Skip to main content

Galaxy S8 Is a Smart Home Wiz (with a Big Catch)

The Galaxy S8 has the potential to be a universal remote for your smart home gadgets, but it's not as simple as it seems at first glance.

A new Samsung Connect app is front and center on this flagship, available right from the home screen or by swiping down from the top of the display from any app.

Samsung Connect works out of the box with other Samsung devices, but you'll need a hub to control third-party gear. Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Samsung Connect works out of the box with other Samsung devices, but you'll need a hub to control third-party gear. Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide)

During a demo prior to the S8's launch, we got a preview of Samsung Connect's interface, which is fairly straightforward. From a single screen you can jump off to do things like start your robot vacuum, dim your Philips Hue lights or even peek inside your Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator.

Even better, you can create scenes, so you automatically activate certain settings when you leave the house, for example.

MORE: Best Galaxy S6 and S7 Trade-In Deals

Unfortunately, you need more than just the app to make all this magic happen. Samsung told us you'll also need the new Samsung Connect Home device to control smart home gadgets made by third parties, such as Philips Hue lights.

The Connect Home (price TBD) is a combination Wi-Fi router and SmartThings hub, which enables the Galaxy S8 to communicate with devices not made by Samsung.

By contrast, the iPhone can connect to and control many smart home devices using just Apple's Home app. The app leverages Apple's HomeKit technology, so anything that's HomeKit-enabled should work with Apple's handsets. You only need a separate Apple TV if you want to control smart home devices when you're away from home.

We're not sure how many people are going to be willing to spring for an extra piece of hardware to take full advantage of the Galaxy S8's smart home powers, but we'll reserve final judgement until we've had a chance to fully test it out.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.