Philips Hue 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 — Generation Differences

The Philips Hue brand is one of the best ways to transform lighting in your home from standard to extraordinary. Philips Hue was one of the few companies which offered smart lighting solutions long ago; Hue’s color changing bulbs were first introduced in October 2012. The 1st generation of Philips Hue gained a lot of success and was even called the Best Product of 2012. Since then, Philips Hue products were updated twice: in both 2015 (2nd generation) and 2016 (3rd generation). All three Philips Hue generations are available on the market and are fully compatible with each other. So in this article, we’ll compare Philips Hue Generation 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 to help you choose the right generation of Hue for you.

Philips Hue Product Line

Before we begin comparing the three generations, let’s look at the product line that you can find in each generation. Philips Hue consists of two things: Philips Hue Light Bulbs and the Philips Hue Bridge. The bridge uses Zigbee technology which allows you to communicate with the Philips Hue light bulbs via the Internet (app). Without the Hue bridge, you won’t be able to control your smart light bulbs, so make sure you get the hue bridge for your smart home lighting setup.

Each generation of Philips Hue offers three types of light bulbs: Philips Hue white, Philips Hue white ambiance, and Philips Hue white and color ambiance. The names are pretty self-explanatory, but we’ll clarify a few minor details. Philips Hue White Light Bulbs are designed to emit only soft white light at 2700K color temperature. Philips Hue White Ambiance allows you to choose from cool white, to soft, to warm white, with a color temperature ranging from 2200K to 6500K. And Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance offers not only all shades of white, but also 16 million other colors. Also note, the more colors you get to control, the more benefits you get from Philips Hue.

White and Color AmbianceWhite AmbianceWhite
ColorAll shades of white
+ 16 million colors
All shades of whiteSoft white
Smart controlYesYesYes
Away-from-home controlYesYesYes
Light SchedulesYesYesYes
Comfort DimmingYesYesYes
Create your AmbianceYesYesNo
Paint with LightYesNoNo
Sync with MusicYesNoNo
Sync with MoviesYesNoNo

Over the last 6 years, Philips Hue has released three generations of light bulbs. Each new generation of Philips Hue light bulbs features small, but noticeable, improvements in technical specifications, like lumens, intensity of colors, and dimming options.

The Philips Hue bridge was updated only once, during the second generation release. So, both second and third generation starter kits come with the same Philips Hue bridge.

All Philips Hue light bulbs and bridges are compatible with each other, no matter what generation they’re from. That means you’ll have no problem controlling third generation Philips Hue light bulbs with the first generation of the bridge.

What is Philips Hue Lux?

All Philips Hue kits can be easily categorized by generation (first, second, third) and color (white, white ambiance, white and color ambiance). However, there’s also the Philips Hue Lux Kit available on Amazon. Philips Hue Lux is just another name for the first generation of the Philips Hue white kit. The kit consists of the first generation bridge (round shape) and Hue Lux Light Bulbs, which have almost the same features as first generation Philips Hue white light bulbs. If you’re an Android user and are just looking for smart soft white light bulbs, then this is a fantastic jumping off point for you. And if you’re looking to add some color, you can always buy Philips Hue white and color ambiance bulbs separately.

Philips Hue Accessories and Integration

Philips Hue lamp

Among Philips Hue accessories, you can find Philips Hue lamps, lightstrips, and motion sensors. All Philips Hue accessories are compatible with all three generations of Philips Hue. That’s the beauty of Philips Hue products, no matter what generation of hue bridge or light bulbs you have, they will all work together without issue.

When building a smart home, it’s important to keep all the new appliances connected. Philips Hue will easily integrate into your smart home family. It works well with both Wink and SmartThing hubs. And in the event that you use a Nest learning thermostat, Nest Cam, or smoke detector, you can easily pair them with Philips Hue products. Plus, Philips Hue works with voice controllers like Amazon Echo. So, overall, Philips Hue offers a great variety of options when it comes to smart home integration.

Philips Hue Generation 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 — Differences

  • Difference #1: Philips Hue Bridge – Philips Hue has updated light bulbs two times, but when it comes to the Philips Hue bridge — it’s only been updated once. So you’ll only find two options for the Philips Hue bridge: 1.0 and 2.0. Now, what’s the difference between hue bridge 1 vs. 2? The Hue Bridge 1.0 (the first generation bridge), has round shape and doesn’t support Apple HomeKit. The Hue Bridge 2.0 (the second generation bridge), usually comes in the 2nd and 3rd generation starter kits, has a square shape, and unlike the previous model, the bridge supports Apple Homekit. With the Philips hue bridge 2.0 (square-shaped), you do things like tell Apple’s Siri, “Set my Movie scene,” and the lights will dim to level that you’ve specified for the Movie setting. The first generation bridge (round-shaped) can’t do these things.

