The Top Cellular Trail Cameras of 2023

The Top Cellular Trail Cameras of 2023

By Ryan Sparks, Associate Editor

Cellular Trailcam Buyer’s Guide

I bought my first set of trail cameras over 20 years ago. They were expensive, bulky, had terrible battery life, and took grainy photos. Comparing those cameras to the ones I use today is crazy. Arguably no hunting technology has improved as much over the last five years as trail cameras, and a big part of that improvement has been the development of cellular trail cameras.

Cellular trail cameras send photos and videos to your smartphone or email, allowing nearly real-time access to scouting information and eliminating the disturbance caused by having to manually check cameras. By studying photos and videos, hunters can get a good idea of what animals are on the landscape and better determine the location of game, including patterning specific animals as they move between bedding and feeding areas. Additionally, cellular trail cameras are incredible tools for monitoring remote properties and keeping an eye on food plots.  

Initially, cellular trail cameras were prohibitively expensive, but now numerous models are available for under $150. I’ve been running a fleet of cellular trail cameras for years and have learned a few things along the way. Below is a buyer’s guide containing everything you need to know about cellular trail cameras, as well as Safari Magazine‘s 2023 cellular trail camera test.

You don’t have to be a technology expert to set up a cellular trail camera.

The Advantages of Cellular Trail Cameras

Cellular networks are as extensive as ever, and it’s rare that an area I’m hunting doesn’t have at least a bar of service. Many cellular cameras also come preinstalled with both AT&T and Verizon SIM cards and will automatically connect to the strongest network. Other models are available that will connect to global cellular networks so you can keep an eye on the entrance to your whitetail property in Iowa or a waterhole in South Africa. The advantages of cellular trail cameras are numerous, and the only reason I wouldn’t use a cellular camera is if the area I’m hunting doesn’t have cell service.  

The first advantage of cellular cameras is that you always have the most up to date information — an animal walks in front of your camera, the camera takes a photo, and minutes later you can view the photo. Some cameras even offer live streaming, where you can see what is in front of your cameras in real time. This is a huge advantage over traditional cameras where you have to go to the camera and manually check an SD card. With a traditional camera I would be lucky to know what happened yesterday. With a cellular camera, I know what happened 10 minutes ago.

The second advantage of cell cameras is that they are less intrusive. While testing for this article, I had some cameras in the field for over 300 days and never visited them. Those cameras took well over 10,000 photos without a single visit, which kept my scent and presence out of the woods.

The final advantage of cell cameras is they vastly expand the area a hunter can effectively scout. You will disturb the area less, and you won’t have to travel there to check them. You can run a larger fleet of cameras and have them in multiple states or countries.

Image Quality

The most widespread misconception about trail camera image quality is that more megapixels means better image quality. In reality, nearly every camera on the market shoots at around 3-5 megapixels and then uses software to interpolate the images. Simply put, interpolation adds false megapixels to a photo by splitting real megapixels into multiple simulated pixels thus creating a higher, but deceptive, resolution. Even more simply put, interpolation jacks up megapixel ratings for promotional purposes. Just because one camera claims more megapixels, it doesn’t mean it’s better than another.

Additionally, when a cellular camera takes a photo, it writes that information to the SD card and then compresses the image before it sends it to you. Different companies use different software to compress their images resulting in a wide variance in photo quality from one company to another. The only thing that matters is the quality of the images you see on your phone, and the only real way to determine this is to evaluate them yourself (which is exactly what we have done for you below). 

Types of Flash

When buying any trail camera, you should consider the type of flash used in the camera. There are three types of common flashes: red glow infrared, low glow infrared, and no glow (sometimes called black) infrared.

Just like the name implies, red glow infrared uses infrared light for nighttime photos. When triggered, they emit red infrared light that results in black-and-white photos. Red glow cameras take the brightest, clearest night photos because more infrared light is emitted. They also generally have the greatest nighttime range. Some hunters believe this red light spooks game while others do not. It likely depends on what animals you are targeting, the location of the camera and the individual animal.

Low glow infrared is similar to red glow, but the red light emitted is barely visible to the human eye. Low glow cameras are a good compromise between range and stealth. Many hunters use low glow cameras for both wildlife monitoring and security.

Finally, no glow cameras use an infrared flash with filters that make it invisible to the human eye. These are best for monitoring property entrances or for hunters who want the least intrusive flash available. In the past, no glow cameras had a limited range, but in our testing, we found several models that had excellent night ranges.

