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SwitchBot Lock review: a little robot hand that unlocks your door

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The $99 SwitchBot Lock may be the first smart door lock Ive tested that doesnt replace any section of your existing lock. Instead, it attaches to the trunk of one’s door outrageous of the thumb turn. This removes a significant pain point of smart locks: an involved installation. However the SwitchBot Lock is actually odd looking my hubby literally stopped in his tracks and said, What’s that thing? I had an identical reaction when I first saw it and was wholly unconvinced this large little bit of black plastic could have the energy to unlock my deadbolt.

I was surprised to learn that the SwitchBot Lock moves that thumb turn equally well when i can, also it stayed firmly put within my fourteen days of testing, despite being attached solely by double-sided sticky tape. (No word yet on long-term durability, nonetheless it looks promising up to now).

The downsides are that its not so smart and its own missing several key features (haha). Additionally you need around $70 worth of accessories to include smart home control and a keypad. This puts it closer in cost to more elegant-looking solutions, like the $230 August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, which requires a little more work to set up but doesnt leave you with a honking great little bit of plastic on your own door.

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The SwitchBot Lock is really a retrofit Bluetooth-powered smart door lock that may lock and unlock your door utilizing the SwitchBot app on a smartphone or Apple Watch. (Its not Home Key compatible). It attaches to your door using 3M VHB tape and runs on the small plastic grabber to carry to and turn the locks thumb turn.

That grabber can change anything. Videos in Amazon reviews show it even turning an integral, making this a fantastic solution for those who have nontraditional door locks and multipoint locks who cant get any smart lock to work (visit a list here). Its cleverly engineered with shifting base plates that avoid the lock from twisting itself off while turning the lock.

That is SwitchBots thing: making regular devices smart. They will have a little bot that presses your light switch for you personally and a robot that crawls along your curtain rod to open and close the curtains. That one is really a robot hand for the door lock. It includes three different-sized adapters, so that you can find the appropriate fit for the setup. The SwitchBot Lock doesnt remove any function it is possible to still use your key, and you could still turn the deadbolt manually; it just adds the opportunity to use your phone or watch as your key.

The Keypad Touch adds a fingerprint reader for another solution to unlock your door.

There are always a total of seven methods to control the entranceway lock: your key, the smartphone / Apple Watch app, NFC tags making use of your phone, an integral code utilizing a keypad, a fingerprint reader, an NFC keycard, and smart home / voice control. Thats plenty of options although only the initial three workout of the box.

The keypad and door lock.

For the keycard, keypad, or fingerprint entry, youll need among SwitchBots two Bluetooth keypads. These attach with double-sided tape (or screws if you like). I tested the fingerprint version, which costs $60, also it worked quickly and reliably.

The non-fingerprint version is $30, but fingerprint access is the best way to work with a smart door lock. The keypads also use NFC keycards. (One comes and you may purchase a three-pack for $15.) Although, when you have a keypad, I dont visit a dependence on a keycard, as possible dole out permanent, temporary, and one-time codes to anyone who needs access. Annoyingly, six digits may be the minimum here, that is a large amount of digits.

In the event that you dont choose the excess keypads, another unlock option is utilizing the two NFC tags that include the lock. It is possible to pair those to your phone to lock or unlock the entranceway with a tap of one’s phone. Nevertheless, you need to use two tags: someone to lock and something to unlock. Sticking two white bits of plastic on your own door will not improve the look and feel here, and when you have your phone out already, utilizing the iOS or Android lock screen widget is nearly as fast.

The SwitchBot works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Siri Shortcuts (however, not HomeKit), so that you can use voice commands to lock and unlock the entranceway and add the lock into smart home Routines (Alexa and Google only).

Nevertheless, you require a $40 SwitchBot Hub Mini for connecting the lock to Wi-Fi and make these integrations; the lock itself communicates over Bluetooth. Additionally you need the hub to regulate the lock or check its status when youre not in the home utilizing the SwitchBot app. The hub works together with most of SwitchBots gadgets but must be installed close to the lock.

