ADT Samsung SmartThings Starter Kit Review

ADT is arguably the most recognizable home security company in the U.S. They’ve been in business for over 140 years, which must mean they’re doing something right. Plus, since their merger with Protection 1, they’ve become an even bigger name in DIY home security. Now, they’ve partnered with Samsung and SmartThings to create an amazing new Starter Kit. While typically ADT requires binding, three-year contracts, the Starter Kit offers month-to-month flexibility and gives you the option to self-monitor.  The system is also a lot smaller than older versions, resulting in a much more affordable price. Already, I can see this Starter Kit being a great option for someone younger with less money to spend, and in a home that they may not be in forever. It’s more in the vein of Nest Secure or Scout, systems that may appeal to millennials as well as baby boomers.

In this review, we’ll go over what’s in the ADT Samsung SmartThings Starter Kit (which I’ll shorten to the ADT Starter Kit), how well it works, and how convenient it was to set up. Then, I’ll discuss your professional monitoring options, SmartThings’ customer support, and finally, their mobile app. Let’s begin!

What’s in the ADT Starter Kit System?

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Samsung SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit. Photo provided by Best Buy.

The ADT Starter Kit is much smaller than the original system– it simply includes an ADT Security Hub, window and door detectors, a motion sensor, and a cellular backup module. I also want to talk about a few SmartThings items that I didn’t order, but that would be a great addition to your Starter Kit: the ADT Keychain Remote, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, and water leak detector.

Let’s see what each item is all about.

ADT Security Hub

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ADT Security Hub. Photo provided by Best Buy.

The ADT Security Hub is the brain of your system. As you can see, it’s a touchscreen panel where you can arm or disarm your entire security system, as well as view the date, time, and weather. The hub has a built-in siren along with battery and cellular data backup, which ensures that your system will stay on no matter what. All of your sensors will communicate with the hub, which will then communicate with you via mobile notification or the SmartThings app.

ADT Motion Detector

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ADT Motion Detector. Photo provided by Best Buy.

The motion detector….you guessed right, detects motion! What’s cool about ADT’s particular motion detector is that if it detects motion, you’ll automatically receive a video clip of what’s happening– it literally can’t be any easier for you to keep on top of your home’s security. Plus, the detector is pet friendly, and can be adjusted based on your pet’s size– no need to get video clips of your dog every 30 seconds, although they may be cute! The motion detectors can cover an area up to 35 by 40 feet, and AD recommends you put them in high-traffic areas like the entryway.

The detectors are battery-operated, which I like because it means no ugly wires. But don’t worry about having to constantly run to the store for new batteries- these last an average of seven years, and you’ll be notified when they get low. If you prefer wires, that’s also an option.

ADT Door and Window Detectors

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ADT Window Detector. Photo provided by Best Buy.

The door and window detectors can tell you if a door or window has been opened or closed. You can receive alerts on your phone or tablet, or from ADT if you sign up for professional monitoring. What’s cool about ADT’s partnership with SmartThings is that you can connect different devices to each other. With the door and window detector, for example, you can have the lights come on as someone enters.

LTE Cellular Backup Module

Your Starter Kit contains a cellular backup module, which means that you’ll have cellular data. It’s important to have cellular backup for a few reasons. One, if the power goes out in your area, your system could go down, leaving you vulnerable to intrusions. Two, some intruders will try to cut your phone cords, disabling your system. Cellular data cannot be cut, so your system will remain running. I love that ADT includes cellular backup with its system, as many other companies will make you pay an additional monthly fee. There’s nothing better than free!

These products make up the Starter Kit, but there’s a also a few items which integrate perfectly with the system.

ADT Keychain Remote

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ADT Keychain Remote. Photo provided by Best Buy.

If you’re not near your phone or Security Hub and want to arm or disarm your system, you can use the ADT Keychain Remote. On top of that, it functions as a portable panic button and can be used to contact the professional monitoring team, if you choose to use them.

ADT Smoke Alarm

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ADT Smoke Alarm. Photo provided by Best Buy.

Smart smoke alarms are worlds better than whatever your grandmother has (no offense, Granny). Not only do they beep upon detecting smoke, but they also can connect you to professional monitoring services, who can handle the situation for you when you’re busy. Even if you choose to self-monitor, you’ll get a mobile notification so you can handle the issue. The alarm detects smoke and extreme temperatures in your home. Plus, it includes an 85-decibel siren, about as loud as a passing diesel truck or snow blower. You can rest assured that if there’s smoke or extreme temperatures in your home, you’ll know about it ASAP.

ADT Carbon Monoxide Alarm

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ADT Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Photo provided by Best Buy.