The Cuddeback Link system allows you to have up to 24 cameras on a single data plan. The setup is more complicated, but cost savings are significant.

Battery Life

Battery life is an incredibly important aspect to consider when buying a trail camera because frequent trips to change batteries defeats the purpose of a cellular camera. Also, when running multiple cameras, the cost of batteries can add up quickly. After 20 years of running trail cameras, I’ve tried everything when it comes to batteries. Here are your options and some suggestions.

Alkaline batteries are the cheapest option for replaceable batteries but won’t last as long as lithium batteries and the cold weather reduces their lifespan. Lithium batteries are much longer-lasting but are so expensive they don’t make fiscal sense unless you are only running just one or two cameras for a few months a year.

Another option are rechargeable AA batteries or lithium power packs. In terms of battery life, these last somewhere between alkaline and lithium AA batteries. Compared to the cost of single-use lithium batteries, they will pay for themselves after a few charges. Still, there are better options from both a cost and battery life perspective.

External 12v battery boxes will usually last around a year. These batteries cost less than $40 and high-quality battery box kits cost about the same. You will get 400-500 charge cycles out of most brands. For more battery life, 12v lithium batteries can power a camera for much longer and last for roughly 2,000 charge cycles.

In my opinion, solar power packs are the best option for powering trail cameras in most situations. Solar panels have improved immensely in the last few years, and I’ve been amazed at how well they work, even in areas without direct sunlight. During testing for this article, one solar powered camera was in a thick stand of cedar trees for over 150 days. At the time of this article, the battery was still at 100%.

Many trail camera companies offer solar panels designed specifically for their cameras (we tested several, see the results below). A small solar pack is powerful enough to run a trail camera almost indefinitely and good solar packs cost $60-$120. I have come to rely on solar packs so much, I don’t bother buying batteries for my personal cameras any longer. Considering both battery life and cost, I haven’t found anything better.

Lastly, understanding how cellular cameras consume battery power will help you choose settings to make your batteries last even longer. Connecting to a cellular network consumes power. The more you can limit how often a camera connects to a cell network the better battery life. Some cameras have features that allow you to schedule when and how often photos are sent as well as how often cameras perform a settings check. Using settings like this means the camera connects to the network just a few times each day rather than once for each photo. This can drastically increase the battery life of your cameras.

With the addition of a solar panel, most trailcams can stay in the field nearly indefinitely.

Trigger Speed

When it comes to trail cameras, speed matters. Trigger speed is the difference between getting a photo of an animal’s headgear or its rear end. These days, .5-second trigger speeds are normal, and some top-of-the-line cameras have a nearly instantaneous trigger.

The other half of trigger speed is recovery time. This is the time it takes a camera to trigger, shoot a photo, store the photo, and reset for another photo. A fast trigger speed means capturing an animal as soon as it walks in front of your camera. A fast recovery time means capturing the second animal behind it. Recovery times aren’t often listed by manufacturers so the only way to tell is by using them. (See our findings below.)

Ease of Use

You don’t have to be a tech genius to use a cellular trail camera, but a camera is only as good as the app you use to control it. While cellular cameras are increasingly affordable, the cost of data plans can add up quickly. It’s important to consider both the features of the camera and the cost of data plans.

An important feature to look for in an app is the ability to sort photos into folders or collections. This sort function allows you to stay organized as your photo library grows. I like to organize my photos into collections based on species and year, which allows me to quickly reference past photos.

The ability to make changes to settings from the app is an important feature. Strong wind can cause cameras to take photos of swaying grass and branches. In these situations, being able to turn down trigger sensitivity saves battery life and data usage on your plan.

Each company’s data plan is structured differently, but almost all offer monthly and annual options. Annual plans usually come with cost savings, but if you only plan to run cameras a few months a year it is usually less expensive to pay monthly. Also, some company’s data plans are more favorable to photos while others offer better prices for video. Think about how you will use your cameras and compare data plans accordingly.

The Top Cellular Trailcams of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

I’ve run trail cameras on my family’s farm for over 20 years. For this guide, I tested every cellular trail camera I could get my hands on, read through hundreds of online reviews, participated in several social media groups dedicated to trail cameras, and performed my own evaluation of each camera.

