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  • Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit (Generation 3)

  • How We Tested Smart Bulbs for the Apple HomeKit

  • What to Know About Apple HomeKit Smart Bulbs

  • Privacy and Apple HomeKit

  • Other Smart Bulbs We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

The Philips Hue White + Color bulbs offer the brightest and most vibrant colors of any smart bulb we've tested.
Credit: Reviewed / Nick Schmiedicker

The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs offer some of the brightest and most vibrant colors of any smart bulb we've tested that works with Alexa.

Best Overall
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit (Generation 3)

Here at Reviewed, the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit has long been a favorite thanks to its bright and accurate colors, intuitive app, robust suite of features, and integration with all three smart assistants, including Siri. The third-generation kit offers some of Hue’s brightest bulbs to date—and it supports HomeKit’s Adaptive Lighting setting, a rare but usefu feature that can be set to adjust the bulb's color based on the time of day.

The only downside of the Philips Hue lights is that, unlike some other options, they require a hub (the Philips Hue Bridge) in order to work remotely. While they can be controlled over Bluetooth, that will only work when you're physically near the bulb.

Though these bulbs are more expensive than some others in our guide, the reliability and performance they offer is unmatched. For the best Apple HomeKit smart bulbs, you’ve got to go with Philips Hue.

Pros

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri

  • Rich color palette

  • Easy setup plus an intuitive app

Cons

  • Requires a hub to work remotely

How We Tested Smart Bulbs for the Apple HomeKit

The Tester

Hi, I’m Rachel. I live in a home full of voice-activated smart speakers, remote-controlled light switches, security cameras, and a slew of other connected gadgets. I’m the senior staff writer for Reviewed’s smart home section, helping to test everything from smart coffee makers and pool water monitors to the latest video doorbells and home security systems. I'm adding to the previous testing by Sarah Kovac, Reviewed’s former smart home editor.

The Tests

To find out which smart bulb is best for Apple HomeKit, we bought the bestselling, highest rated bulbs and tested them in an actual home, with an Eero Mesh Wi-Fi router, in lamps and light fixtures. We installed the bulbs using the Home app, as well as the companion apps on iOS devices to assess each bulb’s ease of use and see whether the experience was the same on both platforms, testing response times over the Wi-Fi network and data. We also connected each bulb to Siri to measure the bulb’s functionality and responsiveness to voice commands.

What to Know About Apple HomeKit Smart Bulbs

All about Apple Home Hubs

An Apple HomePod sits next to a smart light bulb
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

We tested the smart bulbs using an Apple HomePod (discontinued), but you can also use an iPad, HomePod Mini, or an Apple TV as a Home Hub.

An Apple Home Hub is required to control your HomeKit-enabled devices and run automations when you’re away from home using the Home app or Siri voice control. The Home Hub works like any smart home hub, serving as the middleman between you and your devices for remote control when you're not home.

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An iPad, HomePod Mini, Apple TV, or the discontinued HomePod (if you have one) all work as a Home Hub. The devices must stay at home, near your HomeKit gadgets, in order for you to control them when you're away from the house.

How to Set Up an Apple HomeKit Smart Bulb

All HomeKit devices have a scannable barcode with an eight-digit number. These codes and numbers are unique to your gadgets and are required for set up. To set up an Apple HomeKit bulb, screw it into a light fixture. Open the Home app on your iOS device > tap the “+” icon in the upper right corner > add accessory. Scan the barcode on the bulb in the Home app, enter the code manually, or wait for the accessory to appear in the app (make sure it’s powered on).

A second barcode can typically be found in the instruction manual if you have trouble scanning the code directly from the bulb. The Home app walks you through the final steps, but it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to integrate your bulbs into Apple HomeKit.

Apple HomeKit lighting features to try

A Home Hub is also necessary to take advantage of Apple’s adaptive lighting feature. This is an optional feature that allows your bulbs to change color temperatures based on the time of day. Basically, it’s autopilot for anyone who doesn’t want to fiddle with their bulbs throughout the day.

Though not all HomeKit lights currently offer adaptive lighting, you can expect this feature to become more commonplace as Siri-enabled bulbs adapt to the latest technology. The Home app offers other useful automations like turning the lights on when the first person arrives home and turning them off when the last person leaves.

Privacy and Apple HomeKit

There’s always a security risk when using internet-connected devices at home, but there are ways you can protect your privacy when using HomeKit devices. Apple claims that all HomeKit user data is encrypted end-to-end locally (meaning on your Home Hub) before being transmitted to the cloud so that no one has access to it but you. HomeKit's infrastructure uses iCloud, iOS, iPadOs, and macOS to "protect and sync private data without exposing it" to others, including Apple employees. To secure your account further, enable two-factor authentication and make sure your password is unique and hard to guess. You can read more about Apple's HomeKit data security policy.

One thing to know is that Apple, by default, keeps your Siri voice interactions (one of the primary ways to control HomeKit accessories) and may review the audio clips to help improve Siri’s accuracy. You can opt-out of this by turning off Siri and Diction in the Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvement > turning off Improve Siri & Dictation. To delete your Siri voice history on a HomePod, open the Home app, press and hold the HomePod icon, select Siri History, tap Delete Siri History, and confirm the deletion. To delete your Siri voice history on an iPhone or iPad, open Settings > Siri & Search > Siri & Dictation History > Delete Siri & Dictation History. For more information, check out Apple’s Siri dictation and privacy disclaimer.


