Philips Hue Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 vs. Gen 3

Philips Hue transforms lighting from ordinary to extraordinary. They’ve been in lighting forever and were one of the few companies which offered smart lighting solutions long ago. Hue’s color-changing bulbs were first introduced in October 2012; this 1st generation of Philips Hue gained a lot of success and was even called the Best Product of 2012.

Since then, Philips Hue has been 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 look at a few things: the differences between the Philips Hue bridge generations, Philips Hue light bulb generations 1 vs. 2 vs. 3, and we’ll also sidetrack a bit into Philips Hue Lux.

We’ve put together a ton of important info, however, if you just want the differences, feel free to jump to the differences section straightaway.

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, the 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 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 telling Apple’s Siri, “Set my Movie scene,” and the lights will dim to the 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 a square-shaped bridge saying that it’s a 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 the 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 colors

The 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 White and Color Ambiance 2nd Generation Smart Bulb Starter Kit (Older Model  3 A19 Bulbs and 1 Hub Works with Alexa  Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant)
Sale Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 60W Equivalent LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit (4 A19 Bulbs and 1 Hub Compatible with Amazon Alexa Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant)

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 — 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). Don’t let the first image confuse you, you’ll actually get a 1st Gen (round-shaped) bridge. 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.

Last update on 2024-04-22 at 21:59 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

34 thoughts on “Philips Hue Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 vs. Gen 3”

    • We haven’t tried pairing the 1st Gen bridge with Echo Dot, but we don’t believe there’s any reason it shouldn’t work. In general, Philips Hue products are compatible with Amazon Alexa Voice controllers. The two Philips Hue bridges have the same features, minus the all-new design and Apple’s HomeKit support for the 2nd Gen bridge. Feel free to refer to this Reddit thread where you can find people talking about their experience connecting 1st Gen and 2nd Gen bridges with Amazon Echo.

  1. This is the ONLY article I’ve found that clearly tells you how total the difference between 2nd and 3rd generation bulbs. Thank you So much.

  2. I have to say, this article was phenomenally useful and really helped clear up some confusion I had over the contents of the starter kits. Thank you!

    • Hey Liam,

      Thanks so much for the comment 🙂 We put a lot of work into these articles and we’re super happy it helped you!

      – Joseph & Iryna

  3. You might update the article to include the Philips Hue gen 3.1 bulbs (also known as the A19 model LCT016, released in late 2017), which presumably handle blues a bit more subtly and are made with longer-lasting blue LED components. Starter Kits routinely come with LCT016’s mixed in among the gen 3 LCT014 bulbs.

    • It is important to note that the LCT014 and the LCT016 bulbs (Both Gen 3) are different when you compare them using READ or RELAX white modes despite Hue saying they are the same because of the “Richer Colors” logo. The LCT014 does not get as dim or as orange as the LCT016 bulb. I found this out when I was upgrading all my Gen 2 bulbs and found one Gen 3 bulb in my set that just didn’t look right. When I checked, the app lists it as LCT014.

      So, LCT014 is Gen 3 while LCT016 is considered Gen 3.1.

      Very frustrating when you like all the lights in one room to be exactly the same.

  4. This is not entirely accurate; the difference between gen 1 bridges and gen 2 bridges are more significant than those details you pointed out. The gen 1 bridges are unable to utilize the newer apps for home control and functionalities that dynamically connect your lights to music, movies, and games from your PC or other electronics. You are also not able to connect as many Hue products to a gen 1 bridge.

    • Lance,

      It’s disingenuous to say that this article is inaccurate. Incomplete — yes, inaccurate — We don’t think so. But thank you for pointing out new differences, it helps us a ton to keep our articles up to date.
      The Philips Hue Bridge V2.0 comes with much better internal hardware than the V1.0 Bridge. The Hue Entertainment feature works with the Philips Hue Bridge V2.0 only since it requires higher processing speed and capacity. However, you can still connect your Hue lights to music, movies, and games via HueDynamic and ScreenBloom apps via the V1.0 Bridge. Although, for best results it’s better to run any dynamic Hue lighting apps with a V2.0 Bridge.

      Also the number of light bulbs connected directly depends on the strength of internal hardware. Thus, the Philips Hue Bridge V2.0 supports more light bulbs with dynamic lighting apps due to its superior hardware compared to V1.0 Bridge.

      Thank you for your input to the smart home community. We appreciate it.

      – Joseph & Iryna

  5. does the V1 version work with the osram smart system? Can only connect the osram Smart + plug to version 2 only does it work with the first version of the bridge?

    • For now, we do not recommend mixing Osram and Philips Hue. In the past it was possible to pair Osram lights with Hue v1 and v2 bridges, but not any more.

      US Osram bulbs use Zigbee HA (Home Automation), whereas Philips Hue uses Zigbee LL (LightLink) or Zigbee 3.0. If you want to pair Osram with Philips Hue, you need to make sure they use the same protocol. It used to be possible to switch Sylvania light bulbs from US to Euro firmware, Zigbee LL, which works great with Philips Hue, but that isn’t possible anymore. Plus, in order to switch Osram’s firmware, you need Osram gateway. So, for now, we’d wait until both companies start using the same protocol.

  6. Hi,

    after reading your detailed review I can not figure out which model corresponds to my philips hue starter kit purchased on amazon bundled with echo dot.