For my assessment I set each camera to shoot as fast as possible at its highest sensitivity. I placed markers at 10, 50 and 100 feet. Then I walked past the camera at an average pace at each distance. I then repeated this at night. The test was meant to gauge each camera’s detection range, trigger speed and flash range. I looked for blank photos, failures to trigger, blurry images, and overall photo quality. 

After that test, I set up cameras with solar panels in areas that had reasonable cell service. In the field, I evaluated the camera’s photo quality, reliability, and ease of use over the next several months. This included using each feature within every app.

While features of individual cameras are noted below, these reviews focus on camera/app systems rather than individual cameras because I’ve found that apps are as important as the cameras themselves.

Camera’s Tested

Tactacam Reveal X Gen 2.0

Tactacam Reveal X-Pro

Stealth Cam Deceptor No-Glo

Stealth Cam Fusion-X Pro

Cuddeback CuddeLink System

Cuddeback Tracks

Bushnell CelluCore 20

SpyPoint Flex G-36

SpyPoint LM2


Products Tested: Reveal X Gen 2.0, Reveal X-Pro, Tactacam External Solar Panel, Lipo Lithium Battery Pack

You get a lot of bang for your buck with these cameras but plans for multiple cameras add up quickly. Both cameras produced high-quality photos and videos, although trigger speeds and detection ranges were not as good as others we tested. We found the hybrid photo/video mode offered many advantages, such as reduced photo data usage and video costs. The Reveal app was one of the best we tested. Overall, these are solid cameras with an intuitive app that is tough to beat.

Both Reveal cameras we tested took excellent daytime photos.

What We Liked

• Cameras are easy to set up and the intuitive app makes sorting and storing images simple. This was our favorite app of the test.

• Good day and night picture quality. Night photos from the Reveal X Gen 2.0 were particularly good.

• Hybrid mode allows both photos and video to be recorded on a single trigger event.

• Photo plans for each camera are added together allowing unused photos from one camera to be used by another.

• X-Pro model features no glow flash for hunters concerned with thieves or trespassers.

• Tactacam is a proud supporter of SCI, and we like to support companies that support us. You can currently get a free Tactacam Reveal trailcam when signing up for a 3-year SCI membership by using the code “camera08”

The buck in this photo was approximately 50 feet from the camera, which was no problem for the Reveal X Gen 2.0’s low glow flash.

What We’d Change

• Data plans are expensive when running multiple cameras.

• Multi-shot send requires an added fee.

• Firmware updates must be performed manually.

Both Tactacam cameras took great videos that were easy to request from the app.


Products Tested: Deceptor No-Glo, Fusion-X Pro and Sol-Pak Solar Battery Pack

Both the Deceptor No-Glo and Fusion-X Pro are impressive cameras at great prices. The Deceptor was by far the fastest at detecting motion in our test and it also had excellent range, especially considering it is a no-glow camera. These features translated to the field — animals were captured the instant they stepped in front of the camera. Both cameras had excellent picture quality. We liked that the Sol-Pak Solar Battery Pak comes with a lengthy cord, allowing you to position it in the sunniest location possible. Overall Stealth Cam is a great option offering good photo quality, fast trigger speeds and quick recovery times.

With the fastest trigger speeds and detection in our backyard test, the Deceptor No-Glo and Fusion-X Pro cameras captured animals the instant they stepped in front of the sensor.

What We Liked

• Best trigger speeds and detection of the cameras we tested.

• Excellent day and night photos. The Deceptor No-Glo has the best flash range of any no glow camera we’ve ever used.

• Camera setup was easy, and the Command Pro app was fairly straightforward.

• Automatic network coverage finds the strongest network and automatically connects.

• Instant group photo setting saves battery life while allowing more photos to be captured.

• Competitively priced plans for photos.

• Ability for remote firmware updates.

The Deceptor No-Glo has the best flash range of any no glow camera we’ve ever used. It would be an excellent option along a field edge or anytime you need some extra reach.

What We’d Change

• You must choose between photo or video mode. There is no hybrid mode available (although videos do come with a three-frame photo preview).

• Receiving videos is more expensive than other companies.

• No option to sort photos into collections within the app.

• Trouble receiving and playing videos.


