positioned and configured, a Wi-Fi trail camera lets you view your photos from remote locations. However, there are potential issues that interested buyers should consider. Other than the way that they transmit data, wireless trail cameras all work in the same ways as other trail cameras. Let’s examine what makes a cellular trail camera a good choice for some, then we’ll point out some of their possible detractions so you can find the best wireless trail camera.
Stealth Cam GXW 12MP Wireless
High-definition video in increments of 5 seconds to 3 minutes. Unlike many cellular trail cameras, it can also send those videos wirelessly.
Bigfoot Cellular Camera 3G
Wireless trail camera with trigger speed of .4 seconds and a 1-second recovery time for photos. It shoots 1080p video at 30 frames per second, and records those videos on an included 16GB micro SD card.
Cuddeback Dual Flash
Wireless network cap to check images from home with high battery life and great picture quality.
Spartan HD GoCam (4G AT&T)
Transmission of photos and video through wireless network. 4G LTE broadband for transmission.
Stealth Cam GXW 12MP Wireless
Bigfoot Cellular Camera 3G
Cuddeback Dual Flash
Spartan HD GoCam (4G AT&T)
Wireless Trail Camera Reviews
Stealth Cam GXW
Stealth Cam was one of the first trail camera companies, so it comes as no surprise that it would be an industry leader in the development of wireless trail cam technology. The GXW is the company’s inaugural version of a cellular game camera. Featuring variable 12-megapixel picture resolution and 1080p video recording, the GXW is also one of the few cellular cameras on the market that can transmit video as well as photos.
Daylight photographs are crisp and clear, with excellent color contrast and focal depth. A megapixel count can be misleading, and this 12MP camera is proof. It outperforms many cameras boasting much higher megapixel counts. The no-glow infrared (IR) is truly invisible, but night-picture clarity naturally suffers as a result. Still, nighttime photos are serviceable.
The GXW records high-definition video in increments of 5 seconds to 3 minutes. Unlike many cellular trail cameras, it can also send those videos wirelessly, though it is worth noting that those videos will be compressed down to 320 by 180 resolution. It is a nice feature, but for identification purposes, one best suited for hunting rather than security. The case on the GXW is solid. It has a built-in Python bracket and strap loops, and there is a 12-volt external jack. There is a rapid-fire option for up to 9 photos, and there is a full-color menu and image display.
With a trigger speed of .25 seconds, the GXW is truly fast for a cellular game camera. Coupled with a detection zone that is a bit wider than the picture frame, the possibility for empty photos exists. It also has a slow, roughly 1-minute recovery time, but its biggest issue is that it requires the use of an application for receiving images. These are minor drawbacks for such high-quality daytime photography and truly blacked-out nighttime operation.
- Can send both photos and video
- Has time-lapse setting and PIR override
- Excellent daytime photographs
- Detection circuit can outpace IR flash at night
- Full-color LCD display
- Only works with AT&T or T-Mobile
- Requires an app to transmit photos
- Invisible flash, free remote control app for iOS and Android
- 65′ Night Flash Distance, Wide Lens, 56 IR Leds
- Photo Resolution 5/8/12 MP Video 720P HD/VGA
While not one of the most well-known trail cam brands, Bigfoot is making a name for itself by simplifying the process of connecting its cellular cameras. Ostensibly one of the cheapest cell cameras to operate, the Bigfoot 3G camera comes with a SIM card that is preloaded for 30 free days of data use. After that, users can load more data onto the SIM card at a minimum rate of $29.99 per year. Of course, in actual use that amount of data is unlikely to last a full year, but results vary depending on the quality of pictures the user selects.
Bigfoot claims that its 3G camera maxes out at 12MP, but its photos lack the clarity of some others with that same megapixel count. Daytime photos are plenty clear enough to identify the animals or people in the pictures, though. Night photos are lackluster, with dark edges around the edges of the frame. When animals stay still in the frame, identification is not an issue. Movement causes noticeable blurring, but not enough to make identification impossible. The 65-foot range of the 56 no-glow IR LEDs illuminates anything in the middle third of the frame quite well.
This camera has a trigger speed of .4 seconds and a 1-second recovery time for photos. It shoots 1080p video at 30 frames per second, and records those videos on an included 16GB micro SD card. It sends photos via email or text message, but it cannot transmit videos. It operates on 12 AA batteries, so battery life is not often an issue when using lithium batteries. Detection sensitivity is variable, but users should avoid the most sensitive settings to prevent empty pics. Also, the included 3G antenna is a bit weak, though upgrades are available.
