HomeKit by Apple and SmartThings by Samsung are both very popular smart home ecosystems. So, we wanted to do a head to head comparison and see which one is better.
In this comprehensive article, you get all of the good, the bad, and the ugly about each ecosystem. Nothing is sugar-coated here. After researching each of the competing Smart Hubs, we compiled a list of which ecosystem/SmartHub may be better for you, depending on which unique situation you are facing.
Whether you have a budget to abide by, want to stay on top of current trends, or are genuinely just curious about each ecosystem, you will find all the information you need below in this Homekit vs Smartthings comparison.
At a glance
Each home automation system has its own set of pros and cons. Deciding which ecosystem is better for you does not depend on how many pros and cons each has, but which pros you cannot do without and which cons you can handle.
To sum it up briefly, HomeKit by Apple is more secure, easier to manage via the Home app, and does not require a hub for usage while you are inside of your home. SmartThings is compatible with a more extensive list of devices, requires a hub for control, and allows you to manage your smart products remotely.
The HomeKit is best for Apple fans, people who love using shortcuts, and those who are heavily concerned about security.
SmartThings is best for someone who is more cautious about spending, prefers to have the ability to control things while away from the house if needed, and who is interested in using a variety of devices with SmartThings.
Below is a detailed list of the various features included in each respective smart home system.
Comparing the details
The thought of automating processes routine to your daily life may seem daunting, pricey, or even scary. Much work goes into automating different aspects of everyday life, so any given system will have areas where it shines and areas where it could perform much better.
Security: Am I being watched?
In modern society, where technology seems to be advancing faster than we can wrap our minds around it, the thought of whether or not we are being watched or listened to through our devices is valid.
There is no need for this thought to cross your mind when it comes to the Apple HomeKit. As a company, Apple takes security concerns very seriously. The HomeKit is no exception.
Apple implements arguably many restrictions in regards to which devices can connect to your HomeKit. Devices that you intend to connect to your HomeKit must be of a certain Apple operating system hardware. These restrictions are in place so that every interaction made through and with devices in your HomeKit is encrypted.
With Apple HomeKit, you have peace of mind knowing that encryption is required for a device to connect to your smart hub and that there is practically no way for Apple to pry into your life. This statement still reigns true when you remote into your HomeKit.
Remoting into your HomeKit system requires you to be connected to your smart products via iCloud, which in and of itself is already very secure. Thus, there is very little chance that your smart products by Apple will be hacked into.
That covers cybersecurity. In terms of physical security, HomeKit by Apple has a feature called Apple Secure Video. Once you purchase and link compatible smart cameras, this feature allows you to watch live-streamed footage and pre-recorded footage from your cameras.
Another great perk with Secure Video is that each recording is accessible through the Home app, and once a recording is finished, it gets stored directly into your iCloud account so that the only person who can ever lay their eyes on it is you. The footage is also encrypted.
SmartThings by Samsung, on the other hand, seems to be more laid back in terms of how secure their system is. In the past, they have dealt with allegations that their system is quite easy to hack into.
There are about twenty different ways a hacker could break into SmartThings products or spy on security cameras, meaning that both cybersecurity and physical security are both possibly sacrificed when you choose SmartThings over HomeKit.
So, when it comes to security, Apple HomeKit is most definitely the undeniable winner.
The hub: What’s the catch?
While you are in your house, the Apple HomeKit does not require you to have a hub or central device to manage your various smart products. SmartThings by Samsung does.
This can be an advantage or a downside, depending on your preferences and unique situation.
The advantage is that a Samsung SmartThings hub requirement means that you do not have to manage multiple devices separately. Every communication between you and your other devices or smart products is all in one spot—the hub.
The disadvantage is that buying a hub is an additional cost that can be avoided if you choose to use HomeKit by Apple. But there is a catch, sadly. The catch occurs when you want to remote into your automated home processes.
Remote access: Can I be in control while I am away?
If you have SmartThings, chances are you already have a hub, as a hub is required to work the system. From there, you are all set to remote into your home automation system and smart products while you are away. There is no catch with SmartThings in this respect.
However, with HomeKit by Apple, there is a catch. Many choose to use HomeKit since you do not have to purchase a hub. This is accurate—as long as you do not leave your home. Once you are gone from your home, so is your ability to control your automated smart products.
To use certain products and features through HomeKit, such as Apple Secure Video, you will need a separate device that acts as a hub. The HomeKit hub options are a HomePod, HomePod Mini, Apple TV, or a dedicated iPad used solely to control your smart products.
Device compatibility: What are my options?
SmartThings gives you more options regarding which devices you can use to connect to your home automation hub.
In opposition, Apple is again notably strict in which devices they allow connecting to HomeKit. The only types of devices you can use with HomeKit are devices with iOS and access to functioning iCloud storage.
The clear winner for this category is SmartThings by Samsung. Samsung even makes Apple devices compatible with SmartThings.
Voice assistants: Who is listening?
Alexa and Google Assistant can both respond when you control smart products via the SmartThings hub. Samsung does not own Alexa and Google Assistant. They are third-party agents. Again, as long as you are not overly concerned about security, this should not be a problem.
