Compare options from Apple, Amazon, and more
The variety of smart home tech is almost overwhelming. You can get everything from smart bulbs and smart plugs to smart vacuum cleaners and smart dishwashers. The trouble is most of these products come with their own proprietary apps, meaning you have to keep switching between all the different apps to control them.
A smart home hub allows you to connect a range of devices from multiple different manufacturers and control them all from one place. The hub acts as the go-between for you and your smart tech; you issue a command from your phone or using a smart speaker, and your smart home hub will send the message to the appropriate device. It allows you to do things that should be simple, but otherwise aren’t, such as turning off all the lights in your home, even if they’re all made by different companies and use different communication methods.
Smart hubs don’t just have to be ugly bits of kit that sit next your router, either. Many popular devices such as smart speakers can work as smart hubs, too. If you’re ready to get one hub to rule them all, then here are some of the best smart home hubs you can get your hands on right now.
Our picks for the best smart home hubs in 2023
Amazon / Pocket-lint
Amazon Echo (4th generation)
1. Best smart home hub overall
A great smart speaker with Zigbee and a temperature sensor built-in.
Amazon has a history of making great smart speakers at low prices. The latest Amazon Echo can also act as your smart home hub, with Zigbee and Thread support built-in. You can control your smart home just by asking Alexa to turn out the lights.
- Zigbee built in
- Works as Thread border router
- Alexa voice control
- Not the very best sound quality
- No display
- App isn’t the most user-friendly
You may already have a smart hub in your home without even realising it. That’s because the Amazon Echo isn’t just a great smart speaker with rich sound and Alexa smarts. It’s also a smart hub in its own right, with the ability to control smart devices over Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and now Thread too, thanks to the built-in Thread border router. This means that you can control a huge range of devices with your Amazon Echo, from Zigbee light bulbs to Thread smart plugs.
And of course, it’s easy to control your smart home with your voice, since the Amazon Echo comes with Alexa built in. You can even create routines in the Alexa app, to control multiple smart devices at once. For example, when you say ‘Alexa, good night’ you can have all of your lights turn off, your smart plugs power down, and your smart lock secure your front door. There’s even a temperature sensor inside, so you can turn on the smart plug for your fan when it gets too warm.
Apple / Pocket-lint
Apple HomePod mini – Orange
2. Best smart home hub for HomeKit
The perfect smart home hub for HomeKit, with decent sound to boot.
If you’re an Apple household and have a lot of HomeKit smart home tech, then the HomePod Mini makes the perfect smart home hub. It can act as a Thread border router, and offers great sound for its size.
- Works as Thread border router
- Matter support
- Good sound for a small speaker
- Not compatible with Zigbee devices
- Siri still not the best voice assistant
- Doesn’t support Spotify
If you’re an Apple user, then you may have a lot of HomeKit compatible smart home accessories that you can control through the Home app on your iPhone or Apple Watch. You don’t need a smart hub to control many HomeKit devices locally; you can control your Philips Hue lights from the Home app without any other equipment, for example. However, if you want to be able to control your smart home remotely, you’ll need a hub that remains in your home and can transmit the appropriate commands to your smart home devices.
The HomePod Mini works as that smart hub. You can connect to HomeKit devices over Wi-Fi, and the HomePod Mini is also a Thread border router and Matter controller, meaning that you can control Matter devices, such as the Nest Thermostat. The HomePod Mini also has built-in temperature and humidity sensors that you can use to monitor the conditions of the room that the HomePod Mini is located in, or to trigger automations if the humidity or temperature reach specific values.
And of course, with the HomePod Mini, you can use Siri to control your smart devices with your voice, even if you don’t have your iPhone with you. It’s also a pretty solid sounding speaker for the size, but if you’re looking for even better sound quality, the larger HomePod also works as a smart home hub, too.
Amazon / Pocket-lint
Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen)
3. Best smart home hub with a screen
A 10-inch display that can follow you round the room, with Zigbee and Matter support.
