The UniFi G4 Instant Camera was released recently and as is the norm with new Unifi products, it’s become incredibly popular. This has meant that’s it’s sold out as almost as quick as units come fresh from the factory.
I suspect a large part of that availability is due to (at the time of writing) a world wide computer chip shortage. Supply and demand dictates that chips are probably available for UniFi but for an inflated price. I guess they don’t want to pay inflated prices and are happy for usual supplies of chips to trickle through.
I finally managed to get a hold of one after a few weeks of waiting. So, what is the UniFi G4 instant really like and is it good enough for home and office use? Let’s find out, here’s my full review of the UniFi G4 Instant Camera.
It was definitely time to upgrade one of my office cameras. I’ve had the G3 instant now for a little over a year and it’s served me and my security needs well. I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and buy a G4 instant so I could upgrade my cameras and write a review for my blog.
I’m hoping for some big, noticeable improvements over the previous model because there is quite the jump in price. So, let’s get into the review and find out
Unifi G4 Instant Review
Before we get into my first impressions, I just want to comment on the customer service and delivery. In a word, fantastic. I did have an issue with the parcel being delivered to a neighbor and the delivery service not leaving a card, I contacted UniFi and there were super helpful in helping me track the parcel down.
As everyone knows, first impressions are important. So, let’s get into that.
I do firmly believe first impressions are incredibly important. I almost instantly know if I’m going to like something in those first few seconds of seeing it in the flesh and the G4 didn’t disappoint,
The unboxing experience is one of the review measures I use when coming up with my review score. The unboxing experience of this is brilliant. I love that the packing is uniform across the entire product range, consistency is key and UniFi have hit the nail on the head with the branding.
Another thing I like to check is the quality of the packaging, it can’t be an afterthought in my opinion. It needs to look good but at the same time be made of good quality materials. Good quality packaging helps keep the camera safe whilst in the back of delivery trucks etc.
The UniFi G4 Instant Camera has some really strong packaging and I’m certain that even if it wasn’t wrapped in bubble wrap and handled incorrectly, it’d arrive at the delivery destination in one piece.
Overall my first impressions have me excited to get it powered up and paired with the UniFi protect software to see what it’s capable of.
Single Use Plastic
As the world becomes more and more aware of the damage single use plastic can do, it’s good to hold manufacturers accountable for unnecessary plastic usage. The box comes wrapped in shrink wrap and then there’s a tiny bit of plastic covering the lens.
I guess an immediate improvement would be to add a security sticker to the box edges instead of the shrink wrap. They could also change the lens protector for a paper one.
It’s not the worst amount of plastic I’ve seen in a product, a few changes, which wouldn’t be too difficult to incorporate could see it free of all single use plastic.
The G3 instant is around £29 / $29 the G4 Instant is almost $100, so it’s got to have a few upgrades or new features to make it worth while. At $100, I was almost inclined to just buy another G3 Flex and hard wire it. But, I decided to get the G4 so I could atleast get a review out of it.
So what’s new? Here’s a few things that are upgraded or new features:
- Higher Resolution
- Faster Processor
- Improved IR Light
- Narrower View Field
- LED Status Colours
- IPX5 Rating
I’m particularly interested in the IPX5 rating, which I’ll cover in greater detail further down the review. Before that though, I’ll detail my thoughts on the build quality and talk more about the features of the G4 instant.
I’ve got a bunch of Ubiquiti UniFi gear in the office at home so I have a decent understanding of what their usual build quality is like. It’s normally really good and their products are made to last. So, how is the build quality of the G4 instant?
When I first unboxed the camera and picked it up, I remarked at how solid it feels, it also feels a bit heavier than it’s sibling. And heavier it as, at 125g.
At the front of the camera, not much has changed. It’s under neath where things start to look a little different. To make things weather resistant, they’ve included flap to stop water ingress where the USB-C power cable connects to the camera. It’s a niffty design and it still allows the camera to sit flush on a surface once plugged in.
It’s got that typically strong Ubiquiti build quality and it’s certainly made to last. I’m really impressed at how tough this small form factor camera is. I tried to squeeze the unit to see if it offered up some flex in the main body of the unit, but it held up fine.
Polycarbonate plastic is used in the construction of the entire unit. This type of plastic is extremely sturdy and durable, it’s not going to break easily. I wanted to test how strong it is. Don’t try this at home, but I took the G4 Instant and dropped it from around 1.5 meters, onto a wooden floor.
