Wink vs SmartThings – Which is the Best Smart Home Hub?

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The difference between versus SmartThings

With the growing number of smart home devices on the market, there’s an increasing demand for smart home hubs. The Wink 2 Hub and The SmartThings V3 are the latest offerings from Wink and Samsung, respectively.

They provide a central point where you can connect all your smart devices and communicate with each other using IFTTT, ZigBee, or Z-Wave technology. So you can easily access all your devices from your mobile phone and control them at home or while you are away.

Buying the right smart home controller could give you a truly comfortable smart home all at the click of a button or a nightmare of connectivity that won’t talk to each other. This in-depth guide looks at Wink vs. SmartThings, two leading smart home hubs in the market.

Short Info About Smart Hub

Technology brings forth many ways to simplify our lives and improve home security. One such fruit of innovation is smart devices, which are things you can control using a smartphone app, even when you aren’t home.

But the problem is that your phone doesn’t take too kindly on an assortment of apps (for multiple smart items) that make it cluttered. At some point, app navigation gets complicated, which defeats the purpose of getting these futuristic devices.

Luckily, a smart hub presents a solution: it’s a Wi-Fi connected device that lets you control all your smart gadgets with a single app.

The two smart hubs featured here are both compatible with Alexa and Google Home, so you’re free to use voice control.

Before we jump into our in-depth analysis, here’s a quick overview of what makes the SmartThings and Wink smart home hubs great.

SmartThings

Samsung SmartThings

 

SmartThings is the third generation smart home hub offering from Samsung.

Supported Devices

The little white box can connect to a wide range of devices; motion sensors, multipurpose sensors, smart buttons, thermostats, TVs, Wi-Fi boxes, and hundreds of other smart gadgets.

The SmartThings hub also comes with several optional Samsung products that pair with it, but its connectivity means it can match with thousands of non-Samsung devices.

The Hub acts as the brain of your Smart Home. Once connected, you pair it with your mobile and download the application. You can then sync the Hub to all available gadgets within your home on your Wi-Fi or Z Names network. Ask a voice-controlled home assistant like Google Home or Amazon Alexa to do anything you want them to.

Automation

In the SmartThings app, you can do a lot of customization. You can add new home automation that does whatever actions you like at a set point in time or a time window. It’s so easy; even the tech-challenged can do it. The app will present the options on what will trigger the actions such as device status, family member’s location, and security mode. There are examples on the SmartThings Support website that walk you through the process.

Wink

Wink Smarthub

 

Wink’s second-generation Hub allows you to connect a wide range of smart lightbulbs, garage door locks, security cameras, Hive, or Ecobee smart thermostats.

Supported Devices

By unifying all the controls for your smart devices into one application, your smart devices can now have a central brain. Like Samsung SmartThings Hub, a wide range of brands work with Wink: Phillips, GE, Nest, Honeywell, and many more.

Automation

You can also program in-house robots that allow your device to talk to each other much like IFTTT. You can even create shortcuts to control multiple appliances in a single swipe, useful for switching everything off when you leave the house.

Comparison Between Wink versus SmartThings Hub

Here’s a quick glance at the two smart home hubs.

 Wink Hub 2nd GenerationSamsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation
Wink WNKHUB Smart Home HubSamsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation
Size7.25 x 7.25 x 1.75 inches5.0 x 5.0 x 1.2 inches
ConnectivityZigBee, Z-Wave, IFTTT, Ethernet, Wi-FiZigBee, Z-Wave, IFTTT, Ethernet, Wi-Fi
Maximum No. of devices530Unlimited
CompatibilityWorldwideUS Only
Power SourceACAC
Warranty1 year1 year

Though both Wink and SmartThings appear simple on the outside, Wink 2 and the 3rd Generation SmartThings Hub are more complex. To make a choice easier, we’ll lay out their differences and similarities in nine key areas.

Design and Size

wink and smartthings design

Some critics of both Wink and SmartThings have said they are essentially boring white boxes, but we disagree. Both the Wink and the SmartThings Hub have a modern and sleek design.

The SmartThings Hub is two-thirds the size of the Wink Hub. For those who prefer minimalism, this is an important consideration when choosing your Hub, but not a deal-breaker.

