Smart Locks Put to the Test: The Ultimate Guide
Technology has proven to be a double-edged sword, but we’re thankful it has positively impacted locks and home security.
How have things gotten better?
Smart locks technology brought elevated security measures, peace of mind, and improved user experience.
It has begun to change home security by introducing alternatives to keys. Technology has allowed people to lighten their pockets as technology replaces archaic instruments such as keys.
We’re going to identify the best smart door locks on the market today so keep reading…
What are Smart Door Locks?
Smart locks are locks that use electronic mechanisms to lock and unlock an access device. They are capable of connecting with other devices that enable the user to remotely access the device and its features.
Different methods can be used to connect with a smart lock. Most use Bluetooth when nearby and WiFi when the two connected devices are not near one another.
This is one of the features we’ll discuss in this article. Different companies and locks have varying connection capabilities. Some require additional external devices.
Best Smart Locks on the Market
There are many different electronic door locks on the market today. With many features and security levels, we have compiled a list of the 6 best smart locks available right now. Read on to find the best smart door lock for your needs.
Best Overall Smart Lock – Lockly Secure Pro
This is the coolest techie-looking smart lock on the market (in our opinion). Its crazy-looking touchpad changes with each pin entered, and the fingerprint scanning option makes this a neat piece of tech gear.
It can connect to Bluetooth along with WiFi, with the included hub, allowing you to access the lock remotely. The fingerprint scanner can store up to 99 fingerprints.
The Lockly app only stores eight access codes but does allow you to issue temporary eKeys and one-time access codes. You can set them to custom durations.
Lockly was smart by providing two different lock options, as they offer a deadbolt with a latch locking option.
Similar to the Eufy lock, you’ll receive notifications on your door’s status and have a log with the lock history.
The Secure Pro lock has some unique features that many other locks do not have. This includes a privacy mode, which disables the keypad access except for authorized users. A Security Safe-Mode option also disables the keypad after multiple failed attempts.
Thankfully, you can open the lock with a standard key. This lock will replace your current door lock, and you can easily install it by following Lockly’s included installation guide.
The lock comes with an open door sensor, and the standard auto-lock option, and is powered by AA batteries that can last up to one year. Should the batteries die, you can connect a 9V battery or use the traditional key to open the lock.
We wish you could schedule for the lock to close at specific times. The WiFi hub also has a limited range, so you need an outlet within 10 feet of the lock.
Despite the lock not sending a notification when the open is unlocked, this smart lock is the complete package. You pay a premium price, but we believe it’s worth it.
- Fast responding Fingerprint scanner
- Stores 99 fingerprints
- Open door sensor
- Standard batteries (AA)
- Jumbled keypad
- No door unlocked notification
Best Airbnb Smart Door Lock – August WiFi Smart Lock
August took their Smart Pro lock and upgraded it to the WiFi Smart Lock. It’s smaller than the Smart Pro but full of features, including built-in WiFi.
But with the smaller lock size, August was forced to use smaller batteries, thus slightly limiting battery life. The CR123 batteries typically last about six to eight weeks instead of the Smart Pro’s three to six months. Thankfully the app notifies you when the batteries reach 25%.
Like other August products, it’s easy to install with a fantastic in-app guide that walks you through the process.
The lock comes with DoorSense technology, auto-unlock/lock, and temporary access. It also connects with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to control the lock by voice control. The lock now also works with Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings.
The temporary access ability will enable you to give scheduled and temporary access to people when needed. You can also provide permanent access to people you trust.
Once again, this doesn’t change the appearance of your external lock, giving flexibility in many applications.
August sells a separate Smart Keypad so that you can unlock the door with access codes. This gives you options for temporary guests and the ability to have the door unlocked as you approach.
The August Wifi Smart Lock costs more than most smart locks and requires expensive replacement batteries, but it has many great features and is highly rated by everyone who tries it.
- Built-in WiFi
- No need to replace your existing deadbolt
- Temporary access capability
- Connectivity flexibility (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings)
- Sleek design
- Non-standard batteries (CR123)
Best Apartment/Dorm Smart Lock – August Smart Lock Pro
The August Smart Lock Pro is highly rated and priced at over $300 makes sense. We think it’s an excellent upgrade for a smart technology house.
The smart lock looks slick despite its large circular size. The sizing is due to the smart lock sitting on top of your existing deadbolt. Not having to replace your deadbolt can be a positive and makes for an easier installation, especially for an apartment or a dorm room.
