Review: Philips Hue Introduces Security Cameras, Lacks HomeKit Compatibility

Cupertino, July 9, 2024

Philips Hue Line Expands with Secure Cameras and Sensors

The Philips Hue line has long focused on lighting products, but this year Hue's parent company Signify expanded the line with a set of Philips Hue Secure cameras and sensors designed for home security.

I was able to test out the $200 Hue Secure Wired Camera to see how it compares to some of the other smart camera options on the market. Hue's cameras can be used indoors and outdoors, and the Hue Secure has 1080p video recording with night vision and motion alerts, which is what I'd expect from any security camera at this point.

The camera itself has a base that mounts to the wall with a screw, but if you want to set it on a table or other flat surface you'll have to shell out an extra $30 for the "desktop" version. You can also purchase the desktop stand after you buy the camera, but it costs $50, which I find unreasonable for a plastic stand that should have come with the camera at no extra charge to begin with.

I didn’t want to use or test the mounted camera, so I bought the stand. You could probably prop something up on it, but the placement of the cord at the bottom of the camera prevents it from laying flat without the stand, and it sits too high to use that way.

To allow for interchangeable wall and desktop mounting, the base uses magnets. The magnets are super strong, so even though the camera is meant to be wall-mounted, I’m not worried about it coming loose. You can remove it from the mount and attach the mount to the top or bottom to optimize your view no matter where you mount it. The field of view is wide enough that you can see an entire room if the camera is indoors, or a large portion of your yard if it’s outdoors.

The Hue Secure has a white plastic housing and a standard camera lens inside, and you can’t mistake it for a security camera. I was surprised at how tall it is (just over 3.5 inches), which means it sticks out quite a bit if you mount it on the wall. The battery-powered version of this camera is even longer at 5 inches, so it will stick out even further when mounted.

I like the sleek design and the magnetic mounting system, especially since the magnets allow you to position it in different ways that might not be possible with a swivel mount alone. This is the standard base that the camera comes with. The other base is one I picked up for $50 so I could prop it up on a desk.

Video quality was fine for a 1080p indoor/outdoor camera and on par with the HomeKit-compatible cameras I've tested. So, speaking of HomeKit, these don't have it. People with a bunch of Philips Hue lights will know that they all work with HomeKit, but that's not the case with these cameras. The lack of HomeKit support will likely be a dealbreaker for those in the Apple ecosystem who want everything controlled from a central app.

Hue cameras don’t require a Hue Bridge to function, but the Bridge is required to integrate the cameras with other Hue products, like lights, contact sensors, and motion sensors. It also enables remote control when you’re away from home and allows the camera to act as a motion sensor to trigger lights when motion is detected. For full functionality, you’ll need a Bridge, which costs $60 if you don’t already have one for Hue lights.

Adding the camera to the app was easy, and it can be monitored through the new Hue Secure section of the app. In my testing, it never went offline, and it’s been more reliable than the Eve HomeKit Secure Video camera I have outside, which is off more often than it is on and has been a huge headache for the past few months. I’ve had similar issues with other HomeKit cameras, and I just don’t find them to be the most reliable option.

Compared to Ring, though, I don’t think Hue has much of an edge. My Ring cameras rarely go offline or have connection issues, so Hue is about equal. The cameras can be paired with Hue lights with automations to activate the lights when motion is detected, alerting you and deterring intruders.

According to Signify, there’s end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to keep video clips and snapshots private, along with software to help prevent hacking. Video data is stored in the Hue Cloud if you choose to do so, with content deleted after 30 or 60 days. With E2EE, video and audio recordings can’t be viewed if the Hue Cloud is hacked, as an automatically generated, multi-word access code is required. On that note, you’ll want to keep the access code somewhere safe, and you’ll also need to keep hold of the Hue Secure “Ownership Card” required for installation.

Like other smart cameras, the Hue Secure can recognize people, pets, and packages to send tailored alerts, and there are options to set activity and package zones. There’s a mimic presence feature that can turn on Hue lights to make it appear as if you’re home when you’re not. The cameras support two-way talk, so you can communicate with someone if you need to. However, these are all features that are available on other smart security cameras.

Up to 10 cameras can be paired to a Hue Bridge, and a Hue account is required to use them. While the cameras can be used without a subscription, some features do require a monthly payment. Live streaming, video snapshots, light and sound alarms, and notifications are all free to access. Recording requires a Basic or Plus subscription, with pricing starting at $39.99 per year after a 90-day trial included with purchase. Othe...

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