Our pick

LIFX Mini White

Bluetooth bulb

C by GE C-Life

The LIFX Mini is a small bulb that fits in desk lamps as easily as ceiling light fixtures. It can be operated remotely and works with a wide selection of voice assistants, all without the need for a hub. It doesn't work with dimmer switches, though, and isn't as bright as the C-Life.

$20 at Amazon

Pros

  • Works over Wi-Fi
  • Voice assistant compatible out of the box

Cons

  • Dimmer at 650 lumens
  • Not compatible with dimmer switches

C by GE may be a smaller brand than LIFX, but its C-Life smart bulb is still plenty capable. It operates over Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi, and can be scheduled to turn on or off and dim automatically at set times. However, the Bluetooth range is not enough for most, who will either need a bridge or multiple bulbs to control it all.

$21 at Amazon

Pros

  • Brighter at 800 lumens
  • Multiple bulbs can mesh together to extend range

Cons

  • Additional hardware required for voice control
  • Bluetooth 4.0 range of only 50 feet

Smart lighting doesn't always have to be expensive. While there are plenty of bulbs that change to all kinds of crazy colors, some people just want a simple bulb that they can turn on or off from their phone. The C by GE C-Life and LIFX Mini White are just that — affordable, uncomplicated light bulbs with a handful of smart features. For most people, though, there's an easy choice between the two.

Wi-Fi wins out

Both smart bulbs sit at a comfortable 2700K white — not too cool, not too warm. Of course, you can turn each bulb on or off and adjust brightness from your phone, and schedule out activities from the respective apps. The biggest difference in how each light works is their method of connecting to your phone.

C by GE's smart lights work off of Bluetooth 4.0, with roughly a 50-foot range, give or take, depending on factors like the construction of your home. If you have multiple C-Life bulbs, they can daisy chain together to form a mesh network, extending the range of each bulb, but this still means that you won't be able to adjust your lights when you're not home — at least, not without purchasing a C-Reach bridge.

The LIFX Mini White has the advantage of native Wi-Fi and voice assistant support.

The one exception is if you have a Google Home speaker sitting around. When connected to a Google Home, C by GE bulbs can be controlled remotely without the need for a C-Reach — this could be a much better option for some people since Google Home speakers are cheap and easy to find included in bundle deals.

By contrast, the LIFX Mini White operates over Wi-Fi, allowing you to connect to it from anywhere. If you forget to turn the lights off before leaving the house, you can simply jump into the LIFX app and adjust them accordingly. You can also adjust your lights by speaking to your phone's voice assistant — LIFX supports Google Assistant, Alexa, HomeKit, and even Cortana.

With a C-Reach connected, you can speak to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to control your C-Life bulbs, but there's no support for HomeKit or Cortana. C by GE at least says that they're working on bringing support for the former.

Both lights are simple white-only smart bulbs, but the choice is obvious: for the same price, most people will want to opt for the LIFX Mini White. Though it's a bit dimmer at 650 lumens versus the C-Life's 800, its Wi-Fi connectively allows you to adjust it from anywhere, and you can control it with almost any voice assistant without the need for a hub. If the brightness is a concern, then get the C-Life, but note the Bluetooth connectivity and range will make controlling it more complicated.

Wi-Fi bulb

LIFX Mini White

Simply the better choice

The LIFX Mini White has Wi-Fi built in, and supports almost all voice assistants natively, without the need for a hub. It's not as bright as the C-Life, but it's better in just about every other way.

Bluetooth bulb

C by GE C-Life

Fine for casual use

The C-Life bulb can be controlled from your phone over Bluetooth 4.0, but you'll need a C-Reach or Google Home to use it over Wi-Fi or control it with your voice. It's a simple bulb for general purposes.

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