Nanoleaf's new 12-sided light-up remote joins its existing Nanoleaf Light Panels and Nanoleaf Rhythm, adding a whole slew of smartphone-free physical control options for your HomeKit setup in one easy-to-use accessory.

The Nanoleaf Remote is bigger than button and remote devices from other companies, but it offers access to many more scenes and as you'll see in my review, it's a great value if you already own a Nanoleaf setup and want a simple iPhone-free control method that anyone in the household can use.


For people unfamiliar with Nanoleaf, the company makes the Nanoleaf Light Panels, a HomeKit-enabled set of flat, triangle-shaped lights that connect together in a range of different user-designed configurations, providing both light and art. The Light Panels have LEDs inside and can be set to display dozens of different colors and patterns, which make up different light recipes.

I've had a Nanoleaf setup for more than a year, and it continues to be one of my favorite HomeKit products. The Remote is specifically designed for users who already have Nanoleaf Light Panels.

Design

Nanoleaf's Remote has a design that's not quite like any other HomeKit-enabled remote-style device on the market, with dodecahedron shape where each side activates a different scene.

The remote, which is a little bigger than palm sized, is made from a white plastic that admittedly feels a bit cheap, but it doesn't look bad sitting on a desk.

nanoleafremotesize
When the remote arrives, it comes in two halves, with one empty side and a one side that houses the batteries, an LED light, and the mechanism that provides a slight vibration whenever a new scene is activated. Two AA batteries (included in the package) fit into the battery compartment to provide power.

nanoleafremotehalves
Once the batteries have been inserted, the two halves of the remote snap together. I wasn't quite able to get a perfect, seamless fit between the two halves, but that could be operator error.

nanoleafremotebattery
I'm not sure how long the batteries are meant to last, but after about two weeks of use, the battery level is down to 85 percent. I suspect the batteries will need to be swapped out every few months, which is similar to other battery-powered HomeKit devices I own.

Setup

Setting up the Remote took less than 30 seconds using the Nanoleaf app, and it was as simple as the setup for any other HomeKit product. Under the Remote section of the app, there's an "Add Accessory" option, which requires the HomeKit code on the inside of the Nanoleaf Remote to be scanned. Once that's complete, the Remote is added to a HomeKit setup and scenes can be set either in the Nanoleaf app or the Home app.

nanoleafremotesetup
On iOS devices, the Nanoleaf Light Panels and the Nanoleaf Remote work over HomeKit, and a HomeKit setup is required. You can also pair the Remote to the Nanoleaf Rhythm, however, which is required to enable full functionality, such as brightness controls. Sans a Nanoleaf Rhythm, which connects to the Light Panels to allow them to respond to sound, adjusting brightness does not work.


Pairing the Remote to both a HomeKit setup and to the Nanoleaf Rhythm will result in some error warnings in the Nanoleaf app. These error warnings exist because the dual pairing creates a disconnect between changes made to the programmed scenes in HomeKit and in the Nanoleaf app.

For example, if you set a "Good Night" scene to one of the sides in the Home app and then set a different scene to the same side in the Nanoleaf app, it won't sync and one will overrule the other. This wasn't a problem in daily use because I stuck to making changes only in the Home app, but I did find it confusing. Nanoleaf says improvements will be made to the app and the website to better explain this conflict to Remote users.

errormessagesnanoleafremote

Despite these ominous error messages, everything is working well more or less as long as I adjust scenes in just one app, but it's definitely a confusing setup and I have run into conflicts.

According to Nanoleaf, you will need a Home Hub to use the Remote on iOS devices, which means you'll need to have a HomePod, Apple TV, or iPad connected to HomeKit.

Usage and App

Activating a scene with the Nanoleaf Remote is done by lifting it up, turning it to one of the sides of the dodecahedron, and then setting it back down. A couple of seconds after you place it down, it will vibrate, light up, and the scene on the side that's facing up will activate.

nanoleafremoteLED
Each side of the remote lights up with a unique color when it's activated and there's also a number for each side in one corner, so it's easy to tell one side from another. You'll need to memorize which number does what, but it only takes a couple of days to learn your scenes unless you're changing them frequently.

