LIFX vs. Philips Hue: Which multi-color HomeKit smart bulbs are best?

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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 LIFX BulbPhilps Hue bulb
Bulb wattage11w10w
Lumen output1100800
Lifetime25,000 hours25,000 hours
Colors16 million16 million
Siri supportYesYes (with Bridge)
Alexa SupportValueYes (with Bridge)
Google Assistant SupportValueYes (with Bridge)
SmartThings SupportYesYes (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.

Mikah Sargent

Mikah Sargent is Senior Editor at Mobile Nations. When he's not bothering his chihuahuas, Mikah spends entirely too much time and money on HomeKit products. You can follow him on Twitter at @mikahsargent if you're so inclined.