We may be approaching a point where the term "smart appliance" won't be necessary. Rather than focus on a few flagship models, manufacturers are increasingly packing connected features into a wide array of fridges, ranges, dishwashers, and the like. LG has even said it's working on bringing smarts to each and every model it sells. We might just call them "appliances" soon.
Case in point: the LG LFXS28566M. You wouldn't know that it's a smart fridge to look at it. There's no gigantic touchscreen or even a tiny touchscreen, nor is it equipped with grocery-tracking fridge cams. It looks just like other Door-in-Door fridges from LG, and at $3,350, it costs about as much as they do, too.
The smarts are there, though. After connecting with the fridge's Wi-Fi radio, you'll be able to adjust settings on your phone or turn on energy-saving features that cut usage during off-hours. The fridge can also send you a notification whenever your kid leaves the doors open. If you're a fan of voice controls, you can sync the fridge up with the Google Assistant, too.
Performance was very, very steady during the hundreds of hours of testing we put this fridge through, but -- as they almost always are -- temperatures were too warm in the Door-in-Door compartment. Specifically, those Door-in-Door temps averaged up above 40 degrees F, a benchmark for food safety set by the Food and Drug Administration -- and we found hotspots even with the fridge dialed down to its coldest setting. The thin Door-in-Door panel seemed to compromise performance in the body of the fridge, too.
If you're willing to accept all of that and keep perishable groceries such as milk and cheese out of that Door-in-Door compartment, then you might like this fridge quite a bit. For me, those performance trade-offs are simply too steep.
Design and features
The "M" at the end of this refrigerator's model number stands for "matte." That's matte black stainless steel, to be specific, a new, smudge-resistant finish that LG's team calls "PrintProof." That's a tad hyperbolic, perhaps, but I actually think they're onto something. The fridge did an outstanding job of repelling fingerprints and it was easy to keep clean.
It looks nice, too. Darker-tinted finishes are in fashion right now, existing in sort of a Goldilocks zone between regular stainless steel and straight-up black. They largely seem like a way to show off that you bought your fridge within the past year or so, but I can't deny that I like the style. It's worth noting that you can get up to $250 off the retail price by downgrading to non-matte black stainless steel or plain ol' silver stainless steel.
Color choice aside, the design doesn't do much to set this fridge apart from its counterparts, or its competitors. It's a standard French door build with the usual array of features that you'd expect to see in a higher-end model. There's a slimmed-down ice-maker packed into the left door, a slide-in shelf in the body of the fridge that makes room for tall-sized items below and a temperature-adjustable drawer, too. All are nice inclusions, but they're also more or less standard fare at this price range.
As for the smarts, the refrigerator boasts its own on-board Wi-Fi radio, which connects with the LG SmartThinQ app on your Android or iOS device. You can use the app to turn on energy-saving modes that cut usage during off hours. That's a nice option, given that your fridge will typically consume more energy than anything else under your roof. Features such as remote access to temperature settings and a manual grocery manager seem less useful.
I do appreciate that the app will notify you if someone leaves the fridge doors open (it works for the freezer door and the Door-in-Door compartment, too). Also good: The alert doesn't push through until the doors have been left open for 10 minutes, which should all but eliminate false alarms.
In addition to that, the fridge can connect with the Google Assistant, letting you check or change its temperature or control other settings using only your voice. I don't really see much point to the integration aside from an accessibility argument, but it's hard to blame LG for wanting a place on the voice control bandwagon. My real gripe is that you need to tack "talk to LG" onto your command, as in "OK Google, talk to LG to set refrigerator temperature to 35 degrees." The syntax doesn't even make sense.