LIFX Color Smart Bulb review
The LIFX Color Smart Bulb is small, yet still manages color with a big and rich feeling
The LIFX Color Smart Bulb is not without its flaws, and it's on the more expensive side, but its performance is impressive with bright whites, rich colors, and good smart home compatibility.
Great brightness in whites
Colors are vibrant and rich
Integrates well with almost everything
Twice the price of budget options
App feels unintuitive for newer users
Some animations don’t work as intended
Boasting 16 million colors with a range of cool to warm whites and a pretty respectable brightness of 800 lumens it’s hard to be unhappy with the LIFX Color Smart Bulb. During testing, it started life out in a hallway activated by my front door opening but was quickly moved to one of the most important light fittings in my house - the kitchen.
I already had a smart bulb in the kitchen, which cost about half the price but just wasn’t bright enough. In fact, my partner and I had been considering trying to put a lamp in there purely because it's so hard to see what we’re doing while cooking.
The LIFX Color completely solved the brightness issue for us, as well as some other things. Read on to find out what we thought, or head over to our roundup of the best smart light bulbs for more.
LIFX Color Smart Bulb: Set-up
Stacked up against both the smart bulb I replaced with and a regular energy-saving incandescent bulb, the LIFX might even be slightly bigger. It's also heavier, and has a weighty feel to it that’s usually a good sign. I associate that feeling with premium technology, as it feels substantial and powerful rather than flimsy and empty.
The bulb backs that substantial feeling up with its respectable specs. An A+ energy efficiency rating with 16 million colors, a wide range of temperatures for your whites, 800 lumens, and a 22.8-year life span based on 3 hours of use per day. Its 9w consumption is comparable to a 60w bulb in regards to light output and it’s a WiFi bulb that requires no hub. But it can still be easily integrated into your smart home via platforms like Alexa, Home Kit, Smart Things, IFTTT, Google, and also even Home Assistant where it was just autodetected with no issue.
For me as a smart home enthusiast, the setup process was pretty straightforward, and it was no trouble for my partner - who has never set up a smart home device before - either. They did express some concerns over the fact that the box and included instruction manual seemed to focus more on the Apple support, however. This meant that at first there was a bit of confusion as to whether it would even work with an Android phone, but of course, it does! The box could have been clearer about this, as it’s easy to miss the writing underneath a graphic.
LIFX Color Smart Bulb: Design
The packaging is lovely, despite just being a cardboard cylinder, as I’ve never seen a bulb come in round packaging. It makes a nice change from the usual square box. It’s quirky and a bit different from the regular kind of bulb, so it stands out. I think that helps set the tone of the product and so is worth mentioning. Being cardboard, it's also recyclable, though I can’t be sure that’s the case for the foam insert that holds the bulb upright in the cylinder.
Speaking of tone, the colors are beautiful. With other smart bulbs I’ve owned I’ve found that switching to color can sacrifice a lot in brightness, making it hard to see while using the colors. I notice this more in reds for other bulbs where, instead of just giving a room a red glow, I end up looking like I’m trying to develop photographs in my living room. Not so with the LIFX Color, as the colors are deep and rich but also bright enough that you can still use the room as normal.
LIFX Color Smart Bulb: Performance
The LIFX Color itself is fantastic, and I can’t sing its praises enough, it’s even locally controlled when you’re on your home network and therefore super responsive. So it’s a shame that the app is a little bit of a letdown. It’s not particularly intuitive for a new user and I even found myself confused on how to make scenes and animations work.
The strobe feature comes with a lot of warnings and safeguards to stop people from accidentally giving themselves or someone else a seizure, which is great. Though warnings are missing on the ‘Spooky’ animation which also includes quickly flashing lights.
That said, it’s great fun and I could totally see myself hooking it up to a door sensor or even a doorbell to spook Halloween visitors with. Other animations are a bit lackluster, not least because of a weird thing the LIFX app does when trying to play LIFX’s own Ukrainian flag animation.
The color wouldn’t move directly from blue to yellow but would move through the color scroll wheel from blue to yellow and back, meaning you’d see a flash of red between the two. There is no way to move from blue to yellow in the app that I could find without this happening, though you can definitely do this through other software such as Home Assistant. It’s admittedly a neat effect, but would be better as an option rather than on by default, and it really did kind of ruin the flag animation.
LIFX Color Smart Bulb: Our verdict
Overall, if you’re looking for a bulb that delivers on color richness and brightness while also managing to be very easy to integrate with other devices, you probably won’t regret this one. Especially if you have a bunch of smart home tech already since you’ll probably control it through a separate hub, rather than the LIFX app itself. For me, this is totally worth the price even if that is roughly double what I’ve paid for more budget-friendly bulbs before.
As someone who loves technology and has spent most of the last two years trying to fully automate every electronic function of my home, this was a cool product to get hands-on with for the last month. I usually try to keep things as cheap as possible so wouldn’t normally gravitate towards something of this price, but I may have been converted! The performance really does speak for itself.
About this review
Kirsty is a smart home enthusiast who prioritizes local control and privacy, running everything through a home server via Home Assistant. The set-up includes sensors, bulbs, esp32 modules for tracking Bluetooth beacons, speakers, and wall panels: "The ultimate goal is a fully automated house that simply knows where I am and reacts to what I’m doing."
The LIFX Mini was tested via its own app to get the sense of how it would work for the average buyer, as well as how it performed for someone who spends their free time automating their home.
Kirsty is a self-described smart home and tech enthusiast who is very excited about all her sci-fi dreams coming true. When looking at products the most important things to her are; privacy, local control, connectivity, quality and price. Though she has also been known to bust out the soldering iron and DIY her own tech options too!
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