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Amazon Smart Plug Review: Brilliant, as Long as You Use Alexa

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $25
Amazon Smart Plug plugged in to a single wall outlet
Mark LoProto / Review Geek

Smart home automation aims to simplify every aspect of our lives, even something as relatively effortless as turning on a light. Amazon’s Smart Plug may be the most basic device in the hierarchy of smart home integration, but it’s an essential part of adding convenience to your day-to-day.

It’s a plain white plug with one outlet and a small LED indicator light. You don’t get much more simplistic than this smart plug, but the unit’s functions and capabilities can really change things around in your household; that is if you take advantage of everything the smart plug can do. I was initially guilty of writing it off as an unnecessary modern convenience, where the easy act of flipping a switch was merely replaced by the even more effortless “Alexa, turn on the outlet.”

However, when I started to tinker with the Alexa app, I realized the potential of this relatively basic smart home concept.

Here's What We Like

  • Easy to connect and setup
  • Can be scheduled to follow your daily routine
  • Compact and takes up only one outlet
  • No separate smart hub required

And What We Don't

  • A two-outlet version would be nice
  • Seems pricey for such a basic device
  • Having to use Alexa can feel invasive
  • No Bluetooth option

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Design and Setup: More Than Just a Plug

  • Dimensions: 3.2 x 1.5 x 2.2in (80 x 38 x 57mm)
  • Weight: 3.1oz (87g)
  • Network connectivity: 2.4GHz only
  • Plug type: B (3-pin)

Out of the box, Amazon’s Smart Plug doesn’t look like much. It’s all white, features a three-prong receptacle, sports a small LED indicator, and has a recessed button on one side. The magic of it is all on the inside, where a seemingly complex series of printed circuit boards (PCBs), capacitors, and other components work together to make this plug smart.

When connected to an outlet, the Smart Plug will only power an object when requested. Unless you want to turn the plug on and off manually, you’ll need to connect it to an Amazon Alexa-compatible device, like the Echo Dot, or the Amazon Alexa app (available for Android or iPhone). Once connected, the plug only needs a voice command in range of an Alexa device to be activated.

Therein lies the most complicated part of using the Smart Plug—connecting it to a compatible device and learning how to use its features. The device uses a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection, and it’s surprisingly easier to connect than other smart devices I’ve used, such as Sengled’s Bluetooth bulb, which kept dropping my Wi-Fi signal.

Note: The Amazon Smart Plug is not compatible with 5GHz Wi-Fi networks.

In the weeks I’ve spent using the plug, it never once lost its connection, but getting it linked up to Alexa may prove difficult if you’re new to smart home integration or aren’t too savvy on modern tech.

Control and Routines: A Simple Connection With a Big Impact

Having already connected several devices to my Alexa, I found setting up the Smart Plug a breeze. If it’s your first time using Alexa, you may stumble a bit, but the directions are clear enough to keep you from veering too far off the path. Once the plug and Alexa are linked, you have a few options to tinker with. For instance, you can make it part of a Group of devices. If the plug is in your living room along with an Alexa-compatible lightbulb, you can group them together to control both simultaneously.

The Smart Plug works with Alexa’s Routines, so if you want to say “Alexa, good morning” and have a plugged-in lamp turn on, you can. I currently have Christmas lights plugged in and the Smart Plug in a “Living Room” Group with two third-party bulbs and Govee’s TV light T2. When I say, “Alexa, turn the living room on,” all devices light up. The plug can also be part of a scheduled Routine (programmable in the Alexa app) to toggle at specific times throughout the day.

I’ve enjoyed the convenience, but I feel the most significant benefit of the Smart Plug is the sense of security it can provide. The plug can be scheduled to maximize your comfort if you don’t like leaving a light on all day just so the house doesn’t look empty come dusk. Set a time for nightfall and the plug will automatically turn on any lights plugged into it.

Limited Connectivity Options

Amazon Smart Plug with strand of Christmas lights plugged in
Mark LoProto / Review Geek

As versatile as the Smart Plug may be when it comes to functions, it’s a little limiting in who can use it. Unless you have an Alexa-powered device, the plug is relatively useless. Sure, you can manually toggle the switch via the small button, but that’s not convenient and defeats the device’s purpose.

Amazon’s Smart Plug is not compatible with Google Assist or Apple HomeKit. You also won’t be able to use it with your IFTTT profile to create custom scenes. Unfortunately, this can limit how connected your home is if you’re using other smart devices that aren’t supported by Amazon.

Unfortunately, the plug also lacks support for Bluetooth. So, if you happen to have a Wi-Fi outage or your router stops working, you’ll lose access to your Smart Plug. It’s the biggest drawback of any smart device, and the Amazon Smart Plug doesn’t step outside of the box to try to solve it.

I do wish there was more than one port or that Amazon sold one device that serviced an entire outlet. Having to buy two at $24.99 each just to fill one wall outlet is a considerable hit to the wallet. And then each has to be paired as its own device, which isn’t a huge deal, but an option with two plugs would have been nice to have for more complex lighting arrangements. On the other hand, the plug is compact enough that it does leave your second outlet free.

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Should You Buy the Amazon Smart Plug?

Whether or not you’ll get use out of Amazon’s Smart Plug hinges on one question—are you interested in smart home integration? If you don’t care to automate your lighting or any small appliance in your home, like a table lamp, then you won’t find any use in the Smart Plug. If you are interested in home automation, then the plug is a great place to start, especially if you’re just testing the waters.

If you’re familiar with Alexa or any smart home devices, setup is very easy, and learning how to use it will come naturally. Device Groups are created with ease through the Alexa app and simplify automating entire rooms. The plug’s compatibility with Alexa’s Routines is the shining star for convenience. Whether it’s setting a coffee machine to run each morning at 8:00 AM or turning lights on with a customized phrase, setting up a routine really maximizes the plug’s convenience.

Routines can get a little too invasive and highlight a primary issue with smart devices. You could set the plug to activate when your Echo device hears a baby crying, meaning the device will actively listen when it believes it hears a baby. Of course, this is entirely avoidable by simply not running such a Routine, but it’s worth noting since the Amazon Smart Plug sinks you into the plights of smart home automation.

I do feel the price is a little high for one outlet, but you don’t need to buy a hub or anything else to make it work. It is as “plug ‘n play” as smart home automation gets. It’s also possible you may reduce the cost of your electric bill, especially if you set a scheduled Routine.

If you use Google Assistant rather than Alexa (or both), you may want to look into the Shelly Plug US instead. It’s a few dollars cheaper, offers support for both Google and Amazon smart assistants, and achieves many, if not all, of the same functionalities.

You can also check out our picks for the best smart plugs, which offer suggestions like the under $12 BroadLink Smart Plug (perfect if you’re shopping on a budget and want to make more than one appliance smart).

Rating: 8/10
Price: $25

Here’s What We Like

  • Easy to connect and setup
  • Can be scheduled to follow your daily routine
  • Compact and takes up only one outlet
  • No separate smart hub required

And What We Don't

  • A two-outlet version would be nice
  • Seems pricey for such a basic device
  • Having to use Alexa can feel invasive
  • No Bluetooth option

Mark LoProto Mark LoProto
Mark is a freelance reviewer for How-To Geek and Review Geek, a seasoned freelance writer, and a marketing manager with a strong footing in the gaming and esports industries. He’s been featured across the net on Cultured Vultures, Heavy.com, Bloody Disgusting, and more. Read Full Bio »