- Detection circuit never outstretches the flash
- Comes with a preloaded SIM card (one month of photos)
- Cheapest cellular trail cam to use from data standpoint
- Fast recovery time for photos
- SimHerodata contract required
- The flash range doesn’t compare to some others
- Poor quality of nighttime photos
Cuddeback CuddeLink Dual Flash
- Cuddeback dual flash 20mp invisible infrared cuddelink game camera
- 0.25-second trigger speed
- Runs on 4, high-capacity D batteries
The first thing to note about Cuddeback’s CuddeLink Dual Flash is the option of invisible black infrared and low-glow infrared LEDs. It has 28 of each type of LED. It can also link up to 15 other CuddeLinks into a network, without the need for more than one SIM card or data plan. It also features a .25-second trigger speed and 1- to 2-second recovery time for photos using its 20MP sensor.
Video quality is good, with adjustable recording increments from 10 to 30 seconds. It cannot record video with the CuddeLink system active, however, and it cannot transmit video remotely. There are three operation modes: EZ, Advanced and Surveillance. In surveillance mode, the delay is set to the fastest speed, and the SD card records in and endless loop, during which it begins recording over the oldest images or videos once the card is full.
Another unique characteristic is that the CuddeLink camera uses four D-cell batteries, as opposed to the typical AA batteries in wireless cameras. Using D-cell batteries give the CuddeLink camera up to 12 months of battery life. The image quality on this camera is excellent, with sharp contrast and a deep field of view. The flash range is better than 100 feet, but less when using the no-glow option. The detection range matches the flash well, with empty pictures being a rare issue. Other functions include five-image burst and a time lapse option of up to 24 hours.
- The ability to link 15 cameras on one network
- Image quality is impressive
- Allows for switching from no-glow to low-glow LEDs
- D-cell batteries improve battery life
- Two-year warranty with five-year reduced replacement cost plan
- D-cell batteries add weight to the pack when swapping them
- Camera linking not an option in video mode
- Ready to Use Out of the Box
- 12 AA batteries
- The Spartan GoCam GC-A4Gb powered by AT&T
The Spartan GoCam is an 8-megapixel cellular deer camera that sends pics to your phone, but it is one of the few that can also send video. Eight megapixels may sound outclassed compared to the other wireless camera reviews in this comparison, but a megapixel count can be misleading. In truth, the GoCam’s picture quality is at least as good as many others featured here. The same goes for its 720p video quality. Daylight photos are clear and colorful with just a touch of grain, though not enough to impact identification.
Detection sensitivity is adjustable, but even at its highest sensitivity it will not trip unnecessarily. The no-glow IR flash has an optimal range of 70 feet. Night photos lack the definition of some competitors, but they are on par with most no-glow trail cams. Trigger times are less than one second. There are also two separate duty modes with their own trigger speeds and time-lapse modes.
Battery life with 12 lithium AAs is not quite what other units offer, but that is to be expected because the camera sends daily status updates. The case is stout and well-made, and there is an internal menu and image display. Setup is simple if not intuitive, and once connected, users can control the unit’s features via a cell phone app.
- Allows the transmission of video
- App allows for complete use of camera settings
- Sends daily status reports including remaining battery percentage
- Color image quality belies its 8MP sensor
- 4G LTE broadband for transmission
- Night photos lack sharpness
- Battery life is limited, requiring 6V external for extended life
Covert Blackhawk LTE
- 13 Magapixels still images; 1280×720 Video
- Built-in infrared flash with 60 invisible LEDs and a 100ft range
- Time lapse mode for long-term observation
Covert’s Blackhawk is a 4G trail camera with a 13-megapixel sensor that shoots high-quality video in 720p resolution. Daylight photos are clear and impressive, with good color and contrast. They are a tad underexposed, but that lends itself to rich dark areas. The no-glow IR flash has a range of 80 feet. Trigger speeds are an unimpressive .8 seconds, and recovery times can take more than 40 seconds. But the Blackhawk can transmit video wirelessly.
