The best smart buttons for smart home automation and scene control

Buyers guide: Push the button

The best smart home buttons

Smart home buttons are a thing. You may think that, as we move away from remote controls, switches and apps and towards a voice-controlled smart home, you'd have no need for another physical controller in your house.

However, the brilliance of the top smart home buttons lies in their simplicity, and multi-functionality from a single press. Sure, you can turn your bedroom light on with the switch on the wall like your grandpa used to – but can that switch also turn off any lights you may have left on downstairs, turn on all of your security cameras, set your alarm and tune into some sleeping sounds on your smart speaker? It can not. Unless its a smart switch, of course, but that's a different story.

That's where the current crop of smart buttons come in. With a simple tap, double tap or long press you can trigger an array of smart home scenes and automations. Sure, you could ask Alexa or Siri to kick start these routines, but sometimes it's so much easier to just push a button – especially as you can strategically place them (and move them) around the house to where they will be most useful.

The best smart home buttons 2019

Here's a quick snap shot of our current favorites - scroll down for all the detailed information and key smart button reviews...

Best for Alexa routines: Echo Buttons
Best for Alexa routines: Echo Buttons

Cheap, easy to use and no longer just a gimmicky addition for Alexa games, the Echo Buttons bring the power of Amazon's smart home ecosystem to your fingertips.

Best allrounder: Logitech Pop
Best allrounder: Logitech Pop

IFTTT, SmartThings and HomeKit are all involved so you have a ready-made range of controls at the touch of a button. The Pop is way beyond a simple on and off switch.

Our top pick: Flic
Our top pick: Flic

With or without a hub - it can just use your smartphone or tablet - Flic buttons offer a huge variety of smart home controls from a tiny little, slickly designed, button.

Smart buttons: Things to consider

Smart buttons are a fairly new idea and the market isn't exactly bursting at the seams with options. However, even if more contenders do come to the party, they won't really do much more than the current offering can. Once you go beyond a button that offers two to three scenes at the tap of a button, you're entering the realm of a remote control, and that would be missing the point.

What you do need to consider though is what devices and platforms the smart button you're thinking of buying taps (see what I did there?) into. Does it support HomeKit scenes, are IFTTT applets compatible? That sort of thing. Don't worry though, we'll explain all of those things as we run through the contenders.

Onto the business at hand then, and here are our picks of the best smart buttons available right now. We've lived with for a while now and they just work. You'll hardly ever have a click (or double, or triple, or long press) go unnoticed and, on the odd occasion this does happen, no button below is more guilty than any other of this misbehaviour – we found them to be pretty much on a par when it came to reliability.

Logitech Pop Smart Button

The best smart buttons for smart home automation and scene control

From $39.99, Amazon |

The Logitech Pop jumps onboard your smart home's Wi-Fi to scan for compatible devices it can control. Actually, its hub does. The Logitech Pop Smart Button itself is only capable of pinging Bluetooth signals to the hub; it's the hub that talks to your connected kit over the internet. The hub itself is a small plug-like device that simply slots into a mains socket – you just sync that up with your home Wi-Fi in the smartphone app and add your buttons, one at a time, to the setup.

Out of the box it'll offer up controls for Lifx, Phillips Hue, Lutron, Insteon, August and Belkin WeMo devices, and it's also compatible with an array of smart home platforms including Apple HomeKit, SmartThings and IFTTT. It can also pair up with a Logitech Harmony Remote hub for the absolute wealth of controls that offers you.

Each button offers three control options – single press, double press, long press – so you can set up an array of choices for each one. And, rather than relying on pre-set recipes, you can chain together multiple devices across different platforms to work in harmony. The great thing with the Pop, which puts it ahead of its rivals, is that once you've chosen a device to control, you can then dig deeper – e.g. choosing a Hue bulb to turn on at a specific colour or brightness, or having your Sonos speaker(s) turn on one of your favourite radio stations.

The button itself is a fairly dull looking slab of plastic that boast a "long" battery life – I'm a few months down the line with mine and it's still alive and well. There's a starter kit which comes with a button and a hub and, while the Pop buttons themselves aren't exactly expensive (at $39.99 a, er, pop), you're looking at around $60 to get started with that kit.

