Philips Hue Smart Bulb—Best price and features
✓ Cheaper single bulbs
✓ Better additional products and features
⊗ Additional cost for required hub or bridge
LIFX Smart Bulb—Best brightness and security
✓ Brighter lights with infrared options for security
✓ No additional hub needed
⊗ Higher cost per bulb
If you want the best smart light bulbs available, your options come down to the product leaders: Philips Hue vs. LIFX. Both brands offer great LED light bulbs with small differences—Philips Hue bulbs have more features, but LIFX offers security bulbs with night vision to protect your home.
So how do you decide which smart light bulb to buy when both companies offer such solid options? We tested both brands’ bulbs in creating our comparison to help you make the best decision possible.
Compare Philips Hue vs. LIFX
|Brightness||800 lumens||1,100 lumens|
|Smart home compatibility||Alexa,|
Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana
Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana
|Infrared night vision|
|Learn more||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
Data effective 5/24/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
Hue bulbs take the lead as the cheaper option, whether you want dimmable pure white, white to warm, or color bulbs. However, they also require a Hue Bridge smart hub because Hue tech uses Zigbee and Wi-Fi. The hub costs around $60, so you’ll spend more when you start out. Still, you can get a starter pack with a Hue hub and four color lights for around $200, so you have options to help offset that cost.
LIFX, at about $60 per color bulb, is the more expensive of the two brands. However, because LIFX bulbs don’t require a hub, they may be the cheaper option if you buy only a couple of smart light bulbs.
If you plan to buy a lot of bulbs, Hue bulbs are the way to go...
If you plan to buy a lot of bulbs, Hue bulbs are the way to go, given that the cost of the hub will cancel out if you buy enough Hue lights. But if you want only a few LED light bulbs to give that smart home feel to a room, then LIFX bulbs will be cheaper—so long as you don’t change your mind post-purchase and decide to fill your whole house with smart light bulbs.
If you are interested in simpler and cheaper smart light bulbs, check out our picks for the top smart light bulbs on the market.
Apps and features
Both LIFX and Hue have a lot of the same features with nearly the same ability to easily control your lights. Both turn on and off, are dimmable, and change colors through app or voice control. Even so, each light bulb brand has a few specific features that make it stand out.
|16 million + colors|
|Set timers, routines, and scenes|
|Sync to movies, games, and music|
|Brightness of bulbs|
Philips Hue app and features
Once you set up and connect your Hue bulbs to the Philips Hue app (which works with iOS and Android devices), a vast array of options open for you to set the exact atmosphere you want with your Hue lights. It helps that Philips Hue groups its bulbs into rooms on your device, so with just one change in the app, you can control all the lights in a single room. Of course, you can control single bulbs as well, if you want individual colors or brightness for each Hue light.
Hue’s app has a color wheel of over 16 million colors to choose from. You can also use a preset scene or upload a picture and let the smart light bulbs analyze and mimic the color scheme in the image.
Additionally, your Hue smart light bulbs can sync to whatever music, movie, or online game you’re playing in your room with the help of the Philips Hue Sync App. This means your lights can change color to the beat of your music or to the sounds of your movie.
You can also create routines and timers, so your lights will act as an alarm clock to wake you up or turn on just before you get home from work. This functionality can be especially useful when it comes to home safety—your changing lights can make it look like you’re home even when you’re not. You can also use your app to control your lights when you aren’t home—distance doesn’t affect the app’s abilities.
Your changing lights can make it look like you’re home even when you’re not.
Because you can connect your Philips Hue bulbs to motion sensors and security cameras, your Hue lights can also turn on to alert you to danger when you are home.
The nice thing about Philips Hue smart light bulbs is that, because they’ve been around longer than LIFX bulbs, they have more extensive features than LIFX, which extend beyond Hue bulbs to other Hue lights, such as lightstrips and lamps.
LIFX app and features
LIFX bulbs offer a lot of the same features as the Philips Hue bulbs once you connect to your Wi-Fi network and the LIFX app (which works on both iOS and Android devices). The LIFX app is not quite as easy to use as the Philips Hue app, but it does the job efficiently and offers unique features through its Effects section.