Products Tested: CuddeLink G-Series Home Camera, CuddeLink L-Series, Tracks LTE Camera, Sun and Shade Solar Power Bank

For those wanting to run a large number of cameras, Cuddeback offers an innovative, affordable solution. Their CuddeLink system allows up to 24 cameras to be paired on a single data plan. Link cameras send images to a home camera via a private wireless network. Cameras must generally be within a ¼ mile of each other but can be daisy chained to extend distance from the home camera. For situations where cameras need to be placed farther from the home camera, Cuddeback offers their Tracks cellular camera. As a whole, Cuddeback is a good option for property owners wanting to run a fleet of cameras, but setup is more involved.

We tested Cuddeback’s Tracks model outside the home camera network to monitor a remote area of the farm.

Things We Liked

• Ability to link cameras together on a single data plan saves significant money, especially when running numerous cameras.

• Tracks model allows you to be flexible and monitor areas away from the home camera network.

• Solar power compatible for extended battery life. Cuddeback’s Sun and Shade Solar Power Bank was one of the best solar panels we tested.

All the Cuddeback cameras we tested took decent nighttime photos. The cameras did a great job of stopping motion close to the cameras, but in our backyard test, nighttime photos at further distances were below average. However, this might be an easy trade-off when considering the cost savings of running multiple cameras.

What We’d Change

• Setup of the link system is somewhat complicated.

• App is not as easy to use as others.

• Video is not available when using the CuddeLink system.

• Flash range and image quality could be improved.

• Proprietary mounting system makes it difficult to lock cameras or use third-party mounts and accessories.


Products Tested: Bushnell CelluCore 20

We were impressed by the great picture quality and extended battery life thanks to the integrated solar panel. Bushnell also offers a feature-rich and easy-to-use app that can sort images by weather, wind, temperature, moon phase and more. The trigger speed was slower than other cameras, but if you are looking for a high-value cellular trail camera, consider the CelluCore 20.

With a built-in solar panel, the CelluCore 20 is a great value and is easy to run with Bushnell’s robust app. It is worth noting that during foggy mornings (like the one above) the CelluCore 20 kept taking good photos while other cameras’ photos became unviewable.

Things We Liked

• Good picture quality.

• Feature-rich and easy-to-use app.

• Easy setup with automatic network coverage.

• Integrated solar panel increases battery life without having to purchase a separate solar panel.

The CelluCore 20 has three flash settings: short range, fast motion, and long range. I used the short range setting in this field scenario to keep dense vegetation from washing out the photo.

What We’d Change

• Slower trigger speed than other cameras.

• Problems receiving videos in the app.


Products Tested: Flex G-36, LM2, LIT-22 Lithium Battery Pack and SPLB-22 Lithium Battery Solar Panel

Unfortunately, we received these products late in the testing process and were not able to test them as extensively as others. We were able to do some backyard and app testing, but field testing was limited. Here is what we can report. SpyPoint is known for having fast trigger speeds and recovery times. We found that to be true. Both cameras captured movement quickly and took solid photos. The Flex G-36 had an impressive flash range, capturing movement past 100 feet. The LM2 is a great lower-priced cellular camera that would be a good fit for someone looking for an entry-level camera without video. SpyPoint offers good all-around cellular trail cameras that take great photos with an easy-to-use app.

In both our backyard and field tests, the SpyPoint Flex had almost no false triggers. Almost every photo taken had an animal in it, whether that was a nice buck, a turkey, or a squirrel.

Things We Liked

• The Flex G-36 took impressive day photos and even better night photos.

• Detection ranges of both cameras were excellent.

• Cameras are easy to setup and the SpyPoint app is solid.

• Free 100-photo plan.

• Automatic network coverage.

• Spypoint’s lithium solar panel was by far the best we tested. This is a powerful solar panel that can run even the most power-hungry cameras.

In field testing, the SpyPoint Flex was placed in an area with the least cell coverage in the test. With the ability to automatically choose the strongest cellular network, it still consistently sent photos.

Things We’d Change

• We aren’t fans of micro-SD cards.

• Poor battery life when used without a solar panel or external battery box.

Final Thoughts

After using cellular trail cameras for many years, I can confidently say they are powerful scouting tools. In fact, I can’t image hunting whitetails on our family farm without them. They also keep me excited for hunting seasons throughout the year. There is nothing like getting a photo of a strutting tom just before turkey season or a big velvet buck walking past the new treestand I just hung. Five years ago cellular trailcams still had a lot of problems to iron out, but 2023 is as good a time as ever to start using cell cams.

*Keep in mind that trailcams are not legal everywhere. Check your local game regulations before using one in or out of season.