The Onvis SMS1 Smart Motion Sensor, like the recently reviewed Insignia Wi-Fi Garage Door Controller, is another device that has seemingly come out of nowhere. First spotted on Amazon, the SMS1 is the first HomeKit device from Shenzen Champon Technology Company and it essentially launched with no previous mentions from anywhere at all. This lack of fanfare coupled with a low price point ranging from $15 on ebay, to $19 on Amazon, would lead one to believe that this device would be one to pass on. I will admit that I too, went into with this mindset when I ordered one, but regardless I wanted to give it a shot. Well, I am happy to say that I should not have judged a book by its cover. Despite its name, the SMS1 does more than just detect motion, with Temperature and Humidity sensing also being included and it communicates using Bluetooth 5, making it the only motion sensor on the market that can claim this currently. Let’s take a look at this surprising little device.
When the Onvis SMS1 arrived, I was immediately shocked on just how small the packaging and the device itself were. Even though the Amazon listing for the SMS1 had the physical dimensions listed (2.55″ x 1.69″), the device still looked like it was going to feature a large footprint. This was not the case at all with the SMS1, as the device itself is rather small and can easily fit in around the home. The design of the SMS1 is nothing to write home about, with the device featuring a rectangular form factor with a large “window” for the motion sensor. The device has no buttons on the outside, but it does have a reset button which sits inside of the frame, and can be accessed with the included tool, which is essentially the same as Apple’s sim ejection tool that comes with unlocked iPhones. The top and botom of the SMS1 have holes that allow the device to measure room temperature and humidity. The back of the sensor has a large battery compartment door, which for some, tends to be hard to actually open and a strip of double sided tape for mounting (there is no screw mount option).
Another nice surprise with the SMS1 was that Onvis did include the required batteries (2) in the box, as well as an additional strip of double sided tape. Rounding out the physical portion of the device is a small LED light which sits behind the front panel, below the motion sensor window which cannot be seen at all until it actually lights up. The LED only seems to light up when the device identification function in the Onvis Home, or any other HomeKit app that has this functionality is used, or when the device is rebooting. My one complaint about the design of the device is an obvious one, with the Onvis branding being prominently featured on the front, and is unfortunately not a removable sticker.
Setting up the SMS1 was extremely easy, and did not require the use of the Onvis Home App as it uses Bluetooth for connectivity and talks directly to HomeKit (No accounts required!). After inserting the batteries into the unit, a quick scan of the “new” HomeKit code label on the side of the device started the pairing process. After just a few moments, the device was added to HomeKit, and the standard device dialogs which allow for renaming and putting into a specific room were displayed. Once added to the Home app, 3 separate device “tiles” can be found, one for temperature, humidity and motion sensing, but no settings can be configured through the built in App.
One thing that did not surprise me about this device was the manufacturer’s App, which seemingly like all the others (except for Eve) is awful to say the least. The Onvis Home App attempts to mimic the familiar “tile” design of the native iOS Home App, as well as large “screen filling” device cards which can make the app look a little barren when viewing a specific device. Broken English can also be found within the app, with the firmware update option being labeled “Firmware Update by Data” being a prime example, but it isn’t too bad, and I felt comfortable navigating around the app. To its credit, Onvis does provide data logs and graphs for power users, but let’s face it, the only reason for using the app is for firmware updates. Speaking of firmware updates, I was immediately met with a prompt to update the SMS1 when selecting the device within the Onvis Home App. While I am not sure as to what everything included in the update was, I did see that the option to change the motion sensor timeout setting was added, which could be a much needed feature for some.
Performance wise, the SMS1 fits the bill when it comes to the passive measurements that it takes, humidity and temperature. The SMS 1 was within 1 degree of my Ecobee room sensor for temperature, and within a percent or two from the iHome 5-1 Smart Monitor’s humidity readings. For motion sensing, the device responded within a second or so of any activity, which should be fast enough for most people, but not quite as fast as the Philips Hue Motion sensors which are the gold standard for speed. As previously mentioned, the SMS1 does feature Bluetooth 5 connectivity, but I did not find a way to truly verify that this was actually in use, but I will note that Apple’s HomePod does have it built in and it is currently my HomeKit hub. In my week of testing, the SMS1 has never displayed a “No Response” message within the iOS Home app, and can only think of one or two occurrences where I actually saw the “updating” message for displaying current temperature or humidity. The device has been surprisingly rock solid, and was faster to display current temperatures than my Ecobee sensors.
To sum it all up, I will stick with the same theme when it comes to the SMS1: surprising. The Onvis SMS1 has quickly become one of my favorite HomeKit devices due to its low price, multiple sensor functionality and responsiveness. After my week of testing my first SMS1, I have purchased 3 additional sensors to go around my home, and they will actually be replacing some of the other “established” brand devices in my set up (more on this to come). The Onvis Smart Motion Sensor is an easy device to recommend for those looking for a device with multiple sensors, or just one type of sensor in particular as it matches or beats similar devices in price and performance. I look forward to see what is next from Onvis, but I don’t expect to hear about it until it is actually available, which may not be a bad thing after all.