Night photos are better than many other no-glow cameras, whether wireless or not. They are not spectacular, but identification is not a problem. Videos are unimpressive, exhibiting nice color and clarity on still subjects in daylight, though movement causes subjects to pixelate in day or night. Battery life on the eight AA batteries exceeds that of many competitors.
The data plan options dwarf most other competitors, though the costs are comparable. Some users may even find this one of the cheapest cellular game cameras to operate, depending on their needs. Costs can increase with video transmissions, though, as each video costs .07 cents to send. However, the camera first sends a photo, and the user can then decide to transmit the video, if needed.
- Able to send videos as well as pictures
- Longer battery life than many competitors
- Offers a plethora of data plans
- Takes beautiful daylight photos
- Setup is simple (though app is bug-ridden)
- Users must go through manufacturer’s website for data plans
- Night videos are unimpressive
Snyper Commander 4G LTE
- 12MP TRAIL CAMERA WIRELESS
- 0.4 Second Trigger Speed
- Quality game camera images
The Snyper Commander is updated, now with 4G LTE data speeds. It has 56 no-glow IR LEDs, with a .4-second trigger speed and 12-megapixel resolution. There is also a 2-inch color viewing screen and time lapse, time delay and timer functions. The Commander requires 12 lithium AA batteries, but there is an external 12V jack for a battery or solar panel. It also comes with an AT&T SIM card, and Snyper offers unlimited photos for $10 per month through its website.
Photo quality is quite good in either daytime or night applications. Color photos are rich and deep, while black-and-white night shots have remarkable depth and clarity. Night photos do have a tendency to overexpose on closer shots, but chalk that up to the detection range. The flash range and the detection range match up well at about 80 feet. Battery life is impressive, outpacing many other trail cams, even non-wireless ones.
- 4G LTE transfer speeds
- Excellent daytime photos
- Decent night pictures
- Affordable minimum monthly plan
- Extra-long detection and flash range
- Operating software is not very sophisticated
- Lens can fog over on inside of unit in cool, humid conditions
- 12MP, 42 high power LEDs
- 90′ flash range, 0.3s trigger, 2 multi-shots, IR boost tech
- HD video, 80′ detection distance
Spypoint’s Link-EVO is a 12-megapixel cellular game camera that uses 42 low-glow LEDs to reach out to 90 feet during nighttime use. That flash range slightly outpaces the 80-foot detection zone, but not enough to cause empty frames. The Link-EVO boasts .3-second trigger times. It operates on eight AA batteries, an optional rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, or on an external battery or solar panel (12V jack).
Despite being a 4G trail cam, the Link-EVO cannot transmit videos wirelessly. However, Spypoint has gone a long way toward eliminating the headaches of setting up the camera to send photos, which it does quickly and painlessly. Spypoint also includes an activated SIM card, and the company offers a free data plan that includes up to 100 photo transmissions per month, all of which make it the cheapest cellular trail camera to operate for most people.
Color photos are clear without being spectacular, but nighttime photos are not up to par with the latest and greatest trail cameras. The images are compressed for wireless transmission, further reducing their quality. Video quality is 720p, which is neither modern nor outdated. However, its useable but unimpressive images are easier to stomach when the price of admission and use is so affordable. The Link-EVO brings the convenience of wireless networking to even the most frugal game camera shopper.
- The most affordable wireless game camera to own and to operate
- An optional rechargeable lithium-ion battery exists
- Offers 4G speeds
- Has one of the fastest (.3 seconds) trigger speeds in the market segment
- FREE data plan of up to 100 pics per month
- Can not transmitvideo (despite 4G speeds)
- Detection circuit is a bit oversensitive
Spypoint Tiny W3
- 2.4 inch viewer
- 8 Megapixels
- 38 Invisible Black LEDS
Spypoint’s Tiny W3 is one of the few strictly Wi-Fi trail cameras remaining on the market. With the advent of cellular cameras and the incredible speeds of 4G networks, the Wi-Fi camera seems to be a technology that missed its window – much like Betamax. Under the right circumstances though, the Tiny W3 may be all the wireless camera some users will ever need.
This camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. It shoots remarkably clear daytime photos, though the color palettes is somewhat flat compared to the newest and best wireless trail cameras. It also shoots HD video in daytime or at night. The 38 no-glow IR LEDs illuminate the full 60-foot range of the detection circuit. There is a 2.5-inch viewing screen on the camera. At nearly two seconds, trigger times are lackluster by modern standards, but recovery times of less than 10 seconds are impressive.
