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Why smart fridges are not such a smart buy – yet

Some smart features can be fun and even useful, but there are other developments in fridges that excite our experts more. 

man using a touch screen on a smart fridge
Last updated: 28 March 2024


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • Many 'smart' fridge features like Wi-Fi and associated apps aren't worth paying a premium for
  • There are other modern fridge technologies worth checking out that do improve fridge performance or ease of use, such as a 'hot freeze' zone that quickly cools hot leftovers

How 'smart' does a fridge need to be? Smart kitchen appliances that you can interact with remotely via the internet are no longer the stuff of science fiction.

Connecting a modern fridge to your Wi-Fi promises a cornucopia of control from afar, and additional functionality when you're up close and personal.

But does this markedly level up your food storage game, or is it a 'fridge' too far?

Perhaps more importantly, are there better technologies to spend the extra money on – ones that actually keep your food fresher, or make your life easier?

Should you buy a smart fridge?

Not all smart fridges are created equal, and their level of functionality varies, from basic temperature and energy monitoring to a fully interactive experience.

Many manufacturers let you monitor and manage your smart appliances through their proprietary app. For example, Samsung has its Family Hub app and LG has ThinQ. Other manufacturers will also have their own.

Through these apps you can receive notifications from your fridge, such as alerts that the door's been left open or your water filter needs changing. 

These features are convenient, but in our opinion, hardly so convenient as to make them worth paying a premium for

Or you can adjust the settings, such as changing the temperature or activating extra ice-making. You can also receive rudimentary energy usage data.

These features are convenient, but in our opinion, hardly so convenient as to make them worth paying a premium for.

And while we eventually expect to see advanced energy management systems and clever diagnostic tools that can report problems or even schedule a service call before the need becomes apparent, that still feels a long way off.

Cool features of a smart fridge

Samsung is one brand that's gone full send on the science spectrum with its Family Hub fridge. It provides the best example right now of the techno gimmickry available in this kitchen appliance.

Touch panel video screen

The most obvious smart feature of the Family Hub is a huge touch panel on the door – up to 32". This controls the fridge functions, such as temperature, but it also does everything you'd expect from a regular tablet device: you can browse the internet, stream music or even watch YouTube.

At first glance the ability to play videos while you're cooking doesn't seem especially useful, but as we got to know the Family Hub we found it was actually, ahem, kinda cool.

Using a built-in app, we watched a short video clip on cooking techniques – a useful feature if you need a quick kitchen skills refresher

It'll keep the kids occupied, but you can also use it to refer to cooking shows or follow along with recipes. Using a built-in app, we watched a short video clip on cooking techniques – a useful feature if you need a quick kitchen skills refresher.

If you have a recent-model Samsung smart TV you can mirror the action from the TV on your fridge, so you won't miss a moment of sportsball action while making nachos for your mates – though TVs from opposing teams (i.e. brands) need not apply.

Yes, passive-aggressive note-leaving about who owns the leftovers has gone digital

Through the associated app you can also write virtual post-it notes on the fridge's display for others to read – yes, passive-aggressive note-leaving about who owns the leftovers has gone digital.

It's also useful if you've forgotten to take tonight's dinner out of the freezer – you can leave a note for any passersby to help you out, though there's no guarantee they'll read it, and you can just text your housemates instead.

woman looking at smart fridge screen

Touch screens can help you follow along with recipe videos.

'Smart' shopping list

The most useful features are the shopping list app and the internal cameras. No, you can't take selfies with the fridge (unless you climb inside), but one of the doors has cameras mounted in it so you can photograph what's inside remotely.

Again, this seems like a gimmick, but it can be a handy visual reminder of what you're out of when you're at the shops.

From there it gets a little weird.


Samsung's Refrigerdating app turns that photo of your fridge's contents into an online 'dating' profile, where potential suitors can swipe left or right, depending on whether they like the look of your leftover lasagne.

Fun for a little while at least, but remember, this is a very expensive fridge, so maybe not quite fun enough…

So, is all this 'smart' tech worth it?

Sadly all this tech feels like a solution to a problem most of us don't have, and for now at least, most if not all of the smart functionality can be achieved more cheaply and easily with a standalone tablet or device.

See the full Samsung Family Hub SRS656MBFH4 review from our fridge comparison, or check out our Samsung Family Hub 'first look' where we take you on a more in-depth tour of one of the Family Hub fridge's features. 

The fridge technology worth paying for

While we're not big fans of the 'smart' fridge, or at least not if you're paying a premium for it, we're far from Luddites here in the CHOICE test labs.

There are some fantastic fridge technologies that we ARE excited about. Here are five of them.

1. Chiller compartment

Not to be confused with a crisper, a chiller compartment is designed to provide the optimum conditions for storing meat, seafood and poultry.

It'll be the coldest part of your fridge at around 0°C. This helps prevent bacterial growth without freezing your Scotch fillets (which can affect the texture and means you'll need to defrost before cooking).