If you have smart cameras or a video doorbell, a smart hub with a screen is a great option, allowing you see the live video feed from your cameras. The Echo Show 10 has Zigbee and Matter support, and the screen can follow you when you’re on a video call.
- 10 inch display
- Zigbee and Matter baked in
- Great for video calls
- Can’t be used as a Thread border router
- Not the most stylish design
If you have smart home tech such as security cameras or video doorbells, you can view the feeds from these devices on your phone, but that’s not always optimal or particularly convenient. That’s where a smart home hub with a screen can be a real game changer. For example, if you have a video doorbell, it can automatically display the video feed on the screen when the doorbell rings, so you can see at a glance who is at the door.
The Echo Show 10 is a great choice if you’re looking for a smart home hub with a built-in screen. It can control Zigbee and Matter devices, although unlike the Amazon Echo (4th Generation) it can’t be used as a Thread border router. The 10-inch screen is ideal for monitoring video feeds from smart security cameras or video doorbells, and when you’re making calls on the Echo Show 10, the screen will even follow you around the room so that you don’t go out of frame. And using Alexa you can control everything with your voice; commands such as ‘Alexa, show me the front door’ will bring up the live video feed on your screen.
Samsung SmartThings Station
4. Best smart home hub for SmartThings
A great smart home hub for SmartThings, that can also charge your phone.
Samsung’s new SmartThings Station is the perfect smart home hub if you have a lot of SmartThings compatible kit. It supports Zigbee and Thread, and will even wireless charge your phone. There’s also a physical button for when voice commands just won’t cut it.
- Zigbee and Thread support
- Can be used as a wireless charger
- Physical button to trigger automations
- No Z-Wave
- Not the most stylish design
- SmartThings app isn’t the best
If you’re all in on the SmartThings smart home ecosystem, for a while there was no official hub you could use. Samsung stopped making the excellent SmartThings Hub, but you could still buy the Aeotec Smart Home Hub which was essentially the same thing with a different badge. But in 2023 Samsung released the new SmartThings Station hub, and it’s excellent.
The SmartThings Station has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee built in, offers Matter support and can act as a Thread border router. It doesn’t include Z-Wave like the Aeotec Smart Home Hub or previous SmartThings Hub, however, so if you have a lot of Z-Wave devices, this isn’t the hub for you.
There’s a physical button on the hub that you can use to run three different automations with a short press, long press, or double press, and you can even use the SmartThings Station as a wireless charger supporting up to 15W. Using the SmartThings app, you can create routines to control the wide range of compatible smart home products, and it works with voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant, too.
Google / Pocket-lint
Google Nest Hub Max
5. Best Google smart home hub
A smart display with Thread built in that can monitor your sleep.
The Google Nest Hub Max is a great smart display with a 10-inch screen that can act as a Thread border router to control a range of smart home devices. You can stream your Nest Doorbell to the display, and even control it using gestures.
- 10 inch screen
- Thread built in
- No Zigbee support
- Google Home app not brilliant
Google may not have quite the same level of supported devices as Alexa, but there is still a huge range of smart home products that will work with Google Assistant. For hands-free voice commands and remote control, you’re going to need a smart hub. The Google Nest Hub Max is a great option, as it has a built-in 10-inch touchscreen display that allows you to see the live feed from your Nest Doorbell with a single voice command.
The Google Nest Hub Max can connect to a smart home kit via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Matter, and can act as a Thread border router. The smaller Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen) also has a Thread radio inside, but for some reason, you can’t currently use it. Hopefully, this should be rectified in a future update. The Google Nest Hub Max has some other nice features to, such as the ability to play or pause a song just by waving your hand and can even monitor your sleep if you have one in your bedroom.
Apple / Pocket-lint
Apple TV 4K (2022)
6. Best smart home hub for streaming
A 4K streaming box that can act as your home hub and supports Thread.
