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SimpliSafe Smart Lock review: Not the smart lock I've been waiting for, but close

The Good SimpliSafe's smart lock is the slimmest I've tested, and it worked without a hitch in all of my tests. Setup is as simple as it gets, and the $99 price tag is just right, especially considering that it includes a separate wireless keypad accessory.

The Bad You can't use the smart lock without an existing SimpliSafe security system and a $25 interactive monitoring plan. Voice controls don't actually let you control the lock -- you can only arm the system and lock the lock with them.

The Bottom Line This is a nice addition for SimpliSafe security systems, but if you just want a smart lock, you've got better standalone options.

7.6 Overall
  • Features 6
  • Usability 7
  • Design 9
  • Performance 9

I'll admit that I was excited to test out the SimpliSafe Smart Lock -- and it isn't just because I've long been impressed with the company's install-it-yourself security systems. I've written about smart home gadgets for over six years now, and my house is about as decked with tech as you might imagine. Smart speakers? Check. Smart cameras, smart thermostat? Check, check. Smart lights? Oh, you'd better believe it.

Smart lock? ...Nope.

SimpliSafe's $99 smart lock includes a motorized thumbturn for the inside of your door and a wireless keypad that you stick up outside for quick, coded entry.

Ry Crist/CNET

I've been holding out. The things are just too expensive, often ringing in at well over $200. And, too often, smart locks are big, bulky eyesores -- I felt my front door deserved better.

Enter SimpliSafe's new smart lock. Though it requires a SimpliSafe security system with an interactive monitoring subscription of $25 per month, it only costs $99 up front, which is about as inexpensive as smart locks get. It's also the slimmest smart lock I've ever seen, and a complete cinch to install. It works with your existing key and deadbolt, it supports voice commands via Google Assistant and Alexa, and it even comes with a free wireless keypad accessory that you can stick up outside your door for quick, coded entry.

I wondered if this might be the smart lock I'd been waiting for. And in fairness to SimpliSafe, it's pretty darned close. But a couple of quibbles -- namely, the fact that you can't really control the lock independently from the security system -- have me content to wait just a bit longer. Here's the full rundown.

First things first: Setup is a breeze

I've swapped quite a few smart locks into the doors at the CNET Smart Home over the years -- SimpliSafe lives up to the name with the simplest installation I've ever seen. 

The lock doesn't replace your entire deadbolt, but rather, just the thumbturn on the inside of the door. After using a piece of tape to hold the exterior of the lock in place (conveniently, SimpliSafe provides that piece of tape right in the instructions) you'll go ahead and unscrew the old thumbturn, use those same screws to attach SimpliSafe's mounting plate to the door, pop a color-coded adapter onto the tailpiece, then snap the smart lock in place over top of all of it. I think most people could get the job done well within ten minutes, if not five.

The end result was a snazzy-looking smart lock on the inside of a patio door at the CNET Smart Home. It felt snug against the door and turned the lock smoothly -- though the top half of the lock wasn't quite as flush as the bottom half, where the lock holds tight to the mounting plate. 

From there, you just need to stick the wireless keypad up on the outside of the door, or next to the door, or wherever you like, too. There's a peel-off sticky pad ready to go on the back, but SimpliSafe includes mounting screws as another option if you're worried about the kids yanking it off.

Want a closer look at each step of the installation process? Check out my full setup gallery.  

You can lock and unlock your door from the SimpliSafe app's homescreen, and you can also program how you want the lock to behave as you arm and disarm your system. You can set the door to lock automatically after being left unlocked for 30 seconds, 1 minute or 5 minutes.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Looks great, works as advertised

With its uniform, plastic-bodied design, I was admittedly worried that this lock would look cheap. To my relief, I think it looks pretty good, and my co-workers on the CNET Smart Home team agreed. Some told me that they prefer a more metallic look from the interior of their front door lock, but didn't mind SimpliSafe's approach if it meant getting the price down to $99. And I'll note that, along with all black, you can also get the lock in white with a bronze-colored thumbturn.

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