The W3 comes with a black box unit, which is the only way to remotely access the photos. It has a transfer range of 200 to 500 feet, with walls or trees leading to shorter ranges. Hunters may struggle to find a purpose for the black box, but a home or business owner should make good use of the technology. Far outpacing the typical Wi-Fi signal, one black box can be networked with multiple Tiny W3 units.
- Sub-10-second recovery times
- Impressive detection zone (up to 60 feet)
- Clear color photographs with little to no blurring during movement
- Can connect up to 10 Tiny W3 cameras on a single black box
- The cheapest wireless camera on this list for surveillance use
- Sends photos to a “black box” rather than a cell phone
- Substandard battery life
What is a Wireless Trail Camera?
A wireless trail camera is simply a game camera that sends pictures to your phone in one of two ways. They may utilize Wi-Fi, which is the same technology that allows you to surf the internet without plugging in an ethernet cable. Other types of wireless game cams use the same cellular networks that help our cell phones function.
Wireless game cameras can be convenient tools for monitoring the comings and goings on your property, but they are not without their issues. Ultimately, the type that will work best for you will depend as much or more on how you intend to use your camera as on your budget. The cheapest wireless camera available may outperform the most expensive one if it is better suited for the purposes of its user.
Because they utilize the same network of cellular towers that enable cell phones to work, cellular trail cameras can send photos over vast distances. It does not matter how inaccessible the camera is; if cellular service is available in its location, it can transmit images. This ability has potential benefits for both hunters and home owners, neither of whom normally place their expensive game cameras in easily accessible locations.
A game cam that sends pictures to your phone should instantly appeal to deer hunters. Whether you lease or own your hunting property, image retrieval can be a real hinderance. Using a cell trail camera eliminates the need to travel. As long as there is cell service in the camera’s location, you can receive your photos across any amount of distance.
The unlimited range of cellular camera traps can also appeal to homeowners who use their cameras for security and surveillance. It is always a wise decision to place your wireless trail cam in a location that makes it difficult to see, and therefore steal. Unfortunately for the user, this also makes the SD card difficult to retrieve. A cellular trail camera lets you view your images from anywhere, even if you are away on vacation or monitoring your vacation home.
One of the most attractive functions of a cellular trail camera for many users is its ability to instantly email a photo to its owner. So not only do you not have to travel to access your photos, but you do not have to wait to review them either. Property owners become instantly aware of anything that is occurring on their property. This function has obvious benefits for deer hunters, but it can be useful to homeowners as well.
The issue of traveling out to the wilderness to monitor game movement keeps most hunters from checking their cameras regularly. The more distant the camera is or the more difficult the terrain, the less often it can feasibly be accessed. By the time a hunter returns to examine the photos a wireless deer camera captures, the trails may have gone cold. Deer can and will alter their routes from bedding to foraging for any number of reasons, but a cellular deer camera makes it possible to track their movements in real time.
The instant notification that cellular camera traps makes possible is a huge benefit for the homeowner. If you can only access your camera occasionally, any trespassers it records may be long gone by the time you see the photos. A cellular camera trap can send pictures to your phone instantly, giving you the ability to notify the authorities while the offender is still on the property.
Of course, no technology is without its faults. One of the main detractions of cellular game cameras is the fact that they require cell service to function. Typically, that service costs approximately the same amount that you would pay to add a line to your current phone service. As opposed to game cameras without wireless functionality, wireless trail cams are open-ended commitments. A monthly service charge is an inevitable expense, though the data-only plans that they require are usually much cheaper than unlimited-data cell phone plans.
If you’ve tried to use your cell phone and discovered that you were in an area with poor service, you understand the limitations of cellular technology. Lack of service isn’t quite the problem it was years ago, and it is improving all the time. Still, some areas do not quite have the cellular signal that others do, which can be a bigger problem for hunters than for homeowners. Before purchasing their cameras, many cellular game camera manufacturers suggest checking for service first. Your location may require at least three bars to send pictures wirelessly.
3G vs. 4G
There are essentially two options when purchasing a cellular game camera: 3G or4G. The “G” in this case stands for generation, so a “3G” cellular device is third generation and “4G” is fourth generation. Both types use the same cellular networks, but a 4G device is up to 10 times faster than a third-generation one.