The Apple TV 4K (2022) is a great streaming box in its own right, but also makes an excellent smart home hub for your HomeKit accessories. There’s Thread built into the 128GB model, and Matter support too.
- Thread support
- Wide range of streaming services
- Works with Apple Arcade and Apple Fitness
- Cheaper streaming boxes available
- 64GB model doesn’t support Thread
- No Zigbee support
The Apple TV 4K (2022) is a little different from the other hubs on this list, because its main purpose is as a video-streaming device. However, if you’re in a household with a lot of HomeKit compatible smart tech, your Apple TV 4K (2022) can act as a smart home hub, allowing you to control those devices remotely, even if you’re on the other side of the planet. It’s also a great streaming box, with apps to stream popular services such as Apple TV+, Disney+, and Netflix, as well as allowing you to play Apple Arcade games, or to follow Apple Fitness+ workouts on the big screen.
The Apple TV 4K (2022) comes in two sizes, a 64GB version that doesn’t have an Ethernet port, and a 128GB version that does. The other key difference is that the 128GB model can act as a Thread border router, but the 64GB version can’t. Bizarrely, both models of the older Apple TV 4K (2021) work as Thread border routers, so if you have Thread devices, you might want to opt for one of these cheaper models instead. Matter devices will still work regardless of which model you buy.
Aqara Smart Hub M2
7. Best value smart home hub
A low-cost smart home hub with Zigbee support and an IR transmitter.
$60 $64 Save $4
A low-cost Zigbee smart hub that also has an IR transmitter to control devices that use an IR remote. There’s no microphone, but you can integrate with voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant using other devices.
- Zigbee support
- IR transmitter
- Great price
- No Thread support
- No voice control built in
- Doesn’t support 5GHz Wi-Fi
If you’d rather not have to pay through the nose for an all-singing, all-dancing device to act as your smart home hub, there are more economical options available. Aqara makes a wide range of affordable smart home devices, from motion sensors, water leak sensors, and temperature and humidity sensors, to video cameras and even smart pet feeders. The majority of these devices communicate over Zigbee. The benefit of Zigbee smart home devices is that they form a mesh network; each device can pass on commands or data to other devices, ensuring that you never have devices that are too far out of range.
In order to take advantage of Zigbee, however, you’ll need a Zigbee hub to communicate with your devices. The Aqara Smart Hub M2 is a Zigbee smart home hub that plugs into your router. Commands from voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa are then translated by the hub into Zigbee commands that are sent to your devices. There’s Bluetooth connectivity, and there’s also a very useful infrared (IR) transmitter. This allows you to send IR signals to otherwise dumb devices. If you have an old TV, for example, you can power it on and off using the Aqara Smart Hub M2 to send the same signals that your TV remote would send.
Nabu Casa / Pocket-lint
Home Assistant Yellow
8. Most versatile smart home hub
Home Assistant is software that allows you to create your own bespoke smart home hub.
If you truly want to make your home smart, then Home Assistant is one of the most powerful options out there. It’s software that allows you to make your own smart home hub on anything from a Raspberry Pi to an old laptop. With a huge number of integrations, you have incredible control but there is a steep learning curve.
- Set up your own smart home hub
- Huge number of integrations
- Create powerful automations
- Steep learning curve
- Only one pre-produced hub available
- Overkill for many users
This smart hub is very different from the others on this list. That’s because although it’s possible to purchase Home Assistant Yellow, a ready-made smart home hub for Home Assistant, the majority of Home Assistant users create their own. In reality, Home Assistant isn’t a smart home hub at all; it’s the software that you need to run your own smart hub. The software can be run on a wide variety of devices, from a cheap Raspberry Pi to a Mac or PC. The beauty of Home Assistant is that you can create the exact system that you want; if you have a lot of Zigbee devices, for example, add a Zigbee dongle to your Home Assistant hub, and you can control them all. Prefer Z-Wave? Add that dongle instead.
