Smart Lock Reviews - Automatic Door Access with your Smartphone

The humble lock is a device whose history stretches well back into the ancient world. Ever since anyone owned stuff they didn’t want other people to take, or simply wanted a bit more privacy, some sort of lock has been put into place.

At the same time, for the committed criminal, getting past a lock is now a pretty routine thing. The basic design of the modern lock has not really changed in more than 200 years, but now with the coming of the internet age we finally have something a bit more sophisticated – the smartlock.

Why should you have a car with keyless entry, but have to stick a piece of metal in the door like some sort of caveman when you want to get into your house?

Here on this page you will find a collection of reviews for smarter than average door-closer-keeper thingies. The ones I like best are at the top. The rest are just sort of there.

Absolute Top Pick: August Smart Lock

The best home automation stuff is elegant, unobtrusive, and dead simple to install. The August smart lock embodies all of these things and, quite frankly, I’m already in love with it.

This is not a complete lock, rather it is a system to automate existing locks already installed on our doors. It goes on the inside of the door and simply looks like a dark gray or silver knurled door knob. The August replaces the interior side of most standard deadbolts, so armed with nothing but a screwdriver you should be up and running within minutes. This lock is HomeKit enabled, so if you are using HomeKit as your automation protocol then this will fit right in.

It’s also compatible with a few other smart products from August such as their video doorbell, keypad, and the August connect controller. Since this is HomeKit compatible it means you can also use Siri and other components of the Apple ecosystem to operate the lock.

Even in isolation the Smart lock has some pretty neat features. It locks the door automatically behind you when you leave and senses your approach via your phone so the door is already unlocked by the time you get to it. You can give people like dog walkers or cleaners temporary access and the lock will save info on who opened the door at what time.

It all works and it works well, to boot. This lock is my top pick simply because, apart from being functional and well-featured, it converts rather than replaces what you already have. To me that’s optimal since home automation should augment rather than destroy what we have in our homes. I think the August Smart Lock finds the perfect balance in this case.

Second Best: Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt with Built-In Alarm

Schlage did not hold back with the features on this smart lock and you get quite a lot for your money. There are two different lock styles to choose from and six different finishes, which makes finding a unit that will fit your door all the easier.

This particular lock uses the Z-wave standard and allows for remote locking and unlocking. It has a touchscreen keypad to input your PIN and also a built-in alarm in case someone tries to mess with it. While there is a forced entry alarm, is is always more useful to be alerted before anyone actually gets in, so the extra alarm modes are well appreciated.

Another clever thing that I never would have thought of is the anti-fingerprint coating on the touch screen. It’s not about looking pretty, but about preventing people from figuring out the code by looking at the pattern of smudges. It’s why the whole pattern unlock thing on Android was so dodgy. Although, with as many as 30 different codes that can be stored in memory, you would have a hard time interpreting smudges in any case.

Physically the lock is also very tough, rated at ANSI 1, which is apparently as high as it goes.

There are some reports of iffy battery life and then again others who say it lasts months and months, so who knows what’s going on there. Functionally the lock is fine though and is tough and reliable. For what you get, this lock from Schlage is a great choice. Apart from the convenience, it represents a real security upgrade for most people.

Third Pick: Yale Real Living Keyless Push Button Lever Lock

There are few names more venerable in the world of locks than Yale. This company has been perfecting the art of making every type of lock under the sun for decades and now turns its eye to a new generation of smart lock.

This lever lock doesn’t look as “smart” as some of the other locks here, but it actually has Z-wave wireless ability, which means that if you have a Z-wave controller this can form part of your total security solution. If you have a Z-wave controller you can store as many as 250 unique codes; if the lock is just by itself, that number drops to a still-respectable 25.

This lock has to have one of the simplest installation processes. It’s basically the same as installing a regular lock and Yale’s experience in this area really shows. It also has a built-in anti-tamper alarm. If you use it with a Z-wave controller it will store the last 500 user events in a log, which should be more than enough if there is an incident. The lock is also weather-sealed, so I expect it to last the same as any other product from Yale.