The August app does a great job of walking you through the lock installation using graphics and easy-to-understand explanations.
The smart lock comes with an external WiFi hub that connects your lock to your home WiFi network so you can control the smart lock from anywhere in the world. This allows you to use Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit to control your lock. The August Smart Lock Pro does not currently connect with Google Assistant.
The downside of the WiFi hub is you’ll want it plugged into an outlet near the door with your August Smart Lock.
Because the outside-facing lock does not change with this installation, we think this would work for apartments and condos with HOAs.
The Door Sense feature is activated after you install the sensor. This will let you know on the application whether your door is closed.
The Smart Lock Pro has many excellent features, including an open door alarm, auto-unlock/lock, and temporary access capabilities. It also allows you to keep your standard house key, which may save you in an emergency.
The easy-to-use app makes this a reliable smart lock and one that we recommend for anyone, especially people living in apartments.
- Standard batteries (AA)
- Easy-to-use app
- Allows you to keep your existing deadbolt
- Apartment friendly
- External WiFi hub
- Large size
Best Value/Budget-Friendly Option – Eufy Smart Lock Touch & WiFi
Eufy makes great budget smart technology products, including their locks. Cost-wise this smart lock is about the same as an August WiFi lock. Eufy does offer a more affordable option for under $200.
It’s got built-in WiFi and a removable rechargeable battery pack. Those are two unique features compared to other smart locks on the market. As you’ve seen with the August Smart Pro, some smart locks require a separate hub to connect to the WiFi.
The Eufy lock will completely replace your existing lock, but it’s got a sleek design that is weatherproof with a rating of IP65. We think it looks great and has a flat design that does not take up a lot of space on the interior.
The fingerprint scanner works well and fast. It was easy to set up, just like the fingerprint scanner on your smartphone. You also have the option to open the lock using a password on the touchpad.
This lock even comes with a set of manual keys. I love smart locks and technology, but I still prefer to have the backup of a traditional key should the technology fail; call me old-fashioned.
You can open the lock using voice commands through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant; unfortunately, it does not work with Apple HomeKit. The lock includes all the other standard features you need in a smart lock, such as auto-lock.
Another significant feature is the jam which is unable to lock. The lock sends a notification to your phone when the lock does not lock properly or is jammed.
One feature that is noticeably missing is the open door notification. The lock does not tell you if the door itself is closed. We think this is a big flaw in the technology.
The Eufy Smart Lock Touch & WiFi is an excellent option for a smart lock. If you have other Eufy products, you can integrate them all within the same app.
This smart lock isn’t our top recommendation due to the missing open-door sensor. But, we still appreciate that Eufy went the extra mile with the weatherproof, drill protection, and the included unique keys and other options for opening the door.
- Fingerprint scanner
- Budget option available
- Lacks open door sensor
- Lesser-known brand name
Best Google Smart Lock – Nest x Yale Lock
This is a product from two powerhouses, Google and Yale, in their respective industries, so we had high expectations. With their 150 years of expertise in the field, Yale designed and built the lock, while Google, one of the original tech giants, created the software needed for this smart lock.
Understandably the lock is only compatible with Google Nest and Assistant, with no options to connect with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Samsung SmartThings.
The smart lock comes with a Nest Connect hub and requires the Nest app to function as intended. You’ll need to plug the Nest Connect hub into an outlet near the door with the smart lock.
Installation requires completely removing your existing deadbolt lock and replacing it with the Nest X Yale lock. The lock has clear instructions for its installation and won’t take long to install correctly.
The lock includes auto-locking; you can automatically set it to lock after a specific time like other locks. This is an excellent standard feature to have on your smart lock.
A privacy mode, similar to the Lockly Secure Pro, allows you to disable the outside touchpad. We’re glad to see Google included this feature.
When the included four AA batteries are low, you’ll get warnings on the app. Should the batteries die before you replace them, use a 9V battery temporarily to power the lock and allow you to enter a passcode.
The lack of connection with the Google Nest Hello Doorbell is surprising and disappointing. We’re hopeful a future app update will remedy this inconvenience.
This smart lock is surprisingly basic, much like its design. It does everything well, but it’s boring, to be honest. If you’re a Google Nest household, we recommend it as it integrates into the Google Nest ecosystem. Otherwise, check out one of the other locks on this list.
Priced at over $250, you would expect a bit more for your money; unfortunately, that is not the case here.
