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.
Wireless trail cameras, also known as a cellular trail cameras, are hunting cameras that uses a cellular network to transmit photos and HD video to a viewing device, so you have to consider different data plans when picking your camera.
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.
Best Wireless Trail Camera Reviews
Let’s examine what makes a wireless came camera a good choice for some, then we’ll point out some of their possible detraction so you can find the best wireless trail camera. Keep in mind that wireless trail cameras will have the same key features as other trail cameras. Features such as flash range, camera settings, HD video, and trigger speed are all important as well.
1. The Winner
CreativeXP LTE 4G Cellular
- Our Pick: The best wireless trail camera option is the CreativeXP LTE 4G Cellular Trail Camera, which features Full-HD night vision and takes incredibly crisp photos and videos at all hours of the day or night. I landed on this camera after testing loads of products and making the mistake of buying a cheaper version with less specs. I won’t be making that mistake again.
- Affordable Data Plans: CreativeXP’s mission is to make wireless game cameras affordable for anyone to use. With this camera, you receive a free SimHero Card, which uses AT&T cell towers and comes with 500 free photos and a 32GB SD card. You can also purchase a data plan that gives you 1,500 photos for just $8.
- Easy to Set Up and Use: With a motion-activated sensor and multiple video and photo settings, this wireless camera will fulfill your surveillance needs without hassle or headache. Instructions on setting up your device are easy to follow, and if you need help, the family-owned company phone number can connect you with a customer service rep.
- Sharp Images with No Wait: This camera’s Full-HD night vision feature has a 65-foot range that can deliver videos at 1080P and images at 12MP throughout the darkest hours. These photos are sent instantly to your phone or email using the Wi-Fi Cellular network.
- Lifetime Warranty: This camera is built to last through water and snow and can be hooked up to a compatible CreativeXP solar panel for continuous energy. But if, for whatever reason, you’re unhappy with your product, it’s covered under a lifetime warranty.
2. The Runner Up
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 HD 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 has an optimal flash 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
3. Best Budget Option
- Our Pick: The best wireless trail camera option for your budget is the Campark T80 Trail Camera, which features black and white night vision up to 65 feet away and has a 1269P video image resolution. With the ability to review and adjust the camera angle with your favorite device, this product makes your life as convenient as possible.
- Who is it for: Designed for the modern hunter or game tracker, this 20 MP camera will give you clear, incredible shots of the wildlife that wanders past. This model has all the features the tech-savvy outdoor enthusiast needs.
- Wireless: With built-in WiFi and 4G cellular options and a dedicated app, you can ensure you have the best angle of your location on your phone. It also means that you can view your photos and videos easily from almost anywhere! 1296-pixel video quality is empowered with super clear sound recording, video starts recording every time motion from wild game is detected.
- Durable: The durable, IP66 waterproof case protects your hunting camera from all sorts of natural blunders, like rain and dust damage. It can also put up with tough environments like intense deserts or tropical rainforests and your footage safely housed in its weatherproof casing. Providing you dependable reliability and longevity throughout the seasons.
- Trigger: With a 65-foot trigger distance, you’re sure to capture even distant shots of wildlife in the area you’re monitoring. IR flash 36 pc 850nm infrared LEDs also give this camera black and white night vision images up to 65 ft away. You’ll never miss a shot.
- Included in the box is the trail camera, remote control, USB cable, user manual, threaded tripod, 3 screws, and the mounting belt.
- 20 Megapixel Image Quality
- 1296 Pixel Video Resolution
- Clear sound, video, and image capturing
- Nightvision (black and white) up to 65 ft (20 m)
- Helps monitor wildlife, even while you’re away
- Added home security
- Keep tabs on your farm animals
- Hunting: helps you track animals movement and behaviors.
- Photo Resolution: 20MP, 16MP, 12MP, 8MP, 5MP
- Video Resolution: 1296P(1728x1296,30fps),1080P(1920x1080,30fps)
- Night Vision up to: 65ft (20m)
- IR Flash: 36pcs infrared LEDs (850nm)
- Screen: 2.3" color TFT LCD
- USB Connection: Mini USB 2.0
- Video Length: 10-60seconds / 1-3 minutes
- Waterproof rating: IP66
- Use an SD card class 10 up to 32GB for additional storage (NOT INCLUDED)
- Maximum battery life is best achieved with 8 1.5V AA(LR6) Alkaline Batteries (NOT INCLUDED)
The Campark T80 Trail Camera is a good purchase because of its:
- Crisp resolution (20MP image quality and up to 1296-pixel video quality)
- Built-in WiFi and APP functions that allow you to check images from the camera from your phone and even adjust the camera angle
- Waterproof case built to survive in extreme weather environments
- Advanced night vision with 36pc 850nm infrared LEDs with a range up to 65 feet
4. Good Value
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 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 flash 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.
5. Fast Trigger
Spypoint’s Link-EVO is a 12-megapixel wireless 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 usable 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.
Wireless Trail Camera Comparison Chart
|Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam||Trophy Cam HD Wireless||0.6 second||8MP||60 feet||4.5|
|Covert Special Ops Code Black 3G||3G Cellular||1.2 seconds||3-5-8 MP`||60+ feet||4.2|
|Little Acorn||N/A||1.1 seconds||1.3MP, 5MP, 12MP||N/A||4.5|
|HCO Uway GSM||GSM Wireless||N/A||N/A||50 feet||4|
|Moultrie PANORAMIC 150||PANORAMIC||1 second||8MP||45 feet||4|
|BolyGuard/ScoutGuard||GPRS/GSM Wireless||1.2 seconds||8MP||60 feet||3.7|
|HCO SG580MB Blackout||IR Wireless||N/A||8MP||10-15 feet||3.6|
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, wireless 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 trail cameras, the wireless game camera 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.