Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”? This has never been more applicable than comparing iSmartAlarm to iSmartSafe, two similarly-named DIY home security companies. While they may sound nearly identical, these companies and their security systems have a lot of differences, some positive, some negative. Both companies are pretty new; while iSmartAlarm was founded in Silicon Valley in 2012, iSmartSafe was founded in 2015 in Houston, Texas. But can their security systems rise up to their competition? We’ll find out.
I bought the premier Package from iSmartAlarm along with the Economy Package from iSmartSafe, and today, I’m pitting them against each other. I’ll be looking at key similarities, key differences, system components, professional monitoring options, customer support, and apps before determining which is the better system overall and the better system for you personally. Okay, we have a lot to go over, so let’s get into it.
We appreciate iSmartAlarm's DIY installation, integrations with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, and free cloud and local storage.
Before I overwhelm you with details, I want to talk about the ways in which iSmartAlarm and iSmartSafe are similar.
- Integrations with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT: You’ll be able to vocally command your systems and create some convenient home automations.
- Self-monitoring only: Neither iSmartAlarm nor iSmartSafe offers any professional monitoring in-house, so you’ll monitor your security system through your mobile app.
- DIY installation: You’ll install both the iSmartAlarm and the iSmartSafe systems on your own for free.
The differences between the systems are probably what’s going to influence your buying decision. An overview:
- Customer support: While iSmartSafe has positive ratings for their customer support, iSmartAlarm’s customer reviews were disappointing.
- Prices: The iSmartAlarm Premier Package I bought costed $149.99, while the iSmartSafe Economy Package cost $249, about $100 more.
- App ratings: iSmartSafe’s Carener2 app has better ratings than the iSmartAlarm app from both iPhone and Android users.
If that all sounds good to you, let’s actually open these boxes and see what’s inside.
I purchased the Premier Package from iSmartAlarm and the Economy Package from iSmartSafe. This might be a little confusing considering how similar the names are, so let me break it down for you.
The iSmartAlarm Premier Package includes a base station, which they call CubeOne, three contact sensors, one motion sensor, and the Spot Camera. I must say that I’m a bit disappointed about the camera. It only shoots in 720p HD, way below the industry standard of 1080p HD. This is definitely an area where iSmart Alarm’s integration with IFTTT can come in handy.
The Economy Package from iSmartSafe is a bit more involved. It includes one iSmartSafe Alarm Panel, one SmartSafe Indoor Smart Camera, two door sensors, one motion detector, two keychain remotes, and don’t forget, four iSmartSafe window stickers. Like the Spot Camera, the SmartSafe camera only shoots in 720p HD, so I’m not thrilled with either camera included in the systems.
Now let’s talk monitoring.
Both iSmartAlarm and iSmartSafe have DIY installation, so I want to make sure that neither system is too difficult to install. After all, not everyone has technical skills like me!
The first thing you do to install iSmartAlarm is set up an account on the iSmartAlarm app. After that, you plug the CubeOne into ethernet and power adapters, syncing it to the app. Next, you pull out the slips of the motion and contact sensors, activating the batteries. The CubeOne will immediately recognize the sensors, and you can stick them right on the wall, door or window of your choosing. Overall, the process took less than 45 minutes— not half bad!
Installing iSmartSafe starts out pretty tedious, having to connect your Wi-Fi to your alarm panel with it’s limited buttons, about as taxing as working a rotary phone compared to an iPhone. After that process is over, however, things get easier. To install each component, I simply found it in the alarm panel’s menu and pulled out each battery tab, each sensor or remote taking no more than five minutes. Overall, the process wasn’t the smoothest in the world and definitely could’ve used the app more, especially for connecting to Wi-Fi.
Top System for Installation
I found iSmartAlarm easier to install than iSmartSafe.
When it comes to monitoring home security systems, there are two options. The first is monitoring your own system through its mobile app, and the second is getting 24/7 professional monitoring so you’ll have a team of people responsible for your home’s safety. Unfortunately, neither iSmartAlarm nor iSmartSafe offer professional monitoring, so you’ll have to self-monitor your systems. The positive? You won’t have to pay any additional monthly fees. If you’re okay with taking the entire responsibility of monitoring your home’s security, then you might be okay with this.
Please note that when I spoke to iSmartSafe’s customer support, they said that if I really wanted to I could use a third-party professional monitoring company with my iSmartSafe system. However, they weren’t able to make any recommendations, so basically, they only offer self-monitoring.
iSmartAlarm vs. iSmartSafe Cellular Backup
Unfortunately, neither iSmart Alarm nor iSmartSafe has cellular backup, so your security systems will go down in the event of a power outage, pretty typical of these lower-cost systems.
iSmartAlarm vs. iSmartSafe Moving Policies
The good news? Since you’ll install both systems yourself, if you move houses, you can just pack up your system and install it in your new abode. That’s one less moving cost to pay for!
Top System for Monitoring
Since neither company offers professional monitoring, I’m going to call it a tie for this round. You know what that means— the winner is going to be completely dependent on their customer support and apps. Who will it be?