- Google product
- Backed by Yale 150 years of door security
- Open door sensor
- Standard batteries (AA)
- Does not connect to Google Nest Hello Doorbell
Most Reliable – Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt
Schlage created an elegant-looking touchpad lock with the Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt. WiFi is a huge plus as it allows you to access the lock remotely. The current price is too much for the value this lock provides.
Security-wise, it’s backed by Schlage’s long history of producing high-security locks. The lock has a built-in tamper alarm that is triggered when the lock is struck or detects a brute-force entry. The lock will emit a 90-decibel alarm that is as loud as a rock concert.
Schlage did some odd stuff with the entry codes. You have the option to have your codes from four to eight digits. You can change the length of a code, and it wipes all the previous codes. You would then need to reprogram all the access codes. To us, this is an annoying flaw in Schlage’s software.
It has a 100 access code limit. They advertise the ability to have temporary codes. The code may work temporarily, but that means you would create an access code, have it used, and then delete it, so you don’t waste one of the 100 codes. That’s too much work and frustrating from a user’s perspective.
Thankfully, there are options for creating access codes. You can set access codes to specific dates and times. This limits when the access codes work, which is a great feature.
You’ll get notifications about when the lock is opened and closed. Again, Schlage does not notify you when somebody enters an incorrect code. Incorrect code entries will, however, show up in your lock history.
Schlage allows you to create other users who can access the smart lock from their smartphone using the Schlage Home App. We love this feature as you can remotely assist your folks should you need to grant someone access to the house.
The Schlage Encode lock is a nice improvement from the Schlage Sense lock, but we recommend one of the other locks on our list.
- Contemporary design
- Easy to use keypad
- Built-in WiFi
- Tamper alarm when lock detects brute force attempt
- Multiple users access
- Limited to 100 codes
- No fingerprint scanner
Smart Locks Comparison Table
|Feature||August Smart Lock Pro||August WiFi Smart Lock||Eufy Smart Lock Touch & WiFi||Lockly Secure Pro||Nest x Yale Lock||Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt|
|Built-In WiFi Connectivity||❌||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Low Battery Notification||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Open Door Alarm||✅||✅||❌||✅||✅||✅|
|Auto-Lock / Unlock||✅||✅||✅||✅||❌||✅|
|Manual Key Access||✅||✅||✅||❌||❌||✅|
|Easy-to-Use Mobile App||✅||✅||❌||✅||✅||✅|
Key Smart Lock Factors and Features
Throughout our testing and research, we have identified 12 key factors that we look at when it comes to smart locks.
Using these specific metrics, we provide a comprehensive view of the features smart locks currently offer.
When looking at compatibility, we examine each lock’s ability to connect to third-party applications.
We think it’s essential to identify which locks can connect to smart home technology like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Homekit, and Google Assistant. These technologies allow you to incorporate your home security under your smart home umbrella.
Understanding this information before purchasing will allow you to keep your devices on one seamless network.
2. Built-In WiFi Connectivity
During our research, we discovered not all smart locks come with WiFi connectivity out of the box. Minimizing the required hardware is good to know, and any additional costs you may be required to pay in adding WiFi.
With built-in WiFi connectivity, the hardware will be bulkier, but that is a trade-off we believe is worthwhile.
3. Lock Replacement
This is an exciting feature and may be a deal-breaker for some folks in the market for a smart lock.
There are smart locks available where you’re directly replacing the deadbolt of your door lock. The installation requires removing your existing deadbolt lock from the door itself.
After removing the deadbolt, you’ll need to install the locking mechanism from the smart lock into the door.
The process is not complicated but requires additional steps to install the new smart lock properly. Sizing will also be important, but it shouldn’t be an issue unless you have a mortise lock.
Your other option would be to use a smart lock directly over your existing deadbolt. The installation is more straightforward and the smart lock simply mechanically operates the deadbolt.
Security Features on Smart Locks
These are a range of different security features of smart locks. By breaking them all into their features, we aim to give you, the shopper, more purchasing power by truly knowing what you’re getting with your purchase.
4. Low Battery Notification
Due to these smart locks requiring batteries, a low battery notification is essential.
This feature will alert you through a notification on your phone of low batteries. Thankfully this will give you time to pick up some AA batteries or, in the case of the August WiFi Smart Lock, a pair of CR123 batteries.
5. Open Door Alarm
A smart lock, much like your standard door lock, only works when the door is securely closed, much like the Klapco D29. Being equipped with an open door alarm alerts you when your security is at its most vulnerable.
