No hub required

LIFX Multicolor LED Bulb

Colorful compatibility

Philips Hue White & Color LED bulb

With excellent colors, LIFX bulbs come out of the box with support for HomeKit and Siri, as well as Alexa and Google Assistant. The bulbs connect directly to your network, and don't require a hub in order to connect to the rest of your HomeKit devices. But LIFX does miss out on some of the compatibility of the Hue ecosystem.

$48 at Amazon

Pros

  • Bright, vivid colors
  • HomeKit support out of the box
  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri
  • Does not require a hub for it integrations
  • Lower up-front cost for connectivity
  • Rated for 25,000 hours of life

Cons

  • More expensive than Philips Hue bulb-for-bulb
  • Not as compatible as a Hue bulb with a Bridge

The Philips Hue bulbs and ecosystem have been around for a long time now, and that system is compatible with pretty much every system under the sun. The main disadvantage is that in order to obtain most of this compatibility, you'll need the Hue Bridge.

$40 at Amazon

Pros

  • Great colors
  • Compatible with HomeKit and Siri with Hue Bridge
  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant with the Hue Bridge
  • More third-party support
  • Costs less than LIFX bulb-for-bulb
  • Rated for 25,000 hours of life

Cons

  • Requires the Hue Bridge for most connectivity
  • Hue Bridge requirement drives up the overall cost

If you're looking for smart lights for a HomeKit setup, both the Hue and LIFX bulbs (and attendant ecosystems) are great choices, but I'd have to give it to LIFX here for out-of-the-box compatibility. But if you're just using HomeKit for now, and want greater to freedom if you think you're going to change your smart home system, Philips Hue offers greater flexibility.

Shedding some light on the differences

The trouble with comparing specific smart lights, especially those from Philips and LIFX, is that at this stage, both offer a very similar experience. Yes, the LIFX bulbs are brighter, while the Philips Hue lights enjoy support from more third-parties like Razer and Xfinity.

The biggest difference between the two lights is the hub situation. LIFX doesn't need a hub, working right away with HomeKit (and thus, Siri), Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. Philips Hue might enjoy increased compatibility with different smart home systems and accessories, but you'll need the Philips Hue Bridge to take advantage of most of it, and that's an additional $60 on top of whichever bulbs you're getting.

LIFX Bulb Philps Hue bulb
Bulb wattage 11w 10w
Lumen output 1100 800
Lifetime 25,000 hours 25,000 hours
Colors 16 million 16 million
Siri support Yes Yes (with Bridge)
Alexa Support Value Yes (with Bridge)
Google Assistant Support Value Yes (with Bridge)
SmartThings Support Yes Yes (with Bridge)

When you buy a smart light bulb, it's not just the purchase of a light bulb. It's also your first step into a wider ecosystem of smart lighting and home automation. If most of what you're looking for is a bulb that changes colors and works with your voice assistant of choice, get a LIFX bulb. The colors are more vivid, light is brighter, and you don't need a hub to get it to work with Siri or Alexa.

Even if you want to go beyond simple voice control, the LIFX is still a great choice. In addition to support for HomeKit and the three major voice assistants, LIFX lights are also compatible with Microsoft's Cortana assistant, as well as SmartThings, IFTTT, and more. All of this comes without the need for a hub.

This isn't to say that Philips Hue isn't a good choice. One of the greatest strengths of the Philips Hue ecosystem is how robust it is. And not just in terms of compatibility with home automation and other services. The Hue system is vast, with a wide variety of bulbs and lighting mounts. It's also important to acknowledge that the Hue ecosystem isn't just bulbs. It also has important accessories like dimmers, switches, and motion sensors. If you're willing to plunk down the additional money that you'll need to buy the Hue Bridge, you'll gain access to a wide family of products that no other company has really matched just yet.

No hub required

LIFX Multicolor LED Bulb

A bright, vivid smart bulb with HomeKit support

The LIFX smart bulb connects to the most popular home automation systems and voice assistants out of the box, offering brighter lights and more vivid colors than the competition, all without the hub.

A vast ecosystem

Philips Hue White & Color LED bulb

Works with nearly any smart home system

The Philips Hue bulbs connect to most smart home systems, including HomeKit, but you'll need the Hue Bridge to connect to most of them.

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