Yes, you can control the latest Philips Hue bulbs with just your smartphone or smart speaker via Bluetooth, which saves you buying Hue Bridge. But without having the bridge, it very much limits your choices.
Being a smart, talented home enthusiast with smart lighting in every room of my home, I sometimes forget that not everyone is interested in diving right into the depths of the pool. So I have two different recommendations for the latest generation of Philips Hue smart bulbs: For enthusiasts like me I say go for it! For people who just want to dabble in smart lighting, I say there are cheaper alternatives if you are convinced that you won't wade deeper into the smart home water.
The quality of light these new Hue bulbs produce is as good as the bulbs that came before, and they have a new feature the others did not: support for Bluetooth as well as the more robust network protocol Zigbee. This change means that you can control these new bulbs with smart device (or smart speaker) without having to also buy the Philips Hue Zigbee-to-Wi-Fi bridge.
On the one hand, it's great for dummies because it will save them at least $ 50 (MSRP for Bridge is $ 59.99, but it's often on sale and it costs even less when bought in a bundle with the bulbs). On the other hand, you can buy a full-color smart bulb like the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi bulb (model KL130) for about the same price ($ 29.99 for the A19 style) that Philips expects to pick for its tunable – White bulbs (you can change the color temperature of Hue White Ambiance bulbs from warm white to cool white, but you do not get the rainbow colors). If you don't mind adjusting the lamp's color temperature, the dimmable Philips Hue White bulbs cost $ 14.99 each, which is about $ 5 less than what TP-Link expects to pick for their dimmable whites pears.  Wi-Fi bulbs like the TP-Link KL130 (and LIFX Smart Lighting Lineup) also provide another advantage. If you are not using the bridge, Philips Hue means the bulb's reliability in the relatively short range of Bluetooth that you and your smartphone must be in the same room as the bulb you want to control. The same goes for an Amazon Echo or Google Home smart speaker. A Wi-Fi bulb, on the other hand, will be limited only by your router. And if you have a good mask, it should be anywhere in your home.
Are the bulbs really all you ever want?
But before you conclude that Wi-Fi smart bulbs are the way to go, ask yourself if you think you would like to go further in pursuit of a smart home. The Philips Hue ecosystem is bigger and wider than any other smart light family on the market; it includes not only the A19 bulbs you want to install in lamps and pendants, but also BR30 (curved reflector) downlights you want to install in roof boxes, PAR (parabolic reflector) bulbs, GU (glass reflector with U-shaped, dual-pin base) bulbs and a variety of other custom shapes and sizes, including lights designed to complement the TV show's experience. TP-Link has LED strip lights and BR30 downlights – and that's it.
Philips also offers Hue-based lighting fixtures for both indoor and outdoor installations, including landscape and track lighting. There is also a whole collection of accessories, ranging from indoor and outdoor motion sensors to portable switches – and it's just the Philips Hue branded product collection. (An accessory you can use without having the Hue Bridge is the Hue Dimmer Switch.) Explore the Hue program's friends and find dozens of third-party products. No competitor comes close.
None of these options are affordable, but each unit we have considered to date has been of very high quality. (I should also note that while the entire Philips Hue line finally has Bluetooth features, only the A19 and BR30 form factors have it today.)
One of the features that links many of them These first and third party products together are an addiction to the Philips Hue Bridge. If you do not have one, you are limited to distributing about 10 of the new generation bulbs, you cannot mix new and old bulbs together and you are barred from integrating most of the cool and otherwise-Hue compatible products with them. But if you just want to distribute one or more smart bulbs without making a big commitment, these bulbs will do it for you. And if you decide to put the bridge down the road, Philips has also covered you there.