Philips has expanded its collection with the Philips Hue Bluetooth lamps. These lamps also work without a bridge, but have some limitations. Are those restrictions acceptable or do you have to surrender too much? We have tested these Bluetooth lamps from Hue and share the pros and cons in this review.
Philips Hue has been a well-known name when it comes to smart lighting for years . With a wide range of lamps, fittings, light hoses and much more, the choice is enormous. However, the Hue accessories do have one drawback: they require a bridge to work. Although there are all kinds of starter sets available that already include the bridge, these are quite expensive. Philips has now found a solution. The latest generation of Hue lamps are equipped with Bluetooth, so you can use them without a bridge. This makes the barrier to boarding a lot smaller. But you do miss a number of functions. You can read our experiences in this review of the Hue Bluetooth lamps.
Features: Philips Hue Bluetooth lamps
These are the main features of the Philips Hue Bluetooth lamps:
- Lamps equipped with Bluetooth in various fittings and lamp types (E27, GU10, White, White Ambiance and White and Color Ambiance)
- Does not require a bridge
- Can be operated with special Hue Bluetooth app
- Control up to ten Bluetooth lights without a bridge
- Voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Limited possibilities
- Expandable with separate Hue bridge for HomeKit, voice control with Siri
- Can also be combined with Hue lamps without Bluetooth
Philips Hue’s Bluetooth lamps are an answer to cheaper alternatives such as the IKEA Tradfri lamps . Although the Hue lamps themselves are not cheaper than the previously published lamps, it does make a difference that you do not need a bridge. A bridge costs about € 53 , so the threshold to get started with Hue is therefore a lot lower.
Set up Hue Bluetooth bulbs
To set up the Hue Bluetooth lights, you only need the special Hue Bluetooth app. Setting up your smart Bluetooth lamps is a lot faster in this way than with the traditional versions. You only have to plug the lamp into a suitable socket, switch on the lamp and start the app. A request to establish the Bluetooth connection will automatically appear in the app, after which you only have to give the lamp a name. This name is important to recognize the lamp properly and if you want to use the voice control via Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant.
Setting it up is a piece of cake, even for people who are not at all technical and have no experience with the use of smart devices. No cable is involved and there is no lengthy step-by-step plan with scanning codes and the like. You just need to make sure your Bluetooth is on. To make the link, you must be within 1 meter of the lamp. Connecting from the outside is therefore not possible.
Using the Hue Bluetooth bulbs
The Bluetooth lamps are very easy to use. You just need to open the Hue app and turn the lights on or off. You adjust the brightness of the lamp yourself via the controls or choose one of more than forty different built-in scenes. This colors the lamp in a beautiful color scheme predetermined by Philips, provided your lamps support the colors. You can also choose the color of the lamps yourself via the color picker.
The Bluetooth app does not take different rooms into account. Each lamp is completely self-contained and you cannot group them via the Bluetooth app. It is therefore somewhat cumbersome to switch on several lamps at the same time. You will find a switch at the top of the app to immediately turn all the lights on or off, where you also determine the light intensity.
The app doesn’t actually offer more than this. They don’t work with other apps that support Hue. If you want to automate lamps with all kinds of extensive options, only the Bluetooth lamps without bridge are not suitable for you. Routines have been available in the Bluetooth app since spring 2020.
A problem with the Bluetooth lamps is that the range is limited. We see this more often with other similar accessories that work via Bluetooth, including the Eve accessories . If you live in an apartment, you probably have no problem operating all your lights in the house. It can be a bit trickier with a larger house with several floors. In that case, we recommend to use the bridge anyway, because then you are not dependent on the range.
Nothing else has changed in the light of the lamps. We have been a fan of the light of the Hue lamps for years and that is no different here. The lamps show 16 million colors and emit a maximum of 806 lumens. The lifespan is 25,000 burning hours, so you can use it for years. The lamps have the same rich colors as the renewed Hue lamps from a few years ago. Since that time, Philips has also switched to a lamp made mainly of plastic, instead of a combination of glass with aluminum. That is also the case with these lamps with Bluetooth. We also use the older versions, which are made of glass. We find them a lot more beautiful in terms of quality, although you don’t notice it at all with the quality of the light.
