Wink Hub and Samsung SmartThings Hub are the most popular smart hubs around today. The latest SmartThings Hub is v3, released on Aug 2018. The latest Wink Hub is v2, released in Oct 2016. Which one is the right choice for you? Find out the differences between them and their own advantages and defects.

Design

First look

Wink 2 is a bit bigger than SmartThings Hub v3, and it is almost twice the weight. The Ethernet port and power jack of both hubs are on the back. In addition, the SmartThings Hub has one reserved USB port (as does the previous v2 product), designed for low power supply for USB devices like wireless dongles, but Samsung never made good on the promise so the two USB ports on the v2 are still useless till today.

Both have a sleek design. The SmartThings Hub v3 has kind of an old-fashioned look, but the Wink Hub v2 has been designed like a standing book. It would hardly be noticed if you placed it among books.

 Supported Smart-home communication protocols

Both hubs support the major smart home communication protocols like Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), Zigbee and Z-Wave. The two biggest differences are that Wink Hub 2 supports Bluetooth Low Energy(BLE) and Wi-Fi (5GHz), which give it some advantages if you need more connection options.

The manufacturers have also developed some unique tech for a high degree of integration with other devices/platforms, like SmartThings’s Cloud to Cloud, Wink’s Lutron Clear Connect and Kidde, but this really doesn’t help much if you don’t have the specific product to facilitate closer integration.

Connect to Router

Both are Cloud-based products. You must connect them to the internet to make them work. So, you need to use wired Ethernet or a wireless connection. Best tip: Ethernet is the preferred option if you have a spare wire, because it offers a more reliable connection than wireless.

Tech specification comparison

SmartThings Hub v1 was released in 2013, v2 was released in 2015, and v3 was released in 2018.

Wink Hub v1 released in 2014, v2 released in 2016.

SmartThings Hub v3 Wink Hub 2
Dimensions 5.0″ x 5.0″ x 1.2″ 7.25″ x 7.25″ x 1.25″
MFR PART# GP-U999SJVLGDA WNKHUB-2US
Weight 4.8 ounces 8 ounces
RAM 128 Mb 512 Mb
FLA 4G 128 Mb
Power Source Wall-Powered Wall-Powered
Zigbee Y Y
Z-Wave Y Y
Cloud-to-Cloud Y N
Bluetooth LE N Y
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz 2.4GHz/5GHz
Lutron Clear Connect N Y
Thread N future
Kidde N Y
Amazon Alexa Y Y
Google Assistant Y Y
IFTTT Y Y

Installation & Setup

The installation of the two hubs is straightforward. You just need to plug the hub into the power and connect it to your router using an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi connection.

For Wink Hub 2, if everything is going well, it will automatically boot up and display a blinking white status light on the front. Next thing you need to do, downloads the latest Wink app on your mobile devices (IOS or Android), then follow the in-app instructions for adding your Wink Hub 2.

Once an internet connection has been found, you can add the Wink Hub 2 to your account. If you’ve added your Wink Hub 2 using an Ethernet connection, you can always change it to Wi-Fi by accessing the Wink Hub 2 settings.

For SmartThings Hub v3, if the hub is running and connected the LED will show a solid green light. If not, you need to refer to “What do the LED colors on the Hub mean” on SmartThings support, to determine the nature of the problem.

If there is no connection issue, you need to use the new SmartThings app, which integrates more Samsung and SmartThings features together (please note: the original SmartThings app has been renamed SmartThings Classic). SmartThings provide a very detailed user guide for setting up an account, connecting the hub, and adding new devices.

Upgrade and transfer

If you already have an old Wink hub, you need to transfer your current settings to the new hub. For this purpose, there is a transfer function you can use: Wink Hub transfer from 1 gen to 2 gen

Unfortunately, SmartThings doesn’t provide a transfer channel, so you have to unregister all devices connected to the old hub and register them in the new hub, which is extra-annoying if you have a lot of devices already in use!

Compatible Devices

Both support their own brand accessories for extended use and work with other brand products. Wink’s accessories are limited to Home Security, but SmartThings have a wider range of accessories and more compatibility with third-party products.

Accessories

SmartThings have SmartThings Mesh Wi-Fi for router-hub 2 in 1 and includes a 7-inch color touchscreen ADT Security Hub, two ADT Door/Window detectors and an ADT Motion detector. Besides that, SmartThings also provide accessories like Multipurpose Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, Tracker, Button, and Outlet.

