A beginner's guide to living in a Xiaomi smart home

The best Xiaomi smart home devices you can buy right now

Living in a Xiaomi smart home
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At the end of last year, Xiaomi announced that it was bringing its smart home tech to the western world. Well, it announced three devices would be landing at international stores, at least – the Mi Bedside Lamp, the Mi LED Smart Bulb and the Mi Smart Plug.

Those devices, and a few new additions, are now available through Xiaomi's dedicated Amazon store front. With Alexa in the mix (and Google Assistant on the way) it's clear that Xiaomi has plans to be a major smart home player outside of China. Added to that, Google let Xiaomi take to the stage at its big October launch event to reveal the Mi Box S.

However, you'd be a fool to think that Xiaomi is a newcomer to the smart home party. A damned fool. Over in China there's an absolute mountain of connected Xiaomi gadgetry on sale. And by mountain, we mean mountain: there are more than 20 security cameras, five smart fridge models, four smart speakers, a couple of connected washing machines, five robot vacuum cleaners… you get the idea.

Xiaomi has even teamed up with big western names – Philips and Honeywell to name a few – for co-branded smart home devices and has a smart speaker in the works too.

Xiaomi smart home tech to buy now

Smart lighting: Xiaomi Yeelight WiFi LED
Smart lighting: Xiaomi Yeelight WiFi LED

Smart security: Xiaomi Mi Home
Smart security: Xiaomi Mi Home

Smart cleaning: Roborock S50 robot vacuum
Smart cleaning: Roborock S50 robot vacuum

Buying Xiaomi tech direct from China

The good news is that you don't have to wait for Xiaomi to drip feed us these goodies – you can order them directly from China right now, using dedicated retailers like Gearbest, who make it easy to import stuff, with local currencies, worldwide shipping costs and delivery times all clearly stated.

Now, there are a couple of caveats here. Often the instruction manuals in the box will be in Chinese and you'll also have to do a bit of faffing in the Mi app to get things up and running. The flip side to that is saving a ton of money. Xiaomi products are ever increasing in quality, and devices are often less than half the price of – and better performing than – their bigger name rivals.

Living in a Xiaomi smart home

The Xiaomi Mi Home app

The Mi Home app is a strange and curious beast. When signing in, you have to select your region. And what you choose here really impacts on what devices you can sync with the app. Our advice – choose 'Mainland China' here and any device you buy should be available for selection when you attempt to add a device to the mix.

You could play it safe here and choose 'Europe' or 'US', and be guaranteed a 100% English language experience… but where's the fun in that? The chances are that you'll also struggle to find your newly imported Xiaomi device listed for addition.

If you take our advice and go with 'Mainland China' you might find the odd screen or menu in Chinese but, on the whole (with the English version of the Mi Home app, at least), you shouldn't have too many issues.

Like any good smart home ecosystem, the app also lets you set rules and routines, although getting stuff to work outside of the Mi platform (even if Alexa compatibility is stated) is often more hassle than it's worth.

Anyways, enough build up – let's get onto the main event. Here's our pick of the best Xiaomi smart home devices to buy now…

The best Xiaomi smart home devicesLiving in a Xiaomi smart home

Xiaomi Mi Home Security Camera

£33.99, Amazon

This is the version of the Mi Home camera that's been made available to westerners. There are heavier spec'd versions (more than 20 of them, as we mentioned above) on sale but, for simplicity and for an absolute bargain, look no further than this sub-£35 security cam.

Boasting Full HD recording, a 130° ultra-wide angle lens, a 10m infrared range, night vision, intelligent detection and two-way voice communication, it really is a heck of a lot of bang for your buck.

Living in a Xiaomi smart home

Xiaomi Yeelight WiFi LED Bulb

£24.95, Amazon

In collaboration with Yi Technology, Xiaomi's Philips Hue rival is officially available outside of China now and is available for E27 or E26 sockets.

With a colour temperature range of 1700K to 6500K, these lights – like Lifx – don't require a separate hub and can be controlled using Alexa and Google Assistant. There's a dedicated Yeelight app for controls, although they work just fine in the Mi Home app too.

At MWC 2019, Xiaomi also showed off a version of these bulbs with Mi, rather than Yeelight, branding and they are going on sale later this year.

Living in a Xiaomi smart home

Xiaomi Mi Smart Home Gateway 2

£21.70, Gearbest

You'll need this hub in order to control the vast array of Xiaomi smart home sensors. It plugs straight into the mains (you'll need an adapter), and doesn't need to be connected via Ethernet, so is about as hassle free a smart home hub as you could hope for.

It also doubles up as a radio, an alarm, a speaker, a doorbell notifier and a night light… but good luck making use of those features unless you can read Chinese.

A beginner's guide to living in a Xiaomi smart home

Xiaomi Roborock S50

£443.99, Amazon | Gearbest

Xiaomi's Roborock S50 is one of our favourite robot vacuums. It's awesome and affordable, which is always a good combination, but it's also got excellent navigation skills, superb cleaning performance and, well, it's also a flippin' mop.

There are four cleaning modes, which range from quiet to max, but you really are getting your bang for your buck here. All of this, naturally, is handled in the Xiaomi Mi Home app.

Living in a Xiaomi smart home

Xiaomi Smart Bluetooth Switch

£5.42, Gearbest

If you've got a bunch of Xiaomi smart home tech and you're finding the app a bit too fiddly, then you can simplify quite a lot by splashing out(!) for this smart home button.

This Zigbee button doesn't have the multi-platform skills of some of its pricier rivals but does give you one-tap controls for your Xiaomi smart plugs, switches and lamps.

Living in a Xiaomi smart home

Xiaomi Mijia Honeywell Fire Alarm Detector

£23.25, Gearbest

One of, if not the, cheapest smart smoke alarms available, but the Honeywell branding should give you the reassurance you need that it's up to the task.

That task, obviously, is detecting smoke and raising an alarm. That alarm is on the device itself – as per any dumb smoke alarm – but it's when paired with the app (via the Smart Home Gateway) that things become smart. You can get alerts on your phone and you can also perform health checks from within the app.

Living in a Xiaomi smart home

Xiaomi Mijia Philips Eyecare Smart Lamp 2

£45.72, Gearbest

Xiaomi's second collaboration with Philips resulted in the funky looking Lamp 2, which offers gesture as well as smartphone controls.

The lamp has a built-in sensor and uses a light calibration algorithm, so when it starts to get dark it automatically enters Smart Night Light mode. Annoyingly though, it won't show up in the Hue app.

Living in a Xiaomi smart home

Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier Pro

£215, Gearbest

Almost inaudible, the Xiaomi purifier works in spaces up to 60 square metres. There's an OLED display that shows the current air quality reading, with Xiaomi showing a PM2.5 concentration scale for particulate matter, along with both temperature and humidity readings.

It has a triple layer 360-degree filter, with a PET pre-filter, an EPA filter and an activated carbon filter, and its makers state it can clean 500 cubic metres in an hour. It also features a laser particle sensor that's capable of spotting particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter.

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TAGGED    smart home

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