abode Security Review
No-contract home security and automation with a modern twist
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a minimalist. Sure, I didn’t know the word at age five, but I’ve always gravitated towards solid colors, sleek designs, and anything that looks like it would be at home in the Apple store. That’s why I’m so excited to review abode’s new iota system. Founded in 2014 by a former ADT executive, abode disrupts traditional security companies in many ways. Their systems feature innovative design and they don’t force you into a monthly subscription plan or a long-term contracts, unlike the subscriptions with ADT. Plus, they have every smart platform integration you can imagine and more. I loved abode’s Essentials Starter Kit, so I’m ready to see how iota stacks up.
|Smart home hub||Yes|
In this review, I’ll go over the iota’s system components, professional monitoring options, customer support, and finally, abode’s mobile app. Let’s go!
What’s in the abode iota System?
The basic iota system comes with an iota, a key fob, and a mini door/ window sensor. However, if you’re looking for more sensors, cameras, motion sensors, or smart home devices, abode has other add-on options on their website.
The iota is your gateway, motion sensor, and security camera built into one. You can also use it to connect with devices using Z-wave or Zigbee, and you can control it with your voice via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Your iota will connect to your mobile app through Wi-Fi, so I hope your network doesn’t suck! Now let’s talk more about the camera.
The camera shoots in 1080p HD, the industry standard. I’m also satisfied with the camera’s field of view of 127 degrees. The only thing I’m slightly disappointed with is that the camera can’t zoom in at all. Overall, however, the iota has solid video quality.
As you can see, the camera has a pretty clear infrared night vision, as well.
I’m pleased to say that the iota has two-way audio, which will enable you to speak to whoever you’re recording. This is definitely a useful feature for scaring away intruders or just scaring your children for laughs.
If you want local and cloud storage, you’re in luck— the iota comes with a slot for an SD card and cloud storage is available for three to 90 days, depending on what plan you choose (see the chart under professional monitoring below).
Smart Platform Integration
Are you ready? The iota integrates with Google Assistant, Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, Nest, Philips Hue lightbulbs, ecobee, LIFX, Yale, Kwikset, Z-wave, First Alert, and IFTTT. That means that you can vocally command your iota through your smart home, or link it up with other connected devices for some convenient home automation. For example, you could have your Philips Hue lightbulbs turn on as soon as your iota starts recording. The possibilities are endless (not literally, as you get a maximum of 100 CUE home automations, but you know what I mean).
Unfortunately, the iota doesn’t have any artificial intelligence features. When it comes to home security cameras, A.I typically refers to person detection or facial recognition, giving the user highly specific notifications. Instead of just being notified when your camera detects movement, A.I cameras can tell you when a person has entered your living room, or even who that person is. The iota, on the other hand, will only give you a broad notification when it detects motion. If you’re interested in a camera with more A.I features, check out our review of the best indoor cameras for artificial intelligence.
If you’re looking to arm or disarm your security system in the easiest way possible, just click on your key fob. You can either put your system on home or away mode, standby, or you can press the panic button to activate an alarm. Key fobs are great if you have multiple people living in your home, as you can assign a key fob to each member. You can even customize your key fob’s buttons for easier access to your connected devices. For example, you could set one of the buttons to turn your living room lights off. Now you don’t even have to get off the couch to create a movie theater vibe while you watch Rush Hour for the hundredth time! The fobs will work within a hundred-foot range of the iota, and have replaceable batteries. I recommend putting the key fob with your regular keys, as it has a keyhole for the occasion.
Mini Door/ Window Sensor
Your mini door/ window sensor will let you know when a door or window has been opened or closed. As you can see, these sensors are small so they won’t be an eyesore. With a battery life of up to four years, you don’t have to worry about changing the batteries often, plus, you get the advantage of wireless equipment— easy set up. You can use these sensors on any door type— all you need to do is peel and stick the sensor and its magnet.
