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The Best Smart Locks for 2020

Keys are so 20th century. A connected lock offers both security and flexibility, letting you control access to your home with your phone. And installation is easier than you think. Here's what you need to know and the best smart locks we've tested.

Our 10 Top Picks

A Smart Approach to Security

A smart lock is arguably the most important part of a truly smart, connected home. Not only will it allow you to come and go as you please, it will also monitor who is entering and leaving your home while you're away. Some models simply let you use your phone to open and close doors. Some let you assign special privileges to friends, family members, or maintenance staff. Others can be activated using voice commands or triggers from other smart home devicesand services. Here are a few things to consider when deciding on a smart lock, along with reviews of the top models we've tested.

What Is a Smart Door Lock?

One of the first things you'll want to consider is how much it will cost to upgrade your traditional lock. After all, a smart lock costs a heck of a lot more than the standard-issue lock you can pick up at the local hardware store. You can find a few smart locks out there in the $100 range (not many of which made the cut for this list), but if you want a lock that you can control from anywhere, with features such as voice commands, push and email notifications, and tamper alarms, expect to pay somewhere in the $200 to $300 range.

Many smart locks offer a mobile app that allows you to lock and unlock doors with a simple icon tap. Some offer a web app that lets you control things from your desktop or laptop PC. Most apps let you add permanent and temporary users and set access schedules for specific days and times.

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If the lock is Bluetooth enabled, you'll have to be within range (around 40 feet) to communicate with it, while locks with built-in Wi-Fi circuitry or a Wi-Fi bridge can be controlled from almost anywhere as long as they are connected to your home router. Make sure your smart lock offers activity logs so you can go back in time to see who has entered or exited your home and when the activity took place.

The latest smart locks offer things like voice activation, geofencing, and auto-locking features. With voice activation, locking and unlocking doors is as easy as it gets; simply tell your phone to "unlock the front door," and the lock will disengage. With geofencing, you'll never have to worry if you locked up before you left the house; just use the mobile app to set up a perimeter around your house, and use your phone's location services to pinpoint your exact location. When you leave the perimeter, you can have the lock automatically engage behind you. Similarly, an auto-lock feature will have the lock automatically engage after it has been unlocked for a specific period of time.

Other features to look for include keyless touchpads for those times when you don't have your phone or your keys, tamper and forced entry alarms that warn you of a possible break-in, and push, text, and email notifications that let you know who is coming and going in real-time.

How to Install a Smart Lock

None of the locks we've tested are especially difficult to install, but some are easier than others. If your new lock comes with both an interior escutcheon (the housing you mount on the inside of your door) and an exterior component (usually a touchpad or a keyed cylinder), you'll probably have to completely remove your old lock, including the deadbolt mechanism and strike plate, before you can install the new device. This is simply a matter of removing the two bolts that attach the interior escutcheon to the exterior component and removing both pieces. The deadbolt is also held in place by two screws.

The good news is that most smart locks use the standard pre-drilled holes so you don't have to worry about drilling new ones. Additionally, there are smart locks available that attach to the inside of your door and are designed to use your existing keyed cylinder and deadbolt hardware, which means you only have to remove the interior escutcheon. Either way, you can count on spending anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes removing your old lock and installing your new smart one.

Can Alexa Control Door Locks?

Some locks integrate with other connected home devices, like the Nest Protect smoke alarm, and services, like Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and If This Then That (IFTTT). For example, you can have your doors unlock when a smoke or CO alarm is triggered, or have certain smart lights turn on when a door is unlocked.

Depending on your home automation setup, you can even pair your lock with a video doorbell, so you can see who is at the door before you unlock it, or have an indoor security camera begin recording when a door is unlocked. Just remember: The more features you get, the more you can typically expect to spend.

Other Kinds of Smart Locks

Keep in mind, there are also smart locks out there that aren't necessarily door locks. The Igloohome Smart Padlock and the Tapplock one+are Bluetooth-connected padlocks, for instance. They're built to be as tough as any standard lock, but use Bluetooth to unlock with the tap of a button when you're nearby. They also let you grant temporary or permanent guest access on your terms simply by using an app.

The BoxLock, meanwhile, is a Wi-Fi-enabled padlock with a built-in scanner that lets mail carriers secure your packages in a storage box where would-be thieves can't see or get to them.

For more in smart home safety, see our picks for The Best Smart Home Security Sytems and The Best Outdoor Home Security Cameras.

Where To Buy

Compare Specs: Our Smart Locks Picks

Our Pick
Rating
Connectivity
Integration
Installation
App
Notifications
Geofencing/Location Services
Guest Access
Tamper Alarm
Touchpad
Voice Activation
Product Category
August Smart Lock HomeKit Enabled
$143.80 at Amazon
Editors' Choice
4.5 Review
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Nest
Interior Escutcheon
Mobile, Web
Email, Push
Smart Locks
August Smart Lock Pro + Connect
$185.99 at Amazon
Editors' Choice
4.5 Review
Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Bluetooth
Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT
Interior Escutcheon
Mobile
Email, Push
Smart Locks
Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro + Wi-Fi Bridge
$199.00 at Amazon
Editors' Choice
4.5 Review
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Exterior Escutcheon, Interior Escutcheon
Mobile
Push
Smart Locks
Schlage Sense
$150.00 at Amazon
Editors' Choice
4.0 Review
Bluetooth
Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant
Interior Escutcheon, Exterior Escutcheon
Mobile
Push
Smart Locks
Nest X Yale Lock With Nest Connect
at Amazon
4.0 Review
Wi-Fi
Nest
Exterior Escutcheon, Interior Escutcheon
Mobile, Web
Push
Smart Locks
Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt
$249.00 at Amazon
4.0 Review
Wi-Fi
Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Exterior Escutcheon, Interior Escutcheon
Mobile
Push
Smart Locks
Wyze Lock
$107.98 at Amazon
4.0 Review
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee
N/A
Interior Escutcheon
Mobile
Push
Smart Locks
RemoteLock OpenEdge RG Deadbolt
$236.61 at Lowe's
3.5 Review
Wi-Fi
Vera
Interior Escutcheon
Mobile, Web
Email, Push
Smart Locks
SimpliSafe Smart Lock
$99.00 at SimpliSafe
3.5 Review
Wi-Fi, RF Radio
Amazon Alexa
Interior Escutcheon
Mobile, Web
Email, Push
Smart Locks
Yale Assure Lock SL (YRD 256)
$177.98 at Amazon
3.5 Review
Z-Wave
Apple HomeKit
Interior Escutcheon, Exterior Escutcheon
Mobile
N/A
Smart Locks

Smart Lock Reviews

Further Reading

About John R. Delaney

John R. Delaney
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of the Labs technical staff, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of the Labs testing machines and procedures. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, John spent six years in retail operations for Federated Stores, Inc. before accepting a purchasing position with Morris Decision Systems, one of New York's first value-added resellers of the original IBM PC. For the next five years, he was responsible for buying and configuring IBM PC, XT and AT desktops for many of New York's financial institutions. He then worked for the now defunct ComputerLand chain of PC dealers before joining PC Magazine in 1987.

Read the latest from John R. Delaney

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