The best smart locks: Smart security from August, Yale, Schlage and more

Alexa, Google Home and HomeKit options for all budgets

The best smart locks
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Smart locks are really taking off, as the appeal of living life without keys is starting to resonate with homeowners. But unlike other aspects of connected home devices there's more to consider with smart locks than you might initially think.

The best smart locks will often work with a key in case your phone runs out of battery and some, like door locks from Yale, use a fob system. With existing lock specialist companies, like Kwikset and Schlage, if you stick with them that means one key for everything.

Of course, the biggest factor to consider is whether the device is compatible with your current front door lock and how it will fit in with your existing home security system.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options on the market, and below you'll find our current top picks. Head to the bottom of the page for more on what you need to know before buying.

Jump to the information you need

The best smart locks - August

Best smart lock: August Wifi Smart Lock

Buy now: Amazon, | From $249

The all-new August Wifi Smart Lock is a completely redesigned version of its iconic retrofit smart lock that is almost half the size and 20% slimmer than the August Smart Lock Pro.

The new design sports a softer surface, rounded edges and textured ridges for a more solid feel when you open and close the lock manually. A new small ridge on the lock’s outer ring also helps you see at a glance if the lock is locked or not. Now closer to the size of a door knob, the lock definitely blends in more with traditional door hardware

Despite its smaller size, the lock packs an extra feature - integrated WiFi, so there's no need for a bridge or smart home hub to control it when you're away from home. The WiFi feature is optional however, if you'd rather just stick to Bluetooth control when you're nearby.

You still get August's signature auto-unlock feature, where your door will automatically unlock itself as you approach, along with all the other features that make August the most fully-featured smart lock on the market, including auto-lock settings and DoorSens that tells you if your door is open or closed before you lock it.

Through the app you can remotely control the lock, send e-keys to people and manage their access, see an activity feed that shows who or what unlocked or locked the door and when, and set up smart alerts to know when the door is locked or unlocked manually, by a certain person, auto-locked or left open.

The lock also integrates with August's doorbell cameras, including the battery-powered View, so you can lock or unlock it right from the doorbell's video feed in the app.

What we love

  • Feature heavy – mobile app keys
  • Works with everything
  • Easy to self-install

What we don't love

  • Quite expensive
  • No Z-Wave
  • Keypad costs more

Read our full August Wifi Smart Lock review.

The best smart locks

Runner-up: Yale Assure Lever

Buy now: Amazon | $279

The Yale Assure Lever is actually powered by August's technology, meaning our two top locks come courtesy of the same company (which has now been acquired by Assa Abloy).

While the lock itself is designed by Yale, it houses an August smart module and offers the raft of August's features. It's even controlled using the August app. Alternatively, you can pick up a Z-Wave module instead of August's, should it be compatible with your setup; that, combined with support for HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant make this one of the most versatile smart locks on the market.

The Yale Assure Lever is a keypad lock that will turn any regular, non-deadbolt lock into a smart one. This means you can extend its powers to the whole home instead of only the front and back doors. It is pretty? Not really, but it's heavily functional.

There's no keyed option, but should the four AA batteries run flat there are two metal contacts on the front that you can jolt with a 9-volt battery for a shot of power. Installation isn't too different from installing a deadbolt smart lock, but we did find it a long process.

For doors without deadbolts, this is the one.

What we love

  • Option of buttons or touchscreen
  • Geofencing
  • Auto unlock/lock
  • HomeKit, Alexa, Google

What we don't love

  • Bulky
  • No keyed access
  • Confusing instructions
  • Pricey

Read our full Yale Assure Lever review.

The best smart locks

Best for Google/Nest users: Nest x Yale Lock

Buy now: | $249

While Google and Nest (now one homogenous being) have traditionally built many their own smart home products, Nest enlisted the help of Yale for its smart lock. The result of this collaboration, the Next x Yale Lock, makes it clear that this is Yale's hardware with Nest's software; the big deadbolt lock that sits on the inside of the door isn't the prettiest, though the keypad, on the other side, is a little more inviting.

That already might suggest there's a fair bit of installation needed here, but we found this relatively straightforward. And if you can't manage it yourself, Nest has a squad of 'Pros' ready to dispatch to customers.

If you're already using some of Nest's devices, you'll find the lock slips in pretty nicely. If you already own a Nest Secure alarm system, for example, you won't need the Nest Connect (which keeps everything tied together) to connect to your network and Nest app. If you don't have one, you'll need to shell out $30 - sadly that's non-negotiable.

As for how the lock actually works, we found it a breeze to use, its biggest strength being sheer reliability. The lock can of course be controlled through the Nest app - the hub for all Nest devices - but there's also that aforementioned keypad which you can use as a pin-unlocked backup should you need it - or so guests can let themselves in. You can also set the door to lock automatically after a specified period of time.

Where the Nest x Yale Lock falls down, in our opinion, is in integrations. Yes it works nicely in synergy with some of Nest's other devices, particularly the Hello doorbell which gives you a look at who's stood on your doorstep. But those integrations aren't as tight as they should be. What's more, you can't integrate the lock with any other smart home hubs, and there aren't any voice command capabilities, although these may arrive further down the line.

