There are dozens of smart locks out there, and Level Lock is the latest one to catch my attention. We got a peek at it during CES in January. Since then, I've had the opportunity to try it out on my own front door. Once installed, the $229 Level Lock is invisible. The design is remarkable. The lock is a good option if you really want to keep the look of your existing door hardware, but because it only works with HomeKit , I can't recommend it as a good smart lock for broader smart home integration for Alexa and Google Assistant users.
How it works
Level lock replaces the guts of your lock, all the internal components like the deadbolt and deadbolt housing that sits in the round hole of your door. This isn't a retrofit smart lock, but that doesn't mean you need new keys.
Because Level Lock works with your existing door hardware, your old keys will still work. Once you get Level Lock installed inside your door, all your old hardware will screw into it and from the outside your door will look the same. August, makers of our favorite smart lock, has a similar approach, but Level Lock takes it a step further by letting you use your existing interior thumb latch as well.
Level Lock is a deadbolt replacement kit, but don't let that intimidate you. With a screwdriver and a few minutes, you can easily install it.
First, remove the front and back pieces of your door, set them aside for reassembly later. Next, remove your door's deadbolt unit. Slide the Level Lock deadbolt in place, attach the strike plates for your door and door frame, then slide in the Level Lock motor housing and insert the battery.
That battery placement is one the most interesting parts of Level Lock's design. The battery sits inside the deadbolt, and that does make me wonder about long-term durability. Level Lock says the deadbolt is stress-tested to over 1,000,000 cycles and the battery should last one year with regular use. You can view battery usage in the app, and the CR 2s are not expensive (around $4 at Lowe's as of July 2020), but buying anything other than AA or AAA batteries sometimes feels like an annoyance.
When you've inserted the battery inside the deadbolt and screwed on the end cap, you'll hear a welcome chime that tells you it's time to set everything up in the Level Home app.
Siri and smarts
In the Level Home app you'll find common customizations like naming your home, naming your lock and adding shared users. You can also add digital passes, which provide access that expires in a set amount of time. Before using your lock, be sure to calibrate it in the app after installation. This tells the lock how far to extend and retract the deadbolt to lock and unlock. There is also an Auto Lock feature for relocking your door after 30 seconds, 1 minute or 3 minutes of time unlocked.
For HomeKit integration and Siri voice commands, the Level Lock connects to the Home app with a scannable HomeKit QR code included in the packaging. Once you've added Level Lock to your home, you can ask Siri to lock your door, check the status of your door and even unlock using two-factor authentication with a confirmation button on your mobile device. You can also integrate the lock into automation scenes like leaving the house, returning home or going to bed. I used a HomePod and an iPhone to test these integrations out, and everything worked well.
Level Lock uses Bluetooth unless you've used your HomeKit hub to connect it to Wi-Fi, so otherwise, you'll need to be in range with your phone to unlock Level Lock in the Level Home. Remote access really expands functionality when it comes to smart locks, especially for rare times when you need to let someone in without the trouble of having them download an app and create an account.
Overall, I love the creativity of Level Lock and the idea this smart lock represents. It's a new product for the smart home that isn't all touchscreen. It's subtle. That delights me from an interior design standpoint, too. I've never been a fan of the clunky interior boxes most smart locks require. August's smallest model, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is the best looking of the bunch, but Level Lock offers a way to install a popular piece of smart home tech with complete discretion.
Should you buy it?
Well, that depends on who you are. Level Lock only works with HomeKit at the time of this review, and it costs $229. If you're not using HomeKit to build your smart home, it isn't the lock for you. If you're on a budget, it isn't the lock for you either. SimpliSafe's smart lock costs just $99 and there are plenty of other more affordable and better integrated options out there.
If you do use HomeKit and you're interested in a lock that is so inconspicuous it's practically invisible, Level Lock is a solid choice. The app is easy to navigate, HomeKit integration was seamless, and there are enough customization options to meet the needs of the average household.