This lock is pretty much rock-solid. The only thing I have against it is its price, which is a tad on the high side, but then again Yale products cost more for a reason. I’d definitely sleep easy with this installed in my house.

Best Smart Padlock – Noke Keyless

Yes, I am aware that this is a padlock. There are plenty of people who have gates or other more informal doors that can only be locked with a padlock, so why not make it a smart padlock?

This particular little number from Noke uses Bluetooth technology and a smartphone app to lock and unlock, which means the average thief will be scratching their heads, since there is nothing to pick.

Of course, quickly destroying a padlock is something that even the dumbest criminals seem able to do in their sleep, so Noke has made sure to make this guy from the toughest materials in order to close off that avenue. So you’ll find something made of hardened steel and boron. It’s also water resistant, which makes it suitable for rough external conditions.

You can also share access permission to the padlock with others easily, which is great if you need someone to have access to your locker at work, or in another similar situation like a shared bicycle or external gate.

What happens if your phone dies? The Noke also allows for a Morse code-like tapping pattern to unlock the padlock. Battery life is rated at about 1 year and there is an app-based early warning system. Just don’t use this in a place where it will be locked or unlocked infrequently. I don’t think that will be an issue though, since this lock is pretty pricey at about sixty bucks. I don’t think anyone is going to use this to lock the barn and then leave it for years.

The Noke is a brilliant idea with a fair execution and most people seem pretty happy with it. Well worth a look if you are in the market for a smart padlock.

Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock with Wireless Bluetooth Touch

It just occurred to me that these wireless locks are actually perfect for the germaphobes among us. Now you can get that dirty, dirty lock to open itself without ever having to touch it. Isn’t that wonderful? Too bad about still having to touch the door handle though. I’m sure scientists are hard at work on a solution and will have it sorted out any day now.

This smart lock from Kwikset comes in three different finishes and has a lovely, blue ring around the keyhole that immediately makes it clear that this is not your run of the mill door lock. The Kevo comes in three different finishes – satin nickel, polished brass, and Venetian bronze. All very nice, and at least one should match the color of your existing door.

With the Kevo you can now use your smartphone to open the lock. Not any smartphone, mind you. It has to be compatible with the latest Bluetooth 4.0 standards, which in practice at least means an iPhone 4S or an Android 5 device. The Kevo also lets you hand out temporary guest keys so that you can let in people you know. It also keep a full history so that you know who opened that particular lock and at what time it happened.

All you have to do is touch the lock with your phone and it opens. Pretty easy. You can also use the app to unlock or lock the door remotely, as long as you are in Bluetooth range.

The Kevo is a stylish and affordable device that is pretty easy to install and it will happily talk to that other super popular smart home device, the Nest learning thermostat.

Even if you don’t have a smartphone, for some weird reason, the Kevo will still work for you. You get a keyless fob included in the package and this will also open the lock with a single touch. Just don’t leave it lying around.

For additional money you can also get the Kevo Plus service, which lets you access the lock from anywhere in the world.

The smart aspects of this lock are also worth mentioning. The lock “knows” whether you are inside or outside. It’s got military-grade encryption and the mechanical lock is hardened against picking. Pretty impressive overall.

What do customers say? Well, some people have had really serious issues with the device. Most of these seem to be related to sensor or software bugs. From time to time the lock seems to lock itself even when not activated the right way. It has to be mentioned that not everyone has these issues, but they do crop up. For what it’s worth, the company seems to have pretty good after-sales service, so I’m sure if you are unlucky enough to get a dud they would help out.

Samsung Digital Keyless Security Door Lock

We all know Samsung from their vast array of tech products, but it should be no surprise that they are also diversified into other product categories. This digital door lock is certainly not the smartest piece of tech to come from the Korean tech giant’s labs, but the low price definitely got my attention.

