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ByLidia Davis Home Security Writer

Lidia writes about home security, home automation, and online privacy for Reviews.com. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

The Best Smart Locks

We pitted six of the smartest locks on the market against each other to see how well they held up to our standards of reliability, consistency, ease of use, and, of course, intelligence. A smart lock only performs better than your “dumb” lock if it actually works and doesn’t unlock itself at inopportune times — like when you’re out for the day or sleeping.

The 4 Best Smart Door Locks

Schlage Encode

Most
Well-Rounded

Schlage Encode
Schlage
A tough lock with a seamless overall user experience.
Pros
Easy installation
WiFi hub-less (without sacrificing connectivity)
Security features
Reliable app
Cons
Aesthetics
Fewer third-party integrations

Why we chose it

Easy to use

The installation experience with the Schlage Encode was by far the easiest of all the locks we tested and takes about 15 minutes total. We didn’t have any existing deadbolts to replace, but if you do, we can imagine installation might take around five to ten minutes longer. The lock comes with clear, concise instructions that don’t overwhelm — and when we finished, it felt as though everything was in tact (and nothing would be overcome by a great gust of wind).

Schlage Encode smart lock bolt

WiFi hub-less

Unlike even the smartest of smart locks on the market today, the Schlage Encode doesn’t come with an external WiFi hub. Hubs or “bridges” need to be plugged relatively close to some smart locks in order to enable connectivity to your existing WiFi network. (In our experience, these can be finicky.) The Encode comes with WiFi built in the hardware, which eliminates those middle steps of connecting the bridge to your WiFi before connecting the lock to the bridge. This makes the lock simple and easy to use, yet still just as powerful a communicator as its competitors

Added security features

You can tell Alexa and Google to lock the door, and even integrate it into home security suites like Ring. It also works with the Amazon Key service, allowing guests and mail carriers to enter (with your supervision via an Amazon Cloud Cam).

Another security perk is that this lock comes with a built-in alarm when a forced entry is detected — hitting right at the heart of where most burglaries begin.

Reliable app

The Schlage mobile app is extremely easy to use. You can lock and unlock on the home screen by holding the icon down, and create or manipulate up to 99 different access codes. If you have a guest arriving before you make it back home, you can schedule the code to be active for a specific amount of time. You can also give a unique access code to everyone in the family, depending on what you feel most comfortable with.

Schlage Encode mobile app

Not once did we run into any significant connectivity issues, and all of our commands were implemented with success. Most other users seem to claim the same experience, as the app holds 4.6 out of five stars on the App Store, while Android users seem to have more issues.

Points to consider

Aesthetics

The Schlage Encode is an attractive lock, but it may or may not fit the style of every home. It comes in two colors for the Camelot trim: satin nickel and aged bronze. For the Century trim, you can either get the lock in satin nickel or matte black. So, you have a few options, but the lock itself isn’t as discreet or modern as some may like.

Fewer third-party integrations

The Schlage Encode works with a good amount of home automation products, like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Ring, and Amazon Key. But if you’re an avid Apple HomeKit user, you’ll have to look elsewhere. This lock also doesn’t come with IFTTT integration ability, which could make automating certain activities (like adjusting a smart thermostat’s temperature based on when you walk in the door) a little tougher.

August Smart Lock Pro + Connect

Best for
Home Automation

August Smart Lock Pro+Connect
August
A reliable lock fit for the savviest of smart homes — never dig for your keys or enter a code again.
Pros
Good for integrations, automations
Great for hosting
Highly-rated
Cons
Bulky design
Inconsistent app

Why we chose it

Good for integrations

The August Smart Lock Pro + Connect is perfect for those who want to automate just about everything imaginable. Because this lock uses geofencing, you can program it to turn the lights on when you arrive home or off when you leave (via IFTTT), adjust the thermostat, and connect it to your Nest Cams or SimpliSafe system. The August models also come with DoorSense, which lets you know when a door has been opened, closed — or left opened (a nice reminder for the forgetful).