Now, while you can chain together your own automations, you can also sync up your Pop Button to simply play back HomeKit scenes (or, indeed IFTTT recipes). However, you can't use a Pop Button simultaneously with the Home app and the Pop app, so you need to make a choice if you're going all in with Apple.

the ambient verdict
Logitech Pop Smart Button
The Logitech Pop is maybe the most complete smart button out there. The list of compatible brands isn’t all that big at first glance, but when you throw IFTTT, SmartThings and HomeKit into the mix, you really do have an extensive range of controls at the touch of a button. It’s also the best button for the little extras – it’s way beyond a simple on and off switch.
  • Extra functionalities
  • Simple set up
  • Compatible with lots of platforms
  • Boring design
  • Need to make a HomeKit choice
  • Hub is extra cash on top


The best smart buttons for smart home automation and scene control

$34.99, Amazon |

Flic has been in the smart button game longer than most – it first went live on Indiegogo in 2014, smashing its $80,000 target and raising almost $1 million. It's easily the most button-like smart button, measuring just 27mm x 27mm x 8mm and weighing less than 7g. But it packs a heavy punch despite its diminutive size.

The range of tech it's compatible with is huge – highlights include Hue, Lifx, Sonos, Ecobee, Ikea Trådfri, WeMo and Wink – and the gaps can be filled with IFTTT and Logitech Harmony controls and recipes as well. Like the Pop, it's a simple one, two or long tap control method – all configurable within the easy to use app, and it also allows you to string together automations featuring multiple actions from multiple brands.

The app is also jam-packed with 'fun' (i.e. naff games) and extras; the most useful being the 'find my phone' function that plays a loud alarm through the Flic app on your smartphone. In fact, the Flic button is the strongest on the smartphone control front – with a wealth of controls (think lockscreen, camera shutter, music controls and more) on offer. It's also compatible with a number of fitness platforms – you can start and stop a Strava run with it, for example. It even comes with a little belt clip so you can wear it out and about.

Back to its smart home smarts and, using Sonos as an example, unlike the Logitech Pop you can't really go beyond basic controls – on, off, toggle, next track and so on – with the Flic. However, it's much cheaper than the Pop as you don't need to fork out for a hub – it can work by just using your phone as its gateway.

Now, that has its flaws, of course – you need to allow the app to run at all times and it'll only work if it's in Bluetooth-range of your phone – and that's why Flic offer a hub to pair up to the Flic buttons (from $99.99). I've had a few buttons hooked up to a Flic hub for a few months now and the experience is pretty much flawless.

Sans-hub, I found pairing a Flic button with an iPad, which is on my dining room table 99% of the time, was the most reliable method for stability. Flic also sells multipacks of four or eight buttons where you can make savings on the individual price and there are also some glow in the dark versions as well. You can also, if you wish, have buttons customised with an icon or logo of your choosing.

the ambient verdict
Flic is probably the easiest of the bunch to get started with, and you’ll find that most of the major smart home players are on board and there’s always IFTTT for when they are not. The fact that you don’t need a hub makes the Flic the most affordable option, but the platform is all the stronger (and more reliable) when you do add a hub to the mix.
  • Compact design
  • Works without a hub
  • Fun extras aplenty
  • Relies on paired phone / tablet
  • Basic controls on the whole
  • No HomeKit syncing

Eve Button

The best smart buttons for smart home automation and scene control

$49.95, Amazon |

Unlike Flic's and Logitech's smart buttons, the Eve Button doesn't let you specify individual smart tech devices, or add multiple gadgets to a tap control; it relies on HomeKit to do the heavy lifting. Living within the Eve app, which is essentially Apple's Home App in different clothes (you can actually do all of the configuration within the Home app, in fact), your single, double or long press options are reserved to start HomeKit scenes – and nothing else.

Now, while that does sound a bit restrictive compared to its rivals, if you're living in a smart home controlled by Apple's ecosystem then it's actually a great setup. Sure, if you want to just turn a single smart light on or off, it's a bit of a faff to set up a Home Scene for that basic control but, for more advanced chains of events, it certainly makes sense.

I've described above how the Logitech has an advantage over the basic Flic as it always has a hub for communication, rather than relying on a phone, but the Eve is a slightly mixed bag on this front. If you have a dedicated Apple HomeKit hub - i.e. an iPad, HomePod or Apple TV – then it will work faultlessly in your house without issues. However, if you're only powering your smart home using the iOS Home app on your iPhone, you'll need that phone located nearby for things to work.

Design wise the Eve is the bulkiest beast of the bunch, although the anodised aluminium finish does look more premium than the Pop and Flic's plastic build. As it's only Bluetooth LE powering the show, battery life is as long as the coin battery lasts (i.e. a long time) so you won't need to bother charging it.

In the box you'll get some little rubber feet for a non-slip experience, and there are also some little icon stickers you can put on it – I guess to remind you what configurations you've set up.

the ambient verdict
Eve Button
The Eve Button is a great option – if you’re locked into Apple’s HomeKit world and make use of the scenes in the Home app. For anyone else looking to simplify smart home controls, take a look elsewhere. It’s a more premium build than its main rivals, but that does come at a cost, quite literally – it’s the most expensive smart button on test.
  • Configure through iOS Home app
  • Premium design
  • Brilliant with HomeKit
  • Most expensive option
  • HomeKit and HomeKit only
  • Bulky build

Amazon Echo Button

The best smart buttons for smart home automation and scene control

$19.99 for 2, Amazon

Sure, they started life as a gimmicky toy that allowed Echo users to play head-to-head, fastest-finger-first style quiz games and the like, but the Echo Buttons have since evolved into one of the simplest, yet most comprehensive smart buttons available… as long as you’re tied into Alexa’s ecosystem.