Wink doesn’t have as many accessories as SmartThings – it only has three: Door/Window Sensor, Motion Sensor, and Siren & Chime. When packaged with the Wink Hub 2 they are sold as the Wink LOOKOUT starter kit.

Work with

SmartThings Hub can work with many brands like Ring, Ecobee, Philips Hue, Sengled, Lutron Caseta, and Netgear. There are 296 compatible products listed on the SmartThings website, and you can check all SmartThings compatible products.

Wink Hub can work with major smart-product brands, but Wink only lists about 100 compatible products on their website, less than half the options available to SmartThings. You can also find all Wink compatible products on Wink’s website.

Voice Control

You can also use Amazon Echo and Google Home to connect to SmartThings. Then you can control devices by voice command. Until today, both hubs are not compatible with Apple HomeKit or Microsoft Cortana.

Other resources:

User experience

In general, SmartThings and Wink are homogeneous products. You can use them to control a single device or make some devices work together. You can even create automation jobs for routines. The hubs can’t work without the internet –a serious problem if your home network loses internet connection. The upside is that the internet gives you the ability for Away-from-Home control.

Regional availability

SmartThings Hub v3 only works within the United States, but some people have found a way to deceive the hub by using a US VPN, yet it still risky. Does SmartThings work in my country? The Wink Hub works worldwide, but the company only supports users in the United States and Canada, you can find it in Wink FAQ.

Automation

Both provide an app to control the device manually or automatically, but their automation setup is quite different.

Wink

The relevant Wink app is still the same one you use to control the v1 hub, and there are few changes on this app. The interface is very intuitive and offers several ways to automate tasks. Below is a quick summary of Robots, Shortcuts, and Schedules:

– Robots: Performs one or more actions when a specified trigger happens (e.g. Turn on the lights in the living room when the front door is opened between 7 pm and 11 pm)

– Shortcuts: A way to group actions together for convenience (e.g. Create a shortcut named “Movie time” which turns off or dims some lights)

– Schedules: A way to set up schedules for devices to be on or off (e.g. Set up outside lights to turn on Sunset and turn off at Sunrise). Sunset and Sunrise are actually options when choosing times!

There is a restriction on door lock functionality: Wink has decided as a “security feature” that they will not allow unlocking of doors as part of their automation. So, if you have door locks installed, you can create a robot to lock them automatically, but you cannot unlock them.

SmartThings

Automation of SmartThings has more complex settings. You can create a Scene, which can perform grouped actions, (e.g. “Time for bed” Scene: Turn on the bedroom light at 20% brightness, after that turn off the lights in the other rooms, and set the thermostat to 72 F). More than that, you can add shortcuts to your Dashboard for quick access, which is very similar to Wink’s Shortcut feature.

In SmartThings’ App, you need to define a condition to trigger your custom action. And the condition can trigger another condition, the advantage is you can reuse some defined actions, but the downside is you really need to be careful about (potentially unwanted) chain reactions.

– Condition: The condition can be based on a time or event.

  • Based on the time of day
  • Based on a device status
  • Based on location
  • Based on this location’s mode
  • Change security mode

– Action: the hub can send a Notification, some detailed device(s) action, trigger specific Scenes, or change this location’s mode.

Firmware updating

Another difference is that SmartThings has automated updates with no option to download later. Wink allows you to download updates at a time of your choosing.

Support

Wink’s customer support is great, but the SmartThings community is more active and vibrant compared to Wink’s blog. Most of the time, you can find an answer for your problem there.

Verdict

Neither SmartThings nor Wink are perfect as the brain of a smart home. In fact, their product ratings rank rather low. The main problem is their application compatibility – people get connection problems from time to time when they try to connect the hub or add other devices. Depressingly, some connected devices suddenly become disconnected after the firmware is updated, which really turns each update into a gamble.

Wink Hub 2 has proven more reliable than SmartThings Hub v3, unsurprising as the Wink Hub 2 has a two-year head start on its competitor to improve its app. Meanwhile, Samsung is trying to migrate from SmartThings Classic to the new SmartThings app. The latter is still a work in progress as there are still a few teething problems with the new app. So, if you like to make things simple, you can choose Wink Hub 2; if you have more custom and advanced requirements, then perhaps give SmartThings Hub v3 a shot.

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