Yale and August smart locks

Auto-unlocking

While automatic locking is a pretty standard feature in this lineup, August takes things a step further. You won’t have to worry about digging for your keys because the two August locks in this lineup use auto unlock/lock (a geofencing feature) that tracks your location from your phone and unlocks the door for you when you’re about 200 feet away. Not only were we pretty impressed with how reliably it worked, we also appreciated the level of customizability offered (you can turn this feature off and adjust the delay between the locking and unlocking).

August push notification

You’ll have to make sure that this window of time allows you to actually reach the door before it locks itself again — you can adjust the time from one to three minutes. That’s not to say this feature isn’t without vulnerabilities when it comes to hacking and glitching, including unlocking when you don’t want it to unlock (according to this 2016 study). Of course, you can always opt out of the function, and August only allows one lock to be auto-unlock-enabled at a time

Great for hosting

August locks also make hosting relatively simple and integrates directly with Airbnb and HomeAway. You can use non-reusable codes for certain periods of time, and guests will receive the codes in their confirmation email from the hosting site directly. However, unlike the Schlage Encode’s included surface keypad, you’ll have to purchase August’s Smart Keypad, as these locks are built to be controlled from the interior side of the home.

Highly rated

While we only tested the lock’s connectivity and locking abilities, we didn’t drill, kick any doors, or intentionally tamper with the locks themselves like Consumer Reports did. However, in terms of durability — this lock seems to hold its own, according to Consumer Reports.

We will say durability probably boils down to the type of deadbolt you have, as the August locks don’t come with their own (like the Schlage and Lockly models do). The Pro will work with most single-cylinder deadbolts, but to make sure your existing deadbolt works, or if you’re in the market for a new one and want this August lock — read this first.

Points to consider

Bulky design

While it looks sleek and modern, this lock is a tad bulky and may not fit every style of room. Granted, the metal is easy to grip, and we didn’t encounter any weird clicks or obstructions when rotating the lock. Unlike the Schlage Encode, this lock comes with a WiFi connector bridge — which, in all honesty, can be pretty touch-and-go. Out of the three August locks we tested, one of the bridges never worked at all, forcing us to call customer service and ask about a replacement. The bridge accompanying this particular lock worked just fine, but we can’t guarantee ease of use.

Inconsistent app

We can’t say things went 100% smoothly for us with the August app. It isn’t quite as straightforward as the Schlage app and had a tough time loading several different features, including settings and activity (or history). While the app does make integrating easy with a dedicated tab to the function, again, we had a tough time loading it. And sometimes, the app would completely shut down while we were trying to lock or unlock. Some App Store and Google Play users have reported similar hiccups, but overall, the app garners high ratings on both platforms. Maybe we’re the outlier.

August Smart Lock 3rd Generation

Best
on a Budget

August Smart Lock 3rd Generation
August
Similar in functionality to its more advanced sister, only cheaper.
Pros
Third-party integrations
Sleek design
Cons
No Apple HomeKit or Amazon Key integration

Why we chose it

Third-party integrations

Like the Pro, this lock works with a host of third-party sites and products to make automation — and hosting — easier, with the added boon of being about $100 cheaper. In fact, you can do just about everything (including auto-unlocking) you can with the Pro, as long as you purchase a separate connector. However, if you can do without the extra functionality and opt for a simpler, perhaps less overwhelming lock, this is it.

Sleek design

The 3rd Gen is almost as thick as the Pro, but it isn’t as wide. The more oval shape makes it look less bulky, and the smooth metal makes it touchable. Like the Pro, this lock was built for the interior — so you’ll want to think about keeping or replacing your existing deadbolt. Overall, the design makes this one easy to install and use.

If you want the August 3rd Gen smart lock, consider keeping your original deadbolt (featured above).

Points to consider

No Apple HomeKit or Amazon Key integration

The 3rd Gen doesn’t include a Connect like the Pro does, but you can add one for about $60. Since this bridge keeps your lock connected to your WiFi and other products like security cameras, it’ll be your gateway to using the lock remotely and via voice controls sent to Amazon Alexa or Google Home. However, bridge or not, you still won’t be able to integrate it into your Apple HomeKit, which might be inconvenient for those with an allegiance to Apple products. Additionally, you won’t be able to integrate Amazon Key functions with this lock.