The carbon monoxide alarm works in the exact same way as the smoke alarm, alerting you or the professional monitoring team if it detects dangerous levels of CO. It also includes an 85-decibel siren, enough to wake up you and your neighbors. This alarm requires 2 AAA batteries and has a one-year warranty on parts and labor. You can either mount it on the ceiling or wall, and it has wireless options if you prefer. I love that the alarm is tamper resistant, so it’ll communicate with you if its removed from the base.

ADT Water Leak Detector

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ADT Water Leak Detector. Photo provided by Best Buy.

Did you know that water damage is 100% preventable? You just need a good water leak detector in your basement, by your dishwasher, or anywhere that flooding is a possibility.  The detectors are wireless so you can put them in hard to reach places, and they have a battery life of up to 10 years. Plus, they work in temperatures from 14 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which should be more than enough of a range for your home.

Professional Monitoring with ADT

Like I said before, ADT is giving you the flexibility with this Starter Kit to decide whether you want professional monitoring or not. Let’s back up.

How monitoring works

Professional monitoring means that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, a team of professionals will monitor your system. If you have an intrusion or environmental issue, the professional monitoring team will first try to verify the emergency with you, then contact the police, medical services, or the fire department. It’s great for someone who’s away on a business trip, at work, or otherwise occupied. Basically, they’re the Robin to your Batman, and I recommend getting professional monitoring with any home security system.

Options

You can decide whether you want monitoring for security, life safety (your smoke, CO, and water leak detectors), or both.

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ADT Starter Kit Monitoring Options

I recommend getting the Total Security Bundle plan for $34.99 a month. That way you’ll have backup in case of an intrusion or an environmental emergency.

Contract Rules

With the Starter Kit, ADT does not force you into a long-term contract. Instead, the contracts are month-to-month, and you can cancel anytime without a cancellation fee. That’s what I like to hear!

SmartThings Customer Support

Given the three partnerships that make up this security system, it can be a little confusing to know where to go for help. For any questions regarding your ADT system or professional monitoring, you’ll turn to SmartThings.

How SmartThings Customer Support Works

SmartThings has a nice online support center on their website with information about setting up and using any of your ADT products or professional monitoring. You can also get in touch with them through phone, from nine AM to six PM PST, Monday through Saturday in the U.S. Finally, you can email them and a member of their support staff will respond as quickly as possible.

Customer Reviews

How does SmartThings’ customer support work in practice? To find out, I turned to the Internet.

Amazon

The Samsung SmartThings ADT Starter Kit has a 2.8 star rating on Amazon with 42 customer reviews. The plurality of the reviews were five stars at 36%, while the second biggest category was one star at 31%. Clearly, people had mixed experiences.

When I searched for customer support specifically, I found someone who was extremely pleased,

“The responsiveness of the customer service over the email is fast, I got my questions answered in 24 hours in a personable and human language, no canned emails were sent”

read a five-star review from July. Sounds great to me!

Google

SmartThings has a perfect five star reputation on Google with only three reviews. Unfortunately, two of the reviews did not have any text, and one of the reviews wasn’t super relevant to customer support, so this was a bit of a dead end.

Better Business Bureau

SmartThings is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, or BBB, which means that they don’t pay them a yearly fee. Still, the company has an overall BBB rating of A, as they’ve had no customer reviews and have responded to all three of their customer complaints. As there’s only three complaints, this isn’t a big enough sample size to draw any conclusions, but I am glad to see that they are responsive to their customers.

The SmartThings App

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The SmartThings App. Photo provided by SmartThings.

Let’s be honest: this security system is a millennial’s dream, and that dream includes a mobile app- because sometimes the Security Hub is just too far away.

Again, knowing what app to use is not the most intuitive thing in the world. While ADT has an app called ADT Pulse, you’ll use the SmartThings app to control this system.

Features

On the SmartThings app, you’ll be able to monitor and control all of your devices and create routines (like your system arming at a certain time everyday).

Reviews

You know the drill. What did customers think of the SmartThings app?

Apple Store

Yikes! The SmartThings app has a 2.9 star rating on the Apple Store. Confusingly, there were almost equal amounts of one-star and five-star reviews, so people had a wide range of experiences. It seems like some people had trouble getting the app to recognize of all their sensors, but some people had no issues. Hmm.

Google Store

The SmartThings app fared a little better on Google with a 3.9 star rating. Some people had issues with the app taking a while to load and draining their battery, which does sound annoying.

Recap

The ADT Samsung SmartThings Starter Kit is a great option for someone trying to get their feet wet in home security. Its best features?

  • Optional professional monitoring
  • Month-to-month contracts
  • Affordable
  • Customizable system 

However, if any of the following things scare you, this might not be your best pick:

  • Poorly rated mobile app 
  • Mixed reviews for customer support 

Read our review of the original ADT security system for more information.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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