Installing the abode iota Security System
Setting up my iota security system took about 15 minutes. First, I placed the iota near my router and a power outlet, plugging it in. I also connected the iota and the router via an ethernet cable, then activated battery backup by shifting the tab on the bottom of the iota. Next, I downloaded the abode app and it walked me through the rest of the setup, inputting a six-digit activation code, pulling out the battery tab for the mini door and window sensor, then sticking it on the door frame (large part goes on the frame, smaller part goes on the door itself). Then I just had to name each device and I was done! Overall, the process was really straightforward and simple.
Professional Monitoring with abode
Who among us can say that we’re available 100% of the time? If you can, you’re probably a hermit crab or maybe just a highly anti-social human being. I digress. My point is, most of us aren’t around to deal with a home security emergency 24/7. That’s where professional monitoring comes in.
How monitoring works
With abode, you can either monitor your system yourself through your mobile app or sign up for professional monitoring. That means that a team of people will be monitoring your system 24/7 for alerts and issues. If you do have a security or environmental emergency, the team can contact the proper emergency services for you. Let’s see how abode does professional monitoring and whether or not it’s right for you.
|One-touch arm/ disarm||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Smart home integrations||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Amount of Cloud Storage in Days||0||7||30|
|24/7 professional monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Free shipping in continental US||No||No||Yes|
|Access to deals and discounts||No||No||Yes|
|Unlimited device warranty||No||No||Yes* annual only|
|Discount on homeowner’s insurance||No||No||Yes|
|First Year Annual Price||$0||$60||$100|
|Second Year On Annual Price||$0||$60||$180|
In order to receive professional monitoring and cellular backup, you’ll need to buy the Pro plan. Cellular backup means that your security system will stay on even if the power in your neighborhood goes out. I recommend getting cellular backup, as power outages are a fantastic time to commit a burglary.
All the plans allow you to connect to 160 connected devices like smart thermostats, locks, and more. You’ll also be able to make up to 100 CUE home automations regardless of your plan and add unlimited user accounts. I really like the flexibility of abode’s monitoring plans
You can either sign a month-to-month or yearly contract. Again, I’m loving the flexibility here. If you sign up for a month-to-month contract, you won’t have to worry about cancellation fees, and it’s a great way to get your feet wet if you’re unsure about professional monitoring.
abode Customer Support
Customer support tends to be pretty standard across security companies in terms of features. Whether it’s FAQ’s, a frustrating phone call, or an online form, companies usually give all their customer support options to all of their customers. But abode does things very differently.
How abode’s Customer Support Works
Like most security companies, abode offers email and online support along with phone support. However, the monitoring plan you choose will affect what services are available to you (see the above chart for details). All of the plans include customer support via email and the support site, while only the Connect and Secure plans allow you to call customer support directly over the phone. If you have the free plan, you can only get a phone call after you’ve already emailed. Premium phone support means that your calls will be prioritized— think of it like the Fast Pass at Disney World.
I don’t love the fact that direct phone support isn’t a given for all abode customers, but the prices are pretty reasonable. Now let’s see what abode customers have to say about the company’s support.
Sure, abode is a bit elitist with their customer support. But in my opinion, all that matters is how their customers feel. To find out, I turned to the melting pot of opinions that is the Internet.
I’m thrilled to say that the abode iota security system has a 4.7 rating on Amazon, extremely impressive for a security system. However, when I looked at the reviews that mentioned customer support specifically, I was a bit dismayed that only three out of the seven were positive. Still, people seemed to really like the iota system itself, which is a good thing. Plus, several of the positive reviews mentioned that responses to emails were timely, which makes me happy.
Better Business Bureau
Darn! Disappointingly, abode has an overall rating of C- from the Better Business Bureau due to the fact that they never responded to a customer complaint. I think this is a bit harsh on the BBB’s part, as the company has only one complaint and no customer reviews. Clearly, abode’s customer support is somewhat of a mixed bag, which is pretty typical for security companies.
The abode App
If a smart security system exists but there’s no app for it, does it really exist at all? Frankly, the answer is no. I want to talk about the abode app— its features and of course, how customers feel about it.
