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Best smart lock

The first locks date back more than a thousand years, and while traditional lock-and-key systems have improved over time, the basic mechanism hasn’t really changed: A piece of metal that is just the right shape pushes pins inside a lock into the proper position, allowing the lock mechanism to turn. As a society, it’s been tough to replace a system that has worked reasonably reliably for literally a millennium.

Are smart locks really better?

You can thank the hospitality industry for finally pushing locks into the digital age. Hotels learned long ago that keys are easily lost, expensive to replace, and simple to bypass, as thieves can pick locks or simply make copies of a key to allow for unfettered future access. On the flipside, hotel guests have readily accepted key cards (and in some cases, smartphone-based solutions) as the primary means of getting into their room. The electronic solution is just so much simpler. Lost hotel key card? 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 a moment’s notice (which is why that old hotel key card in your wallet isn’t good for anything), and the property owner can generate a record of when each door was opened. In a more advanced setting, different keys can be generated for the same lock, so a homeowner can tell when each member of the family came in, or when the housekeeper arrived. Whether you have a teenager that tends to break curfew or merely want to give temporary access to houseguests, service providers, or Airbnbers, smart locks are an incredible upgrade over the old way of doing things.

Ready to make the jump to smart lock technology? Here are our top picks of the market at the moment. We’ll be adding more reviews to this story as time goes by.

This story was updated on November 28 to add our review of the Kwikset Obsidian Touchscreen Deadbolt. Since it’s technically not a smart lock (a Z-Wave Plus model is in development), it did not change our top recommendations.  

Best smart lock overall

The Schlage Sense smart lock may not win any awards for attractiveness—or ease of installation, given the two dense instruction manuals that must be followed—but if you really want to secure your home with a smart lock, and have faith that it’s actually working, this is the product to get.

What if you’ve lost your phone? You can open the lock via an illuminated, smudgeproof numeric keypad or with a physical key. If you’re not a HomeKit user, opt instead for the largely identical Schlage Connect, which instead works with Alexa.

Runner-up

A close runner-up to the Schlage Sense is the very similar Kwikset Premis, which also offers a touchscreen keypad, keyed entry, and HomeKit compatibility. Even without an Apple TV, you can use Siri to tell the Premis to open and close; this all gets set up during the initial installation. The app is simple and streamlined, though that comes at the expense of more advanced features, like geofencing and the ability to set individual access schedules. The Premis feels a touch less sturdy than the beefy Schlage, but if a less obtrusive (and a bit more simplistic) lock is more to your style, it’s a no-brainer.

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Rating: 8.7 out of 10


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