On the other hand, the Smart Thing is shaped more like a white Roku or Android Box. They look pretty much like a giant white pebble. It’s no bigger than your Wi-Fi router and is just as discrete. There is no noticeable power glow when it’s on, unlike the blue light on the Wink.

Both Wink and SmartThings get full marks for sleek design, barely distinguishable from other smart home devices, and small enough to conceal if required.

Setup & Installation

Both Wink and SmartThings are quick to assemble and set up- about ten minutes before they’re up and running. Both come with easy to follow installation instructions, which goes like this:

You download the iOS or Android app on your phone. Place the Smart Hub close to your Wi-Fi router for uninterrupted internet, then connect your app to the Hub. Use the app, get your Hub to sniff out all your smart home products, and sync to them all.

The Wink and The Smartthings mean to simplify your life, not make it more complicated. Both deliver equally on this score.

Compatibility Differences

Here’s the fun part you’ve been waiting for: the differences between Wink 2 and 3rd Gen SmartThings.

The major issue is the United States-only compatibility of SmartThings versus Wink’s worldwide. That’s not such a good look for SmartThings.

But when it comes to Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Smart Home kit, both are fully compatible devices.

Connectivity

connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the Wink Hub 2 offers a wider range of options, along with its more significant memory of 512MB. You can connect through Wi-Fi using either 2.4 or 5GHz for both Wink 2 and SmartThings, although the manufacturers highly recommend 5GHz. The Samsung SmartThings comes with 256MB of memory, but you can also attach a 4GB Flash drive. Though to be fair, this memory is only really required to store data from the devices.

Traditional devices speak to each other using lower bandwidths. Connecting using 2.4 may cause your router to trigger a security breach, so be ready for some security protocol tweaking for your Samsung SmartThings.

In all honesty, you should connect both devices using a wired ethernet cable if you want the fastest speed for your device. But that shouldn’t even be a problem as your Smart Hub needs to be within 2 meters of your Wi-Fi.

Both Wi-Fi connected devices have the same range of around 50-100 feet.

Speed and Reliability

Experts found the Wink to be slightly slower in proprietary software tests, connecting the Wink and Smart Things to various devices, but not enough to make a significant difference to the user experience.

Both the SmartThings Hub and the Wink come with battery backup power source: 4 x AA batteries that can add up to 10 hours of power supply in the event of a power cut. The SmartThings Hub, however, comes with additional local storage for the automations you make.

These two devices match each other pound for pound in terms of speed and reliability.

Maximum Number of Devices

maximum number devices on Winks and Smarthings

As laid out in the comparison table, Wink Hub can connect to 530 devices while the SmartThings Hub can connect to an unlimited number. Let’s think about this for a second. Unless you are considering using this Smart Things hub for a large-scale commercial premise, these numbers don’t matter.

On a Z Wave network, you can only have a maximum of 232 devices anyway, which kind of dampens our ardor for Samsung’s claim. Considering the Z networks are the main system of connectivity for all smart home gadgets and alarm systems.

Though it may sound impressive that Samsung SmartThings can link an unlimited number of devices, it’s not crucial for the average homeowner who almost always will have less than 100 machines that need to be connected. We call this a tie in terms of actual usefulness.

App Interface

apps for Wink and Smarthings

The Wink pulls ahead here. We love their easy to use mobile phone application, which makes all the difference as this is how you are going to control all the devices in your home.

It delivers a great user-friendly experience, which is easy to set up and error-free. The instructions and layout are designed for someone with minimal tech knowledge in mind.

On the other hand, Samsung’s application seems unnecessarily complicated and clashes by pushing its additional devices. We’ve come to expect this from a large electronics manufacturer who will take every chance to advertise their products – something Wink doesn’t need to do. It concentrates on providing a great smart hub and mobile experience. We are sure Samsung SmartThings will continue to improve, but their mobile application is a work in progress.

apps interface

Wink also has the upper hand in offering robots, similar to IFTTT, which stands for “If this, then that.” These simple commands allow you to link up multiple devices. For example, you could program a robot to link your bedroom light with your kettle. “If bedroom light is on, then turn on the kettle.”