Lockly Secure Pro

Runner-up

Lockly Secure Pro
Lockly
An innovative design with the most entry options.

Pros
Most modes of entry
Good for hosting
Cons
Tricky installation
Connectivity issues

Why we chose it

Most modes of entry

Lockly says this heightens security, but our research has led us to add this as a pro because it gives more options for those who want them. Unlike the older Lockly model (which doesn’t use WiFi), not only can you tell Alexa and Google to unlock the door for you, the Lockly Secure Pro also presents a balanced blend of old and new technology with a physical key hole, digital touchscreen keypad, app controls, and fingerprint scanner. In order to integrate Alexa and Google, you will have to use the included connector bridge. Another interesting feature is the keypad’s use of Pin Genie technology, which essentially shuffles the numbers around before use — this way, other people can’t follow your finger pattern to memorize a code.

Installing a Lockly Secure Pro smart lock

Good for hosting

If you host your home on sites like Airbnb and Homeaway but feel uncomfortable making people download the lock app and use it as an authorized user for a certain period of time, Lockly provides an Offline Access Code to alleviate this very pain point. While Lockly isn’t integrated with Airbnb, you can generate a random code with a set of encrypted numbers and share it to your guest via text, email, or verbal communication. You can adjust how long you want the code to be used (between one-time use and up to 60 days) and expires after that.

Of course, you can still suggest your guests download the app and work as authorized users for a certain period of time before their time expires. The choice is yours.

Points to consider

Tricky installation

Unlike the majority of the locks we tested, the Lockly Secure Pro requires you install the lock while the deadbolt facing outward (in a locked position). The instructions are pretty clear, but there are some pretty delicate steps (like pressing the reset button and loading the battery at the same time). We encountered a few error messages that told us to reposition the backplate and that the batteries needed to be replaced — in fact, we uninstalled and reinstalled a couple times. The lock doesn’t come with professional installation, but following the steps exactly should get you where you need to go (we can’t explain the dead battery part). We didn’t receive a response from customer service (even in normal business hours) on the first couple of tries, but we later sent an email and left a message, and not long after, we had a detailed voicemail from a Lockly representative.

Connectivity issues

Another reason why we didn’t quite make this one is a top pick is that Lockly might have a few extra kinks to smooth, especially when it comes to the app and controlling the lock remotely. For instance, we received a few error messages indicating a battery replacement (even though we were using the ones from the box), and locking/unlocking remotely sometimes required a good amount of buffering — in some cases, we couldn’t use the app at all to adjust the status of the lock remotely.

Guide to Smart Door Locks

How to find the right smart door lock for you

Assess your existing deadbolt locks

If you currently have a single-cylinder deadbolt, which allows you to use a key on the outside and only a thumb turn from the inside, chances are pretty likely your system will be compatible with one of our top choices. In fact, most single-cylinder deadbolt locks are universal when it comes to dimension. In our experience, if you have a double cylinder, you’ll want to purchase a single if you’re going with a smart lock.

Think about your budget

A smart lock will certainly cost you a pretty penny at this rate, but that extra cash is going toward added convenience and usability. This is where you’ll have to decide whether the $100-$300 is worth the technology and (potential) peace of mind that comes with making sure you locked the door when you’re miles away from home. On the other hand, Consumer Reports says conventional deadbolts are still effective and are more secure than non-deadbolts or key-in-knob locks.

Take stock of the home automation protocols you already use
Lee Odess, vice president of solutions providers business at Schlage lock-maker Allegion, told us that the “smart home” hasn’t reached full maturation yet, and one of the ways we’ll know we’re reaching that point is when integrations are seen as less of a hassle and built for ecosystems — not integrations. Before homing in one one particular lock, you might want to check which products it plays well with. (For example, if you’re an avid Apple Home Kit user, you may or may not want to rethink considering a few of the above.) And if you already have a certain home security system installed, you might want to do some cross-referencing to make sure your system works with your desired lock, if you’re interested in greater automation.