I love the light built into the remote, and I wish that I could set it to be on all the time, but that would probably kill the battery too fast. As it is, it's white most of the time with the colors only displayed when you rotate it.

nanoleafremotedesign
The Nanoleaf Remote accurately recognized each side of the dodecahedron and I didn't have problems accidentally activating scenes I didn't mean to. A scene will activate based on which side is up when you stop rotating, so keep that in mind. It takes a second or two between when the remote is rotated and when a scene activates.

nanoleafremotelitup
In addition to rotating the remote to different sides to activate HomeKit scenes, if you pair it to a Nanoleaf Rhythm, you can twist it clockwise or counterclockwise to change the brightness of the Nanoleaf Light Panels. A clockwise turn makes the Light Panels brighter, while a counterclockwise turn makes them dimmer.

Controlling brightness this way was convenient and worked well, but it was easiest to do turning the Nanoleaf Remote while it was on a desk or other flat surface rather than while in my hand.

nanoleafremotelitup2
Within the Home app (or the Nanoleaf app) a HomeKit scene (or multiple HomeKit scenes) can be assigned to each side of the Remote. While other buttons like this have different gestures listed, Nanoleaf's are all single press because the scenes are activated through rotations rather than different presses.

If you have a HomeKit-connected Nanoleaf setup already, you know that all Nanoleaf light recipes you install are also HomeKit scenes by default, so you all of your favorite Nanoleaf patterns are available in the Home app right alongside scenes you've created for other HomeKit products.

nanoleafremoteiphone
If you prefer to use the Nanoleaf app to assign scenes to the Remote, the interface is almost identical. If connected to HomeKit, it lists all of your pre-existing HomeKit scenes, and you can choose one from there.

While the Remote is meant to control the Nanoleaf Light Panels, it can also control all of your other HomeKit products. You can use any scene with the Remote, including Nanoleaf color scenes, rhythm scenes, and multi-device HomeKit scenes.

nanoleafremotehomeapp
For example, I have side 11 of the Nanoleaf Remote set to turn down all of the Hue lights in my office after work in a scene I call "Relax," while side 12 is set to a "Good Night" scene that turns off all of the lights in the house and activates a night light.

Bottom Line

I've had trouble with some of the button and remote-style HomeKit products refusing to connect to my HomeKit setup after a period of time, but that hasn't been an issue with the Nanoleaf Remote.

In the few weeks that I've been testing it, the Nanoleaf Remote has been responsive every time and while I was skeptical of its ability to determine which side was activated, it works well. When I turn it, it reliably detects the correct side and activates the corresponding scene.

A lot of HomeKit control options use a single button with multiple gestures, but the Nanoleaf Remote is simpler. There's no need to press, double press, or triple press -- I just turn the remote to the right side.

With the ability to activate 12+ scenes (you can set multiple scenes to a single side) the Nanoleaf Remote offers more options than other products on the market, and at $50, it's competitively priced. Scenes can include just the Light Panels or you can incorporate other HomeKit products, which is useful for people with a range of HomeKit accessories. My only complaint is that there are some error messages you'll encounter in the Nanoleaf app, which definitely needs some serious improvement.

It takes a few days to memorize the 12 sides, but I found it surprisingly easy to keep track of what's what with a little bit of use. If you have the Nanoleaf Smart Panels and want quick access to different lighting scenes and a way to control your other HomeKit products without an iPhone, the Nanoleaf Remote is worth the purchase price and beats out other remote control options on the market, even with the app quirks.

How to Buy

The Nanoleaf Remote can be purchased from the Nanoleaf website for $49.99, and it's also available in Apple retail stores and the Apple online store.

Starting on Wednesday, July 18, Apple retail stores will have dedicated Nanoleaf demonstration areas where customers can get hands-on experience with the HomeKit-enabled Nanoleaf Light Panels and Remote before purchasing.