Just like Philips Hue, LIFX lets you pick from 16 million colors, set routines and scenes, or apply the music visualizer (although you can’t sync to your games or movies). Through the Effects section, LIFX bulbs can do some things that Hue lights can’t, like mimicking strobe lighting or candlelight. However, Philips Hue has more features and connections to applets that may convince you that you can live without the strobe lighting.
What are applets?
Applets are basically mini apps that have one distinct function, usually using IFTTT (If This Then That), that allow your smart light to do things like automatically change your Hue lights to blue when it rains, or have your lights change color when you have a missed call on your Android phone.
LIFX outshines Philips Hue—quite literally—in two ways. The LIFX bulbs’ brightness levels are more impressive, giving off 1,100 lumens, while Philips Hue gives off only 800 lumens—and they use only one watt more energy to do so.
LIFX + bulbs also include night vision, which means they give off infrared rays at night—light you won’t be able to see, but your home security devices will, improving your security at night.
Based on the app and features alone, Philips Hue takes a slight lead with its convenient app and the wider variety of features attached to it. However, LIFX’s brightness levels and night vision are worth considering. So if you want more features and products, Philips Hue is for you. But if you’re concerned with brightness or security, don’t overlook LIFX’s benefits.
Smart home compatibility
Because smart lighting is a smart home luxury, it’s no surprise that smart light bulbs can react to voice commands through multiple home automation systems.
We tested both the Philips Hue and LIFX bulbs to see how easy they were to install and connect to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.
Philips Hue and home automation
Despite the extra step of first setting up the hub, getting the Hue bulbs installed was incredibly easy—it took only five minutes from start to finish. The hub easily connected to our home router for a Wi-Fi connection, and each light bulb connected seamlessly to the Philips Hue app.
Connecting to Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa was also straightforward through each system’s app and the Wi-Fi signal. It took only a couple minutes to set up each device. Once connected, both home automation systems let us dim the lights, change the colors, or turn the light on and off, all with a simple voice command.
The only real difference between the smart home hubs was that Google Home recognized the command “lights,” while Alexa required us to say the specific name of the light bulb in order to control them. That light bulb name is prescribed in the Philips Hue app, depending on the location you assign it in the setup process.
LIFX and home automation
The hardest part of installing the LIFX light bulb was honestly getting the flat-topped bulb out of its chic but very snug-fitting container. After that, getting Wi-Fi connection was easy with the help of the LIFX app. In total, the process took about 12 minutes; the majority of the additional time compared to Philips Hue was spent getting it out of its box.
Connecting to Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa was also very simple, again adding only a couple minutes each. The same features as the Hue bulb’s compatibility applied here: we could dim the lights, switch them on or off, and change their colors all through voice commands.
Google Home was again the easier option in recognizing the specific lights we wanted to control. Amazon’s Alexa required specific names for each light. Luckily, you can change the name of the lights within the LIFX app, so it’s easy to remember light names.
You have plenty of smart home options
While we tested only Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, Philips Hue and LIFX are compatible with Apple HomeKit devices and Microsoft Cortana as well. They can also connect with a variety of other smart home devices, services, and applets, such as Nest and IFTTT.
Although both Philips Hue smart bulbs and LIFX smart bulbs offer similar benefits in their features and connectivity to other smart devices, the difference comes down to price, features, and product selection. So we recommend Philips Hue when switching from ordinary light bulbs to smart light bulbs.
If you’re looking to install more than a few luxury lights, or if you want the most convenient added features, go with Hue bulbs.
The bulbs are cheaper, even with the router-connected hub, if you’re buying more than a couple. Hue also offers a greater variety of products if you want to delve more into smart home lighting. Plus, with the easy app and connection to home automation systems, there’s little you can’t do with these lights—everything from setting routines to enhancing your movie watching experience with your lighting.
If you care more about security features or plan to have only a couple bulbs, we recommend LIFX smart bulbs.
They’re more expensive, but if you’re only using one or two bulbs in your house, it’s cheaper because you can forgo the hub and connect easily to your Wi-Fi network. And if your home safety is a priority and you want to connect your bulbs to a home security system, the LIFX + night vision is incomparable.