The Bluetooth-packing Echo Buttons, which are powered by a couple of AAA batteries and come in pairs for less than 20, are capable of just a couple of things: lighting up and changing colors thanks to the LEDs under that milky white dome and, this is the key thing, talking to a paired Echo smart speaker – whether that be a Plus, Dot, Spot or whatever Echo you choose.

Until the tail end of 2018, that last part was limited to interacting with game-based skills, with the Echo Button effectively acting as a gameshow buzzer. However, Amazon opened up the platform to allow Echo Buttons to kick start routines and, hallelujah, the gimmicky Echo Button is now a smart button capable of controlling any devices that work with Alexa.

It’s limited in that you can only associate a button press with just one routine, but the steps of that routine are only bound by your own imagination and, of course, the actions that Amazon’s smart assistant is capable of. The press of an Echo Button simply replaces you telling Alexa to kick start a routine with your voice – so they are ideal for scenarios where you just want a set of actions to happen with minimal fuss.

For example, I’ve got one Echo Button set up by the back door – paired to a Dot in the kitchen - that, when pressed, opens my garden office’s Somfy blinds, turns on all of the smart sockets in the office, plays BBC Radio 6 Music on my Sonos speaker and turns on my desk light. I’ve got its pair sitting by the door in the office that essentially does all of this in reverse. The handy ‘wait’ function of Alexa routines also means it turns everything off but waits 2 minutes before shutting the blinds, thus giving me time to escape. Oh, and it turns my Xiaomi robo vacuum on too, to pick up all the crumbs from all the biscuits I've eaten while putting off doing some work.

There’s no hub so to speak although, of course, it’s the Echo speaker doing all the real heavy lifting so, while the Buttons are super cheap, you need to be on board the good ship Alexa in some way already. And, of course, there’s no HomeKit or Google Assistant stuff here – don’t be daft.

the ambient verdict
Amazon Echo Buttons
The Echo Buttons are an incredibly cheap and easy way for existing Echo smart speaker users to jump into the world of smart buttons and the automations that come with them. The design is a bit crude and you can only pair one routine to a button at a time but, given they bring the power of the whole Alexa ecosystem to your fingertip, they are a seriously smart bit of kit.
  • Very cheap
  • Tie-in simply with Alexa routines
  • Easy to use
  • No HomeKit or GA
  • Crappy design
  • One routine limit

Fibaro The Button (HomeKit version)

The best smart buttons for smart home automation and scene control

$59.99, Amazon |

Another smart button which is firmly bedded down in Camp Apple is Fibaro's The Button. Like the Eve Button, you'll need a smart house powered by HomeKit to get any use from it. From the version on test here that is; there is a Z-Wave model on sale too.

However, unlike the Eve Button you will want to do all of the configuring from within Apple's Home app – give the native app a miss, it's a bit of a mess. Again, you'll need to have an Apple HomeKit hub setup (iPad, HomePod or Apple TV) to allow the button to communicate with your smart home devices without relying on your iPhone being in place.

It's the similar trio control setup that's becoming the norm on smart buttons – a single tap, a long press or a double tap – with all of those able to kick start a HomeKit scene or automation. As with the Eve, it all works seamlessly after the initial (albeit slightly clunky) pairing of control methods to action from with the app.

In terms of the design, Fibaro have gone down a door-knob path for The Button. Coming in a range of colours including white, red, yellow or black, the 3cm high button certainly has a bit of a novelty feel to it. There's no lights on board to indicate it's powered up or it's recorded a press; although you can set it to beep from within the app.

The Button is powered by a 1/2 AA battery (yep, that's a size… look it up – don't chop an AA battery in half) and operates on Bluetooth LE so you should be good for a few months. You can actually check the battery level in the app.

You can also use the attached sticky pad to keep The Button stuck to a surface and there's also a little bracket if you did want to screw it to the wall – which would be massive overkill as it only weighs 18 grams.

the ambient verdict
Fibaro The Button
The HomeKit version of Fibaro's smart button offers the same controls as the Eve, albeit at a slightly more expensive price-point. However, the quirky design may appeal to some.
  • Use Apple Home for setup
  • Great for HomeKit
  • Quirky design
  • HomeKit only
  • Quite expensive
  • Fibaro app is clunky

TAGGED   smart home
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