Keys are a time-tested means of access, but they won't do you much good if you leave them inside on your way out the door.
Today's crop of smart locks ($97 at Amazon) think they have a better way. All of them offer convenient, key-free access to your home, whether by code, by app, by proximity, or by the touch of your finger. Some of them don't even accept keys at all, which makes them immune to forced entry via lock picking or lock bumping.
There's a lot to consider before upgrading to a smart lock, and it's a pretty expensive upgrade at that, with most costing somewhere around $200 -- as much as 10 times more than their non-connected predecessors. The category continues to grow, though, so here's a quick rundown of some of the more notable options.
Kwikset Kevo (second generation)
Now a second-gen smart lock, the Kwikset Kevo is a connected deadbolt that uses Unikey's touch-to-unlock technology to let you inside with just a tap. The lock pairs with your phone or with a fob over Bluetooth. When you touch it, the Kevo uses Bluetooth to see if your phone or fob is close by and determine whether or not to let you in.
We use a Kwikset Kevo to let us in and out of the CNET Smart Apartment, and we're fans of both the touch-to-unlock convenience and the inconspicuous design. Just make sure that your phone will work with it, particularly if you're an Android user. And be prepared to spend -- the second-gen Kevo retails for $230 and charges $2 each time you want to share full access with someone else.
Yale Assure Lock SL Touchscreen Deadbolt
Like Kwikset, Yale is no stranger to smart locks, with a relatively diverse line of connected deadbolts to its name. The Assure Lock SL is Yale's most recent touchscreen deadbolt with a slimmer, low-profile take on the touchscreen keypad. Like HomeKit network modules to let you sync your lock with a larger connected home platform like Wink or SmartThings., this Assure lock features a touchscreen on which you can punch in a code to get inside, as well as ZigBee, Z-Wave or iM1
These latest touchscreen deadbolts take things one step further by eliminating the keyway altogether and rendering your keychain obsolete. That might sound like a potential problem since these smart locks are all battery-powered, but Yale came up with a clever safeguard to keep you from getting locked out if your batteries die. If the deadbolt's four AA batteries ever run dead, you can touch a 9-volt battery to the bottom of the lock's exterior to give it just enough juice for you to punch in your code and step inside.
The Kwikset Obsidian is another keyless smart lock recently released by Kwikset. We like the modern minimalism of this compact design. It smartly borrows that 9-volt battery trick from Yale's keyless locks. And the Obsidian also includes a clever feature that displays two random numbers for you to press before entering your code, which is meant to keep potential intruders from studying your fingerprints to figure out your code. With a retail price of $180 -- $50 less than the Kevo -- the Obsidian lock is a reasonably priced touchscreen deadbolt.
There's one more Kwikset smart lock worth mentioning, and that's the Kwikset Premis. It uses the same, touchpad-centric design as most of Kwikset's smart locks, but it adds in compatibility with Apple HomeKit, a set of smart home protocols built into the software that runs iPhones ($600 at Boost Mobile) and iPads. With HomeKit compatibility, you can control and automate the lock directly from Apple's Home app alongside other compatible devices, stick a shortcut button into your iPhone's Control Center, or even lock and unlock it with Siri commands.
Like the Kevo, the Premis retails for a steep $230. But unlike the Kevo, it doesn't charge you anything extra to share access with friends, family members, roommates, and service workers. In fact, the lock's well-designed app does a terrific job at managing multi-users, including options for limiting access to specific days and times, or for creating codes that expire after a set amount of time.
Schlage Sense Bluetooth Deadbolt
Kwikset isn't your only option for a smart lock that works with Siri. Schlage was first to the market with a HomeKit-compatible deadbolt. It's basically the exact same product as the Premis, albeit with a slightly less polished app. You'll also probably have better luck finding one at a discount, given that it's been out longer.
August Smart Lock (third generation)
August's third-generation smart lock has a more traditional design, costs just $149, and works with Amazon Alexa speakers and the Google Home. This slimmer August Smart Lock doesn't work with Apple HomeKit or Z-Wave, and its lock motor is a bit noisy, but this lock is still a decent entry-level option that performs well and offers a lot for its price.