On the abode app, you’ll be able to livestream footage, control up to 160 connected devices, create up to 100 CUE home automations, add user accounts, and receive notifications.
Let’s be honest: iPhone users and Android users are about as different as the Capulets and the Montagues. To find out what both camps thought, I looked at reviews from the Apple and Google Play stores, respectively.
I was a bit disappointed to see that the abode app only has a rating of 3.1 on the Apple store. While this isn’t terrible, it doesn’t hold a candle up to the system’s 4.7 rating on Amazon.
“The app is lackluster and some functions can only be done through the web portal…some of these functions (like managing groups) don’t always work well on mobile. For such a beautiful and modern system, the app doesn’t quite meet the high standard the security system has set,”
wrote one eloquent user in a four-star review.
Android users liked the abode app, giving it a 4.2 rating. Most of the reviews were a perfect five-stars, although a few people mentioned that the app drains their phones’ batteries.
Recap of the abode iota Security System
Is the abode iota security system right for you? Let’s summarize.
The abode iota system might be your pick if you’re into…
- Minimalist design: there are only three components in the abode iota system.
- Month-to-month contracting option: great for someone who’s not sure if they want professional monitoring.
- Tons of smart platform integrations: many options for vocal commands and CUE home automations.
- Great app for Android users: the abode app received a rating of 4.2 from the Google Play store.
- Easy installation: You don’t need to be tech-savvy whatsoever to setup this system. Plus, you save money installing it yourself as opposed to having it installed professionally!
However, you might want to avoid abode iota like the plague if you’re not into:…
- Mediocre app for iPhone users: abode’s app barely exceed three out of five stars from the Apple store.
- Mixed customer support reviews: people were pretty split about abode’s customer support.
Want to learn more? Check out our best DIY home security systems, or feel free to contact us. We’d love to answer your questions!
Now, no review is complete without answering some of the frequently asked questions about the product, abode. Let's have at it.
Do you need a landline to use the abode iota security system?
You don’t need a landline to use the abode iota security system, but you’ll need an internet connection if you want to self-monitor it. The abode iota system sends alerts through the internet. However, if you spring for the $20 per month Pro plan, you’ll get cellular backup. With cellular backup, the abode iota system will continue to send alerts to you and the monitoring center, protecting your home when your internet or power is down.
Can you use an abode security system without paying monthly fees?
You can use an abode security system without paying monthly fees. With the Basic plan, which is free, you’ll get push notifications of alerts via the abode mobile app and full use of abode’s smart platform integrations. However, we recommend getting 24/7 monitoring with the Pro plan for $20 per month. The Pro plan adds a lot of value, such as professional monitoring, cellular backup, geofencing, and 30 days of cloud video storage for your abode cameras.
Basic Standard Pro Monthly price $0 $6 $20 Annual price $0 $60 $100 Professional monitoring No No Yes Cellular backup No No Yes Smart platform integrations Yes Yes Yes CUE home automation No Yes Yes Cloud storage length No 7 days 30 days Unlimited users No Yes Yes App push notifications Yes Yes Yes Email alerts No Yes Yes
Does abode require a monitoring contract?
Abode does require a monitoring contract if you go with the $20 per month Pro plan with professional monitoring or $6 per month self-monitoring plan, but the contract is month-to-month. That means you can cancel the subscription anytime without facing hefty penalties. However, abode also offers annual plans that reflect discounts up to $140 compared to the monthly plans. If you choose an annual plan, you can cancel without facing penalties, but you won’t get a prorated refund.
Standard Pro Monthly subscription $6 $20 First-year annual subscription $60 $100 Second-year annual subscription $60 $180
Can you install the abode security system yourself?
You can install the abode security system yourself. Based on our experience, DIY installation of abode takes only about 15 minutes, and the abode mobile app will guide you through the entire process. However, if you’re uncomfortable installing abode yourself, you can request professional installation. Installation rates start at $99 for abode iota starter kits, but there are additional charges for additional components.