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Samsung SmartThings: what you need to know

Looking for an alternative to the norm? Samsung SmartThings could be the system for you

Living room with Samsung JetBot

Samsung’s SmartThings doesn’t get the attention that the Amazon, Google and Apple ecosystems get, but it’s a very powerful and flexible platform. Although the number of available devices is smaller than you’ll find for Alexa or Google Home, there are still plenty of big brands here including Arlo, Bose, Sonos, Nest, Hue, Innr, Lifx, Belkin and Ring.

SmartThings is actually two entities: it’s a smart home platform, but it’s also Samsung’s label for its own compatible devices – so it’s baked into the company’s phones and laptops… and even some of its fridges.

You need a SmartThings hub

SmartThings is based around a hub, which also works with Zigbee and Z-Wave so you can link up third-party devices such as Hue bulbs. The SmartThings phone app is available for both iOS and Android, and devices are controllable via Google Assistant and Alexa as well as Samsung’s own Bixby. That’s great for choice, but means you might wonder why you’d pick SmartThings over Amazon or Google’s systems, which include many more devices.

One reason is that Samsung’s SmartThings range includes some devices you might not find on other platforms, including Blu-ray players and household appliances.

SmartThings app-vantages

The automation section of the SmartThings app is great, letting you create ‘if x then y’ actions such as activating an automation at a particular time of day when a person is in a particular place. And because it includes so many kinds of devices, you can use it to set up all sorts of diverse functions – like alarms when a water leak sensor detects a problem or a motion sensor is triggered.

SmartThings isn’t the most widely supported platform, but it’s extremely polished and works really well – especially if you’ve got multiple Samsung devices.

Top SmartThings devices

Samsung 50AU9000

The AU9000 is one of Stuff’s current best-buy TVs, offering impressive 4K performance for a relatively low price. You can bark your channel-changing orders at it using Samsung’s own Bixby voice assistant, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, as well as via Samsung SmartThings devices or the SmartThings app. 

But like many recent tellies from the Korean brand, you can also use it as a smart home controller. If you press Home on the remote and then select SmartThings, you’ll see any connected devices that you’ve added to your Samsung account. If they’re within range you can add, view, monitor and control them directly from your television – say, turning off your Hue lights. 

This is particularly useful when you create Scenes in the app. For example, you might create a Night mode that you can invoke from your TV to dim the lights, turn on your soundbar and close the blinds for movie night.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Samsung Galaxy S22

In some ways this is the jewel in Samsung’s new smartphone lineup: it doesn’t fold like the Z Fold3 and it doesn’t have the heft of the S22 Ultra, but it’s arguably the best Samsung for most people and runs the very latest flavour of Android with only some minor tinkering. A powerful processor, superb photography skills and, of course, SmartThings integration mean it’s useful both home and away.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

Samsung Jet Bot

This robot vacuum cleaner is built on the same core tech as the mega-expensive Jet Bot AI+ but offers a more affordable way to get a genuinely useful autonomous vac. It makes short work of even the toughest home layouts thanks to its automatic mapping and many sensors, and you can use the SmartThings app on your phone to create no-go zones that it won’t stray into.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Samsung Home Hub

There’s no star rating on this one because it’s not out in the UK yet because we haven’t reviewed it – but Samsung’s latest Hub is a lot more exciting than its plain, functional SmartThings Hub. It looks like a tablet
and works like a tablet thanks to its 8.4in touchscreen, and you can keep it in its dock or take it around your home. It includes two microphones to hear Bixby voice commands from across the room, and it’s been designed with a particular focus on Samsung’s home appliances such as cookers and washers.

Samsung SmartThings basics

Find your things

The SmartThings Find feature is built into the SmartThings app on iOS and Android, and yes, it enables you to smartly find things. It doesn’t work with non-Samsung devices, but it does enable you to locate things like the eminently lose-able Galaxy Buds as well as phones and tablets.

Automate everything

Whether you use the SmartThings smartphone/tablet app or a dedicated hub device, you can automate all kinds of things. Where other platforms focus on entertainment, Samsung is really hot on appliances such as washing machines and security cams.

Delegate dull stuff

As much as we love our smart speakers and TVs, we’d much rather have smart home tech that took care of the chores. SmartThings is brilliant for that, with devices such as the Jet Bot letting you command them from the comfort of your favourite chair.

Enjoy the software

The Samsung SmartThings app for iOS and Android looks a lot like Apple’s Home app, and it offers a similarly consistent experience across different devices as well as connectivity with smartwatches and other gear. But we think it’s more flexible than Apple’s offering.