Improving your smart home takes more than connection to a digital assistant and a voice-activated speaker. Smart locks—or smart deadbolts, more accurately—both streamline your daily routine and strengthen the security of your property with automatic locking, status notifications, and visitor keys for guests.
Beyond quelling anxiety while away from home, smart locks send notifications if your door is left ajar and let you access log history remotely to see if anything’s amiss. You can even set a guest key code while you’re out of town so your neighbor doesn’t have to search for that spare key when you forget to water the plants.
We’ve tested a range of the latest smart locks, as well as vetted a few we haven’t tried yet, to help sort out which is the best option for you.
The Best Smart Locks
What to Consider
Smart locks usually come in two configurations. The first is a full deadbolt lockset—including the bolt, the exterior keyed lock and/or keypad, and the interior thumb lever and plate. These may replace your existing deadbolt or you can add them above your current doorknob or handle.
The second type of configuration only replaces the interior thumb lever and plate, utilizing the existing deadbolt and exterior keyed lock. If you have a matching doorknob and deadbolt, or have all your locks keyed alike, then this option will let you keep your current setup.
Say you’re replacing an existing deadbolt, or installing one in a new door that’s pre-drilled. You can do the job fairly easily and with just one screwdriver in about 15 minutes. But if you’re installing a deadbolt in a door that hasn’t already had one, it’ll take a bit more time and a door hardware installation jig to get it right.
Smart Lock Connection
Smart locks employ Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Z-Wave radio signals to communicate with apps on smart phones, Wi-Fi bridges, or smart home hubs like the Google Nest Hub and the Echo Show. Almost all smart locks have Bluetooth, and generally this is how you can set them up with an app on a smart phone.
Smart locks with Wi-Fi built-in, and connected to your home network, work with an app on a smart phone for remote operation and monitoring. They may also connect to or be integrated with security systems, smart home devices like Google Nest Hub and the Echo Show, or Apple’s HomeKit.
You can then automate them into smart home routine actions. For example when you tell your smart assistant “goodnight,” you can have a smart thermostat lower the temperature, turn off all lights, and send a command to ensure your door is locked. Note that locks with built in Wi-Fi will drain batteries faster than low-energy radio waves, like Bluetooth or Z-Wave.
Smart locks with Z-Wave have to connect with a Z-Wave hub, which in turn connects to your Wi-Fi network. You can then control these locks with an app from a smart phone or home hub. Z-Wave is a low-energy radio signal, like Bluetooth but with a stronger signal and more robust encryption.
If you already have a Z-Wave hub and are planning to add more devices or a full security system, you might consider going this route. Using Z-Wave avoids competition for bandwidth and interference on your Wi-Fi network, which is important because there may be dozens of smart devices in a fully automated smart home.
The physical manner in which you use your smart lock to lock and unlock the door makes a legitimate difference considering the high frequency of usage. Many smart locks work directly with your phone or connect to your smart home assistants for easy locking and unlocking from your device.
Other options come with keypads or fingerprint scanners for direct access without the need for your smart device. Many smart locks also come with mechanical keys alongside their “smarter” unlocking methods for physical entry as well.
How We Selected
The locks on this list have been thoroughly vetted and evaluated by our editors. We researched the landscape, surveyed user reviews with Fakespot analysis to ensure their authenticity, spoke with product managers and engineers, and used our own experience with these smart locks to determine the best options. For locks we haven’t gotten our hands on, we heavily researched them based on a core list of criteria and our experiences with similar products.
To test the locks, we installed each lock into a metal exterior door to assess fit and ease of installation. We then paired them with our smart phones, ran through the setup processes, and tested Bluetooth functionality. To connect the smart locks to the internet, we used a wireless network with a Speedtest.net average of 25 Mbps.
We installed all of the locks in a single test stand, took them off-site, and set up a live video feed to monitor functionality. We then locked and unlocked them remotely using our smartphones while reviewing the video feed, and confirmed lock status via the manufacturers’ apps.
We took care to test all of the smart locks’ features and factored in aesthetics. If you’ve been thinking about getting a smart lock, we’ve included all the information you’ll need to help pick the best model.
Schlage’s Encode smart deadbolt offers similar features to many other locks on the market and in this review. Where it differs, however, is in its ANSI Grade 1 rating—the highest rating for locks.
Grade 1 is a mechanical quality rating, requiring the deadbolt to withstand 250,000 cycles and 10 door strikes with a hammer. Examining the deadbolt, it’s not hard to understand how it earned the rating—robust, heavy metal housings enclose both the interior and exterior mechanisms.
In terms of installation, it’s very straightforward, requiring only one screwdriver (though an impact driver would have helped us speed things along). Expect to spend 15 minutes setting it up.
