While traditional lock and key systems have improved over time, the basic mechanism has not really changed since the first lock was invented over a thousand years ago: a piece of metal that is the correct shape pushes the pins into a padlock in the proper position, allowing the locking mechanism to rotate. As a society, it has been difficult to replace a system that has functioned reasonably reliably for literally a millennium.
Updated December 31, 2021 to add our Securam EOS review. It’s not the prettiest smart lock we’ve come across, but it does have an excellent fingerprint reader and can also be unlocked via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, your numeric keypad, or a physical key. We would have rated it much higher if we hadn’t experienced connectivity issues.
Are Smart Locks Really Better?
You can thank the hospitality industry for finally pushing padlocks in the digital age. Hotels have long learned that keys are easily lost, expensive to replace, and easy to bypass, as thieves can open locks or simply make copies of a key to allow unrestricted future access. On the other hand, hotel guests have easily accepted key cards (and in some cases smartphone-based solutions) as the primary means of entering their room. The electronic solution is much simpler. Lost your hotel key? Replacing it is no big deal.
But the biggest benefit of electronic entry systems is that they are highly configurable. Digital locks can be changed at any time (which is why that old hotel card in your wallet is useless), and the property owner can generate a record of when each door was opened. In a more advanced environment, different keys can be generated for the same lock, so that an owner can know when each family member entered or when the housekeeper arrived.
Whether you have a teenager who tends to break curfew or just want to give temporary access to guests, service providers, or Airbnbers, smart locks are an incredible improvement over the old way of doing things. Ready to make the leap to smart lock technology? Here are our top picks on the market right now.
Best overall smart lock
Some will argue that we should have named Level Touch our first pick in this category (it scored higher, after all) but Level treats iOS users better than Android users. Kwikset also ditches the familiar old keyboard in favor of a fingerprint reader on its latest smart device. This allowed the company to dramatically reduce the space the lock occupies on the outside of its door. Kwikset also gives you the option of opening the lock with a conventional key, in case the reader does not recognize an authorized fingerprint (if your skin is pruned after a dip in the pool, for example).
The minimalist Level Lock – Touch Edition looks as good as it works and is our highest rated smart lock. The reason we’ve named it second, to the best of the best in this category, is that it can only be controlled remotely with an iOS device, unless you also have Ring products in your home and use Amazon Sidewalk. If you can forego the convenience of touch operation, the new Level Lock costs $ 80 less.
The best retrofit smart lock
The August Smart Lock Pro has been deposed. Level Bolt from Level Home is our new favorite upgrade smart lock, thanks in large part to its ability to disappear. Smart deadbolt components are hidden inside your door, where they replace the interior mechanical elements of your existing deadbolt. Replace your existing interior and exterior components, so that the overall aesthetics of your door don’t change in the slightest.
Weighing the convenience of Wi-Fi versus the zero-footprint visual appeal that the Bluetooth-only Level Lock offers was difficult, but Level Lock won out in the end. Hey, achieving second place in TechHive coverage is no easy feat, and if the convenience of Wi-Fi trumps the aesthetics in your mind, then this is the upgrade smart lock to buy.
Best budget smart lock
Wyze Labs has a well-earned reputation for producing top-quality smart home products, and its new Wyze Lock hasp converter is certainly no exception. Attach this device to your existing lock, plug in the included Wi-Fi bridge, and it will turn your silly lock into a modern smart home device that can be opened with your existing key, and you can’t argue with your minor. sale price less than $ 100.
Most innovative smart lock
Lockly Vision reduces the number of security devices you will need to implement on your porch by combining a powerful smart lock with a large video doorbell. It’s not perfect, it’s big, bulky and not very attractive, but there is nothing like it on the market.
What to consider when buying
How do you open a smart lock? (No pun intended). This is a young and wildly immature space, and many products on the market are still extremely rough around the edges. Even the best products can resist when it comes to old or rigid latches, doors that don’t lock properly, or environments where non-standard accessories are used. The bottom line is that it is difficult to claim that any product is universally perfect for every home. With that said, here are some key considerations to keep in mind to help you narrow down your shopping list.
How smart is it? An important caveat to keep in mind first: some “smart locks” do not work with a smartphone app or any smart home network hub; they are actually just electronic locks that use a code instead of a key to open. One step beyond that, you’ll find Bluetooth-only locks. These work with a smartphone app, but cannot be monitored remotely or by a smart home system. That’s fine if you’re looking to ditch keys in your pocket, but less impressive if you want your gateways to be a real part of your home network.
Replace or modernize? You’re forgiven if you don’t want to replace your old Victorian door knob with a metallic device that looks like it would be more at home keeping people out of a mall bank branch. A lot of smart lock products don’t require you to replace all of your existing hardware. Instead, they are installed only on the inside of the door, replacing only the inside of the latch. You can continue to use a standard key from the outside or open the lock through a smartphone app.
Smart home hub integration If you have an existing hub like the Wink Hub 2, Samsung SmartThings, or an Apple TV, you’ll want to make sure that your chosen smart lock is compatible up front. Many smart locks support Bluetooth, so they work with your phone, but lack the technology to connect to your home network. Some Bluetooth locks, such as the Yale Assure system and the August Smart Lock, offer a radio module as an add-on to connect to your home network. If you are using a smart home hub like Samsung SmartThings or Wink Hub, look for a lock that supports Z-Wave or ZigBee.
Alternative means of entry Forgot your phone at the office? How will you get into the house? Physical key? Numeric keyboard? Wait for your spouse to arrive? Countless different approaches are available.
Power backup What do you do if the batteries inside the lock die and you get stuck outside? Some locks allow emergency power to be applied in case this happens. Yale Real Living locks feature external posts that you can connect a 9-volt battery to, giving you enough power to open the door. Other models retain the traditional key cylinder as a backup.
Geofencing Is it bad to manually close the door when you leave? A geofence system automatically locks the door when it detects that your phone has left the immediate vicinity and can be set to open automatically when it discovers that you have arrived home.
Guest access features Most smart locks allow you to set temporary keys for guests, which you can delete when they return home. The smartest systems even allow you to set time restrictions on when each access code can be used.
Our smart lock reviews