The open door alarm feature sends a notification to your phone, providing you with the status of your door. Should the wind or your child leave the door ajar, you can quickly remedy the problem and go about your day.
Ensuring your smart lock properly fits your door and lock hardware will provide the best feedback on your door’s status and position.
The auto-lock/unlock feature is fantastic and provides peace of mind in a busy life. This feature will be appreciated with our minds constantly being distracted and our hands frequently being full.
You can set an auto-lock timer in the mobile application for several of these smart locks. This allows you to enter your home and go about your day with the peace of mind that the door will automatically lock itself.
This feature will save you many future arguments with your spouse as you never have to worry about them forgetting to lock up after themselves.
7. Temporary Access
With hosting guests, receiving home deliveries, or scheduling home services, you need to provide access, but most importantly, “temporary” access. This is an excellent feature for a busy household.
I schedule a dog walker while I am out at work. By using this feature, I can allow the dog walker temporary access to my home.
I can set a time window that the code works. Other locks and applications even allow recurring access you can schedule.
Temporary access also provides a record of who and when someone had access to your home. Knowing the comings and goings of people entering your home will be essential in emergencies and many other situations.
8. Manual Key Access
You just had a long commute map. You were blasting your favorite Spotify playlist and dodging slowdowns on the interstate with live traffic alerts. Before you know it, your phone battery is at 2%, and you still have to swing by the store to pick up groceries for dinner.
That may be the instance you’re thankful your dead phone won’t leave you stuck on your front porch with an armful of cheese, fresh fruit, and getting warmer “cold” beers.
This is a feature of some smart locks, and by leaving traditional key access, you have backup access in case of emergencies. Should you forget to replace the dying batteries in the lock, or if your smart lock malfunctions, it’ll be great to have alternative access.
9. Touchpad Access
Coded access keys provide flexibility in unlocking your lock. By using a touchpad for access, you and your guests can unlock your door without always relying on your smartphone.
Touchpad access is a great backup option. Using a touchpad, you can grant access to guests and others without depending on a physical key or timing remote access.
Different smart locks use different touchpad styles. We think the Lockly Secure Pro lock does it best by shifting key code numbers that prevent people from deciphering your codes by watching your finger movements.
10. Fingerprint Access
Fingerprint access is a modern security feature. This technology has extended from smartphones to smart locks.
Some electronic door locks include fingerprint access directly on the lock themselves. Most locks incorporate the technology through an app on the user’s phone.
Fingerprint access allows for quick and secure access. We believe it’s a slick feature but should not be a deal-breaker when shopping for a smart lock.
11. Easy-to-Use Mobile App
An easy-to-use mobile application is important with smart locks. The idea behind the technology is the ease and fast access with the security to back it up.
If it takes longer to unlock the door with the app than with a traditional key, that defeats one of its most basic features.
Thankfully from our experience, we have identified reliable and easy-to-use applications that we enjoy using.
Obviously, price is always a factor when making a purchase. Nowadays, the cost is essential with inflation rising and ensuring you get the most security for your money.
In the table above, we provide you with active links to each product, so you can find the latest price of the lock or locks you’re interested in.
Think about what features you can and can not live without. Being flexible will allow you to get the best product for your needs at the price you want to pay.
After testing out many locks, we feel a couple of missing features need to be addressed. We would like these features implemented in the next generation of smart door locks.
Ideally, all smart locks would be able to tell you if your door is physically opened or closed. Having your lock locked but the door itself open isn’t very safe.
In a house with small children, it is easy to imagine the deadbolt locking with the door wide open. That’s a big security flaw. Having peace of mind by checking your door’s status from anywhere would be appreciated.
Another improvement we would like to see in future smart locks is the use of Near Field Control (NFC). We have tap and pay credit cards, smart watches, and even smart badges at the office.
It seems reasonable to have the ability to tap your phone or smartwatch to the exterior lock and open it. With companies like Google and Apple in the home security market, we have high expectations that this technology will arrive sooner rather than later.
There are a lot of smart locks on the market right now. As always with locks, we recommend recognizable brands as they are high quality and have a reputation to back their products.
We recommend a smart door lock with WiFi and a traditional key option. That is our preference as we’ll like the peace of mind of not always relying on technology and our responsibility in remembering to change batteries.
For us, it’s a toss-up between the Lockly Secure Pro if you have the option to replace your entire lock. Otherwise, we highly recommend one of the options from August, as it’s flexible enough to fit most applications.