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There are heaps of smart light bulbs to choose from if you want to spice up your lighting. Some offer millions of colors, some offer convenient scheduling apps, but sometimes you need a smarter light bulb to nail both. LIFX is hoping that it’s created such a bulb, and it’s time to put those claims to the test in our LIFX Color review.
What you need to know about the LIFX Color
- LIFX Color (800lm, 9W — 1-pack): $34.99 / £39.99 / €44.99
- LIFX Color (800lm, 9W — 2-pack): $64.99 / £69.99
The LIFX Color is a multicolored 9W smart LED that offers up to 800 lumens of brightness with an E26 fitting. It’s the equivalent of a 60W light bulb, and it’s easiest to find in a single pack. However, the European versions of the LIFX Color offer 1,000 lumens of brightness for a little extra kick.
Like quite a few of the most popular smart light bulbs, you won’t need a hub to get the LIFX Color up and running. All you need to do is download the app for Android or iOS and follow the instructions to set up each bulb. The LIFX Color runs exclusively on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, but you probably won’t have to worry about this setting after your initial setup. Rather, you’ll mostly use the app to establish rooms and schedules for your bulbs and choose new colors.
If you can think of a color, or even a shade of a color, LIFX has it covered.
Speaking of colors, the LIFX Color has them in spades. In fact, the box proudly proclaims “Think of a color… Stop. These have it.” The packaging lists off options like Murple and Taysonberry, which just goes to show that the entire rainbow is at your fingertips. If you prefer to use your voice over your fingertips, the LIFX Color works with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, and Apple HomeKit.
As for alternatives, LIFX has some steep competition from Kasa Smart, Philips Hue, and Wiz. Both Kasa Smart and Wiz follow the hub-free setup, and they hold the edge on pricing, too. A few Philips Hue bulbs even integrate with the Wiz system so you can build a smart home with multiple brands at once.
The main draw for LIFX is in the color department, but we’re going to start with the app itself. I found it well designed and easy to navigate. Even the small header image for each group of lights changes to reflect your current color selection. The schedules icon and card-style icon are easy to pick out and jump back to any time you want to adjust your lights.
While the shopping tab might not be the most useful, LIFX has a Discover tab that can help you connect your smart home platforms and dig up some lighting inspiration. It’s not there for smart home veterans so much as rookies, but it helps to get things looking just right.
Colors and temperatures are great, but the LIFX Color really shines with its themes.
Alright, now let’s get to the main event — the colors. LIFX adopted a color wheel aesthetic for its app, which makes it easy to cycle between shades and choose your brightness and intensity. It works the same way for shades of white, and there aren’t really any temperatures off-limits. The LIFX Color kicks off at just 1,500k but you can ramp all the way up to 9,000k, or Blue Ice, as LIFX calls it.
If you can’t decide on a single color, you might want to flip over to the Themes tab and make life interesting. There are 23 options to choose from at the moment, including a few spooky themes such as Boo! LIFX’s themes tend to work best with multiple bulbs, as each one takes on a shade of its own for a dramatic effect.
See also: The best smart home devices
What’s not so good?
There’s not a whole lot to take issue with when it comes to the LIFX Color smart bulb — and at this price, there shouldn’t be. It’s not very easy to justify a $34.99 light bulb, no matter how many cool colors you can test out. The truth is that most people probably won’t use even 1% of the 16 million options (that’s still 160,000 colors). If you want a colorful smart bulb, there are certainly more affordable alternatives out there.
I also occasionally had trouble getting certain lighting effects to work. The Spooky effect is supposed to make your light flicker for a few seconds before ultimately blacking out and switching to a red color, but I couldn’t get it to run on more than one bulb at a time. Instead of spooky lighting, I had one bulb that followed the scene while everything else stayed fully lit.
LIFX Color review: Should I buy it?
If you’re determined to get the most out of your multi-color smart light bulbs, this is a pretty great way to do it. LIFX offers millions of shades, and a wider range of white temperatures than most rivals can match. The challenges with the HomeKit setup can be frustrating, but it may have been a result of our set missing some paperwork. Otherwise, the LIFX Color offers everything you want in a smart light bulb — with a price to match.
Should you decide to go the budget route for your smart light bulb setup, the Kasa Smart ($14.99) is well worth a look. It’s more affordable than the LIFX Color but shares a key advantage: it doesn’t require a hub.