Imagine raising $50,000 from an online crowdfunding campaign. Now imagine raising over $226k. That’s exactly what iSmartAlarm did when they launched in Silicon Valley in 2012. Now, they’re sold all over the world in stores like Best Buy and Staples, along with online retailers like Amazon. Naturally, I was curious to see exactly how well the iSmartAlarm security systems worked, so I bought the Premier Home Security Package so I could see for myself.
In this review, I’ll go over everything you need to know about the Premier package— its system components, monitoring options, customer support, and of course, the iSmartAlarm app. By the end of the review you’ll not only know what I think of iSmartAlarm, but you’ll know if it’s the right security system for you. There’s no time like the present, so let’s get started!
We appreciate iSmartAlarm's DIY installation, integrations with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, and free cloud and local storage.
What’s in the iSmartAlarm System?
The Premier Home Security Package that I purchased comes with a CubeOne, three contact sensors, a motion sensor, and the Spot Camera. Let’s take a closer look at each component.
The CubeOne is your system’s base station that will connect your sensors and cameras with your mobile app. It’s how you’ll receive notifications if an alarm goes off, plus, it has a built-in 110 decibel siren for good measure (about as loud as a rock band or jackhammer). The CubeOne plugs into the wall and will connect to your home’s WiFi so it can communicate with your phone.
Your contact sensors, also known as a door/ window sensor, can tell whenever a door or window has been opened or closed. They’re wireless and will be attached to your door or window frame with double-sided adhesive. The Premier Package I bought includes three contact sensors, which should be enough for the doors or windows of a main room in your home. Aside from doors and windows, you can also use the contact sensors for medicine cabinets, drawers, safes, etc.
The motion sensor can detect motion within a 20-foot range, so you should put it in a first-floor main room or hallway. Like the contact sensors, the motion sensor is wireless and battery-powered, attached to your wall with double-sided adhesive. If it detects motion, it will communicate with the CubeOne which will send you a mobile notification. Unfortunately, the motion sensor does not have pet detection, so you may get some unnecessary notifications every time your furry friend comes within 20 feet.
At first glance, I’m not loving the design of the Spot camera. I think having the cube right on top of the base with barely anything in between makes it look squat, and I don’t love how the base is silver while the camera itself is black and white. It reminds me a little bit of Wall-E, except less adorable. Of course, what a camera looks like isn’t as important as what it’s like on the inside, a lesson I’ve learned from cameras and fairy tales alike.
Do you want the good news first or the bad news? The good news is that the Spot Camera has a wide field of view of 130 degrees and can digitally zoom in four times, allowing you to see some greater detail. The bad news is that the camera only shoots in 720p HD, which is below the current industry standard of 1080p HD. Definitely more than a little disappointing.
Fortunately, the Spot has two-way audio, enabling you to speak to whoever you’re recording via your mobile app.
With four infrared LED sensors, the Spot Camera has awesome night vision, as you can see from the crystal-clear photo above.
When it comes to local and cloud storage, the Spot Camera has got you covered…sort of. I like that they provide free local and cloud storage, local through a micro-SD card up to 64 GB (not included), and 30 10-second clips of cloud storage. However, iSmartAlarm doesn’t allow you anymore cloud storage than that, which seems a little scarce. I wish they provided more options for cloud storage, even if they were paid, but ultimately, I’m glad the Spot has both types of storage in the first place.
Smart Platform Integration
Like the rest of the system, you’ll be able to control your Spot camera using Amazon Alexa or IFTTT. If you’re already in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, the Spot Camera could be an excellent addition.
Usually when I talk about artificial intelligence and smart security cameras, I’m referring to person detection. Rather than just alerting you that your camera sensed movement, person detection gives you specific notifications, like that your kids are home or that someone unfamiliar just walked into your living room. Unfortunately, the Spot camera doesn’t have person detection, so your notifications are going to be pretty general. The camera does have smart sound recognition for smoke and C.O alarms, though, which will turn your regular devices into smart ones by communicating with your CubeOne and app.
Setting up the camera was no challenge. The app gave me step-by-step instructions, and it was part of a larger, easy installation process.
At $40, the Spot camera is definitely on the lower-end price-wise when compared to its competitors. However, it loses a lot of points for its 720p HD video display and its minimal cloud storage. When you consider that similar cameras like the Wyze Cam only cost $20 and give you 1080p HD plus all the same features of the Spot camera, the decision becomes easy— on its own, the Spot camera is not worthwhile, but it’s a fine addition to a prepackaged security system.
Installing the iSmartAlarm security system only took about 45 minutes from start to finish. I began by creating an account on the iSmartAlarm app. Then, I plugged in the CubeOne’s ethernet and power adapters, syncing it to the app. After that, I pulled out the slips of the motion and contact sensors, activating the battery. The CubeOne immediately recognized the sensors, and they were as easy to install as putting a sticker on a notebook. Overall, I’m really pleased with how easy it was to install iSmartAlarm!