Note: Nanoleaf provided MacRumors with a Nanoleaf Remote for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Top Rated Comments

H3LL5P4WN Avatar
38 months ago
My cats would give themselves seizures with this when I'm not home, lol.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
psac Avatar
38 months ago
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mousse Avatar
38 months ago
If I still played pen and paper D&D, I would nerd out so much over this. Sure it would be biased towards a certain number, because it's not exactly balanced. Still...a color changing dice.:D I don't think it would last one gaming session either. Still... color changing dice.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple watch ecg

Apple Watch Likely to Gain Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Blood Alcohol Monitoring

Monday May 3, 2021 4:03 am PDT by
The Apple Watch may gain the ability to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood alcohol levels, according to newly-revealed information about one of Apple's chosen business partners. Apple has been revealed to be the largest customer of the British electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, The Telegraph reports. Rockley Photonics has developed non-invasive optical sensors for...
airtags teardown tile mat galaxy smarttag

iFixit Shares AirTag Teardown Revealing 'Impressively Compact' Design Compared to Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag

Sunday May 2, 2021 4:54 am PDT by
iFixit has shared the first of its two-part series in tearing down Apple's AirTag item tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to achieve its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout. For comparison, iFixit compared Apple's AirTag to the Tile Mate and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. Compared to the competition, AirTag is the smallest in size, with the...
facebook instargram updated att prompt 1

Facebook and Instagram Ask Users to Enable App Tracking in Order to Keep Services 'Free of Charge'

Sunday May 2, 2021 1:22 pm PDT by
As a way to convince users to enable tracking across other apps and websites, Facebook is deploying the tactic of telling users that they must enable tracking as part of the App Tracking Transparency framework in iOS 14.5 if they want to help keep Facebook and Instagram "free of charge." App Tracking Transparency or ATT is the newest privacy feature to come to iPhone and iPad devices as part ...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

Mini-LED Display Production Improving for Redesigned MacBook Pro Models Later This Year

Monday May 3, 2021 8:33 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMT, a key vendor involved in the production of mini-LED displays in the newly announced 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has been able to address technical challenges for the production of mini-LED displays to be used in the upcoming 14 and 16-inch redesigned MacBook Pro models. As reported by DigiTimes, TSMT had initially been facing production constraints with the circuit board and...
Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Yellow

Kuo: Apple to Launch 8-Inch Foldable iPhone in 2023

Sunday May 2, 2021 8:43 pm PDT by
Apple is working to launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Based on our latest industry survey, we forecast that Apple will likely launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, with SDC as the exclusive display supplier and Samsung Foundry...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1 With Fixes for App Tracking Transparency Bug, WebKit Security Issues

Monday May 3, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1, minor security updates that come just a week after the release of the iOS 14.5 update. There is also a companion watchOS 7.4.1 update for Apple Watch and an iOS 12.5.3 update for older iPhone and iPad devices that don't support Apple's latest operating system versions. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a bug with App Tracking...
General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier in 'Coming Weeks'

Saturday May 1, 2021 3:57 am PDT by
Citing sources within the music industry, Hits Double Daily reports that Apple is preparing to launch a new HiFi Apple Music tier in the "coming weeks," which will come alongside the release of the rumored third-generation AirPods. According to the report, the new tier, which will offer high-fidelity music streaming, will cost the same $9.99 monthly subscription as the current individual...
Top Stories 58 Feature 1

Top Stories: iOS 14.5 Released, AirTag Launch, New iMac and iPad Pro Pre-Orders

Saturday May 1, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
After nearly three months of beta testing, Apple this week finally released iOS 14.5, the company's biggest update since the iOS 14 launch last September. One of the main new features included in the update is support for AirTags, Apple's item trackers that also finally became available this week some two years after their existence first leaked. Apple this week also began taking orders for...
tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
apple music album cover art

iOS 14.6 Beta 1 Code Hints at Upcoming HiFi Apple Music Support

Saturday May 1, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple is laying the groundwork for adding HiFi support to Apple Music which would offer Apple Music subscribers and owners of compatible devices, such as certain models of AirPods, access to high-fidelity audio streaming, according to code within the iOS 14.6 beta discovered by MacRumors. Earlier today, a report claimed that Apple will announce a new $9.99 per month Apple Music tier that...