Operating the SwitchBot having an Apple Watch over Bluetooth.

I installed the SwitchBot Lock on my back door, that is a main entryway to your house. It leads into our mudroom from our garage and gets plenty of foot traffic. The fingerprint reader and keypad managed to get possible for my children to utilize the lock you don’t need to download an app. Without those, though, there isn’t a good way for a youngster with out a smartphone to gain access to the entranceway.

I was also disappointed that the notifications once the door is unlocked didnt show which code or fingerprint was used. It is a common feature on other smart locks and something I take advantage of to keep tabs on my older kids comings and goings when Im at the job. I possibly could check the sign in the app to see who unlocked it, though.

Locking and unlocking are fast when controlling it with the keypad, however the phone app gets control five seconds for connecting very irritating if youre standing in the torrential rain. The Apple Watch connects quicker, and when you didnt have a keypad, may be the easiest way to regulate the lock. Each one of these interactions are over Bluetooth, which means you must the stand by position the lock. To regulate it remotely with the app or voice control, you will need the hub.

The very best of the lock pops off for battery replacement also to adjust the lock to suit your door.

Setup and installation were quick, under five minutes in all. That is among the locks biggest selling points, but it addittionally wasnt entirely straightforward. Theres a little bit of lining around do to ensure the lock will turn before you tape it to the entranceway, and you have to work with a small screwdriver (supplied) to regulate the spacing of the lock. Cleverly, it attaches in virtually any direction, vertically or horizontally, so that you can fit it around your door handle. In addition, it has a magnet to sense once the door is open or closed, although I possibly could still lock it remotely although it was spacious without the alert or notification.

The SwitchBot app is basic. Theres no chance to generate schedules to lock or unlock the entranceway at a collection period, and the auto-lock feature was very spotty. It only caused both Lock following a set time frame and the Re-lock if the entranceway has been unlocked however, not opened toggles on, and also then, it had been unreliable. This appears like a software bug that could get fixed. Nonetheless it did mean I had to obtain my phone out to lock the entranceway (you can find iOS and Android lock screen widgets to create this quicker), utilize the Apple Watch app, or use my key. When I added the keypad, though, I possibly could hit a button to lock it.

There are several useful notification options, including once the door is locked, if the entranceway has been left unlocked, and when its been left ajar following a specific amount of time. Notifications require the hub to work, and really, they ought to just sell this with the hub. It will be makes it an improved smart lock. With the hub, I possibly could hook up to Alexa and add the lock to an Alexa Routine that automatically locked it every evening at sunset.

It works, nonetheless it doesnt appear to be it will work.

The SwitchBot Lock an excellent option for renters who cant change their door lock at all or for individuals who cant or wont remove any section of their existing deadbolt. It can need to adhere to the doorframe utilizing a heavy-duty adhesive, that will likely take some paint with it should anyone ever take it off. Similar retrofit options from August, Wyze, and Bosma require removing the trunk deadbolt, plus they all cost over $100.

But its smart features are limited by controlling the lock locally together with your phone, Apple Watch, or existing key. Once you add the Wi-Fi hub, you obtain away-from-home control and much more useful smart home integrations, but only with Google Home and Alexa; theres no HomeKit support and limited IFTTT integration. (The lock is a trigger, no action.)

If you too add the keypad especially the fingerprint one this becomes a more useful proposition, but youre knocking on $170, nearer to the cost of less ugly options with better smarts that dont require all of this extra equipment (but do require removing some or all your door lock). Included in these are the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock plus Keypad and the Eufy Smart Lock Touch with Wi-Fi (fingerprint reader and keypad in a single but a complete lock replacement).

The largest advantage of this lock is its versatility. You may also use two using one door to cope with multipoint locking. Its capability to grab virtually any kind of fasten, including an integral, means it could be the only real smart solution that works for the door.

Photography by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

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