The Smart Cam 360° is the first surveillance camera from Realme. Like the brand's smartphones, which are obviously the historical activity, it relies above all on an affordable price to seduce.
At the end of 2020, Realme told us about its interest in AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of Things). It was then materialized by a first surveillance camera: the Smart Cam 360°. Since then, the cell phone specialist has added a first TechLife robot vacuum cleaner and its camera has arrived at most retailers. An argument that is already sufficient for us to be interested in it, but it could also be a good value for money. For less than $40, it offers features that are common today, but interesting: 1080p recording, night vision, motorization, human form detection ... Apart from the Mi Home Security Camera 360 ° Xiaomi, few models can boast of doing so much in its price range.
Ergonomics and installation
The Smart Cam 360° takes the form of a not quite cylindrical turret. It measures 115 mm high and is mostly dressed in white matte plastic. A small circular base allows it to rotate horizontally, while the optical block is integrated into a sphere that can be tilted up and down. The whole thing is motorized to adjust the angle of view remotely if needed. The tracking of movements is also proposed on the two axes: horizontal and vertical, thus.
The noise of the motor is barely perceptible and, in order not to interfere with the rotation of the camera, the power cable is plugged under the base. A microUSB port is provided, as well as a small recess that allows it to pass without unbalancing the camera. The Reset button is also under the base, but Realme preferred to take advantage of the tiltable head to hide the microSD port. Simply lift it up to insert a memory card or remove it. It should be noted in passing that the camera head is automatically lowered to hide the lens when it is disabled, thus preventing any image capture.
Realme supplies the 360° Smart Cam with a power cable, an AC adapter and a wall mounting kit. The camera can indeed be placed on a piece of furniture, but also fixed to the wall or ceiling. The support is then screwed to the support and it is then sufficient to fit the camera on it. Since the camera fits into the base, the image is obviously upside down when the camera is fixed to the ceiling, but it is possible to turn it around in the application.
Connecting the camera via wifi - only 2.4 GHz is supported and Realme has not provided an Ethernet port - unfortunately caused us some problems during our test, so we had to restart the procedure several times. It's a pity, because it's very simple. The app automatically finds the device when it's paired, and all you have to do is enter the network credentials to get it connected. The camera also disconnected once after setup, but we strangely didn't encounter any connection issues afterwards.
The Smart Cam 360° is controlled from the Realme Link application. If we had some problems during the pairing, the app itself is clear and rather simple to use. The home page groups the different devices that have been paired in thumbnails with, for the camera, a shortcut to activate/deactivate it.
On the other hand, it is necessary to go through the livepage to access the available settings, but these have been divided into sub-menus with sufficiently evocative names so that you don't have to search too long to find the ones you want.
Realme's application allows you to set time slots to automatically activate/deactivate the camera and notifications, to activate or not the audio detection and, of course, the motion detection. Some options are also offered with the latter, namely human recognition and three levels of sensitivity. It is also possible to activate motion tracking.
The camera then automatically rotates and tilts to keep anyone who passes in front of the camera in its field of vision. The system is quite responsive, but far from infallible: it is enough to pass quickly in front of the camera for it to abandon the pursuit.
It should be noted that it is also possible to control the camera manually from the live feed and that we have encountered little latency when the connection is good, both for the taking into account of the commands and for the display of the live feed. The event history is also available under the live feed. The duration of recordings varies according to the detection of movements, but it is possible to ask him to film continuously. A zoom is proposed if needed, on the recordings as on the live.
Realme also allows you to create scenarios involving one or more devices. They can be triggered manually by maps or, more interestingly for the 360° Smart Cam, according to the geographical position of the user. It is thus possible to create a scenario so that the camera is automatically activated when you leave the house, and another so that it turns off when you return. Nothing really new, however.
Most manufacturers offer similar solutions, and it is not uncommon to find more settings and features such as pet recognition, notifications with photo or even video preview, or even a cloud offer to store recordings in a safe place. As convenient as it is, the memory card will go with the camera if a thief gets hold of it, and you won't have any images to try to identify him or her.
By default, the Smart Cam 360° produces 1920 x 1080 px (HD) recordings, but the application allows you to reduce the definition to 640 x 360 px (SD) to store more images on the memory card. Realme offers with this an infrared vision for the night and allows to activate a distortion correction. The settings are quite basic, while others offer HDR modes or color night vision - not to be confused with the color vision announced by Realme for low light.
To evaluate the image quality delivered by Realme's camera, we made recordings of our test scene and extracted images that we compared with others obtained in the same way from the Ezviz C6N. It is also sold for less than 40$ and offers similar.
The Smart Cam 360° produces images of satisfactory quality, without surpassing its rival. The contrast is more advanced in it. The dark areas appear blocked and the brightest elements are blended with the white background. The level of detail is also less good. By pushing the accentuation of the contours, the Smart Cam 360° ends up merging the finest elements. This is particularly visible on the colored dots above the horseshoe: you can only see lines, while the dots remain visible with the Ezviz camera. We can obviously hope to identify an intruder on the images of the Smart Cam 360°, but it will be necessary to avoid the windows in the frame and that the intruder in question comes close enough.
By comparing the images obtained in infrared vision, those of the Realme camera appear sharper. However, the contrast is too high, again, and leads to the loss of information in the dark areas as in the clear. In case of intrusion, it may be more difficult to distinguish certain facial features of the perpetrator depending on his skin tone and hair on the images of the 360° Smart Cam than on those of the C6N, which manages the brightness much better. We were able to verify this with our face recognition test.
The Realme camera did not allow us to identify someone beyond 2 m, while we evaluated this distance at 2.90 m for the camera Ezviz. The Smart Cam 360° also offers a motion detection a little less effective. Activities are detected from about 6 m, and even a little less when human recognition is activated, while the C6N manages to detect movements at nearly 8 m. The activation of the infrared vision is also slow in both cases: it is necessary to wait 5 to 6 s.
Realme did not consider it necessary to integrate a siren into its camera, but it does have a microphone and a speaker to record the voices of possible intruders and allow you to react, or simply to talk to people in the home. However, the microphone lacks sensitivity, so we had to get about 20 centimeters away from the camera to be heard easily from the other side. So we won't have to rely too much on the 360° Smart Cam to glean audio cues from the recordings. The speaker is a little better with a sufficiently clear and powerful sound, but a poor quality connection can quickly disrupt the exchanges.
If not innovative, the Smart Cam 360° from Realme has the merit of keeping its promises. It's a small camera that's easy to install and configure, and both the detection and tracking of movements work relatively well. The image quality is also far from being bad. Only the audio part really leaves something to be desired, if we forget the lack of options. We would have liked at least to be able to store the recordings in the cloud in order to keep the access if the camera was stolen during an intrusion.