Less is more. It's an age-old design concept and one that I'm happy to see reflected in a few new Wi-Fi smart locks on the market. Ditching hubs and adapters feels like the way forward with smart locks connected via Wi-Fi. With no Wi-Fi adapter, Z-Wave or Zigbee hub needed, the Schlage Encode Wi-Fi Smart Deadbolt is a simple answer to smartening your door.
You'll get Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa smarts, and while there isn't any HomeKit compatibility, and you can't use voice unlock with Google Assistant, the lock performs well otherwise. At $249, it isn't the best value for money, but it's a solid piece of hardware with enough smarts to satisfy most homeowners. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a stylish, simple smart lock. (It's not yet available in the UK or Australia, but the price converts to about £190 or AU$350.)
Installation is straightforward. Schlage includes a nice feature that snaps the face of the lock onto the deadbolt, freeing up your hands to attach the back half of the lock without worrying about the front falling out. A small but smart feature I appreciated. You'll only need a Phillips head screwdriver and about 15 minutes to replace your entire deadbolt.
The lock is powered by four AA batteries, set in the back of the lock. The team at Schlage estimates you'll need to replace the batteries every six months. That's a disadvantage over low-energy options like Bluetooth and one of the reasons why companies such as August have kept the Wi-Fi module on a separate piece of hardware that plugs directly into the wall.
This isn't the first smart lock with a wireless adapter built directly into the lock itself, but it is the first from a major lock manufacturer. Tolerance for swapping out batteries will vary from person to person, and there might be some cases where a smart lock with integrated wireless is the perfect solution, regardless of battery life. Still, it's worth asking how accurate Schlage's six-month estimate really is. To that end, I'll leave this lock installed and conduct a long-term test to see how long it lasts on four AAs. I'll update this review as soon as I have to change them.
To pair your lock with Google Assistant, you'll need the Schlage Home app for iOS or Android. That's where you'll create a Schlage account and connect your lock to your home's 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network. Once you've created that Schlage Home account, you can link it in Google's Home app for Google Assistant integration.
Using the Schlage Encode with Google Assistant means your can lock or check the status of your door via voice commands. Google doesn't support voice unlocking at this time, but the locking and status commands worked well in my testing. I added the lock to a routine and it promptly locked the door when I said, "Hey Google, I'm leaving."
To connect the Schlage Encode with Alexa, you can link your Schlage Home account in the Alexa app or download the Key by Amazon app and enable the Key skill. This lock is optimized for use in an Amazon Key in-home delivery kit, so going the Key route will prompt you to set up both the lock and a camera.
If you don't have Prime or if you don't want to set up Amazon Key service, you can skip the camera option and accept the notification that you won't be able to receive in-home deliveries. Still, this feels like a bit of a workaround for anyone not ponying up to the full Key kit.
You can lock and unlock your Schlage Encode via voice with Alexa. In the Alexa app settings, you'll need to set a voice PIN. That's an absolute necessity if you're set on using voice to unlock your doors. The Key app and the Schlage Home app can lock and unlock the Schlage Encode and provide lock history.
The deadbolt comes with space for 100 user codes, a big improvement over the Schlage Sense's 30 codes. You can set those in the Schlage Home app. You can also view history, lock or unlock the door and enable features like the forced entry alarm and auto relock.
I tested the lock out with both Google and Alexa voice commands and their respective apps, as well as the Schlage Home app. The apps were responsive and quickly updated the lock status and notified me that it had been locked or unlocked and with what method (app, manual or voice). I did experience some lag with voice commands, but your results will likely vary with the strength of your Wi-Fi connection, and the lag I saw wasn't enough to be a problem.
Without a hub or adapter, the Schlage Encode offers a simple smart lock setup. The sleek, traditional design feels sturdy and the app is easy to use. It's important to know which voice assistant you plan to use and understand what you will or won't get feature-wise. But if you're looking for a smart lock that connects directly to your Wi-Fi, the Schlage Encode is a good-looking, reliable choice.