Presence sensor or phone?

We (in family) all have smartphones, so am I correct in saying that they can act exactly the same as a presence sensor that I got with the ST starter kit?

Is there any advantages and disadvantages to having either? Not bothered about giving it to other family, as don’t have locks, alarm using ST.

I haven’t set up anyone else yet anyway, but will in future to bring on lights, set SHM etc.


I have 2 android devices set as presence sensors. It seems to work OK with my phone but not with my wife’s. Both devices are Samsung S6’s which might be the reason it doesn’t work all the time.
The Samsung stops apps after a period of time if they are not used to save batteries.
As I look at ST to make sure all is OK and my wife doesn’t this could be the reason things do not work all the time.
Not sure but might be worth thinking about.

I have a similar experience, also with two S6’s. My presence is reported properly, but my wife comes and goes all day long without actually leaving the house (according to ST). When she does actually leave and return, it seems to be reported properly, but all the false events make it impossible to set up actions using her presence as a condition.

I haven’t taken the time yet to investigate the cause, but it wouldn’t seem to be something with the phone since we have the same model … and also considering @bobbles is having the same experience. My guess at this point is that it might have something to do with mine being the “primary” user and her being an “additional” user. I’ve actually suspected that all along.

mmm worrying then, had this been reported to ST support? Any replies?

I think for me it may be enough, although saying that a lot of routines etc wouldn’t fire if someone reportedly “at home”

I went buy more presence though as to me Rhett phoned should work, work as a presence, and are always with the family.

You could also look at Life360 for presence.

It is reportedly more stable than using Android presence (iOS geofencing is also more reliable than Android from my personal experience using both devices).

The arrival sensor does not act the same as the phone. The phone will generally have a larger geofence area. The arrival sensor just acts as a zigbee device on mesh network and reports when it’s in range, so it is more accurate, however the smaller range does impact certain things such as opening a garage door as you get to the driveway (larger geofence will do this), rather than having to wait a few seconds outside the garage door for it to recognize (possibility with shorter range device like arrival sensor).

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You can disabled power saving on a per-app basis with the S6. Go into Smart Manager, select battery, then details under App power saving. You can then switch power saving off for an app

Not sure how much it helps, but it’s worth a try.

Personally I found phone presence from the ST app a bit flaky, and use a Tasker action with Sharp Tools instead, but that doesn’t work so well when you have more than one person and only want to set a mode or carry out an action when everyone leaves.

In my experience, presence sensors have been much more reliable than cell phones. Both my wife’s and mine, through ST or Life360, were a hit or miss to trigger routines. Never had an issue with the presence sensor, BUT… I live in a residential neighborhood, regular-sized house, there aren’t many WiFi signals around and I have 4 Zigbee switches that have made my mesh network strong.

Thanks for the S6 battery saving @Sean_B.
Have disabled it on the S6’s. Will see if this improves things.

We are all iPhones currently. Not sure if that’s better or worse! Anyone comment on iOS/iPhone presence sensor mode please

We don’t have Smart Manager on our phones. A quick google says AT&T removes it. YAY … thanks for taking away something that might have been useful to make room for bloatware that I immediately disabled! Sigh.

Regardless, power management should affect both my phone and my wife’s phone equally. Yet my presence is detected reliably (as much as I’ve paid attention to it), and my wife’s is not. On the other hand, I shut down tasks regularly and reboot occasionally, and my wife doesn’t pay attention to those things. So there could be other factors.

@R2D2, I’ve come across several threads on this topic since I started reading the forums last summer, and the consensus as I recall is similar to what @rdelavega said … presence is more reliable on iPhone than Android, and dedicated sensors are more reliable than iPhones, and none of them are perfect.

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I use my Iphone6 as a presence sensor and up to about a month ago it was fine. I setup a automation to turn on lights and open the garage door when i would come home. But recently it does not work with out me grabbing my phone and opening the ST App, then everything goes as expected with he routines, lights go on, garage door opens, and the door into the house unlocks.

I can not figure out what happened to change this, but it may have coincided with an update to the hub, I have a Gen2 hub.


So for those who have the smartthings sensor can you just leave it in your car? It sounds like the ST sensor is more reliable. I use a note 4 and mine seems to work fine about 90% of the time however my wife’s only works right about 75% of the time she has the s6 edge. I think I might just try the ST sensor and see if it works better, it will prob save my phone battery too. Their only 29.99 for the ST sensor so why not.

I did leave mine in my car which is what I really wanted but it didn’t work, only seen me home a few times. Also the battery drained within 2 months

After only a few weeks of initial testing my partners and I iPhones appear to work 80% of the time.

I have setup a push notification upon arming and disarming so we can at least listen out for the notification. If we don’t hear it we know we have to manually set.

Shame we can’t rely more on it though.

Oh that’s not good. So where does ST recommend you put this sensor ? On the key ring ? Then it would be to big for the pocket, I guess my wife could put it in her purse.

Get one from Best Buy and try it. If you don’t like it, return it. You can leave it wherever you want, it doesn’t necessarily need to be on a keychain, but if you park your car outside or a non-heated detached garage, battery will probably drain faster because of the cold.
That being said, this sensor is known to not have great battery life. And for it to work reliable, you need a decent Zigbee mesh network. If not, it will “come and go”.

I am happy with mine. Way better than geofencing, has been accurate. Even if batteries only last 2 or 3 months, getting a big pack of those coin batteries is just like $10 on Amazon or even lower on eBay.