Siri will answer your voice commands made to HomeKit. Siri is the voice assistant belonging to Apple and is integrated into pretty much every iOS device.
Shortcuts: True automation?
HomeKit by Apple provides more numerous and more advanced shortcuts. The system familiarizes itself with your everyday routine and comes up with suggested shortcuts. If you are already an iOS device owner and user, you may be aware of how this works already.
Aside from the suggested shortcuts, you can manually program your HomeKit with more intricate shortcuts to speed up the automation of some smart products.
With SmartThings by Samsung, a few shortcuts may be available to you, whether already suggested or manually entered. However, they are likely not as complex as the shortcuts by HomeKit.
The battle of the apps: Which is more user-friendly?
The Home app is more user-friendly in nearly every sense of the word. Although there may not be a central hub used as part of the HomeKit, the app makes it easy for each device to be on the same page because the Home app is uniform across different devices.
SmartThings has two apps to control different types of automation. One app can be overbearing enough, but two apps equate to twice the confusion. The reason why Samsung SmartThings uses two apps is that they are in the process of switching over from an older app to a completely different newer version.
Hopefully, as more time passes, the switch is completed, and there is no need for anyone to continue to use the older app. Some claim that not only does the SmartThings app takes a while to load, but there is more of a delay when trying to control smart products through the hub.
However, the SmartThings app is available to both Android and iPhone users, whereas the Home app requires you to have an iOS device.
The future of automation: What’s next?
Turning your home into a smart home is a substantial investment. Because of this, the future must be promising of whichever system you choose.
As a company, Apple is very competitive. They always strive to be the first and be the best in everything they do. Samsung is usually always trying to catch up to Apple. But, in this situation, Samsung may already be living in HomeKit’s future.
For HomeKit to truly succeed, they must be more open to adding more compatible devices to their list. It is hard to say whether the restriction to iOS devices is truly for security reasons or purely for money, but it is very limiting.
The list of devices compatible with HomeKit is growing, but to have a promising future, they must catch up with Samsung’s SmartThings. Although Samsung faces more security issues with their home automation system, SmartThings is much more inviting when it comes to device compatibility.
SmartThings has the opportunity to have a great future ahead. Before they can move on to worrying about the future, though, they must solve their current problems by condensing their two apps into one and fixing the long delay period. But will solving these issues be enough?
Apple may incorporate AirTags into their HomeKit automation. Currently, people use AirTags to ensure that they can find an item that they have lost by tracking the location of the item. Within the HomeKit, AirTags can be used to trigger general automation once you arrive at your house via geolocation.
In the future, Apple might be able to trigger highly advanced automation specific to an individual by using AirTags to detect where they are within the home. It is unknown whether or not SmartThings will ever be able to follow in these footsteps.
Lastly, some Apple products use U1 chips. These chips allow devices to communicate with each other, which is part of the reason why Apple devices can already communicate with one another so easily.
Currently, U1 chips allow automation to be transferred over from one device to another once the device recognizes that the chip is nearing it. Once Apple begins to integrate U1 chips into more and more products, they will be able to utilize more shortcuts for automation.
Homekit vs Smartthings : The Winner
Overall, Apple HomeKit seems to be the best choice due to many reasons. The overall experience you will have with HomeKit trumps that of SmartThings. The app is aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, modern, and has little to no delay. No third-party companies are involved in your interactions with devices. With HomeKit, shortcuts are more plentiful.
For the security freak, Apple is the best choice. Because they are so strict and encrypt every interaction, the chances of a breach in security are much slimmer. Plus, SmartThings by Samsung has a history attached to it that may be alarming to someone who has security at the top of their list of things to consider when getting a smart home automation system.
For those who are more into aesthetics and for those who are impatient, HomeKit is also the best choice. The HomeKit app is more visually pleasing and is faster. This will provide you with a more pleasant user experience than if you go with SmartThings by Samsung.
The HomeKit is also ideal for anyone who likes to look at the bigger picture and who has futuristic thinking. Although Apple may never match up to Samsung in terms of compatible devices, the future of HomeKit is the most promising.
If you value experience more than anything else, HomeKit will be your best bet. The shortcuts utilized by HomeKit are personalized, and the future of even more advanced shortcuts is favorable.
On the other hand, Samsung is also a considerable choice if you are not highly worried about security. It is still secure for the most part, but there is the chance that someone may be able to hack into your devices. However, Samsung is working to fill those security holes.
If you do not prefer Apple products and vow to never buy an iOS device, you will undoubtedly enjoy SmartThings more.
Since you cannot use SmartThings without purchasing a hub, SmartThings is the ideal option for someone who does not want to worry about managing multiple devices separately. You can conveniently manage every device from one place.
After digesting all of the information provided and choosing your personal favorite, there is no time like the present to get started on your smart home.
Is SmartThings better than HomeKit?
Does SmartThings work with HomeKit?
SmartThings does not currently work with HomeKit. However, there is a workaround that allows you to use SmartThings with HomeKit.
To use SmartThings with HomeKit, you will need to create a custom automation rule in the SmartThings app. In the rule, you will need to specify that when your phone connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network, it should also trigger an event in the HomeKit app.
You can then use the Home app on your iPhone to control all of your smart devices that are connected to SmartThings.