Here’s my Unifi G3 Instant Camera Review. Finally! I’ve been trying to get my hands on the G3 instant for absolutely ages. Every time I’ve visited the Ubiquiti online store to order one, it’s been marked as sold out. It’s been like that for months and I eventually started to think they actually had zero intentions of re-stocking them at all. It just turns out it’s been really really popular and for good reason.
I managed to purchase one a couple of days ago and if you want one too, you have to be quick. Stock is also limited to 1 camera per customer, which is a shame because I could do with adding a couple of these cameras to my security camera set up at the office.
This camera is less than $30 / £25, it’s full 1080p and records at 30fps. So what’s the catch? The price and feature list look great on paper but how does the real world performance compare to other cheap IP cameras? Well, I’m here to find out. Let’s dive straight into the review with my first impressions.
UniFi G3 Instant Camera Review
Shipping was really fast. The camera arrived a couple of days after I ordered it. It must have come from overseas, as I’m not sure they make them in the UK. It was well packaged and didn’t suffer any transit damage, which is a good start. Opening up the outer packaging I was greeted with a fantastic, super clean and stylish looking white G3 Instant product box.
The white box matched with the high quality imagery and branding looks sublime. I’m a sucker for great packaging and the marketing team have done a great job with the G3’s overall branding.
Unboxing the camera reminded me of how Apple put together their product boxes. The entire unboxing experience was a delight and left me feeling like I’ve made the right choice. It looks and feels like a really premium product, let’s just hope the proof is in the pudding.
Overall then, my first impressions are good. I really like the small form factor, you get given a good bunch of included accessories and the set-up instructions are clear. Often with product instruction booklets they are translated back and forth between multiple different languages and sometimes this results in some strange sentences but not with the G3. The documentation was perfectly structured and easy to read.
Arguably one of the most important review measures in a CCTV camera. Video performance needs to be good and at first I was a little worried about how good the G3 Instant video would be, particularly at the price point it’s offered at. But, I then realised my current set-up of a bunch of G3 Flex Cameras are currently recording at 1080p 25fps. The G3 Instant records at 1080p 30fps, so there should be, on paper at least, a bit of improvement in terms of smoothness.
The Unifi G3 Instant has video quality that you would expect from a WiFi camera in the budget category. I’ve seen comparisons with the Unifi Micro, but the Micro has much cleaner video and audio. It’s also got far superior dynamic range and colour representation. Because the Micro has those features it’s firmly in the $200 IP Camera range.
Remember the G3 is only $30 and for the price the video quality is perfectly fine. You get enough detail in the image to identify people and objects easily. Night-time recording is also brilliant; it captures a good amount of detail and the Infrared LED’s are responsive when turning on / off the lights. It’s certainly perfect for the home office or small business office use.
One thing the G3 has that the Micro doesn’t is a 133-degree viewing angle. The lens is incredibly wide-angled and captures pretty much the entire room. Given it’s designed specifically for indoor use, this makes it a better buy for situations where capturing more of the room is of greater significance than slightly better image quality.
It also supports streaming via RTSP, it’ll output a RTSP (h264 mpeg4) stream. You just need to enable it in the Unifi Protect software and you can then use the stream link to record the camera to a different NVR. I make use of the RTSP stream link to back-up all of my camera recordings. One disadvantage of the Unifi Protect system is that there isn’t a native way to back-up offsite or to the cloud, the RTSP stream option is a good work around for that purpose.
Setting the camera up couldn’t have been simpler. However, please bear in mind that the camera is shipped with a 2 pin european power adapter. So you’ll need to use either a convertor or a POE to USB adapter, which isn’t included in the box. The best and easiest way to get started is to download the UniFi Protect mobile app. The app will connect the G3 instant via Bluetooth or Wifi. I went the Wifi route but I imagine either is fine.
The setup was a lot easier than a similar quality camera, last year I checked out the Hiemlife HMD2 Camera which was a bit more difficult to get started.
UniFi G3 Instant Camera Review Build Quality
This is another area where I was truly blown away. It’s simply sublime. Unlike the G3 Flex the Instant is solely designed for indoor use, there isn’t any weatherproofing at all, so don’t use it outdoors.
