Review: Tuo Smart Button with Matter compatibility over Thread

Cupertino, September 9, 2023

Having reviewed a substantial number of HomeKit-compatible devices in various categories over the years, it is inevitable to cover similar ground with some of them. This is particularly true for devices that offer similar functionality without any unique features. Wireless smart buttons, for example, can be considered one such device type. While some may have more buttons than others, the basics remain the same – single, double, and long-press controls. However, today's product, the Tuo Smart Button, stands out because it is one of the few wireless buttons that utilize Thread. Additionally, it is currently the only smart button that is Matter compatible, making it unique. As a result, I am excited to take a closer look at this new device.

Front of the box
Rear of the box
Side of the box with compatible platforms
Side of the box listing features

Tuo's first product stands out with its beautifully understated packaging. The front of the box prominently displays the device, which is important for consumers. The Matter logo is also featured prominently, leaving no room for ambiguity. The back of the box provides some information about the button's capabilities, although this is typically expected for someone familiar with smart buttons. The sides of the box list both compatibility and features, along with the Thread logo. This ensures that the button is up-to-date and future-proofed. However, there have been some questions regarding which platforms are compatible with this button based on findings from other reviews. While I will primarily be testing this button in Apple Home, I will also try it out with Samsung SmartThings and Google Home out of curiosity. Matter is expected to work with all compatible platforms, which should include Amazon Alexa. However, I am unable to test it with Alexa since I don't have any Thread Border Routers compatible with Alexa. It is worth noting that the Amazon Alexa logo is absent from the packaging in this case. Since this is a Thread device, it requires a Border Router, which is present in my Apple HomePods, Google Nest Hub Max, and Samsung SmartThings Station. All of these devices also act as Matter Controllers, which is another requirement for any Matter device.

Contents of the box
Stickers and wall plate adhesive

The stylish presentation continues with the contents of the box, which include a neatly wrapped button, a "Getting Started" guide, and a "Welcome Kit" that includes a double-sided sticker for the magnetic wall plate. It also includes a set of icon stickers to help users designate the button's functions. Tuo has done an excellent job with the presentation of their very first smart device.

Front of the smart button
Rear of the smart button, with Matter QR code
Profile of the smart button
Sections for the front of the button

The button itself maintains the minimalist design depicted on the box. Personally, I'm not entirely sold on the design, particularly the slight "chin" on the bottom half of the front section where the recessed button is located. The top half of the front section is flat and unadorned to accommodate the provided stickers. Nevertheless, the design is practical, and I can live with it. The back of the button displays the Matter code in both QR and numeric formats, along with the company's website. The front/top section of the button appears to float above/around the back section, allowing the entire button to be pressed and providing tactile feedback.

The Tuo Smart Button is incredibly compact, measuring just 40mm wide/tall and 12.5mm deep. This makes it one of the smallest buttons available for HomeKit. In the image provided, the Tuo is compared to the Eve Button (Bluetooth only), Aqara Smart Mini Switch (Zigbee), and Onvis 5-Key Smart Switch (Thread but not Matter compatible). While all devices, except the Onvis, offer a single button with three press options, the Onvis stands out with its five buttons, which can be advantageous for controlling multiple functions if you have an exceptional memory for button functions.

Smart button with magnetic backplate

The button comes with a metal backplate that can be attached to a wall using the included double-sided sticker or permanently secured with a screw (not provided). The button, stickers, and backplate are well-made and do not feel cheap or flimsy. With the metal backplate, the Tuo feels substantial, and even without it, the button feels sturdy.

It is worth noting that the Tuo is not a cheap device, priced at US$34.99 (excluding discount coupons). Both Matter and Thread come with additional costs due to certification and membership requirements. However, the current price for the Onvis, which offers four more buttons, is the same. However, it only works with Apple Home. Therefore, for those with multiple smart home ecosystems, the Tuo is the logical choice.

The button uses a standard CR2032 coin battery, which is easily accessible via the rear panel.

Add to Apple Home
Choose a room
Name the device
Devices added to Apple Home

For Apple HomeKit users, adding devices is typically trouble-free, especially when devices utilize Bluetooth & Thread instead of WiFi. Since the Tuo is a Matter over Thread device, it uses Bluetooth for initial setup before transitioning to Thread. As a result, the WiFi band of your phone is irrelevant. In my experience, I was able to add the button to HomeKit without any issues. In Apple Home, the button appears as a single tile that allows access to the button's settings for assigning functionality to each of the three button-press types. The settings also provide battery level information. Since this is a Matter-enabled device, there is an option to "Turn on Pairing Mode" to generate a new Matter code for future smart home ecosystems. As the Tuo does not currently have its own app, any firmware updates will likely be delivered through the smart home app used by the user. This has already been observed with the Wemo Stage Scene Controller, which received its Thread update from within the Apple Home app about 18 months ago.

Single press action
Double press action
Long press action

I configured the Tuo smart button with three scenes, one for each button action. As expected, everything worked flawlessly. There is not much more to say on this matter, as it is rare for a device with such basic functions to have any issues. The Tuo performs just as well as my Eve Button, which uses Bluetooth. Is the response fast? Yes, but so is a Zigbee button, so it's challenging to claim that the Tuo offers anything more than a well-built device. What sets it apart is the reliability of Thread and the lack of need for a proprietary hub. Furthermore, with Matter certification, it surpasses the other devices mentioned previously for several reasons. The Eve Button, for example, suffers because Bluetooth is not usually reliable in smart homes. Although it is still in use, its functionality is limited.

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