Kwikset Premis smart lock review

A HomeKit door lock that suits every situation

Kwikset Premis HomeKit Smart Lock

A smart door lock is a useful convenience for people who don’t like carrying keys, but it’s also an essential upgrade for families, landlords, and anyone else who has to deal with more than one person accessing their home.

While some offer neat features such as auto-unlocking, smart locks that have multiple ways to access your front door offer the most benefits. And here’s where Kwikset’s Premis door lock stands out. It’s one of the few smart door locks that have it all – regular key access, built-in keypad access, voice control access, and local and remote access through your smartphone.

With all these ways to gain entry, a dead phone, a lost key, forgotten code or drained batteries will never keep you out of your home again. Sadly, it only works with iPhone, so Android users can stop here, but if you’re an iPhone user read on.

Kwikset Premis Contemporary HomeKit Smart Lock Review

Kwikset Premis: Design and installation

Kwikset first launched the first Premis brand in 2016 with the Premis Traditional. This May it added the Premis Contemporary to the line (which we've tested for this review), sporting a more modern look. One of the early HomeKit-compatible locks, it’s a complete deadbolt replacement lock, meaning you remove your old lock entirely and replace it with this.

The Traditional looks, well, traditional, with beveled edges and a slightly ornate design, fine if you have an older home. The Contemporary ups the style stakes a bit with a sharp, rectangular shape and a smaller, more streamlined interior portion. It also comes in a striking black, as well as more traditional satin nickel.

As with most smart door locks installation takes some time, about 30 to 45 minutes, but there’s no drilling or wiring, just a lot of specific steps to follow. With explanatory animated pictures and simple, clear directions the Kiwkset Premis app (iOS-only, remember) guides you through the process well. It involves removing your existing deadbolt and replacing it with the Premis lock on the outside and the mounting plate and interior assembly (the bit that contains the batteries and smarts needed to control the lock) on the inside of your door.

Kwikset Premis Contemporary HomeKit Smart Lock Review

Once the lock is in the place and the batteries installed, the app connects to it automatically via Bluetooth, prompting you to pair with HomeKit. Annoyingly you will have just screwed the interior assembly together where, you will remember, the HomeKit code is. Thankfully it’s also on the Quick Start guide, so don’t start unscrewing! HomeKit setup includes choosing a room and name for the lock, which will show up in the Apple Home app, and also entering a code for the lock keypad.

This last step is confusing as the code we entered then didn’t work on the lock when we started using it, so be sure to add codes through the Kwikset app before leaving your home.

Kwikset Premis Contemporary HomeKit Smart Lock Review

Kwikset Premis: Features

The Kwikset Premis can be locked and unlocked with a key (included), by inputting a code on its touchscreen keypad, with your voice using Siri, and with the Kwikset or Apple Home app. You can assign user codes to friends and family and give them various levels of access (anytime, limited by date, by weekday and time, or a one-time use within the next 24 hours). A log in the app shows you who or what unlocked the door and when – great for checking in on latchkey kids and service people. The Premis also has an auto-lock option (from 30 seconds up to 4 minutes).

HomeKit compatibility is the primary reason to buy this specific smart lock, and while without using HomeKit you can still lock and unlock the door in Bluetooth range (20-30 feet) with the app, HomeKit brings a lot more functionality, including voice control with Siri. For locking/unlocking remotely when you’re away from home you’ll need a HomeKit hub – HomePod, an Apple TV 4K, HD or third-gen, or an always-on iPad. This also brings the ability to add the lock to HomeKit Automations, although any Automations that involve unlocking your door need a confirmation on your phone or Apple Watch before it will run.

Read this: How to set up a HomeKit Hub

As to security, Premis has ANSI/BHMA grade 2 security and end-to-end encryption and Kwisket says its Advanced SmartKey Security will provide resistance against forced entry and lock picking/lock bumping, and lets you re-key the lock on-site if you need to. It has a SecureScreen feature, enabled by default, that requires you to tap random numbers before putting in your code, so people can’t guess it based on the fingerprint smudges, and you can disable all access codes with one tap in the app.

Kwikset Premis Contemporary HomeKit Smart Lock Review

Kwikset Premis: In use

The Premis is a very stylish looking lock and its smaller interior casing is easier to fit on your door if you have any molding (a previous first gen Kevo was too big to fit where this one has ample room). We love the HomeKit integration, and controlling the lock through Siri or the Home app while in the house is instant, thanks to it being entirely locally-based (no cloud connection required). Kwikset’s own app is also easy to use, and is where you go to add user codes and access the other features mentioned above.

Our biggest issue with the lock is that the touchscreen is finicky and un-intuitive, especially compared to the Yale touchscreen we have on our front door. First, to wake it up requires one of three gestures, two of which are quite awkward and the other very specific so easy to miss first time, making it quicker to just use a key.

Kwikset Premis
Kwikset Premis

Second, once awake the buttons require quite a bit of force and you need to hear a chime for it to register, although it’s easy to press a button, not hear the chime and think you’re inputting the code. There’s no error sound if you get it wrong, but if you get it wrong multiple times it will sound a short alarm and lock you out (then you have to use the app to or physical key to re-enable it).

Kwikset Premis Contemporary HomeKit Smart Lock Review

Once you get the hang of it, it will work fine for your household, but may pose problems for guests and other visitors – as you’ll have to explain how to wake it up and how to press it correctly. Locking the door using the padlock button did work reliably however, and if you set up your HomeKit Automations to have it unlock when you come home you won’t have to fiddle with the touchscreen that often.

Kwikset Premis: The competition

In the HomeKit lock space Premis competes most directly with the August door lock and the Schlage Sense. The August is a great lock but doesn’t come with a keypad (you can buy a Bluetooth one that attaches to your door but that costs extra). August does work with Alexa and Google, which Premis doesn’t, plus it's compatible with Android.

We also like August’s DoorSense, which tells you when your door is open – with the Premis you could easily lock it in the app and think your home is secure when the door is wide open. However, Premis is the more elegant solution compared to August’s giant interior assembly and awkward keypad option.

The Schalge Sense has most of the same features of the Premis, plus a higher ANSI/BHMA grade 1 security. It works with multiple smart home systems and has an optional Wi-Fi bridge if you don’t want to use HomeKit for remote access. Also, it’s about $40 cheaper. But it’s much bigger than the Premis, which has a nicer aesthetic overall.


Kwikset Premis
Kwisket Premis Contemporary excels in the design stakes and is the best-looking HomeKit compatible smart door lock on the market. Multiple ways to access it, speedy response times and integration with HomeKit Automations mean this can be a very smart lock. However, it lacks any other smart home compatibility and the learning-curve with the touchscreen is a challenge, especially for households with children or where multiple people will be using it, such as an Airbnb.
PROS
  • High-quality design and look
  • HomeKit-compatible
  • Built-in keypad
  • Fast response times
CONS
  • Finicky touchscreen
  • iPhone only
  • No Alexa or Google Assistant support
  • No Door Sense

TAGGED   smart home

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