In terms of design this is definitely a Samsung device. It fits right into the modern era of glossy glass and expensive looking materials. I have no doubt that this would look gorgeous on any modern home.

It’s all one big touch screen upon which you can put in your unique keycode. In addition to this, you can also set it up to work with a keycard or an NFC tag.

This isn’t really a home automation networked device, but as a step up from a plain old mechanical lock you could do far worse than this.

Prisma Fingerprint Smart Digital Security

This biometric lock from Prisma has the word “smart” in its description, but as we’ve seen with some other so-called smart locks this is not really a smart device as it does not network with anything else. Still, the price is agreeable and I don’t think that anyone would argue against how cool biometric locks are. So even though this lock won’t talk to anything else, it still represents a way to modernize your security.

Apart from fingerprints this product will also work with a code and with RFID cards. It also has a temperature sensor with a fire alarm that lets you know if a fire has broken out. Really, this is perfect to secure the door to your basement laboratory.

Prism says that this is made by the same people that make fingerprint locks for the Samsung brand, but that’s not the same as saying the requested quality is the same or that the design is as good.

Is it a good purchase? At this price you aren’t really going to do much better. So if this is all your budget can take, you could do worse, but if you can spend a little more and find something with Z-wave or HomeKit networking ability, get that instead.

Samsung Ezon Automatic Door Lock Review

The Ezon is a no-nonsense digital lock that lacks any networked home automation functionality, but will open with a pin code, RFID card, or key, if you take the version that has a key override. It looks pretty good and will go well with homes that have a very modern, glossy vibe.

While it is not as expensive as a true smart lock, the Ezon is also not as cheap as other products with similar feature sets. Still, it is a very solid offering and I like a few of the things that Samsung has thought of here. This lock uses a touchscreen, which often lets people figure out a code based on fingerprint smudges, but in the case of the Ezon the places that the numbers appear can be randomized, nearly solving that issue. This should now be a standard feature, as far as I am concerned.

I also think the (sold separately) Ezon tags are pretty cool. You can stick them in your phone case or in your wallet and then unlock the lock by simply swiping it against the mechanism. The only problem is that they aren’t exactly cheap, but for a few core users it may well be worth it. Even if you don’t use the card feature, you can give up to 70 people unique access codes.

So when installed properly there isn’t much to complain about, but the installation itself seems to hold more than a few snags. Apparently there is some minor metalwork to be done and some users have irreparably damaged their locks because the installation method is not completely safe for the electronics inside the lock. So despite people who have installed it (or had it installed) correctly and are happy with the way it works, I find this lock hard to recommend.

Reviews Locked-in

I think few things remind you that you’re living in a house from the future like smart access control. Quite a few of these locks that I’ve looked at here are very futuristic looking, but are not actually smart, since they don’t connect to anything else. This is surprising, given how they are marketed, and I’ve realized based on the questions that I’ve seen people ask that consumers are buying fancy but dumb electronic locks thinking that they will work with HomeKit, Z-wave, Bluetooth, or WiFi.

So please, make sure it actually definitely says this in the product description before putting any money down if this is indeed what you want. Still, on the flip side, you don’t need every lock in your house networked together and some of the less expensive electronic locks will work well to upgrade security.

I find it a bit of a pity that smart locks costs as much as they do. The technology inside them is actually pretty mature by now, so I find the idea of a $200 lock to be a little absurd. This is one of the main reasons people are holding off upgrading their homes, since the number of locks adds up pretty quickly.

I also wish we didn’t have to choose between things like HomeKit and Z-wave. I have yet to see a product that works with all the major standards. That would be something worth paying a premium for and I can’t think of a technical reason why this is impossible, so it is probably down to licensing agreements.

Well, I hope you can find the right lock for your door on this page. I’ve realized that this is not such a straightforward choice and often I have wished that I could take the style of one lock and the guts of another and mix them into the perfect product. Smart lock shopping is definitely a game of compromises, but things are definitely a lot better than they were just a few years ago.