Other than the previously mentioned concerns, cellular trail cams tend to work flawlessly. However, there is an impending issue that potential buyers should consider. Fifth-generation cellular devices are already coming to market, and it likely won’t be long before they take over the industry. Even when that occurs, a 3G and 4G trail camera will continue to function. Estimates suggest that a 5G device will be around 10 times faster than 4G in real-world applications, meaning they should work instantaneously.
Wi-Fi Trail Camera
A Wi-Fi game camera is a completely different concept than a cellular trail cam. These cameras use the same Wi-Fi signal as a computer or cell phone uses to transmit data via radio signal on a wireless local area network. If you have used Wi-Fi in the past, you will understand that it works differently than cellular technology.
Devices that use Wi-Fi may operate on one of several different wavelengths, which can affect their usability in certain situations. Just like cellular game cameras, Wi-Fi trail cameras have their pros and cons.
No Service Charges
One of the biggest advantages a Wi-Fi game camera has over a cellular one is that it has no service charge. Their networks are local and password-protected, meaning the functionality is reserved for the owners alone. The only investment they require is the original purchase cost, whereas a cellular game camera comes with a monthly service charge. These charges are comparable to the cost of keeping an extra cell phone, complete with unlimited data.
A Wi-Fi trail cam is inexpensive to operate, but that affordability comes at the cost of convenience. Compared with a cellular game cam signal, game camera Wi-Fi has extremely limited range. Even the best Wi-Fi trail camera will have a range of only perhaps 20 meters(or 66 feet). This limitation prevents these cameras from being able to transmit data directly to a cell phone or computer from the types of vast distances at which cellular game cameras operate.
Their 20-meter range is also only true for line-of-sight applications. Walls or trees will further reduce the range. But a Wi-Fi camera can still transmit images to you remotely if you install it within range of a network. In that case it can send data straight to your email address.
Lower Battery Life
Speaking in the most general of terms, the batteries of a Wi-Fi trail camera will likely have a shorter lifespan than any other type of game camera. The reason for their short battery life is that these cameras maintain a constant connection to the local network. The resulting draw drains batteries twice as fast as comparable non-wireless game cameras, or even faster. Even the best cellular trail camera will get similarly low battery life under constant use, but they tend to outlast Wi-Fi cameras under normal circumstances.
Which Is Best?
Having a trail camera that sends pictures to your phone is a great solution for many people, but one of the two types will inevitably be more suitable for a particular user than the other. In general, cellular game cams work best for hunters and those that use Wi-Fi are best for home-surveillance applications. Let’s examine the reasons why.
Who Needs Wi-Fi Trail Cameras?
The reason that a Wi-Fi camera is the best option for a homeowner has everything to do with its limited range. Most of the time, users of these Wi-Fi cameras place them in high, inaccessible locations, such as under the eaves of a structure. Swapping SD cards at these heights normally requires a ladder, but not with Wi-Fi functionality. Even on multiple-story buildings, Wi-Fi signals are usually strong enough to connect between a roof and a ground-level router or cell phone.
Of course, a cellular camera can also fill this role. Cell cameras also offer the flexibility of sending photos to your phone while you are away, and anyone who travels often may consider their unlimited range a benefit. But cellular service charges add up quickly, and anyone who does not need their functionality should ask themselves whether or not the added costs are necessary for their purposes.
Who Needs Cellular Game Cameras?
Simply put, cellular game cameras are the best option for those who need to access their photos remotely. The 20-meter limit on Wi-Fi connectivity is useless for most hunters and for those homeowners who want to protect their property while they are away. When distance is a factor, the best wireless game camera is undoubtedly a cellular game camera.
As is likely obvious by our selected cameras, the game cam wireless market is dominated by cellular technology. Wi-Fi outdoor cameras simply do not offer the same range of cell cameras. Their lack of operating costs— save for batteries—was once their chief advantage, but data-only cellular plans are getting cheaper by the year.
Finding a game cam that sends pictures to your phone is now simply a matter of reconciling your budget with your image quality desires. As the technology improves, these cameras will inevitably incorporate better and better sensors and offer faster triggers and shorter recovery times. Image quality, too, is likely to improve over time, even as prices continue to drop. The future is bright, and it is most definitely cellular.
Last update on 2019-03-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API