What we love

  • Reliable
  • Nest Secure integration
  • Looks good

What we don't love

  • No Assistant integration
  • Feels like it could be smarter
  • Expensive

Read our full Nest x Yale lock review

The best smart locks

Best for basics/Best for Alexa: Schlage Encode

Buy now: Amazon | $249

Schlage has been in the lock business since before you were in diapers, putting it in a strong position to jump on the smart lock bandwagon. It has several options available, but for nailing the sheer basics – and for Ring and Alexa integration – we think it's the best.

Think of this as an entry-level option for someone who wants a smart lock but without all the bells and whistles. The Encode is a Wi-Fi lock, which means it doesn't require an additional modules or hubs to function. It's also very easy to install yourself.

There's a built-in alarm that goes off if the door detects it's been tampered with and you can assign up to 100 digital keys to people with varying levels of access.

If you're an Alexa user, the Encode will slip into your home nicely. It can integration into your Alexa routines, and the assistant can be used to lock/unlock the door (the latter requires a pin). But one of the best reasons to buy this lock is for how it integrates with the Ring Video Doorbell.

You have to use it through the Amazon Key app, but it will allow you to unlock/lock the door while talking to someone through the doorbell, via the app.

Yes, there are more innovating and feature-packed options on this list, but for simplicity, as well as the Alexa and Ring functionality, this comes highly recommended.

What we love

  • Traditional look
  • No hub needed
  • Integrates well with Ring doorbells
  • Works with keys

What we don't love

  • Indoor mechanism loud and bulky
  • Google can only unlock
  • 2.4 GHz only

Read our full Schlage Encode review.

The best smart locks

Best for apartments and renters: Nuki Smart Lock

Buy now: Amazon, | €229 (€299 with Bridge)

The Nuki Smart Lock is the minimalist and easy to install device you’d imagine the lock of the future to be. It uses your existing lock and key as it simply sits on top – a surprisingly low-fi solution that is great for those with a normal flat key and simple lock.

This means you just position the Smart Lock over the key and stick it to the door using a peel-off layer provided. Then you calibrate the lock with an app which adjusts the motor in the Nuki so it knows the pressure to apply to turn the key within. Simple.

The problem is that being this simple means it only works on locks that fit the Nuki. It also means any key with a larger head or non-flat shape won’t work in the Smart Lock as they simply won’t fit. Plus, if the key hole is too near the door handle, again it won’t fit.

But, presuming you’ve checked your door setup does work, then you’ll be installed and ready to go in a matter of minutes without even using any tools. This might sound easy to remove but while locked the turned key holds the Nuki in place, meaning it won’t come out without removing the entire door lock.

It's a perfect solution for apartment renters who aren't able to make modifications to the door. Since Nuki uses Bluetooth it can detect your phone and auto unlock for keyless entry. In reality that means you walk up and simply open the door. This worked well in our testing but did mean we had to always leave Bluetooth on.

If you want to take advantage of the long-range options you’ll also need to buy the Nuki Bridge. This plugs into a socket and connects to your lock and the Wi-Fi network. It's easy to install and lets you see who is entering your home via the app. It also lets you unlock the door from anywhere and set keys for certain times, like access between 9am and 5pm for a tradesman, for example.

The Nuki Smart Lock is also compatible with IFTTT, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant so you can control it with your voice, although if you want to unlock you will need to say a pin code. There's now a second-gen Nuki Smart Lock 2.0, featuring a faster internal processor, compatibility with more doors and HomeKit support. Keep an eye out as we'll be bringing you a full review of that soon.

What we love

  • Easy installation; fits on top of existing lock
  • Auto-unlock is a cool feature

What we don't love<

  • Nuki Bridge needed for full functionality
  • Limited compatibility with doors

The best smart locks

Also great for HomeKit: Schlage Sense

Buy now: Amazon, | $230

The Schlage Sense offers a deadbolt replacement with a keypad on the outside, and Bluetooth connectivity. So by default, you can really only control the lock from your phone when you’re within Bluetooth range. Like other Bluetooth-only locks, you can also get a Wi-Fi adapter, which will give your lock Wi-Fi access but this comes at a price of around $70 extra.

Still, that doesn’t make this lock useless. The Schlage Sense is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and also has its own accompanying app that you can use to control the lock and add access numbers with a few taps on your phone. The app, in general, was easy to use and relatively well-designed.

Then there’s the design of the lock, and it’s a good-looking one. While some will prefer a smaller lock, those that can accept the size of it will appreciate its beautiful brushed metal construction and sleek black highlights. The lock is available in two different finishes: Satin Nickel, and Aged Bronze. We reviewed the Satin Nickel one, but by the look of press pics, the Aged Bronze one looks equally nice.

When it comes to performance, the Schlage lock worked very well. You will have to wait for the app to sync with the lock when you first open it, and that can take a few seconds – but once synced we never ran into any issues with the app not properly controlling the lock or the lock failing to do as told. We were also able to add multiple access codes quickly and easily, meaning you’ll be able to add and remove users at a moment’s notice – though, again, you’ll have to be in range to do that if you don’t get a Wi-Fi adapter.

