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Editor's Note: In August 2020, PCMag and Bitdefender released a report alleging that August and Yale Android apps when working with Connect modules were vulnerable to a hack during setup mode that could give away Wi-Fi credentials. In August's latest response to CNET, it states, "If the Connect's firmware is up-to-date and the user's August Android app is up-to-date, their device will not be vulnerable to the original attack even if the unit enters into setup mode." The following review was published prior to this report and has not been altered.
The Yale Assure Lock SL is Yale's latest touchscreen deadbolt and the sleekest we've seen from the well-known lock makers. For $169, you'll get an attractive touchscreen deadbolt. Add a $50 network module, and the Assure Lock SL becomes an integrated part of your smart home. Stylish, low-profile design and dependable Yale hardware make this lock a solid choice for smart home security.
The Yale Assure Lock SL touchscreen deadbolt keeps the same Yale keypad we've seen for several years now, but updates the look with a much slimmer frame. No more chunky useless bottom half on this Assure lock. The interior side of the lock is still the bulky housing for a thumb latch, four AA batteries and a network module. A low battery indicator light flashes red when batteries are running low, and a pair of 9V jumpstart nodes on the bottom of the keypad act as a backup power supply for the keypad if batteries are completely dead.
Installation was simple. As always, it's important to make sure your door is well aligned and operating properly. I tested this lock on three different doors, and the lock performed noticeably worse on the door that needed a little extra shove to fully latch. Yale includes paper instructions as well as an audio-guided, step-by-step animated version via a third-party app called BILT.
You will need network modules to connect this lock to your smart home. Modules cost $50 and are available in iM1 (for HomeKit), Zigbee and Z-Wave. Granted, this brings your total lock cost up to $220, but that's not a terrible price to pay for a lock that has a lot of integrating capability. The August Pro with Connect module, for example, does a little bit more and is priced at $249. Yale will ship the Assure Lock SL internationally and its $169 pricetag converts to roughly £126 or AU$222.
My only gripe comes from the app needing to connect the iM1 network module with Apple HomeKit. For HomeKit, you'll need the Yale Secure app. I already had the Yale Assure app on my phone from a previous lock test, and it wasn't immediately apparent that this new Yale Assure Lock SL lock actually needed the Yale Secure app, not the Assure app. Also worth noting, the Yale RealLiving app is no longer available. Nomenclature here is a bit confusing.
With the Yale Secure app, you can lock and unlock the door via Bluetooth, manage lock settings and create or delete PIN codes. Zigbee and Z-Wave modules don't get an app. Adjustments for locks with those modules will need to be made through a smart home platform's app or through the keypad itself.
Once everything is installed, connecting the lock to your smart home network is pretty simple. A few taps of the keypad and your device is connected to your hub network. I tested both HomeKit and SmartThings platforms with this lock and set up was pretty similar for both. I was able to incorporate the lock into rooms and scenes with HomeKit quite easily. With HomeKit, the lock can be locked and unlocked using the Apple Home app and Siri voice commands. SmartThings connected quickly, but Alexa didn't recognize the new device until I logged out and logged back into the Alexa app. From there, I was able to ask Alexa to lock the door with voice commands.
The Assure Lock SL has the same speaker from its last touchscreen deadbolt, and for the most part, I found it to be a nice feature. On a keypad where you can't feel each individual button, it's nice to have audio confirmation of pressing each key. A voice in your choice of French, English or Spanish walks you through the keypad menu. You can adjust volume levels or can silence the keypad entirely, if you prefer.
Yale Assure Lock SLs with a network module installed can accept up to 250 PIN codes. That's 10 times the 25-code limit of the lock with no module, though it's hard to imagine the need for more than 25 codes in a normal household, Yale seems pretty proud of that expanded option.
What Yale still doesn't offer is scheduled PIN codes. You can delete PIN codes at any time, but temporary codes that expire still feel like a premium feature we aren't seeing in enough smart locks. If you rent a home to guests, have dog walkers or need to let a handyman in, locks like Kwikset Kevo and Schlage Sense allow codes that expire. This ensures everyone only has access to your home during the time frame you specify.
Yale didn't carry over the Twist & Go unlocking, a Bluetooth feature seen on the Assure Touchscreen Deadbolt, in which you unlock the door by rotating your smartphone 90 degrees before approaching the door. In fact, there aren't any Bluetooth capabilities in the Assure Lock SL, but frankly, with a responsive keypad, network modules that allow app control and voice commands, I don't think Twist & Go will be missed.
Yale's design here is a welcome improvement over clunkier touchscreen deadbolts, but it's not really reimagined or restyled. It's simply a smaller, sleeker version of the interface Yale has been using for years. I don't have a problem with that, but an edgier design approach would've gone a long way. Kwikset certainly took that risk with the Obsidian lock and it looks fantastic. Yale could benefit from doing the same.
The Assure Lock SL does the what it claims to do perfectly well. There's not much exciting about it, and Yale feels confident that users will continue to cough up the extra $50 for smart home integration. While that's probably true, I look forward to a day when things like network modules aren't so expensive or aren't a separate purchase at all.
The ability to change smart home systems without buying an entirely new lock is nice, but not new. You can already do that with August Pro + Connect. You'll pay a bit more, but you'll also get additional features like DoorSense and detailed activity logs.
It's also important to remember that Assa Abloy, Yale's parent company, announced plans to purchase August Home this year. Could the perfect smart lock be just around the corner? Perhaps that partnership will bring us the perfect marriage of tech and tradition. Until then, Yale's Assure Lock SL gets the job done in style.