The Schlage Home app required to set up the lock is clean and intuitive, making start up, management, and administration of the smart functionalities a breeze.
The Encode uses Bluetooth initially, but once it’s up and running, it connects to a home Wi-Fi network without any hubs or bridges. Once it’s connected to your home Wi-Fi, you can manage all functionality from anywhere using the app. The Encode is also compatible with Ring security systems via the Key by Amazon app, as well as Google Assistant.
August’s Smart Lock Pro requires minimal fussing and modification. With this lock, you can keep almost everything about your current setup, from the expensive deadbolt that matches your fancy lockset to the keys you already have printed.
It also works with the voice assistants you already have, as well as multiple smart home systems. The Smart Lock Pro is practically a one-size-fits-all solution, both mechanically and digitally. However, there are some deadbolts it isn’t compatible with—double-check before you buy. Installation, on the whole, is relatively easy, requiring only a screwdriver.
To be able to use the Smart Lock Pro, you’ll need to pair it with your phone using August’s free app. The process is quick, painless, and intuitive. The model we tested also comes with a Door Sense sensor and a Connect Wi-Fi bridge. The bridge is required to access lock functions remotely, and the sensor allows you to see, via the app, whether the door is open or closed. This is a nice feature and worked reliably in testing. Without the Wi-Fi bridge, the lock is only functional via Bluetooth, which is still handy—you can use it to automatically unlock when you get home, for instance.
Note that if you have multiple August smart locks, you will need a Connect Wi-Fi bridge for each unit you want to manage remotely.
Level’s Bolt smart lock lets you keep all the external components of your existing deadbolt, only replacing the internal deadbolt and actuator. The battery hides inside the deadbolt, instead of inside a housing mounted on the door.
The Level Bolt is perhaps the easiest smart lock we’ve installed, with just two main components—the deadbolt and actuator—plus two screws and one tailpiece adapter. With the tools ready, at hand, it took about 10 minutes to install. With no keypad or touchpad, all interaction with the Bolt takes place through Level’s smart phone app.
The clever design is clean and simple, and it’s impossible to tell you’ve got a smart lock hooked up once it’s installed. We were able to set up the lock through Level’s app without issue and found all the standard smart lock features you expect, including auto lock/unlock, lock status, activity history, and user management.
The app features all work well, though we could only use them when we were within Bluetooth range. For remote use, you’ll have to connect the Level Bolt to a smart home hub—it’s compatible with Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Ring.
The Lockly Flex Touch is a sturdy, complete deadbolt. Its simplicity can be deceiving—from the outside it looks like a standard lock (save for the small external fingerprint reader that sits just below it). Take a peek on the other side of your door, however, and you’ll find a discrete base that holds the brains and power hidden away behind a turnable knob.
This is the perfect smart lock for traditionalists looking to dip their toes into the smart home life because it installs securely within minutes, is easy to operate, and doesn’t look like something out of Blade Runner 2049 with obnoxious LED lighting or bold stylings.
The 3D biometric fingerprint scanner can’t be fooled by images of a registered fingerprint, and the app control is locked behind your phone’s passcode. In our testing, this was the most thorough fingerprint reader we used.
Its setup took one full minute to grab multiple thorough readings of a fingerprint, which was the longest time out of all fingerprint locks. It virtually never missed a touch when unlocking the door.
Like with other smart options, you can generate offline access codes for trusted users or use the two included physical keys to get inside. This smart lock uses its own hardware from deadbolt to plates, so you will need to start fresh unlike the August or Wyze conversion models.
With the Secure Link Wi-Fi Hub connected to our test network, it was simple for us to check the lock status and activity logs and create access codes from a location just over two miles away from our office. With the app, it’s easy to manage multiple locks in multiple homes. The Flex Touch also responds to voice commands using Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
With its solid aluminum construction and an advanced feature set, we wouldn’t blame you for mistaking the budget Wyze smart lock for a pricier pick. To install this model, you simply need to replace the existing interior portion of your deadbolt with the Wyze lock.
Setup takes about just five minutes using a single screwdriver if you know what you’re doing and is extremely both novice- and rental-friendly. Since nothing changes on the outside of your door, a household member or landlord can easily access the unit with the original keys.
The lock pairs with a smartphone using Wyze’s free app and is easy to configure. We really got into the nitty gritty of programming this lock, using Wyze’s rule sets to unlock the door when our phones got within 500 feet of the lock.
A gyroscope is built directly into the lock to relay the real-time status of your door, and can alert you if it’s left ajar with a loud dinging notification. While this would be a good value on its own, Wyze includes the Wi-Fi bridge in the box, unlike competitors. Remote management works well, opening and closing without hesitation. But when battery life falls below 25 percent, the lock is prone to the occasional stall.