As it hit the wooden floor, it made a fairly horrible crunching noise and I suspected the worse. It didn’t leave any obvious damage to the camera, but had I broken the internals of it? I connected the power cable and opened up the Unifi Protect App.
The good news is, I didn’t do any damage as Protect was able to discover the camera and within a few short moments it was connected and ready to record.
Onto my scratch test. I ran a sharp knife along the edge of the plastic, it did leave a slight cut mark but nothing that would cause the workings of the camera to suffer from any performance degradation. So whilst it’s strong, the body of the unit may scratch easily.
Here’s what we’ve all been waiting for. How does the video performance compare to the G3? Well for starters the G4 records in 2K at 30fps, it isn’t quite twice the resolution but it’s definitley helped improve the image by adding a bit more clarity. Whilst straight lines are more focused and night vision less pixelated.
The viewing angle isn’t as wide as I’d have liked but it does still allow you to cover and record footage of a fairly broad area.
The video quality is sharp, it really comes into it’s own at night though. Once the sun goes and the black night sky arrives, the G4 darks look black and true to colour, while the G3 darks look slightly grey. There is also definitley a better dynamic colour range on the G4.
People are easy to identify and when looking directly at the camera from 15 meters away at night I’m easily able to identify facial features. Having said that though, complex images at night will cause a fair few artifacts to show up in your video recordings.
This problem is compounded further with moving objects such as cars with bright headlights and people walking in front of foliage that’s moving in the wind. To get around this, you can reduce the frame rate to suit your individual surroundings, a clearer image is better than buttery smooth playback when trying to identity potential suspects.
This camera wouldn’t be the correct choice for business critical infrastructure. For that, you’ll want to choose something like the G4 Pro. That’d be perfect for number plate recognition, even at night with complex scenery.
Unifi G4 Instant Smart Detection
Smart detection wasn’t immediately available when this camera was launched via early access. It was a few months later that it was made available which was a bit of a nerve racking waiting game, as if it missed this critical feature, it wouldn’t have been worth the price.
The idea of the G4 line of cameras is to add the additional processing power and RAM to perform the computations required for the AI to work it’s magic on detecting faces, cars, animals etc. It does work well and the UI on the UniFi Protect app is well thought out.
The G4 Instant camera is rated IPX5. This means it’s perfectly suitable for outdoor use. Do keep in mind that it’s not PoE and that it requires WiFi. The camera is powered by a USB-C power adapter, which for some strange reason is not outdoor rated. Which, is a little disappointing to be completely honest.
You’ll need to buy a 3rd party weather proof power adapter if you want to have most of the cable exposed to the elements.
IPX5 basically means it can resist a consistent low pressure spray of water, aka rain! Basically, you can set this camera up outside exposed completely to rain and it’ll be fine. It’s also rated for freezing temperatures. So those of you who live in colder climates should also be able to make use of this little camera.
I really like the design of the camera, if there’s one thing to be said about Ubiquiti, they make some great looking cameras. It’s sleek, clean and really inoffensive. A cameras primary objective is to record video, with design and styling at the bottom of the agenda. It’s great to see a terrific looking camera on the market.
Are UniFi Cameras Worth It
UniFi cameras are most definatley worth it in my opinion. The UniFi ecosystem is one that you become invested in. The build quality and video performance of their line up of cameras is brilliant. You can add more and more cameras to your set up and it’s super simple for you to do so.
UniFi G3 Instant vs G4 Instant
Here’s an ‘at a glance’ table showing you the key differences between the UniFi G3 and G4 Instant cameras. They’re similar in some ways but in other metrics the G4 is a definitive upgrade.
|Unifi G3 Instant
|UniFi G4 Instant
Where To Buy
Most of the time you’ll probably find it’s out of stock on the official UniFi store. But, I have seen it for sale on Ebay and occasionally Amazon. It’ll set you back around $100 / £100. Click the button below to check if the G4 is available from Amazon.
It’s also available from the official UniFi store but stock levels aren’t guaranteed.
Summary & Verdict
I love the G4 instant. It’s got way better video quality during the day compared to the G3. It comes into it’s own when recording at a distance. It’s just way less pixelated.
For the price it’s younger brother G3 is hard to beat. At $100, though the G4 may not seem worth it, but I think it is. I understand that component parts are a little more expensive now than they were a few years ago.
I also understand that the feature set, whilst isn’t massively improved, is still quite large. The smart detection and weatherproofing alone, at least in my opinion make this camera worth the asking price and I’m pleased I made the upgrade.
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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 G4 Instant Camera used to write our review was paid for by us.