The main difference between this and the Flex is that it doesn’t transmit data over POE (power-over-ethernet), which is a bit of a shame. I guess this isn’t a design feature though, so I can’t be annoyed at something for not having a feature it was never designed to have. It’s a hard-wired data connection only, it’s Wifi only. Now I’m not sure if this is a hardware limitation or a firmware one, only time will tell if Ubiquiti make Ethernet connectivity an option in future updates – and if they do, I’ll come straight back to this review and increase the points I give it.
If it’s not POE, how is it powered then? Well, it can be powered via POE, it just can’t transmit the data. So there are two options available in terms of power. It can either be used with a single USB-C power cable or with a POE to USB-C adapter.
A great addition to the included USB-C cable is that it features a right-angle connector at the camera end. This ensure it fits snugly into a cable channel so that the G3 Instant can sit flush on a table-top, bookshelf etc with no fear of it falling over from a rubbish position cable path.
I really like that the cable connection is hidden underneath the camera. Not just for functional reasons but aesthetically too. It looks so much better and helps keep the styling inline with the overall sleek, compact look they’re going for.
The camera also comes with a wall-mount plate that you attach via screws or double-sided sticky pads. Both options are included in the box. But, I’d say the best option, if you want to be able to re-position the camera occasionally is to get a hold of some of those velcro command strips. They’re designed for hanging pictures but would be perfect for the G3.
When I’m checking out new tech on the blog I often like to perform some form of build quality test. And, today is no different. I want to really see how well built it is. But, before I do, here’s a word of caution. Don’t try this with your devices, I won’t be held responsible for any breakages.
What did I do to test my camera then? I dropped it from 2 meters. Yep, I did. Admittedly it was onto a carpeted surface but it didn’t suffer any damage at all. I also wanted to test how strong the plastic that’s used in the construction is. I grabbed hold of a sharp letter opener and tried to scratch the white surface. It’s really strong and by scratching quite firmly I wasn’t able to leave any lasting damage, which just goes to show that this camera is really well made.
UniFi Protect G3 Instant Camera At A Glance Features
- 1080p @ 30 FPS
- Day or night recording
- Infrared LED’s
- Dual-band Wifi (2.4 or 5ghz)
- 133˚ Wide angle lens
- Built-in microphone and speaker
- Small, compact form factor
The only negative really is that the speaker for the two way talk is a bit quiet, it can be quite hard to hear clearly unless you are close to the camera. There is also some audio clarity issues when listening via the Unifi Protect App, those same issues aren’t there on the actual camera end though. I guess this is just an app problem and will be fixed in future software updates.
What’s In The Box?
The Unifi G3 Instant comes with nearly everything you need to get started straight away. The only thing missing for UK customers is a UK standard plug. It comes with a European two pin. But, that’s not really any trouble as most of us will probably have a USB plug to hand. I did anyway.
It comes shipped with the following:
- G3 Instant Camera
- USB-C to USB-A Power Cable
- 2 Pin Power Plug
- Mounting Plate
- Sticky Pad
- Wall Plugs
- Instruction Manual
As you can see from the images below, this is how your camera will arrive should you order one. I mentioned above it’s extremely well packaged. As they say, a photo can speak 1000 words.
How To Buy
You’ll only (at the time of writing our review) find it available to buy on the Official Ubiquiti store but I do imagine it’ll make it’s way onto Amazon or Ebay at some point once they start mass production. Other cameras from the range are available via Amazon though, you can check those out using our affiliate link here.
Summary and Verdict
It’s very nearly perfect. And even then I’m being extremely picky. The shaky audio experience and lack of actual ethernet connection are really the only negatives I can think of. Having said that though, it was never designed with ethernet connectivity in mind, so yes, I am being picky!
If you’ve got a need for an indoor camera where direct ethernet connection is unsuitable the G3 Instant is, in my opinion hard to beat. You just need access to power and be in range of Wifi, if your wireless network connection range is a problem, Ubiquiti also offer access points with extended range.
The only real problem I can see with the G3 instant is that I think it’s under priced, so get in there quick before they put the price up to reflect just how good this little camera is. A price point of £50 is probably likely in the near future and at £50, they’d continue to sell lots and lots.
For many people, the pricing at $30 / £25 will make this an impulse buy. If you’re looking for a WiFi camera to keep an eye on the dogs while you’re out this is the perfect choice. The strong wifi connectivity and super simple set-up is also makes this camera really attractive. If you don’t plan on having it active all the time, again it’s the perfect camera.
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CodeWithMike is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com
The Unifi G3 Instant Camera used to write our review was paid for by us.