Look for transparency

Privacy, security, and automation have been reaching a crossroads — one in which presents the slippery slope between data sharing and all of the conveniences it brings to our everyday lives. We don’t have all the answers, but we can say it’s best to look for a company that’s transparent with where it shares your data and how it uses it. It’s true: we highlighted a Gizmodo study in this article that shows how encrypted metadata can be pretty telling as to how you roam about your home.

Stay up to date

A few companies, including Schlage and August, prompted us to read the privacy policies immediately before installing. Of course, they’re pretty dense documents, but we appreciated the blatant heads-up. There are a couple things you can home in on while you’re reading, including what the company says it can and will do with your data and how conflicts will be resolved. Some companies have been reported to change the language of their policies, so you might want to set aside some extra reading time as part of the initial installation of your lock.

It might also be worthwhile to keep tabs on any strides or changes made by the manufacturer to make sure you’re maximizing the capabilities of your lock. You’ll also want to update the device’s software, make good use of two-factor authentication (Nest offers this), and routinely check your network’s security.

Smart Locks FAQ

Are smart locks as safe as traditional locks?

According to Odess, the answer depends on how you define safety. Smart locks pose an interesting conundrum between being seen as “gadgets” and devices that actually protect your home — the level of safety depends on what you value. For Odess, it’s about the peace of mind smart locks can bring. Some do allow you to know when people are entering and exiting, and if you forgot to lock the door — all you have to do is turn to the app. “Is it [a smart lock] more or less safe than a non-connected? I don’t believe so. People need to be mindful and ask the right questions, but also see it as a lock and not a gadget.”

Of course, if you leave a key to your traditional lock under the doormat, you’re leaving your home vulnerable to intrusion. Are these types of vulnerabilities worth sacrificing to eliminate a potential cyber hack on your home with a smart lock? That is only for you to decide.

How can I keep my smart lock secure?

We’ve found that you can practice good internet hygiene to try to avoid hacks. In fact, keeping up with these tips (two-factor authentication, changing your password, updating software, among others), and making sure the company prioritizes security are just some of the methods you can employ to protect yourself.

Which lock should I get if I have a home security system?

Again, this answer depends on the type of system you have and how connected you want your lock to be to your system. For example, if you have a Ring Alarm or are interested in buying one, the Schlage might be a good option for you, as some features can be controlled directly from the Ring app.

If you have a Nest Secure, going with the Nest x Yale lock might be your best bet (if you’re interested in seamless integration) for a couple reasons. For one, Nest runs on Weave and not the more commonly-used Z-Wave. Because of this, any other Z-Wave-compatible smart lock may not give you the same user experience as a Nest-specific lock would. You can check the status of your lock in the Nest app, and the lock will send you notifications when someone repeatedly tries to enter an incorrect code several times. From there, you could use security cameras to see what’s happening, and if necessary, trigger an alarm or call the authorities. But the lock won’t automatically trip an alarm if someone tries to break in via the lock. We didn’t put the Nest X Yale lock in our lineup this time because we didn’t feel as though it brought anything groundbreaking to the table the way that our top picks did.

The Best Smart Locks: Summed Up

Schlage Encode
August Smart Lock Pro+Connect
August Smart Lock 3rd Generation
Lockly Secure Pro
Most Well-Rounded
Best for Home Automation
Best on a Budget
Runner-up
$249 on Amazon
$234.99 on Amazon
$109.99 on Amazon
$299 at Best Buy
Wireless protocol
WiFi (built in)
Bluetooth, WiFi, Z-Wave
Bluetooth, WiFi (hub sold separately)
Bluetooth, WiFi (hub included)
Auto-locking
Geofencing (auto-unlocking)
Install type
Interior and exterior, deadbolt included
Interior, deadbolt not included
Interior, deadbolt not included
Interior and exterior, deadbolt included
Integrations
Amazon Key, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Ring
Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Airbnb, Homeaway
Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT
Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, WiFi Hub
Built-in tamper alarm
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Rating
1 (best)
1 (best)
1 (best)
N/A

More Smart Home Reviews

Trying to keep up with all of the innovations that make securing the home easier can be pretty daunting. From alarm systems to accessible devices — we’ve spent countless hours researching and talking to experts in the home security industry to keep you updated.

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