The power of Home Assistant is that it works with an enormous range of smart home tech, with more than 2,500 official integrations, and many, many more unofficial ones. This allows you to integrate almost anything you can imagine into your smart home; if it’s smart, the chances are that there’s an integration for it. You can then build highly complex automations that allow all of your smart home devices to work together. The options are almost limitless, but there is a caveat: the system comes with a pretty steep learning curve, so you’ll need a reasonable level of tech know-how. If you’re willing to put in the time, however, Home Assistant can make your home truly smart.
Best smart home hub: The bottom line
If you’re looking for a smart home hub that integrates easily with a wide range of smart home devices, is simple to set up, and is reasonably priced, then you can’t go far wrong with the Amazon Echo (4th Gen). It’s a great smart speaker with nice sound and solid bass for its size and is compatible with a wide range of smart home devices thanks to the native support for Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Matter, and Thread smart home devices. Controlling your smart home using your voice with Alexa also makes you feel like you’re living in the future.
Amazon / Pocket-lint
Amazon Echo (4th generation)
The standard Echo is the pick of the range for most people.
If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative, then the Aqara Smart Hub M2 is packed with features at an excellent price. You can control devices over Wi-Fi and Zigbee and can even control some dumb devices using the built-in IR transmitter.
How I chose the best smart home hubs
When selecting the best smart home hubs, I wanted to ensure that there were options that would work with the most popular smart home ecosystems, such as Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and SmartThings. I also wanted to include hubs that covered the most popular communication methods, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Thread. I made sure that there were a range of price points, from budget options to more expensive smart speakers with built-in displays. Finally, I included Home Assistant in the mix because although it’s not a smart home hub in its own right, in my opinion it’s one of the most powerful ways to make your home smart; my own smart home is controlled by Home Assistant running on a Raspberry Pi.
What should you look for when buying the best smart home hub?
There are a number of considerations when choosing a smart home hub for your home. Here are some of the key questions you’ll need to keep in mind.
What devices does my smart home hub support?
Building a smart home is far more frustrating than it should be, because there’s still no real overarching set of rules how smart home devices should operate. Each company has its own set of protocols, meaning that very few smart home devices will play nicely with each other. A smart home hub can help, allowing you to connect a range of smart home devices from different brands, but not every smart home device will work with every smart home hub.
The Amazon Echo was the first smart speaker to really gain critical mass, so understandably there are a lot of smart home devices that will work with Alexa. This isn’t the case for every smart home device, however. If you’re looking for a smart home hub, you should look at the kit you already own, and choose a hub that clearly states that it will work with what you already have as a jumping off point in your research.
What voice assistants will work with my smart hub?
Many smart home hubs have voice assistants built in, such as the Amazon Echo, Google Nest Hub Max, or Apple HomePod Mini. Once again, not every smart home hub will work with every voice assistant, however. Some smart home hubs also don’t have any built-in microphones, such as the Aqara Smart Hub M2, so if you want to use voice commands, you’ll need to use your phone or a separate smart speaker. If you have a preferred voice assistant, make sure it’s compatible with your smart home hub of choice.
What communication protocols do I need?
There are numerous ways for smart home devices to communicate, from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to Zigbee and Thread. Not every smart home hub can communicate over all of these methods, however. If you only want to control Wi-Fi smart plugs and light bulbs, then this isn’t an issue, but if you have Zigbee motion detectors, or Thread lighting, then you’ll need a smart home hub that’s compatible. Matter and Thread are an effort to try to introduce a common language for smart home devices, so choosing a smart home hub that supports Matter and Thread may offer you some level of future proofing.
What else can my smart home hub do?
Many of the smart home hubs on this list do more than just communicate with your smart home devices. Choosing one may also come down to the other features that you’re looking for. You might want a new smart speaker, or a smart display, or you might be looking for a new streaming device. If so, you can find one with a smart home hub inside that will give you the best of both worlds.