Professional Monitoring with iSmartAlarm
One thing that iSmartAlarm emphasizes its its complete and utter lack of monthly fees. The reason for this is that you’ll self-monitor your system through your mobile app— they do not offer any 24/7 professional monitoring. While this is certainly a good thing for your wallet, keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for your home’s security at all times, even if you’re on vacation or at the office.
Unfortunately, iSmartAlarm does not come with cellular backup, so if you have a power outage, your security system is shutting down as well.
One of the benefits of DIY installation is that if you need to move, you can just take down your system and install it in your new crib, free of charge.
Now that we know that iSmartAlarm doesn’t offer professional monitoring, customer support and the mobile app become even more important. Let’s take a closer look.
We appreciate iSmartAlarm's DIY installation, integrations with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, and free cloud and local storage.
iSmartAlarm Customer Support
If something goes wrong with your iSmartAlarm security system, who you gonna call? I want to make sure that iSmartAlarm’s customer support team is easily reached and actually knows what they’re talking about.
How iSmartAlarm’s Customer Support Works
You can contact iSmartAlarm’s customers support team over the phone Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 6 PM, PST. You can also email them, fill out an online form, or check out their online help center.
I wish that iSmartAlarm has 24/7 phone help, or at the very least a live chat feature for us millennials. Still, this could be enough, depending on the quality of the support.
Now let’s see what real iSmartAlarm customers had to say about their customer support.
The Premier Bundle I bought on Amazon has an overall rating of 3.4, which is pretty mediocre but not horrible. However, when I looked at the seven reviews that mentioned customer support specifically, I was disappointed to see that five of them were negative. Many people said that the phone line wasn’t available in the hours advertised, and that customer support wasn’t particularly knowledgeable once they got someone on the phone.
“Customer service is very poor. Email only and with a day or two delay each communication. I had three problems I needed help with. Two of the problems were resolved and the third one was not. Support just stopped responding to my emails and the third issue (Con #4) was never resolved”
wrote Amazon user Daniel in a one-star, Verified Purchase review. Yikes!
Unfortunately, things don’t get much better when I looked at the Google reviews. First of all, iSmartAlarm has an overall rating of only 2.6 from seven reviews. Sure, it’s not a huge sample size, but this rating is already making my stomach turn. Plus, out of the five reviews that mentioned customer support, four were negative, or 80%. People echoed the same complaints of Amazon users, that customer support was really hard to reach and not super helpful when they were reached.
Clearly, customer support isn’t iSmartAlarm’s strong suit, so if great customer support is important to you, you might want to try Frontpoint.
The iSmartAlarm App
Finally, I’ll take a look at the iSmartAlarm. Again, since you’re self-monitoring your system, it becomes even more essential that the app functions well. After all, it’s your mobile command center, so if it fails, your smart security system becomes just another useless device in your home. Let’s see how it works.
On the iSmartAlarm app, you’ll be able to livestream footage, receive notifications, arm or disarm your security system, hit your panic button, change settings, and review cloud storage.
I’m crossing my fingers that iSmartAlarm’s customers liked their app more than they liked their customer support. Is it safe to look yet?
Again, we are not starting off on a good note! The iSmartAlarm app only has a 2.1 overall rating from iPhone users. Many said that the app didn’t connect to their system and in some cases, wouldn’t even open, basically rendering the security system useless. This is a very bad sign.
Android users liked the iSmartAlarm app better than iPhone users, but not my much— they only gave it a rating of 2.7 on the Google Play store, with the majority of the reviews at one star. People had the exact same complaints we’ve seen before— the app doesn’t properly communicate with the system, a huge issue. Sigh.
Recap of iSmartAlarm
Now, I don’t usually do this, but I can’t recommend that you use iSmartAlarm as your security system. Although it is cheaper than its competitors, that’s probably due to the company’s disregard for its app and customer support. As you’ll self-monitor your system through the app, iSmartAlarm is just not a dependable security system, in my opinion.
But that’s just me, and we’re here because YOU need a security system. So I’ll break it down for you even further.
You should get iSmartAlarm if you’d like…
- No monthly fees: As you’ll self-monitor your system, you won’t have to pay any additional monthly fees after you buy your initial equipment.
- Integrations with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT: You’ll be able to command your iSmartAlarm system using voice commands.
- Free local and cloud storage: iSmartAlarm includes free cloud and local storage with all of its systems.
- Affordable price: For only $153.80 on Amazon, the iSmartAlarm Premier Bundle is one of the more affordable security systems around.
However, steer clear if you don’t want…
- Poor customer support: Real iSmartAlarm said that their customer support was hard to reach and didn’t help them solve their problems.
- Buggy app: Both iPhone and Android users had huge issues connecting their system to their app, rendering the smart security aspect useless.
- No professional monitoring option: If you want professional monitoring, look elsewhere: iSmartAlarm only offers self-monitoring, making the disappointing customer support and app even more troublesome.
- No cellular backup: Your system is dependent on your home’s electricity, so it’ll go off in the event of a power outage.
Want to learn about more options? Read about the best security systems of 2019 or leave a comment below— I’ll be happy to hear from you soon.