What we love

  • Works a treat with HomeKit
  • Consistent performance
  • Great app

What we don't love

  • Doesn't look great
  • Wi-Fi adapter costs extra

Best for design: Yale Conexis L1

The best smart locks

Buy now: Amazon, | £229

The Yale Conexis L1 will fit most doors with a five-point locking system – widely available in the UK and Europe. For US types, you'll be looking at the Yale Assure Lever further up.

Unlike other smart locks, Wi-Fi is dispensed with here, and the Conexis instead uses Bluetooth for unlocking via your smartphone, as well as RFID for tags which can be used for back-up entry. It's battery operated, and the four AAs will last approximately a year.

There's no doubt that the Conexis L1 is a little bigger than your average lock, although not as bulky as August – it's really, really long. The inside section has a child-proof twist lock, which disengages the lock. To lock, you just pull the handle up; it's just like a traditional five-point system, although there's no key to turn.

To unlock, just approach the door with your smartphone and open the app. You then have to select the virtual key, and then twist your phone from portrait to landscape. We're not going to lie, it's kind of fiddly. Demonstrating it to friends actually left us temporarily stranded in the garden at a party. It's just got a bit of a knack.

Likewise, the set-up wasn't easy either. We actually had a professional fitter do the work for us – and we're glad we did. Even the installer, who claimed to install at least two a week, came unstuck when the lock was fitted marginally off perfect alignment, which meant the motor couldn't turn. He soon sorted it – but had we been self fitting, we'd have been stumped.

To lock, you also need to make sure the handle is pulled up, hard. While the motor turns its grinding turn, often the lock won't engage, and you'll get a flat musical tune and a red LED to prompt you into having another try.

However, while our experience with the Yale has been plagued by niggly issues, it has reinforced the benefits of a smart lock. No more searching for keys, and when we had builders in it was easy to share a key via the app – and rescind it afterwards. You can share up to five keys at any given time, but any more and you have to pay for extras as an in-app purchase which feels unnecessary. The lock also comes with a fob and card, but extras need to be bought separately, which is a little more understandable.

What we love

  • Looks great
  • Variety of finishes to pick from
  • Integrates with Samsung SmartThings

What we don't love

  • Tricky installation
  • App could be better

Brisant Ultion Smart

Buy now: | From £229

Brisant’s entry to the smart lock gang - the Ultion Smart - not only comes with an array of different smart home ecosystem options, it also offers users peace of mind if they’re not quite sure about going all-in-smart, by still having a key-based entry system too.

The idea is that you have the Ultion Smart retrofitted onto your door, with the tech being hidden on the inside. You, therefore have the choice of keeping your original external door handle, or fitting one of Brisant’s security designed Sweet handles - of which as stylish rose-gold model has just gone live.

If you are onboard for the smarts then the Ultion has you covered, no matter what entry method you want to use - voice activation, geo-unlocking with your phone or an optional wireless keypad.

You also have the choice over what smart home protocol you want; there are different models available that play nicely with HomeKit, Alexa, SmartThings, IFTTT and more. There are actually different models to choose from - a standard Bluetooth one, a Zigbee one, a Z-Wave one and a HomeKit one. You can simply choose the best model in terms of syncing seamlessly with whichever hub/assistant the rest of your smart home operates on.

In terms of keeping things secure, the Ultion features a robust Lockdown Mode, whereby a hidden lock activates if it detects foul play. The Ultion Smart has Sold Secure Diamond and Secure By Design accreditation too.

All of this from a smart lock that’s powered by CR123 cell batteries, which should last around 18 months. Plus, it’s super easy to install, as you can see from the video above.

What we love

  • Vast array of protocols to choose from
  • Retrofits over existing lock
  • Smarts hidden on the inside

What we don't love

  • UK only
  • No Google Assistant

Smart locks: What you need to know before buying

Before you buy a smart lock, you need to consider whether this will actually make your life easier. Chances are the answer is almost always going to be yes, but you also need to think about how you'll be using the lock. Do you want to grant a lot of guests access, and are they tech-savvy? If not, you'll probably want a smart lock that has a keypad.

Also, it might seem a strange thing to suggest, but it's worth checking if your door actually shuts perfectly, a problem on older houses with wonky doors – this might cause problems down the line.

Also bear in mind that smart locks come in different shapes and sizes. In some cases this means that not all locks will fit between the lock and the handle, and in the case of others, you might want to think about how a gadgety-looking lock or a keypad will fit into your home's look.

You might think it's a big installation job but many of the smart locks we've tried have been self-install with a screwdriver and a spare 15 minutes. But while every lock is different, some installations go smoother than others. A slightly wonky install can leave in-built lock motors struggling for traction, and we've had professional fitters scratching their heads, doing battle with some locks.

Whether the smart locks is compatible with your smart lock also needs to be a consideration, but bear in mind that the depth of integration varies across the board; some locks can be unlocked/locked using voice assistants, while some can only be locked.

Finally, if you're renting a house or flat, it's best to check with the landlord. We've found already that some landlords are more likely to allow smart doorbell installs than smart locks.

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