Limitations of Hue Bluetooth bulbs
The Hue Bluetooth bulbs do have a number of limitations in themselves. As said before, the Bluetooth app is a stripped-down version of the regular Hue app, so you miss out on many features. It is also not possible to remotely control the Bluetooth lamps without a bridge. So you always have to be at home to turn lights on or off. Automations are also not available and support for HomeKit is missing if you do not connect the lights to a bridge. Voice control is only possible with Alexa and soon also via the Google Assistant. Since we did not have Alexa at our disposal, we were unable to test this.
To summarize, these features are missing when using the Hue Bluetooth lights without a bridge:
- Support for HomeKit and Siri
- Operation outdoors
- Limited to a maximum of 10 lamps
- Room layout
- Automation and link with other services
- Each user must install the Bluetooth app separately
Expandable with bridge
Fortunately, you can still ‘unlock’ all these functions if you decide to get a bridge. In addition to Bluetooth, the Bluetooth lamps also support the Zigbee protocol, just like the standard Hue lamps. This makes the Bluetooth lamps ideal for getting acquainted with the phenomenon of smart lighting. You can easily board and you can easily expand and use more functions if you like it. A separate bridge costs about € 53 , about the same as a single colored lamp. So you get a lot of extra options for that, which we undoubtedly find worthwhile.
Who are the Hue Bluetooth bulbs for?
The Hue Bluetooth lamps are simply best suited for people who do not yet have a smart home and want to start with smart lighting. That is the reason that Philips has released these lamps. There is nothing to gain for existing Hue owners, so there is no point in replacing all your current Hue bulbs with Bluetooth versions.
If you already have Hue lamps at home and would like to buy new lamps, you can get both the lamps with and without Bluetooth. In that case there is no difference, because both lamps can be connected to the Hue bridge. Only beginners who do not yet have Hue lamps and want to make a careful start should opt for the Bluetooth versions.
Do you want another solution without a bridge? Then you can also opt for the LiFX lamps . These also come in all shapes and sizes, with and without color, and work over Wi-Fi. You don’t have to connect these lights to a hub or bridge, but you can control them remotely, connect to HomeKit and view other advanced functions.
BENEFITS+ of Philips Hue Bluetooth lamps
- Accessible lamps with low entry threshold
- Easy to set up and operate with Bluetooth app
- Also supports Alexa and Google Assistant (coming soon)
- Also suitable if you already have Hue
- Beautiful light
CONS- of Philips Hue Bluetooth lamps
- App very limited
- Limited range due to Bluetooth
We find the Hue Bluetooth lamps a welcome addition to the existing collection. It makes getting into the entire ecosystem a lot easier than before. It is therefore also cheaper to start with Hue. Philips Hue is still the best choice for smart lighting in our opinion due to its high light quality, reliability and versatility. The accompanying Bluetooth app is easy to use due to its simplicity and setting up is a piece of cake.
Nevertheless, we find the Hue Bluetooth app very limited. It is unfortunate that users cannot get a taste of the more advanced functions. We also find it a pity that HomeKit and Siri are not directly supported, but that can probably not be otherwise due to the way the Hue lamps work. The HomeKit support is in the bridge itself, and not in the separate lamps. The Bluetooth lamps are therefore limited in operation, but therefore ideal for streaming in.
The figure of this review applies if you buy and operate the Hue Bluetooth lamps separately, so without a bridge. If you do buy a bridge, you can safely add a whole point to the figure. We therefore find it positive that you can always upgrade to the full product, even if it costs you a little extra.
The Hue Bluetooth lamps are available in several versions at these stores, among others. Make sure you get the version with the Bluetooth logo on the packaging: