Best Smart Locks 2023 EditionSeptember 28, 2023
After helping dozens of friends and family members pick out their smart locks over the last few years, one thing I realized is that everyone has a different idea of what the perfect smart lock looks like. Some people want every single option, while others are looking for something simple and cost effective, and quite a few of my friends have said that either they, or their wives, don’t want it to look like they have a smart lock at all.
I bought 10 of the newest and most popular smart locks from Amazon and we’re going to sort them by their different features, test out how well they work, and hopefully help you choose the perfect smart lock for your exact needs.
Locks by Price
The least expensive lock we’ll be looking at today is the $79 Wyze Lock Bolt, which connects with Bluetooth for app control, has a physical keypad with rubberized buttons, and a fingerprint sensor.
After that for $99 is the GeekTale keyless entry door lock, which connects to your phone with Bluetooth for app control, has a traditional key, and also a low-profile fingerprint reader, allowing it to look very similar to a traditional lockset, at least from the outside.
Then for $109 is the Philips Home Access door lock, which again uses Bluetooth for app connectivity, has a touchscreen keypad, fingerprint reader, and a traditional keyway hidden underneath.
After that, for $149 is the Eufy C220 smart lock. Eufy has a bunch of different lock options, but the C220 includes built in Wi-Fi for remote management, a touch screen keypad, fingerprint reader, and a traditional keyway.
Next for $159 is the Lockly Flex which uses Bluetooth for app connectivity and has a low-profile fingerprint reader tucked under a very traditional looking keyway on the outside but unfortunately still has a large interior portion.
Then for $169 is the Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro, which they call a 7-in-1 lock, and I’m not positive what those 7 things are, but it does have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a physical keypad, a fingerprint reader, geofencing, and a traditional keyway hidden underneath.
After that for $189 is the Aqara U100 smart door lock, which has Bluetooth, a touchscreen keypad, a fingerprint reader, and is the first lock we’ve seen so far that supports Apple Home Key which lets you unlock by tapping your iPhone or Apple Watch to the keypad.
Jumping up significantly in price and size, next is the $299 Lockly Secure Pro, which has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, a touchscreen keypad with Lockly’s patented PIN Genie layout, a fingerprint reader, and a traditional keyway.
After that, also for $299 is the Schlage Encode Plus WiFi, which as the name suggests has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for connectivity, but also has a touchscreen style keypad, Apple Home Key, and a traditional keyway, but no fingerprint reader.
And last, for an MSRP of $329 the most expensive lock we’re testing today is also the smallest. The Level Lock+ actually installs inside the door and uses Bluetooth and Apple Home Key for smart functionality while maintaining the traditional lockset look both inside and outside to avoid drawing any extra attention to your door lock.
First, let’s look at the different options for opening your lock to see which ones seem the most important for you, starting with a traditional key.
Traditional Keyway Access
If you want to hide a spare key somewhere in your backyard or give one to a neighbor or family member just in case, all the locks except the Wyze Lock Bolt have traditional keyways.
Most people I’ve talked to are reluctant to get rid of their keys since they are generally foolproof in case of mechanical failure or complete battery drain. However, from a security standpoint the traditional keyway is probably the most vulnerable part of any smart lock. For what it’s worth though, the Wyze and Aqara locks do include emergency USB-C ports on the front of the lock that can be used to provide backup power in the case of a complete battery drain, but still wouldn’t help with a mechanical failure.
When it comes to “smart lock” functionality, the options available on these models are fingerprint reading, Apple Home Key, and PIN code unlock, and we’ll start with the easiest to understand, which is fingerprints.
Fingerprint Reader Tests
The Wyze, GeekTale, Philips, Eufy, Lockly Flex, Ultraloq, Aqara, and Lockly Secure all have fingerprint readers that allow for multiple fingerprints to be recognized and associated with a specific user and pin code. During my testing all of the fingerprint readers worked equally well with dry fingers and were easily able to recognize my fingerprint in multiple positions and from multiple angles.
However, after using the Lockly fingerprint reader on my front door for the last two years I know that even the slightest bit of water on your fingertip can cause total failure of the fingerprint reader, and I’m not talking about getting stuck in a hurricane wet, I mean more like just picking up some mildly damp groceries.
I tested all the locks after dipping my finger in a cup of water and wiping off any excess drips and to my surprise I found that again, none of the locks were any better or worse than the rest, and they all failed the wet finger test, so having a second way to unlock your door is definitely preferable.
Apple Home Key Tests
Apple Home Key doesn’t fail like fingerprint reading sometimes does, but it does of course require you to have your phone or apple watch with you to be able to unlock your door. In this lineup the Aqara U100, Schlage Encode Plus, and Level Lock Plus all include apple Home Key.
In my testing I found that locking and unlocking using either my phone or apple watch worked quickly and flawlessly, and I didn’t experience any errors or delays in the physical operation of the door. However, the HomeKit integration was quite a bit more finicky, and I found that the Schlage misreported its status more often than not in the HomeKit app, despite showing the correct state in the Schlage app.
The Level lock also occasionally failed to confirm that it had completed a lock or unlock cycle and would get stuck in the “locking…” state for a minute or two before updating to its actual state.
The Aqara lock on the other hand was lightning fast with state updates, both from Apple Home Key unlocks and other state changes like manual deadbolt and fingerprint reading, and I have to be honest I didn’t understand how this worked, since the Aqara U100 is a Bluetooth only lock, but I could turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on my phone and still get notifications from the U100.
I reached out to YouTube’s HomeKit expert Shane Whatley and he explained that if the lock can’t connect to your phone it will use Bluetooth to connect to the closest HomeKit hub, which in my case is an Apple TV, and then it uses the Apple TV’s internet connection to pass that notification to your phone, which is both awesome and a little sketchy since it does all that on its own once you add it to HomeKit. Regardless, based on my testing between these three locks the Aqara U100 easily has the best Home Key and HomeKit integration if that’s what you’re looking for.
Keypad and PIN Code Access
The last way to unlock your smart lock is with a PIN code. In this video the Philips, Eufy, Aqara, Lockly Secure and Schlage all have touch style keypads, while the Wyze and Ultraloq have rubberized physical keys.
I would say that in general keypads and PIN codes are the least convenient way to open your smart lock, but they do provide an easy backup and are useful for allowing people into your home that won’t have fingerprint or Home Key access.
Unfortunately, PIN codes can be a bit confusing, so let’s go over the different types of access and how they work, and to do that we need to divide the locks into two different groups: Bluetooth only and Wi-Fi connected locks.
The Wyze, Philips, and Aqara are Bluetooth only locks, so any addition or change of a PIN code needs to be done when you are physically close to the lock. And the important thing to know about that is that if you run a rental or Airbnb, you’ll need to actually be at the property to change the pin for your next guest.
Conversely, the Eufy, Ultraloq, Schlage and Lockly Secure are all Wi-Fi enabled, so access management can be done remotely through their apps, and you don’t need to physically be next to the lock.
Whether you are managing via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth there are generally 3 different types of access you can grant: full access that can lock or unlock any time of day, restricted access that only works during certain days of the week and certain times, and limited use codes that expire after a certain number of unlocks.
The two least flexible locks when it comes to access types are the Philips Home Access lock and the Schlage Secure Pro.
The Philips has no app control over PIN codes, so they need to be added and deleted using the menu system embedded in the lock itself, and as a result there are no advanced options for expiration, time of day, or day of the week.
The Schlage lock’s access control is unacceptably bad for how expensive it is, and in the Schlage app it says that you have to manage users via HomeKit, but HomeKit only allows you to add a new pin and doesn’t allow for any advanced access control for specific time of day or day of the week access.
Aqara is also HomeKit compatible, but doesn’t have any of those limitations, allowing for control via Home Key, but also user management in the Aqara app including temporary user access, and time and date control.
Like the Aqara, Wyze, Ultraloq, Eufy, and Lockly Secure can also set up user access in their apps including time of day, day of the week, and specific code expiration dates.
The last option that exists is for those Bluetooth only locks, and that’s an option to generate an offline one-time use code. You could use these if you were away and you needed to give someone access to open your front door one time, but you didn’t want to give them your master code. The one-time use passwords are most likely generated using your lock’s serial number combined with some hashing algorithm so that you don’t have to physically be near the lock to activate them and the Wyze, Philips, and Aqara locks can all remotely generate these onetime use codes for emergency situations.
That covers most of the actual smart lock features, but there’s still more to consider, starting with battery life, and the first thing to know is that battery life will depend heavily on how you use your lock.
The biggest drain on the battery will be the actual motorized locking and unlocking of the deadbolt. I swapped out the batteries on each lock for a DC power supply to be able to measure the power draw during an unlock cycle, and the results were not super useful in a time graph, but I was able to calculate the total power consumption per unlock in milliwatt seconds and basically lower numbers are better.
You can see the GeekTale has the lowest power consumption, which is probably due to its ultralight mostly plastic construction. The Aqara, Wyze, Level and Philips were all between 900 and 1000 milliwatt seconds, and the Ultraloq and both Lockly locks were significantly greater than that, topping out at 2773 milliwatt seconds, which is 3 times more than the majority of the other locks.
It’s also important to understand that the numbers I listed are the least possible amount of power they could use since I took significant care to make sure none of the lock bolts rubbed against the door jamb when opening, and if your strike plate is misaligned causing friction on the deadbolt you can expect double or triple the amount of power draw per unlock cycle and significantly lower overall battery life.
On that same note while auto-lock is a great feature that personally gives me a lot of peace of mind, you can often double the time between battery changes while leaving auto lock on by just remembering to manually lock the door when you come back in the house rather than relying on the motorized locking mechanism.
The Lockly locks were also significantly louder than the other locks, which may or may not be important to you, here they are from quietest to loudest operation.
The other thing that has a huge impact on battery life is the inclusion of Wi-Fi. The reason Bluetooth locks are much more common is because Bluetooth is a much more energy efficient protocol, and while the Bluetooth locks had no measurable idle power consumption, the two locks that have Wi-Fi built in, the Eufy and the Schlage, both had to periodically wake up and check in with the router due to that Wi-Fi protocol which significantly increases idle battery consumption.
The Ultraloq and Lockly are also Wi-Fi enabled, but they use a Bluetooth to Wi-Fi bridge that plugs into a nearby outlet. That way the lock can use the more energy efficient Bluetooth protocol and the powered bridge can do the Wi-Fi communication, but I did find that the use of these Bluetooth to Wi-Fi bridges was finicky and in the case of the Lockly, it often failed to pass commands through properly.
Moral of the story, based on my testing the GeekTale, Aqara and Wyze Lock should have the longest battery life and the Schlage and Eufy will likely have the shortest, but in anticipation of that the Eufy uses 8 AA batteries instead of the standard 4 found in the rest of the locks, and Eufy estimates that those 8 batteries will give 8 months of battery life with normal usage. The only other exception was the Level Lock that sacrifices battery capacity for aesthetics and uses a small CR2 style battery inside the deadbolt, which is definitely a tradeoff and will certainly increase the frequency of battery changes, since the single CR2’s energy capacity is much lower than 4 AAs.
Speaking of aesthetics, from the outside the GeekTale, Lockly Flex, and Level Lock are almost indistinguishable from a standard lockset from a few feet away, but only the Level lock looks like a standard lock from inside, and the Lockly Flex’s interior portion is actually the largest I tested despite having such a small exterior portion.
The Ultraloq, Eufy, and Philips locks only have a single-color option while the rest have at least two-color options to try to match your existing hardware.
As far as build quality, the only ones that set off any alarm bells in my head during installation were the Wyze lock, specifically because of the extremely thin bolts connecting the exterior unit to the mounting plate, and the GeekTale, which honestly feels like a cheap toy, and after installation I questioned whether it would work at all, so it’s mostly great performance in my testing was a nice surprise, but it still feels really cheap.
On the other end of the spectrum the Lockly and Schlage locks are built like a tank and would definitely not be a weak point on your door during a forceful break in attempt.
And that brings me to another common issue that people have with smart locks, and that’s some Hollywood image of a hacker in a hoodie easily opening your connected lock either with a computer or something as simple as a powerful magnet. To ease your worries I bought the most powerful magnet available on Amazon and rubbed it all over every lock, and aside from confusing the lock state of the Philips lock it had no effect and certainly didn’t open any of the locks, and as I said earlier, the most vulnerable part of any of these smart locks is their standard keyway which are easily pickable by anyone with a few tools and access to a YouTube tutorial.
So, as I said at the beginning of this video, everyone has a different idea of what the perfect lock looks like, but after 40 or so hours of testing I’ve got some opinions.
If you want the best bang for your buck with codes, fingerprints, and a Bluetooth app, the Wyze Lock Bolt gives basically all the same functionality of locks that cost 2 to 3 times as much, and I personally think the minimalist all black look with lighted rubberized buttons is actually pretty slick, but your tastes may vary.
If you want to spend a little more for a lock that will give you mobile notifications for when your door is unlocked, and by whom, the Eufy C220 is awesome, and notifications were accurate, reliable, and fast. The Eufy app is full of useful settings to tweak your lock’s options and although the built in Wi-Fi is more power hungry than a Bluetooth model, doing away with the bridge leads to a more seamless experience and Eufy did double the battery capacity to account for the increased power draw.
If you’re a big Apple user the Aqara U100 is easily my favorite lock overall, and it uses typical Apple HomeKit magic to give remote notifications and allow for remote unlocking by using your Apple TV, HomePod or other HomeKit hub devices that are already in your house. Compared to the Schlage which is the other competitor in the Home Key space the Aqara U100 was quieter, used less power per unlock, has a much better app experience with significantly more access options, and it adds a fingerprint sensor in case you don’t have your iPhone or Apple Watch, or maybe for a young kid who doesn’t have a phone or watch at all, and it does all that for over $100 less.
Adding an Aqara hub like the M2 also increases connectivity significantly, allowing it to be added to Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Home Assistant using the brand-new Matter protocol.
If you or your significant other is completely against having the smart lock aesthetic, the Level Lock+ accomplishes exactly what it set out to do, and looks exactly like a standard lockset, but for me the price tag seems a little steep since it only supports Home Key, has a much smaller battery capacity than the rest of the locks, and it also had some issues with slow updating and misreporting of the lock state in HomeKit.
As a reminder there are no sponsored reviews on this channel, but I do have links below for all of the locks in this video, and as always, I appreciate if you use those links since as an Amazon affiliate, I do earn a small commission on the sale at no cost to you.
I’d also like to thank all of my awesome patrons over at Patreon for their continued support of my channel, and starting this month select Patreon tiers will be eligible to win an item from my videos, so sign up by September 30th to be eligible for this month’s giveaway which will be your choice of any of the locks in this video.
If you enjoyed this video don’t forget to hit that thumbs up button and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and as always, thanks for watching The Hook Up.
Best Overall: Aqara U100
Best Budget Pick: Wyze Lock Bolt
Best Remote Access Lock: Eufy C220
Best “No Smart Lock” Look: Level Lock+
Other locks tested:
Ultraloq Ubolt Pro: https://amzn.to/3RDXPDB
Geektale Fingerprint Lock: https://amzn.to/3rnkslj
Philips Home Access: https://amzn.to/456FQJb
Schlage Encode Plus: https://amzn.to/3rskDvF
Lockly Flex: https://amzn.to/454jGY4
Lockly Secure: https://amzn.to/46f6FfS
Enter to win a lock of your choice here: