AT&T Digital Life Review
You don’t have to be one of AT&T’s millions of wireless subscribers to opt into its home security system — AT&T Digital Life. The company’s home security branch claims to provide simple home automation features backed by professional monitoring and installation. To test this, we spent several hours digging through the fine print, chatting with customer service online, and aggregating third-party reviews to help bring you a well-rounded view of AT&T Digital Life.
Regardless of whether you’re brand-loyal to AT&T or new to the home security market in general, deciding whether AT&T Digital Life is right for you boils down to your preferences — just like any other service.
AT&T Digital Life claims to deliver simple home automation features that feed into a safe home security system, as its mobile control will give you peace of mind in knowing what’s going on while you’re away.
Is it true?
Perhaps — but the claims don’t really set themselves apart from the competition. In fact, home automation and mobile control are commonplace today, so these features aren’t anything unique in the current state of home security.
We didn’t physically test any equipment or use the service for ourselves, but we did talk to several customer service reps online and scoured the internet for details on its plan(s). AT&T Digital Life is actually known for customer satisfaction and service — with one of the highest scores from J.D. Power in the space.
While there are some options for home automation, there’s currently only one plan listed on the AT&T Digital Life site: Smart Security. Only after becoming a customer will you be able to add other devices like cameras. This isn’t a completely unheard of practice in today’s home security market, as companies like ADT also require you to become a customer before purchasing individual pieces of equipment separately from the home security system. However others, like Brinks, allow you to purchase individual products without having ties to its security system.
This lack of pre-purchase customization may not be ideal, especially if you’re interested in building a home security ecosystem or are wary of pouring money into the service without knowing whether it’s right for you. AT&T Digital Life does offer a 14-day money-back guarantee window — but still, there are a few restocking fees attached if you decide to go this route. On the other hand, AT&T Digital Life’s simplicity might be appealing to some, as displaying all compatible devices and customization options in front of a paywall (or customer service conversation) might be overwhelming.
Those who are loyal to the AT&T brand or are looking for quality customer service.
Those who want as much information on available products prior to a purchase, are averse to contracts, or live in certain (particularly rural) areas.
|Price||$39.99/mo, $549.99 for equipment and installation|
|Standout features||Customer satisfaction, home automation features, third-party ratings, UL-certified monitoring center, responsive customer service (including live chat) feature|
|Number of locations / states served||Only available in select markets. Check your availability before purchase.|
|Ratings||847/1,000 J.D. Power rating|
|Availability||All 50 states, limited markets (check to see whether AT&T Digital Life is serviced in your area)|
|Fees||Up to $99 restocking fee, early-termination fees (up to $640 for Smart Security Package)|
|Terms||Two-year contract, then month-to-month pricing thereafter|
Customer satisfaction ratings
If you’re looking for a trusted name in the home security/automation industry, AT&T Digital Life fares well when compared to the competition in terms of overall satisfaction. In fact, according to J.D. Power’s latest home security study, AT&T Digital Life scores above industry average.
AT&T Digital Life ranked second in the study, with providers like Vivint, ADT, and Xfinity Home Security trailing behind. When looking at a breakdown of the scores, AT&T Digital Life scored “better than most” or “among the best” in almost every category. This means the majority of survey participants reported an overall satisfaction with the system itself, customer service, and ease of use. Most notably, though, AT&T Digital Life scores exceptionally well in the billing and payment section with five out of five Power Circles — meaning the majority of users reported ease of use in payment, reasonable fees, and useful billing notifications. So if you’re looking for a company with a strong track record in easy-to-use features and payment options, AT&T Digital Life might be a safe bet.
AT&T currently offers one package to choose from in terms of home security. This Smart Security package comes with 24/7 professional monitoring, keypad, contact and motion sensors, an indoor siren, and enables text and email alerts. This particular set doesn’t overwhelm, especially if you’re looking to start with the basics in terms of door and motion-sensing coverage. (Some companies, like Frontpoint, allow you to build your own package from the start.) Compared to other providers like Ring with a comparable amount of starter-package equipment, the $549.99 is pretty steep.
A few streamlined home automation features
While nothing is stopping you from purchasing any home security camera or smart lock of your choosing, know that you may have to operate these devices in a separate app from your AT&T Digital Life one. However, if you’re looking to build a relatively simple home security ecosystem or are tied to your Amazon Alexa, AT&T Digital Life gives you a few options. You can control a few keyless Yale locks with this system through the app, along with cameras (including an outdoor home security camera that comes with only 720p resolution and no two-way talk), environmental sensors, and a thermostat.