It'll be the coldest part of your fridge ... This helps prevent bacterial growth without freezing your Scotch fillets

Also known as deli compartments, as they're good for storing cured meats and cold cuts, chillers keep their contents isolated so they're less likely to cross-contaminate and absorb odours from other foods. This separation also helps contain any spills for easy cleaning.

Chillers aren't just for meat though – this incredibly useful compartment is great for the coldest of cold drinks, or for helping leftovers last longer.

CHOICE tip: To see the fridges we've tested that have a chiller, go to our latest fridge review and select the "chiller" option under "Features" in the filter.


A dedicated chiller compartment, such as this one in the Haier HRF520FHS French-door fridge, is designed to keep your meat and seafood at optimal temperature.

2. Multizone compartment

A marvel of fancier modern fridges, a multizone compartment greatly enhances the versatility of your fridge by switching between fridge, chiller, soft freeze or freezer, depending on your needs.

Having a big dinner party? Set it as a fridge for extra capacity while you're prepping and cooking.

A multizone compartment switches between fridge, chiller, soft freeze or freezer, depending on your needs

Just stocked up at a bulk-buy butcher? Set it as a freezer to keep your choice cuts frozen until you need them.

Birthday party? Soft freeze means ice cream is easier to scoop.

These compartments are often a separate drawer between the fridge and freezer, such as in the Electrolux UltimateTaste 900 French-door fridge we've tested, or one of the two bottom compartments on a quad-door French-door fridge.

multizone compartment

A multizone compartment, such as this one in the Electrolux EHE6899BA French-door fridge, can be adjusted for a range of purposes.

There are a couple of things to know if you want to get the most out of your multi-zone compartment.

First, you need a new home for the compartment's existing contents before you change the settings. (And remember, thawing and refreezing some foods can be dangerous.)

Second, plan ahead. The temperature won't change instantly when you change modes – it'll take a couple of hours to reach its new target temperature.

Finally, remember to tell other household members you've made the change – either in person, via a note left on the fridge, or ideally both. Don't assume they'll notice it on the fridge's display.

hot freeze compartment

The drawer on the right in the Mitsubishi Electric MR-WX470F-S-A fridge can detect hot food and adjust the flow of cold air to quickly cool it down.

3. 'Hot freeze' zone

Putting hot leftovers in the fridge is a tricky subject.

You don't want to leave them out on the bench to cool for too long, as bacteria can start to multiply once the temperature drops below 60°C.

But equally, putting molten-hot leftovers straight into the fridge can affect other fridge contents.

A hot freeze compartment eliminates this issue by rapidly cooling its contents, while keeping them quarantined from the rest of the fridge. So you can quickly cool hot leftovers safely, without affecting the rest of your food.

This feature is currently only available in fridges from Mitsubishi Electric (such as this 470L Multi Drawer MR-WX470F-S-A we've reviewed), but we think hot freeze compartments are a great idea that we'd like to see become more common.

lockable compartment

A lockable compartment can help keep medications safe from children. Image: Westinghouse.

4. Lockable compartment

Ever wondered why your dairy compartment has a lock on it? No, it's not a barrier to butter burglaries. Nor is it designed to keep your housemates from eating that last piece of donut you've been saving.

It's not actually a dairy compartment, but rather for storing medicines that require refrigeration safely out of reach of curious little fingers.

Lockable compartments are a great safety feature, but not many fridges have them. If yours doesn't, it's a good idea to keep your medicines in a clearly labelled container, ideally one that's challenging for children to open, rather than loose on the shelf.

hybrid fridge freezer husky hus268vfwh-1

The Husky HUS-268VFWH.1 is a hybrid model, which means you can choose to use it either as a fridge or a freezer.

5. Hybrid fridge-freezers

Taking the multi-use compartment a step further, more and more manufacturers are producing hybrid models that can be used as either a freezer or a fridge.

These are available in either chest configuration (arguably less useful) or as an upright, giving you even more flexibility and options for short- or long-term food storage.

And with upright hybrids with reversible doors, you can even buy two identical appliances and set them up in a pigeon-pair configuration, rather than having to buy different standalone models of fridge and freezer.

Hybrid models come with two energy star ratings – one for use as a freezer, and one for use as a fridge. This is important as freezers have to work harder to maintain lower temperatures than a fridge.

Dedicated freezers will often have thicker insulation to better maintain the lower temperatures, but hybrids have to do it all.

Theoretically you might get an efficient fridge that's quite energy intensive as a freezer, or an efficient freezer that's very, very good at keeping its cool as a fridge.

Being able to see this at a glance helps you, the consumer, make the best possible choice for how you're going to use it.

A relatively new concept, we're interested to see whether the hybrid fridge-freezer will catch on.

You can see how we rated the upright 280L Husky Hybrid Fridge & Freezer in our fridge review.

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.