    1. the bridge model is 2.1 and not 2.0
    2. the light bulbs have silver lettering
    3. The packaging is an anonymous cardboard box with the philips sticker and the product description
    4. inside the box there is a deplian that looks like the front of the package philips hue starter kit, in the upper right corner there is no mention of “richer colors”

    Thank you.

    • Hey Adriano!

      Check out the shape of your new Philips Hue Bridge: if it’s round it’s Gen 1, if it’s square, you’ve got the Gen 2 bridge which will work with the Philips Hue Entertainment and support Apple HomeKit.

      Now, as to light bulbs, usually, you need to look for packaging and lettering on the light bulbs. In your case, when the package doesn’t really give much info, you can still figure out the generation based on the color of letters on the light bulbs: silver = Gen 1 or 2 and gold = Gen 3.

      So, from your description, it looks like you have the Gen 2 Philips Hue Bridge with Gen 1 or Gen 2 light bulbs. It’s hard to tell the difference between the Gen 1 and 2 light bulbs unless you compare their brightness side-by-side. The gen-2 light bulbs are 25% brighter than the 1st-gen bulbs. So, hopefully, you’ve got the second gen.

      • Hi Iryna,

        the Philips Hue Bridge is square 🙂

        Actually I discovered that my light bulbs are Gen 4: Or updated by Philips in a silent way

        These are the differences that I found on the internet:

        Gen 4 (December 5, 2017), model LCT015
        The new white and color lights no longer have a gold logo/text printed on the bulb, they now have a silver logo/text. Picture here.
        They are lighter, and more efficient (9.5W vs 10W – 806 lumens).
        They have an “A” at the end of the model number 9290012573A.
        The boxes STILL show a picture of bulbs with a gold logo and the amazon titles may still show 10W. This does not mean the bulb is 2nd gen.
        The only drawback is that Philips declares the life of the Gen 4 light bulbs of 15,000 hours (like the Gen 1) against the 25,000 hours of the Gen 2 and 3

        * colors are more saturated
        * lifetime: 15,000 hours (7 years based on 6 hours daily usage)
        * consumption: 9.5W
        * Efficiency: 85 lm/W (at 4000K)
        * weight: 74g (2.61oz)
        * top cover: plastic
        * bottom color: white

        • Wowza! That’s so cool! Thank you for all the info, Adriano! 🙂
          Also, congrats on a great purchase! How are the green and blue colors? Are they bright and vivid?

  7. With the recent introduction of the “new” app for the round bridges, does the advice to only update if interested in Apple still apply? Just thinking the gen 1 bridges may stop getting fixes/features/

  8. There seems to be two editions of the Hue Motion Sensor out there.
    Any idea what the difference between the two might be, if any?

    The one you link to on Amazon might be the v2(?) The only thing that stands out on pictures is that the small LED on the unit indicating motion is blackish on one (the v2?) and almost white on the other. The information seems virtually identical for both.

  9. Thank you for this wonderful article. Just looked at my Hue v1 app and noticed they are sunseting support for the gen 1 bridge by 4/30/20. They said that voice control with Alexa and the v1 one app will not work (mine still does, knocks on wood).

    We really like the voice control with Alexa and Google, so is it worth the effort to upgrade, or wait and see if the voice control goes away and do it then?

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks for your feedback 🙂
      I’d say there’s no rush to upgrade if everything works fine. However, sooner or later you’ll need to upgrade eventually, so it’s just a matter of time.

  10. Hello there. Thank’s for the information. I really like. I have two bulbs. One is gene-1 and the other is gene-3. There’s a difference in blue and green tones. And of course the lumen difference. I’m using the Gen-3 bulb on the TV. The 55pus6501 has ambilight on the left and right sides. Colors closer. I’m using the Gen-1 bulb in a remote sconce.

  11. Hi! Great article. Very helpful.

    Have you been able to verify if there is a Gen 4 bulb with 800+ lumens?

    Do you have any experience with the LIFX bulbs? The white/color combo ones that support infrared sound interesting.


    • Hey A,

      There are no Philips Hue Gen 4 bulbs as of now. Most likely the bulb that was mentioned before in the comments is just another version of the Gen 3/2.
      There’s also no ETA on the Gen 4 light bulbs and no info whatsoever if/when the new gen is coming.

      And the LIFX bulbs are simply amazing. If you’re looking for brightness, they’re definitely the ones to get. The one that supports infrared, LIFX Plus, is perfect for night vision cameras.
      Check out these articles about LIFX and Philips light bulbs, they might give you an idea of what you need:
      LIFX vs. LIFX Plus vs. LIFX Mini
      Philips Hue vs. LIFX
      LIFX Mini vs. Philips Hue Gen 3


  12. I bought a 2 pack color bulbs, and the label does not appear in the 3 examples at the top of this article. The label is the same gold color as the 3rd gen, but it says PHILIPS (first line), hue (second line), white and color (third), 800 (last line).

    The box gas a circle that says “Richer Colors”

    Confused if I have 2nd or 3rd gen… if you can update soon I can still return to Amazon if these are the older bulbs.

    • Hey Travis! Yeah, Philips doesn’t make easy, huh? 😀 From your description, it seems like you have the Gen 3 bulbs. Usually the “Richer Colors” label on a package means it’s Gen 3.


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