Other Smart Bulbs We Tested

Product image of Meross MSL120 Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb
Meross Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb Color Changing

The Merross Smart Wi-Fi LED bulb offers stunningly bright and vibrant colors for your Siri setup. The dimmable LED bulb puts out 810 lumens and offers a color wheel full of vibrant shades and tunable whites. Another perk of this bulb is that, aside from Siri, it also works with SmartThings, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

It took mere seconds to integrate the bulb with Apple HomeKit before we had Siri turning the lights on and off, setting the bulb to hot pink, and adjusting the brightness to 75%. The bulb does not support HomeKit Adaptive Lighting, but it’s a value-packed smart bulb that works well with Siri and offers great features for the cost.

Pros

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri

  • Colors and tuneable whites

  • Good value

Cons

  • Companion app lacks two-factor authentication

Product image of Nanoleaf Essentials A19 Bulb
Nanoleaf Essentials A19 E26

Nanoleaf may be best known for its popular wall light panels, but the company makes a great smart bulb, too. This color changing bulb puts out a max 1,100 lumens (one of the brightest we’ve tested), which means it's bright enough for pretty much any location in your home. And, even though it has an E26 base, you can screw it into any standard socket.

One of the most notable things about the A19 LED bulb is its unique, multi-faceted design. The bulb is also responsive to Siri voice commands, and works with Google Assistant (but not Alexa). Because it supports adaptive lighting, it can automatically adjust the color temperature based on the time of day, which is a handy feature.

It works with Bluetooth, but the real selling point here is the bulb’s Thread compatibility, which helps speed up response times between your Siri voice commands and Apple Home Hub. This bulb should last you 25,000 hours and is a solid choice for your HomeKit setup.

Pros

  • Supports HomeKit Adaptive Lighting + Thread

  • Neat design

  • Bright bulb for a variety spaces

Cons

  • Does not work with Alexa

Product image of Yeelight A19 LED Wi-Fi Color Changing Smart Bulb
Yeelight A19 LED Wi-Fi Color Changing Smart Bulb

The Yeelight LED Bulb 1S (Color) is a long-lasting, full-color light bulb that connects to a wide range of other apps and services and comes with some neat features. It's rated to last 25,000 hours, which is a little more than 22 years based on three hours per day average use, and uses 15% less power than the previous generation bulb from Yeelight. In addition to HomeKit, it works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT, and other apps, such as Tasker for Android.

The Yeelight app can be a little difficult to navigate, but it has some neat features if you explore. For example, a Flow State cycles the bulb through a rainbow of colors at variable speeds. A quick-action button called Flash Notification causes the bulb to blink, a useful way to get someone's attention in deaf or hard or hearing families, or when other people are sleeping.

While the price of a single bulb may seem a little high, you don't have to buy a bridge or hub, which helps make up for it.

Pros

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri

  • Color changing and tuneable whites

  • Useful features

Cons

  • Companion app lacks two-factor authentication

Product image of LIFX White
LIFX White

Lifx White is an inexpensive, tunable white smart bulb that works with Siri, along with Alexa and Google Assistant. At 690 lumens, it’s not the brightest bulb of the bunch, but the setup is one of the speediest of any smart bulb we’ve tested. And if you get started with an Apple mobile device, the Lifx app automatically prompts you to connect with HomeKit and Siri, making for an extremely smooth process no matter your level of expertise.

Features in the companion app range from handy and functional to quirky. You can set an on/off schedule for your lights, create fade timers, and even view all the scheduled actions for the day in a timeline. On the quirker end, there's a strange Flicker setting that makes it seem like there's something wrong with the wiring in your home, which could be a fun trick for Halloween. Another preset called Visualizer dims and brightens the bulb based on music or ambient sound using the microphone on your mobile device.

With an expected lifespan of roughly 22 years, the Lifx White is a good bulb if you want a long-lasting, tunable white bulb that plays nice with your Apple smart home.

Pros

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri

  • Good value

Cons

  • No color options

  • Companion app lacks two-factor authentication

Product image of Feit Electric LED Smart Bulb for Apple HomeKit
Feit Electric Color LED Smart Bulb

Feit Electric makes a variety of smart bulbs, but this is one of the few from the brand that works with Apple HomeKit. We had a frustrating time linking this bulb with HomeKit, but once we got it connected, it was easy to control via the Home app, companion app, and using Siri voice control.

The bulb offers millions of colors and tunable whites and is suitable for damp locations (most bulbs in our guide are not). The dimmable bulb is nice and bright, but has an expected lifespan of 15,000 hours, which is below average for a smart bulb.

Given that and the several attempts it took us to set this bulb up, you’re better off opting for another Siri bulb in our guide unless you're committed to the Feit Electric brand.

Pros

  • Suitable for damp locations

  • Works with Apple HomeKit

  • Color changing and tuneable whites

Cons

  • Difficult setup

  • Companion app lacks two-factor authentication

  • Lower lifespan than most other smart bulbs

Meet the testers

Rachel Murphy

Rachel Murphy

Senior Staff Writer

@rachel_murphy

Rachel Murphy covers smart home for Reviewed. She holds a journalism degree from the University of Central Florida. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for several major outlets and as an associate editorial producer for ABC News' Good Morning America.

See all of Rachel Murphy's reviews
Sarah Kovac

Sarah Kovac

Editor, Accessibility

@sarahkovac

Sarah Kovac is an award-winning author and smart home editor for Reviewed. Previously, she worked with a multitude of outlets such as Wirecutter, TIME, PCMag, Prevention, The Atlantic, Reviews.com, CNN, GOOD, Upworthy, Mom.me, and SheKnows.

See all of Sarah Kovac's reviews

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