The premium finish and compact styling combine with a traditional thumb lever and its relatively low price tag to make this a better value than many other, more expensive models.
It is held back by its weaker security and relatively few screws holding it to the door, which over time can loosen very slightly. Additionally, the Wyze lock lacks Z-Wave compatibility, so it’s a little less of a one-size-fits-all solution.
Like the rest of Eufy’s lineup, this touch smart lock provides a clean interface and doesn’t rely on a subscription to provide a bevy of features. A sturdy zinc-alloy-and-stainless-steel frame stands up to both intruders and the elements with an IP65 rating. It also doesn’t hurt that the sleek black design simply looks good.
Eufy’s cameras and smart devices often rank high in our hands-on testing. If you’re already in the Eufy ecosystem, it’s simple to operate all of your devices from one app. Even if you’re not, this smart lock is a good choice for those interested in building an integrated, connected home.
While the lock is physically well built, it’s frustrating that the Wi-Fi hub is a separate purchase. But once you have this model connected to Wi-Fi, it shines. You can jump between cameras, unlock the door, and control a floodlight from the same place.
And unlike models from Ring or Yale that are locked to specific ecosystems, you can use Eufy equipment on either Alexa or Google devices without losing access to features.
This complete deadbolt lockset from Alfred is a sleek, contemporary smart lock with a large, easy-to-read, illuminated touchpad. It operates primarily using Bluetooth, so lock and unlock features in the app only function when you’re in close proximity. Remote functionality requires an optional Wi-Fi bridge (or a Z-wave module to connect to Z-wave home hubs).
Installation of the DB2-B is straightforward and takes about 15 minutes, with setup via Alfred’s app taking another 10. We found the app easy to use and quickly created access codes for the occupants of our test home.
PINs are numeric and can be anywhere from four to 10 digits. We appreciated the flexibility instead of being locked into a specific length. We allowed the app access to location services on our phone, which meant that once we were close enough to the lock, we could simply touch it to unlock the door—alternatively, we could open the app to unlock or lock the door.
Using the optional Wi-Fi bridge opens up remote management of the DB2-B’s features, as well as integration Google Assistant or Alexa.
The Yale Assure lock stands out as a quality smart lock designed to replace your current deadbolt and, ideally, the need for keys. While the deadbolt does come with a mechanical key, the smart lock app is designed to auto lock and unlock based on how long it’s been since you shut the door and how close you are to the door when returning, respectively.
The smart lock connects easily to nearly all of the major smart home assistants including Amazon Alexa, Google, Apple HomeKit, and even Airbnb software for getting key codes to your guests. The physical key pad is easy to program and works without your smartphone or device nearby. We haven’t tried this Yale lock yet, but we appreciate its robust features, quality construction, and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Ultraloq U-Bolt smart lock offers nearly every “smart” unlocking method available right now. The lock comes with smartphone app connection, a keypad code, a fingerprint scanner, and even a mechanical key. The Ultraloq also connects to smart home assistants such as Alexa and Google for remote locking or unlocking without opening your app.
Alongside locking and unlocking the door, the Ultraloq app comes with mutiple profiles and a historic log of each lock and unlock of the door, so you can monitor your home security as well as the people who come and go from it.
The smart lock is also incredibly durable with an IP65 weatherproof rating to keep it operational during cold and rainy weather without issue. The physical structure is also rated for Grade 1 for incredible sturdiness against potential intruders.
Associate Commerce Editor
Tom Price is an Associate Editor of Commerce for Popular Mechanics, and also contributes to Runner’s World, and Bicycling. He has previously covered product reviews, startup news, and even professional wrestling. In his free time, he enjoys watching pretentious TV, low-brow movies, and exercising for beauty, not health. If you are interested in exploring more of his work, check out his website.
Brad Ford has spent most of his life using tools to fix, build, or make things. Growing up he worked on a farm, where he learned to weld, repair, and paint equipment. From the farm he went to work at a classic car dealer, repairing and servicing Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Jaguars. Today, when he’s not testing tools or writing for Popular Mechanics, he’s busy keeping up with the projects at his old farmhouse in eastern Pennsylvania.
Hunter Fenollol, our resident expert of all things consumer tech, from smart home to VR gaming headsets, has years of knowledge creating product explainers, in-depth reviews, and buying guides to help you get the most from the latest electronics. Throughout college, he covered and reviewed the latest gadget releases for sites like Tom’s Guide, Laptop Magazine, and CNN Underscored. If he’s not elbow-deep in the latest hardware, you can find Hunter at one of Long Island’s many beaches, in Manhattan, or gambling away his paycheck.