Unclear package options prior to purchase
As previously stated, you’ll have to become a customer in order to add some of AT&T Digital Life’s smart(er) equipment. You won’t see any mention of available equipment on AT&T Digital Life’s site, as Smart Security and its corresponding equipment are the only featured products. Of course, you can find _some_ information on available products under the site’s “Support” tab under “Resources” and “Our Living Room,” but you still won’t find any concrete information on pricing or availability here, either. Customer service confirmed this information can only be gleaned via live chat or call. If you’re looking for a more transparent service right out of the gate, we suggest looking elsewhere.
Required contract, additional fees
Contracts aren’t anything new in the home security space — big names like Brinks, Frontpoint, and ADT all come with contracts. But it’s important to know the ins and outs of these contracts in order to avoid any “surprise” fees.
AT&T Digital Life requires a two-year contract for all new customers. After two years, AT&T Digital Life will start charging you on a month-to-month basis, but if you buy a new piece of equipment after putting in two years, a new two-year contract will begin with the use of the new equipment. (This doesn’t apply if you buy an individual piece of equipment to accompany an existing system, only new automation packages.) If you decide to cancel within the two years, there’s a starting fee of $640 for the Smart Security package. In order to avoid these fees, you have two weeks to decide in order to get your money back — a brief amount of time compared to what other companies like ADT offer (six months).
There are several other fees involved, including restocking fees of up to $99. So if you’re not sure whether two weeks is enough time to decide whether you’re sold on the service, you might want to do some more digging beforehand or opt for a service that comes with a little more leniency if you’re prone to changing your mind.
|AT&T Digital Life||Frontpoint||SimpliSafe||Vivint|
|Our review||Our review||Our review|
|Monthly price||$39.99/mo||$35/mo||$15/mo||Starting at $39.99|
|Contract terms||Two years||Three years||N/A||Four or five years|
|Self or professional installation||Self, professional||Self||Self, professional||Professional|
|View plans||View plans||View plans||View plans|
AT&T Digital Life vs. Frontpoint
AT&T Digital Life and Frontpoint both offer professional monitoring, however Frontpoint is a DIY-centric company. This means you won’t have the option to call on a pro if you find yourself stumped on how to install Frontpoint equipment, unlike AT&T Digital Life. In terms of pricing and plan transparency, Frontpoint gives you all of its options right off the bat, and while expensive, it also offers more advanced automation features like geo-fencing. If you’re looking for greater home automation options, Frontpoint might be the safer bet.
AT&T Digital Life vs. SimpliSafe
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to be tied to any form of contract, SimpliSafe is the way to go. You can cancel the service at any time fee-free, unlike AT&T Digital Life, and if you want to forgo professional monitoring, it’s possible — but you will lose access to mobile alerts. From home automation to plan flexibility, SimpliSafe gives consumers more options and autonomy than AT&T Digital Life.
AT&T Digital Life vs. Vivint
Again, contracts are relatively common in the home security space, but Vivint’s is particularly lengthy. AT&T Digital Life requires an initial two-year contract, and Vivint’s last from four to five years. However, this Vivint contract is only required if you don’t want to pay the upfront cost of equipment. In terms of home automation, Vivint offers more options for smart device compatibility than AT&T Digital Life with Amazon Alexa and Google Nest integrations.
AT&T Digital Life FAQ
Will AT&T Digital Life still work if AT&T isn’t my internet provider?
Yes. AT&T Digital Life claims the system works with any high speed internet provider.
Can I bundle my AT&T internet and home security system?
While it may carry some of the same brand value and recognition as its ISP-giant parent company, Reuters reported that AT&T actually considered selling its home security offshoot in 2017. Now, AT&T Digital Life operates within a relatively separate sphere — you won’t find a tab for home security on AT&T’s main website, nor will you find any bundling opportunities with its internet services. Customer service informed us that other AT&T services, including Wireless, Uverse, and DirecTV could all be bundled together under one unified bill, but that Digital Life would always remain separate.
Is AT&T available in my area?
AT&T Digital Life isn’t for those of you looking to secure your business or office — it’s only for “residential customers in residential buildings that are five floors or less.” You might also find that the service isn’t available in your area, as AT&T says it’s limited to select markets. For example, we tried a rural North Carolina area code and were told we didn’t have access to the service. You can check to see whether it’s available in your area with AT&T’s availability tool, which also automatically appears before you go through with a purchase.
The Bottom Line
AT&T Digital Life is a trusted name in the home security and backed by one of the largest internet service providers in the country. If you’re looking for optimal home automation and are wary of contracts — AT&T Digital Life is worth a look but might not be right for you. Home security is personal, and your provider should give you the flexibility to customize plans to your needs. Whether AT&T Digital Life can deliver in this area is up to you, but you might want to think about conducting your own research into the fine print (and chatting with customer service) first.