    So, minus the all-new design and Apple’s HomeKit support, the two Philips Hue bridges have the same features.
    If you use Android and aren’t really a big fan of HomeKit and Siri, then there are no real reasons for you to get the 2nd/3rd generation bridge. Not to mention both bridge 1.0 and 2.0 will work just fine with all three generations of Philips Hue light bulbs.

  • Difference #2: Technical specifications – 2nd and 3rd generation of Philips Hue light bulbs have identical technical specifications, which are slightly better than the 1st generation Philips Hue bulbs. The 2nd and 3rd generation Hue light bulbs are 25% brighter than 1st-gen bulbs. The first generation bulbs are 600 Lumens, whereas the second and third generation’s light bulbs are 800 Lumens.

  • Difference #3: Colors – When it comes to colors, Philips Hue has always had issues with providing green, cyan, and blue colors. But with the 3rd generation light bulbs, this issue has been solved. No more yellowish green instead of bright, vivid green. With the 3rd generation Philips Hue bulbs, you can enjoy richer colors that actually match the spectrum you’re looking for.

  • Difference #4: Full Dimming – The 3rd generation bulbs can dim to a much, much lower level than 1st and 2nd generation bulbs. And even though Philips Hue states the same dimming level for gen 2 and 3 light bulbs (dimming only via RF down to 5%), you can still notice a great difference. Philips Hue 3rd generation light bulbs can go to a full dimming level, which can be great when using the comfort dimming feature to fall asleep.

  • Difference #5: Packaging – In the case of the bridges, it’s easy to tell which one is Gen 1 (round-shaped) and Gen 2/3 (square-shaped). With the bulbs, it can be a little bit harder to distinguish them based on their packaging, since it doesn’t say whether it’s Gen 1, 2, or 3. That’s a big flaw from the Philips side that causes a lot of confusion for customers.

    If you are looking for Gen 1 bulbs, you can still buy them on Amazon in a starter kit with the Gen 1 bridge. Watch out for false product advertisements. Some vendors may promote an image of square-shaped bridge saying that it’s Gen 1 bridge. — That can’t be right. They either will send you a round-shaped bridge, or they have the wrong title and it should say Gen 2 bridge instead of Gen 1. Like on the amazon product listing below, the first picture shows Gen 2/3 bridge instead of the promoted Gen 1. But when you get to the second picture, you’ll see that the package actually includes the round-shaped, Gen 1 bridge. So, you’ll actually get what the title suggests, except the first image of this product listing can totally confuse customers. Especially those who haven’t read our guide.

philips hue richer colorsThe Gen 2 Starter Kit has a small stamp in the bottom left corner on the front of the box that says “Works with Apple HomeKit”. And the 3rd Generation Starter Kit has a small light bulb label in the upper right corner on the front side of the box which says “Richer Colors.”

Also, if you look at the light bulbs apart from their packaging, there’s a way to distinguish 1st/2nd generation vs. 3rd Gen. The first and second generation bulbs have silver lettering, whereas the third generation light bulbs have gold lettering.

Philips Hue Generation 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 — The Bottom Line

Philips hue vs Lightify

When we compare Philips Hue bridge 1 vs. 2 and 3, it all comes to HomeKit support and design. If you don’t need Apple HomeKit support, then the 1st generation bridge (round-shaped) is the perfect choice for you. You can pair it with any Philips Hue Light Bulbs from any generation. Philips Hue doesn’t sell the Hue bridge 1 anymore, but you can still buy it from Amazon in the starter kit — There’s a 1st Generation Starter Kit (1st Gen bridge with three 1st Gen white and color ambiance bulbs) just for Check on Amazon. Don’t let the first image confuse you, you’ll actually get a 1st Gen (round-shaped) bridge. Or, you start with a cheaper 1st Gen option, which is Philips Hue Lux Starter Kit for $42.95. You won’t get colors (the light bulbs offer just soft white), but you’ll get the base to extend your Philips Hue family. Since you’ll already have the bridge, you can buy Philips Hue Color Light Bulbs separately and connect them to your bridge.

When choosing between three generations of Philips Hue light bulbs, just remember that the 2nd and 3rd generations will provide brighter colors than the 1st generation. And if you’re looking for richer green, blue, and cyan colors, you should definitely go with the 3rd generation of Philips Hue.


  1. Rosemary McKay July 5, 2017
    • Joseph V. July 5, 2017

Leave a Reply