Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera review: Flexible surveillance

At a glance

Expert’s Rating


  • Highly customizable detection features
  • Supports local and cloud storage
  • Easy installation


  • Magnetic mount could leave camera vulnerable to theft
  • Bullet-style design not particularly attractive

Our Verdict

The Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera can be installed without making modification to your home, which should make it particularly attractive renters and anyone who doesn’t want the hassle of a wired installation. It allows a high degree of customization that lets every user tailor security monitoring to their needs, and it can be set up indoors or out.

Price When Reviewed


Best Prices Today: Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera (model TC85)


Renters don’t have the same ability to make modifications to their dwellings that homeowners do. That makes installing outdoor security cameras a tricky proposition. These devices typically require users to make permanent alterations like drilling holes in their home’s exterior walls for the camera wiring and mounts. TP-Link’s Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera mostly solves these issues by using battery power, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a magnetic mount that simplifies installation and operation, indoors or out.

The bullet-style camera is powered by a 10000mAh battery that promises up to 300 hours of continuous operation on a single full charge. While its magnetic base makes it easy enough to take down when it needs recharge, you can keep it continuously charged by connecting it to a Tapo A200 solar panel, sold separately. The camera has a weather rating of IP66, meaning it keeps out fine dust and is protected against jets of water such as from a garden hose. You’ll find everything you need to know about IP codes at the preceding link.

The Tapo TC85 has a 150-degree field of view and records video in 2K resolution. The daytime video I captured was tack-sharp and vibrant.

Setting up the camera is exceedingly easy. To pair the camera to the Tapo app, you press the plus sign in the upper right-hand corner and follow a series of prompts to connect to your Wi-Fi network. You then install the camera at your preferred location. If you’re installing it on a metallic surface, you simply attach the magnetic base directly to it and the camera to the base. For a non-magnetic surface, you’ll first need to install a small metal plate with the supplied screws, then attach the mount and camera to that. Once on its magnetic base, the camera is easy to reposition to your preferred viewing angle.

Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera

Michael Ansaldo/Foundry

The Tapo app offers several options for customizing how the camera monitors activity. You can enable AI detection for humans, pets, vehicles, and general motion. You can also set detection zones for each type of activity. For example, I was able to monitor my yard for human intruders while ignoring the squirrels and neighborhood cats that often use it as a pass-through. Similarly, you can set privacy zones to block out areas you don’t want the camera to view or monitor, such as your neighbor’s doors or windows.

This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best home security cameras.

Detected activity will automatically trigger a notification on your phone. While customizing your detection settings will significantly reduce the occurrence of false alerts, you can further manage the flow of notifications by scheduling when you want to receive them. The Tapo app offers two preset time blocks—day or night, essentially—plus an option to set a custom schedule.

The camera has a 150-degree field of view and records video in 2K (2560×1440) resolution. Not surprisingly, the daytime video I captured was tack-sharp and vibrant. The camera has two night-vision modes: IR-enabled black-and-white, and color using a starlight sensor. In either case, the video quality degrades slightly, but is more than adequate for making out faces and, in the case of color night vision, clothing and vehicle color details.

Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera

The Tapo app lets you customize your security monitoring to your needs.

Michael Ansaldo/Foundry

You can save recorded video locally or to the cloud. For the first option, you’ll need to load a microSD card into the camera during setup; it supports capacities up to 512GB, but you’ll need to supply one. Cloud recording requires a Tapo Care subscription, which is a sound investment even if you’re recording locally, as it gives you a backup in the event your camera is damaged or stolen by an intruder. TP-Link offers a free no-obligation 30-day free trial with the camera. After that, it costs $3.49 per month or $39.99 per year. Volume discounts are offered for up to 10 cameras. Tapo Care also enables rich notifications that include a snapshot of the triggering event and the ability to sort video based on one or more detection events.

Should you buy the Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera?

TP-Link offers a single camera for $119.99 and a three-pack for $299.99. You can also purchase the camera bundled with a solar panel to keep its battery continuously charged for $159.98. Any of those options are a great value considering the camera’s easy setup, long battery life, and video storage flexibility. If you’re a renter or just want to avoid the sticky logistics of mounting a wired camera, the Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera is a solid solution.


  • Product: Tapo Wire-Free Magnetic Security Camera
  • Manufacturer: TP-Link
  • Connection: Wi-Fi (2.4/5 GHz), smartphone with Android or IOS app
  • Resolution: 2K
  • Viewing angle: 150 degrees (diagonal)
  • Audio: Speaker and microphone
  • Motion sensor: Yes
  • Motion zones: Yes
  • Storage: Local, cloud storage, subscription required (free 30-day trial included)
  • Subscription cost per month: From $3.49/month
  • Price: $119.99 from TP-Link



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