SwitchBot Lock review: A smart lock with seven ways to unlock your door

SwitchBot Lock review: A smart lock with seven ways to unlock your door
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The $99 SwitchBot Lock It’s the first smart door lock I’ve tried that doesn’t replace any part of your existing lock. Instead it sticks to the back of the door above the top of the thumb turn. This removes a major pain point of smart locks: complicated installation. But the SwitchBot Lock looks really weird – my husband literally stopped in his tracks and said, “What’s that thing?” I had a similar reaction when I first saw it and wasn’t entirely convinced that this big piece of black plastic had the power to open my deadbolt.

I was surprised to find that the SwitchBot Lock moves the thumb twist as well as I can, and it held its own during my two weeks of testing, despite being attached only with double-sided tape. (No word on long-term durability yet, but so far it looks promising.)

The downsides are that it’s not very smart and it’s missing some key features (haha). You also need around $70 in accessories to add smart home control and a keyboard. This brings it closer in price to fancier-looking solutions, like the $230 August Wi-Fi Smart LockIt takes a little more work to install but doesn’t leave you with a big piece of plastic honking at your door.

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SwitchBot Lock is a retrofit smart door lock with Bluetooth technology that can lock and unlock your door using the SwitchBot app on a smartphone or Apple Watch. (It is not Compatible with home key). It attaches to your door with 3M VHB tape and uses a small plastic fastener to hold and turn the lock bolt.

That grabber can convert anything. Videos in Amazon Reviews display it even by turning a key, making it a great solution for people with non-traditional door locks and multi-point locks that can’t get any other smart lock to work (see a list here). It is cleverly designed with movable base plates that prevent the lock from twisting as you turn the lock.

This is what SwitchBot does: make ordinary devices smart. They have a little robot that presses the light switch for you Y a robot that crawls along the curtain rod to open and close the curtains. This is a robotic hand for your door lock. It comes with three different sized adapters, so you can find the right fit for your setup. SwitchBot Lock doesn’t remove any features: you can still use your key and you can still turn the deadbolt manually; it just adds the ability to use your phone or watch as your key.

The Keypad Touch adds a fingerprint reader for another way to open the door.

There are a total of seven ways to control the door lock: your key, the smartphone/Apple Watch app, NFC tags using your phone, a key code using a keypad, a fingerprint reader, an NFC card, and smart home/voice control . That’s a lot of options, though only the first three work out of the box.

The keypad and the door lock.

For card, keypad, or fingerprint entry, you will need one of SwitchBot’s two Bluetooth keyboards. These are attached with double sided tape (or screws if you prefer). I tried the fingerprint version, which costs $60, and it worked quickly and reliably.

The non-fingerprint version is only $30, but fingerprint access is my favorite way to use a smart door lock. The keyboards also work with NFC cards. (One is supplied and one can be purchased pack of three for $15.) Although, if you have a keypad, I don’t see the need for a keycard, as you can dole out permanent, temporary, and one-time codes to anyone who needs access. Annoyingly, six digits is the minimum here, which is a lot of digits.

If you don’t opt ​​for the additional keypads, another unlock option is to use the two NFC tags that come with the lock. You can pair them with your phone to lock or unlock the door with a touch of your phone. But you have to use two tags: one to lock and one to unlock. Sticking two white pieces of plastic onto the door doesn’t improve the overall look here, and if you already have your phone, using the iOS or Android lock screen widget is almost as quick.

The SwitchBot works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Siri Shortcuts (but not HomeKit), so you can use voice commands to lock and unlock your door and add the lock to your smart home routines (Alexa and Smart Home only). Google).

but you need a $40 SwitchBot Mini Hub to connect the lock to Wi-Fi and perform these integrations; the lock itself communicates via Bluetooth. You also need the hub to control the lock or check its status when you’re not home using the SwitchBot app. The hub works with all SwitchBot devices, but must be installed near the lock.

Operate the SwitchBot with an Apple Watch via Bluetooth.

I installed SwitchBot Lock on my back door, which is the main entrance to our house. It drives into our foyer from our garage and gets a lot of foot traffic. The fingerprint reader and keyboard made it easy for my kids to use the lock, without the need to download an app. However, without them, there is no easy way for a child without a smartphone to access the door.

I was also disappointed that notifications when the door is unlocked didn’t show what code or fingerprint was used. This is a common feature in other smart locks and one I personally use to help keep track of my older children’s comings and goings when I’m at work. However, I was able to check the log in the app to see who unlocked it.

Locking and unlocking are quick when controlled with the keyboard, but it takes more than five seconds for the phone app to connect, which is very irritating if you’re standing in the rain. The Apple Watch connects faster, and if you didn’t have a keyboard, it’s the easiest way to control the lock. All of these interactions are done via Bluetooth, so you need to stay next to the lock. To control it remotely with the app or voice control, you need the hub.

The top of the lock opens to replace the battery and adjust the lock to fit your door.

Setup and installation was quick, less than 5 minutes total. This is one of the lock’s biggest selling points, but it wasn’t entirely straightforward either. There is some alignment to make sure the lock turns before you tape it to the door, and you need to use a small screwdriver (supplied) to adjust the gap of the lock. Cleverly fixed in any direction, vertically or horizontally, so you can fit it around your door handle. It also comes with a magnet to detect when the door is open or closed, although you could still lock it remotely while it was fully open without any alerts or notifications.

The SwitchBot app is basic. There is no way to create schedules to lock or unlock the door at a certain time of day, and the auto lock feature was very spotty. It only worked with the “Lock after a set period of time” and “Relock if door has unlocked but not opened” switches, and even then, it was unreliable. This looks like a software bug that can be fixed. But it did mean I had to pull out my phone to lock the door (there are iOS and Android lock screen widgets to make it faster), use the Apple Watch app, or use my key. However, when I added the keyboard, I was able to press a button to lock it.

There are some useful notification options, including when the door is locked, if the door has been left unlocked, and if the door has been left ajar after a certain amount of time. Notifications require the hub to work and they should actually sell this with the hub. It definitely makes for a better smart lock. With the hub, I was able to connect to Alexa and add the lock to an alexa routine that automatically closed it every night at sunset.

It works, but it doesn’t seem like it should work.

SwitchBot Lock is a good option for tenants who are unable to change their door lock at all or those who are unable or unwilling to remove any part of their existing deadbolt. It needs to be attached to the door frame with a heavy-duty adhesive, which will probably take a bit of paint if you ever remove it. Similar upgrade options from the August, Wyze, and Bosma require removal of the rear latch, and all cost upwards of $100.

But its smart features are limited to controlling the lock locally with your phone, Apple Watch, or existing key. When you add the Wi-Fi hub, you get more useful out-of-home control and smart home integrations, but only with Google Home and Alexa; There is no support for HomeKit and IFTTT integration is limited. (The lock is just a trigger, not an action.)

If you also add the keyboard, especially the fingerprint one, this becomes a much more useful proposition, but then you’re hitting $170, closer to the price of less ugly options with better intelligence that don’t require all this extra gear (but do requires removal of part or all of the door lock). These include the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock plus keyboard and the eufy Smart Lock touch with Wi-Fi (fingerprint reader and keyboard in one, but a full lock replacement).

The biggest benefit of this lock is its versatility. You can even use two in one door to deal with multi-point lockout. Its ability to grip virtually any type of locking mechanism, including a key, means it may be the only smart solution that works for your door.

Photograph by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy/The Verge

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