The robots are a great idea, but truthfully you are better off sticking to the IFTTT recipes, which has run for much longer and has more input from developers. There have been quite a few reports of glitches and incompatibility between products, which is understandable considering the infinite number of possibilities available with so many products on the market, and how they interact with each other.

Smart Home Integration

Smart Home Integration

Any Smart Home Hub needs to be compatible with the main hardware providers, namely Philips Hue, Nest, Lutron, and Belkin. Samsung SmartThings doesn’t really work as smoothly with Nest and Lutron lighting products, although it can connect to a larger range of devices. It does have some connectivity issues that need resolution.

Samsung SmartThings boasts a higher level of compatibility with devices outside the range of the big hardware manufacturers. There are hundreds of smart devices manufacturers come out with year after year. Smart Homes become a more attractive and more significant business.

Samsung SmartThings, due to its size, boasts a much bigger community that offers many solutions and workaround thanks to access to the SmartThings open-source software. Thus, you’re more likely to find a solution for your SmartThings issues than you are with Wink. But there’s a reason for that.

Wink is a smaller company with less history. Though it does have a staff-driven community, it’s never going to offer as many different solutions as a thriving community filled with techies who love solving problems and sharing their answers. The Wink claims that it can connect up to 400 compatible products.

Support & Warranty

Anyone who knows about technology that is changing and sophisticated also appreciate the power of a great community. Samsung’s community is enormous and full of people who love the company and the products. The software is open-source to allow coders to get under the hood and make changes when needed.

The Smart Things community is an impressive assortment of hobbyists and developers. The website is beautiful, reminiscent of Stack Overflow, making finding a solution for almost any problem a dream.

This is a big win for anybody worried they would be connecting with any device which isn’t from a large manufacturer. The Samsung SmartThings forum is bound to either have an answer or provide a solution. Samsung’s customer support is standard, but the community puts in head and shoulders above Wink.

As spoken about before, Wink, as a relatively new company, suffers from not having the same level of support or size of the community. Both Wink and SmartThings come with a standard 1-year warranty.

How to Setup Your Smart Home Hub with Wink and SmartThings

how to connect smart hub

Your smart hubs need a working Wi-Fi network for this whole system to work. We highly suggest using the ethernet ports on these hubs so the connection would never be broken. Your smart Hub has to sit at a spot near your Wi-Fi. For the app, get your smartphone or tablet ready, then download the SmartThings or Wink app.

These apps will lead you further on what to do, and syncing up all your smart home devices should take only a couple of minutes.

How to Setup Wink

setup Winks
Wink app interface.

When you download the Wink app, connect it to your Wi-Fi. Some animations would show you the basics and guide you through the rest of the setup. You can start adding your devices, making shortcuts, and automation to your liking.

How to Setup SmartThings

setup Smartthings
SmartThings app interface.

When you first open the app, you’ll need to register using the “welcome code” included in the box. After you’re verified, you can now add your smart devices. SmartThings has an auto-detect feature that would look for devices in your house as soon as it’s set up.

The Conclusion: Wink or SmartThings?

When you break it down, there isn’t very much between Samsung SmartThings and Wink.
Samsung SmartThings has an edge in community and connectivity.

Having a large voluntary tech team can be handy when you encounter problems or don’t have the time or the expertise to delve into the code. Plus, let’s not forget that cheeky extra USB port for in case we need it.

Wink though boasts a better mobile application and, overall, a more reasonable price tag. However, Samsung purports to link to more devices. As tested, the Wink gets to more mainstream big suppliers and their hardware.

Based on the reason we bought the smart Hub – convenience and ease of use – we choose Wink 2. Sure, it may be a bit bigger, and the community isn’t the same as Samsung.

But we believe in products and companies that have an excellent incentive to keep improving. Samsung is enormous as a company and would have gotten our vote if they hadn’t made an error and missed the mark in designing and a great user-friendly mobile app.

Passtools.com author Anastasia Russell
Anastasia is a 26-year-old blogger who always motivated to observe the ways humans interact with technology. She is currently undertaking a master degree program at the Uppsala University specializing in Human-Computer Interaction & Design Program.
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