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LIFX Mini Smart Bulbs UK Review: Genuine Philips Hue Rivals

Written by  Jan 23, 2018

The Lifx Mini Smart Bulbs are a direct and credible rival to the Philips Hue for range of bulbs and third-party control support. The Mini series, has replaced the old flat-top bulbs of old with a newer, more bulbous design.

Connecting with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home, the Lifx Mini range of smart light bulbs are really well supported.

lifx-mini range

Design - LIFX Mini Smart Bulbs Review

LIFX don’t need a hub, as the light bulbs all have integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi for control. Despite using integrated wireless, LIFX’s bulbs aren’t much heavier or larger than their Philips Hue equivalents. You can install the LIFX bulbs into any fitting with ease.

You have to leave your light switch turned on to use any of the smart features, as you do with any smart bulb. They work with standard on/off switches and are not suitable for use with dimmer switches.

There are three models in the Lifx Mini range, available in screw and bayonet fittings. The basic Mini White (£25) is a 9W 2700K warm white bulb, with a maximum output of 800 lumens. That’s very similar to the equivalent Hue bulb.

LIFX Mini - Day & Dusk B22, Adjustable, Dimmable, No Hub Required, Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit and the Google Assistant £29.99 amazon uk

Then there is, is the Mini Day & Dusk (£29.99), which is a temperature-changing bulb. The great thing about this particular bulb, is that it is adjustable to allow for a change in mood: warm for relaxing, and cold for working, are two examples. The Mini Day & Dusk is a 9W bulb with a maximum brightness of 800 lumens and a colour temperature range between 1500K and 4000K. The equivalent Hue isn’t as warm at 2200K, but has a colder top-end at 6500K.

The third bulb in the range is the Mini Colour (£45), which is a 9W bulb with a max brightness of 800 lumens, and is also temperature adjustable (2500K to 9000K) and colour adjustable (16 million colours). This matches up neatly with the Philips Hue White and Colour Ambience Bulb, although that has a warmer 2000K starting temperature, but maxes out at 6500K.

LIFX bulbs are a little bit more expensive to buy than the equivalent Hue bulbs, but then you don't need to buy a hub to support them, as with the Hue range.


Features, app and control - LIFX Mini Smart Bulbs Review

You will need to use the app to join each bulb to your Wi-Fi network. This process can be a little troublesome, and it took a while for our test bulbs to join the network, with a couple of failed attempts along the way; but they got there in the end.

Fortunately, although the bulbs use a 2.4GHz signal, they’ll connect to a network with band steering turned on, which merges the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands under one name. This type of technology is typically used by wireless mesh systems and newer routers.

Once they are successfully connected, the lights are controlled by the smart and powerful LIFX app. At a minimum, you can flick your lights on or off and, depending on the type of bulb that you install, choose a colour temperature or colour.

After that, the LIFX bulbs give you a great deal of control. Press and hold the power button, for example, and you can choose how long the bulbs will take to go off, with the lights slowly dimming. That would be an ideal way to get kids to sleep.

Tap a light, and you get into the main settings, where you can choose the colour and temperature of the bulbs. It’s very intuitive and easy to use.

Each bulb performs flawlessly and can replace a traditional 60W bulb, providing an even distribution of light. With the colour bulbs, the high of 9000K produces a piercing blue white; and the Day & Dusk bulbs warmer bottom end produces an almost candle-like quality of light.

If you delve into the app, you can pick from Themes (set colour), or play around with the full range of Effects. The latter varies from providing a fire-like flicker to a Music Visualizer, which flashes your lights in time to music, as picked up by your phone’s speaker. There’s even a Strobe mode, which rapidly flicks the lights on and off, with a sensible warning that this mode can induce seizures in some people.

Lifx have introduced the Day & Dusk mode in the Mini range, which is available on everything apart from the white bulbs. This mode automatically adjusts light temperature and brightness throughout the day, to match natural light. It’s nice to addition, but it's not perfect. While you can adjust the times for the four set periods of the day (Wake Up, Day, Evening and Night Light), you can’t set the type of light that you want for each. And, using fixed times to engage each mode isn't always ideal.

While you can disable the feature from operating on certain days, you can’t set different schedules for different days. For example, it would be useful to set a different Wake Up time for the weekend, letting your lights ramp up to wake you later.

As these bulbs use Wi-Fi, the are no dedicated wireless remotes made by LIFX or smart light switches. Hue have wireless light switch options, which can make them easier to control.

LIFX Mini, E27, Adjustable, Multicolour, Dimmable, No Hub Required, Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit and the Google Assistant £44.99 amazon uk

Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home - LIFX Mini Smart Bulbs Review

Amazon Alexa and Google Home support is quite similar, with the voice assistants letting you control your lights with your voice. You can set brightness levels and choose a colour/temperature easily, and both services worked well in my tests. LIFX’s control matches if not betters that of the Philips Hue.

Apple Home is pleasingly supported, but the configuration is a little long winded. As each light bulb is its own device, it means that you have to add each device individually, scanning the Apple HomeKit sticker provided in each bag.

Once in Apple Home, the bulbs worked well and responded quickly, when changing the settings.

Siri control works as well as Alexa or Google Home control, except you can’t ask to turn the lights to ‘warm white’, as the command is not understood for some reason.


IFTTT and SmartThings - LIFX Mini Smart Bulbs Review

SmartThings support is built in, which is handy if you want to control all of your smart home devices from one place. SmartThings supports colour and temperature changes, as well as basic on/off and dim controls.

IFTTT support gives you actions only, so you can automatically control your lights based on a trigger from a different device, say turning your lights on when your camera picks up motion.

LIFX Mini, E27, Adjustable, Multicolour, Dimmable, No Hub Required, Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit and the Google Assistant £44.99 amazon uk

Verdict - LIFX Mini Smart Bulbs Review

There’s a good range of LIFX Mini bulbs to choose from, and the quality rivals the likes of the Philips Hue range easily. After using the app, I think it’s fair to say that LIFX is actually much better than its rivals.

Depending on what you want to use the bulbs for, which is the best fit? If you’re happy with app and voice control, then these are an excellent choice. If you’d like the option for remote control with dedicated switches, the Philips Hue system is the way to go.

I have been impressed with, the quality of the lights and range of control options of the LIFX system, making the whole package very attractive.

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