Xiaomi Philips WiFi LED: bring your device closer to router

To stay consistent with my practice of giving you the solution near the top of the post: If you brought this bulb outside of mainland China there is no fixing it. Don’t waste your time and take it back to the store you brought it from and ask for a refund. Buy a different smart lamp that is properly made and actually works.

I don’t always bash crapware on my blog but when I do… Seriously if there was another way for me to warn people away from this product I would have. The manufacturer along with the rest of the distribution chain seem dead set on simply conning people into buying the remaining stock of thisĀ  bulb, because I doubt there is anything else they can do with it.

Although in most cases I would simply have built a device like this myself from parts, I have found that I no longer have the kind of time to invest myself into the project and the debugging and it would be better for me to simply buy a finished product designed for the purpose and use it. So looking up what other people usually buy I looked up my favorite online store and found the Xiaomi Philips smart bulb.

Compared to my working Eufy Lumos smart light it’s clear that the Xiaomi bulb is designed to be a generic replacement for it. However the Xiaomi bulb comes with a 40% discount and appears to be cheaply made out of plastic whereas the Eufy bulb is metal. Both bulbs get pretty hot in normal operation, however as you might understand plastic getting very hot vs metal getting hot is quite the difference.

The app provided by Xiaomi is designed to appear similar to the Eufy app, however this is where the trouble beings. Xiaomi accounts use an ID number rather than a username and not only is this impossible to memorise, the ID cannot be chosen and is simply sequential, one for each person who ever signed up for an account. The trouble is the bulb Xiaomi makes is limited in the numbers that it supports because the firmware uses a 32-bit spot for the account number. So anybody up from account number 4294967295 is unable to link their bulb to their account, which is now in the distant past with my account ID coming up as something like 9 million, and all the app says is “bring your device closer to your router”. (For the Eufy bulb I was able to simply log in with my existing Anker account and it worked flawlessly.)

Xiaomi did release an upgraded firmware (or so they claim), however seeing as how you need to link the bulb to your account to access it at all there is no way to install it. When I was fixing this I did obviously find this post, which contains an account someone made a while ago which people share and the Xiaomi representatives suggest (in broken English) linking your bulb with it temporarily to upgrade the firmware. Here the next problem follows, as it appears that the firmware they released (the description, frustratingly does not admit Xiaomi’s fault here but simply says it “makes it easier for people to link their bulbs”, asif the consumer stupidity was to blame for their shortsightedness), cannot be downloaded, the procedure always gets stuck at 40% and then times out. You also cannot trick the bulb by linking it to a mainland-China server for the upgrade (as suggested by other Xiaomi techs), because the bulb can only be linked to servers of the region where it was brought and does not show up in the app at all.

The trouble at this point is that the Xiaomi app only links to the Chinese forum (and I don’t speak Chinese). If you happened to have found their English-language forum using Google, you soon would have found that they’ve made it read-only (the new thread button does not work and the existing threads require me to be in some special group to post, which cannot be acquired seeing as how you cannot post). From what I was able to discern however, Xiaomi ran into issues with GDPR and so they apparently left their non-mainland-China servers to some outside company, which isn’t maintaining them enough to maintain working copies of the firmware and this is why the procedure doesn’t work. There’s also been some mention of a lawsuit between Philips and Xiaomi, which I have no trouble believing seeing as how the bulb is little more than a scam, at this point.

So anyway, I’m no novice computer user who wouldn’t be able to find his way around a tricky firmware update (I worked in IT for 15 years). I tried everything I could think of and there’s just nothing you can do to get a bulb in to a firmware version supporting newer accounts. I’ve spent 5 hours diagnosing all kinds of alternatives, and all I can tell you is offer you heartfelt advice to stay as far away from this company as you possibly can.

For some reason my supplier wouldn’t let me post a review for their “bestseller”. At first I couldn’t even get a refund, as they just shipped a replacement, even though I very clearly requested a refund. I got my refund after I, ahem, insisted and the post office was kind enough to return the replacement to the store free of charge, however I still feel people should be warned, so this is what my post is for. Hopefully someone can find it over on Google. Oh and feel free to leave a comment here, because I don’t think you’ll be able to leave it anywhere else.

LP,
Jure

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