Customer Support with iSmartAlarm vs. iSmartSafe
Since you’ll be self-monitoring your system, customer support becomes that much more important. You want a system that allows you to easily find your answer or ask someone who knows it.
Customer Support Features
Both iSmartAlarm and iSmartSafe offer customer support through an online help center, online forms, phone, and email.
You can call iSmartAlarm’s phone line from Monday through Friday from eight AM until six PM PST and iSmartSafe’s phone line from Monday through Friday from nine AM until eight PM CST. I’m a bit disappointed that neither company offers live chat or 24/7 phone support, but let’s see what real customers had to say.
Customer Support Reviews
The iSmartAlarm Premier Package got a 3.4 rating on Amazon, which seems pretty good to me. However, when I took a closer look at the seven reviews that mentioned customer support, five were negative. Many people said that no one answered the phones, even during the hours it was supposed to be available. On top of that, once customer support was reached, they weren’t very helpful, customers wrote. Things weren’t much better for iSmartAlarm on Google, with an overall rating of 2.6. Like the Amazon reviews, four of the five reviews mentioning customer support were negative. This is a huge concern as you’ll be self-monitoring your system— where are you supposed to go if you need help?
Unfortunately, iSmartSafe’s Economy Package isn’t currently sold on Amazon, so I checked out reviews for the Basic Package, which is exactly the same without the camera. The Basic Package got an overall rating on Amazon of 3.7, which is pretty good. 75% of the reviews mentioning customer support were positive, a much needed step up from iSmartAlarm. Similarly, on Google, iSmartSafe has a 4.9 rating, nearly perfect, with great things said about customer support. Although their names are almost identical, getting customer support from iSmart Alarm vs. iSmartSafe couldn’t be more different.
Top System for Customer Support
This one’s a no brainer— iSmartSafe has much better customer support than iSmartAlarm! But can iSmartAlarm redeem itself with its app? Let’s find out.
iSmartAlarm vs. iSmartSafe Apps
Since you’re monitoring your system yourself, you want to make sure the app has the capacity to be your home security mobile command center. But are the iSmartAlarm and the iSmartSafe app, called Carener2, up to snuff?
The iSmartAlarm App
From the iSmartAlarm app, you’ll be able to receive notifications, livestream footage, arm or disarm your system, hit a panic button, monitoring and change settings, and review cloud storage. Unfortunately, the app has really poor ratings, a 2.7 from the Google Play store and a 2.1 from the Apple store. I was deeply concerned with the amount of people who said their app simply wouldn’t open, or if it would open, wouldn’t connect to the system. Another big red flag from iSmartAlarm.
The Carener2 App
You’ll use the Carener2 app with your iSmartSafe system, which was definitely not easy to figure out. From the Carener2 app you’ll be able to arm or disarm your system, livestream footage, control any connected devices you may have, receive notifications, review event history, and create a schedule for your alarms to arm and disarm in advance. The Carener2 app is a bit more highly-rated than the iSmartAlarm app, but not by much. While it received a passing 3.3 from Android users, iPhone users only gave it a 2.6.
“Works when it wants to…It’s constantly offline and that’s a major issue that needs to be resolved. Please fix this ASAP. This is what I use to protect my home,”
wrote an iPhone user in a one-star review. Clearly, both companies need to do some serious work on their apps.
Top System App
I’m not going to lie— picking the better app is a little bit like selecting the lesser of two evils, but if we’re going solely on the customer ratings, than iSmartSafe wins for its app. If you want to self-monitor your security system with an app with amazing ratings, I would check out Vivint.
Recap of iSmartAlarm vs. iSmartSafe
While I hate being negative, iSmartAlarm and iSmartSafe both have a lot to work on when it comes to their security systems. Neither has a highly-rated app, and iSmartAlarm definitely needs a lesson in customer support. However, due to its superior app and customer support, I’d choose iSmartSafe over iSmartAlarm any day. Trust me— it’s with the extra $100.
Still not sure? Keep reading.
Pick iSmartAlarm if you’d like…
- More affordable equipment: You’ll save about $100 if you buy iSmartAlarm’s Premier Package over iSmartSafe’s Economy Package.
- Minimalist system: While the iSmartAlarm system I bought only has six components, iSmartSafe’s system had eight main components.
- Cloud storage: iSmartAlarm offers free local and cloud storage, while iSmartSafe only offers local storage.
To learn more, read our full review of the iSmartAlarm security system.
Pick iSmartSafe if you’d like…
- Better rated apps for iPhone and Android: The Carener2 app has an average rating of 2.95, while the iSmartAlarm app has a rating of 2.4.
- Superior customer support: Customers had good things to say about iSmartSafe’s customer support, unlike the support of iSmartAlarm.
- Professional monitoring available from a third-party: Although iSmartSafe can’t make any specific recommendations, you can use third-party professional monitoring company with your system.
For more information, read our review of the iSmartSafe security system.
Don’t like either of these options? Check out the best home security systems of 2019. As usual, please leave any and all questions/ comments below. I’m looking forward to speaking with you soon!