Much about this lock remains the same as previous generations. You can install it in minutes flat, it relies on the same August app as before and, like August's new $279 Smart Lock Pro ($149 at Amazon), this simpler version also comes with DoorSense, a new feature that tells you whether your door is open or closed.
August Smart Lock
Your third notable option for Siri voice control is the HomeKit-compatible version of the August Smart Lock. What's interesting about August is that it isn't actually a deadbolt, but rather, a deadbolt-turning gadget that sits over the top of your existing lock. That makes it a pretty appealing pick for renters, or for anyone who likes the lock they've got.
All three of these HomeKit-compatible options use Bluetooth to pair with your phone, which means that you won't be able to control or check on them if you're away from home (although if you have a third-gen or better Apple TV, it'll act as a Wi-Fi range extender and solve that problem). August also offers its own plug-in gateway device that'll let you use the app to control the lock from anywhere in the world, but you'll have to pay an extra $80 on top of the lock's already expensive $230 asking price.
August Smart Lock Pro
August's Smart Lock Pro is comparable in both design and performance to the $229 second-gen Smart Lock. The Pro relies on the same app and has similar core features, including support for Siri, Alexa, the Google Assistant and Nest. It's Z-Wave ready (hub not included) and comes with an open/close DoorSense sensor, as well as a Connect Wi-Fi module.
At $279, it's a bit more expensive than other August locks, but that is a bundled price for the lock and its Connect Wi-Fi module. If you want to purchase the lock by itself, you'll need to go through one of August's approved dealers. Still, this is one of the most feature-rich smart locks we've tested.
Latch M-Series Smart Lock
August isn't the only name that's making a play on bringing smart locks to the connected apartments of the future. There's also Latch, a New York-based startup founded by Apple alums that's quietly raised lots of money for the past few years. Now, they're ready to make their play with the Latch M-Series Smart Lock, another mortise-style connected deadbolt that features the notable addition of a camera in the center of the touchpad. Whenever someone unlocks the thing, it'll snap a picture of who's coming in.
Like the August Mortise Kit, this is a dealer and building-owner-only product, so you can't buy it direct right now. But don't be surprised if you start seeing them in office buildings and apartment complexes by the end of this year.
Friday Labs released the Friday lock this year after two years of crowdfunding and development. It's a stunning take on how to style a smart lock and comes with your choice of six different metal shells to match almost any home's hardware. What's nice about this Bluetooth smart lock is that, like August's popular line of locks, you'll keep the exterior deadbolt you already have.
The Friday lock is only compatible with Apple HomeKit for now and has its own companion app to lock and unlock the door, see activity logs and share Bluetooth keys. At $249, it isn't cheap, and we encountered more than a few snags along the way while testing. Promised firmware updates look to solve some of these issues.
Igloohome Smart Deadbolt 02
Igloohome's Deadbolt 02 is the second-generation deadbolt of the Singapore-based startup. It's a versatile lock with keypad, Bluetooth and physical key access. With added 9V battery jump start, it seems nearly impossible to get locked out. The app doesn't do quite as much as you'd think, as it cannot lock your door or display the lock status.
If you're looking for a touchscreen keypad, Igloohome's Deadbolt 02 is a good-looking lock with physical and Bluetooth key options for unlocking. It's currently priced at $199, not far from the pricing of other touchscreen deadbolts like Kwikset's Obsidian and Yale's Assure Lock SL.
Candy House Sesame Smart Lock
The Sesame is a reasonably priced and easy to install retrofit smart lock from startup Candy House. With the looks of an old-school kitchen timer, the Sesame includes a knock-to-unlock feature for iOS devices and comes in at the same price as the August Smart Lock, $149.
The Sesame doesn't work natively with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Siri, though you can control the lock via Google and Alexa with IFTTT recipes. It comes in several colors and includes a mounting plate and adhesive strips to attache the lock to your deadbolt thumb latch. Still, if you're looking to get the most for your money in a retrofit lock, August remains your best bet.