The $99 SwitchBot Lock is the primary smart door lock I’ve examined that doesn’t exchange any a part of your present lock. As an alternative, it attaches to the again of your door excessive of the thumb flip. This removes a main ache level of smart locks: an concerned set up. However the SwitchBot Lock is absolutely odd trying — my husband actually stopped in his tracks and stated, “What’s that factor?” I had a related response after I first noticed it and was wholly unconvinced this huge piece of black plastic would have the ability to unlock my deadbolt.
I used to be shocked to uncover that the SwitchBot Lock strikes that thumb flip simply in addition to I can, and it stayed firmly put throughout my two weeks of testing, regardless of being connected solely by double-sided sticky tape. (No phrase but on long-term sturdiness, but it surely appears promising to date).
The downsides are that it’s not very smart and it’s lacking a few key options (haha). You additionally want round $70 price of equipment to add smart dwelling management and a keypad. This places it nearer in worth to extra elegant-looking options, such because the $230 August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, which wants a bit extra work to set up however doesn’t go away you with a honking nice piece of plastic on your door.
The SwitchBot Lock is a retrofit Bluetooth-powered smart door lock that may lock and unlock your door utilizing the SwitchBot app on a smartphone or Apple Watch. (It’s not Residence Key appropriate). It attaches to your door utilizing 3M VHB tape and makes use of a small plastic grabber to maintain on to and switch the lock’s thumb flip.
That grabber can flip something. Movies in Amazon evaluations present it even turning a key, making this a superb answer for individuals with nontraditional door locks and multipoint locks who can’t get another smart lock to work (see a checklist right here). It’s cleverly engineered with shifting base plates that forestall the lock from twisting itself off whereas turning the lock.
That is SwitchBot’s factor: making common units smart. They’ve a little bot that presses your gentle change for you and a robotic that crawls alongside your curtain rod to open and shut the curtains. This one is a robotic hand for your door lock. It comes with three different-sized adapters, so you could find the best match for your setup. The SwitchBot Lock doesn’t take away any operate — you possibly can nonetheless use your key, and you may nonetheless flip the deadbolt manually; it simply provides the power to use your cellphone or watch as your key.
There are a whole of seven ways to management the door lock: your key, the smartphone / Apple Watch app, NFC tags utilizing your cellphone, a key code utilizing a keypad, a fingerprint reader, an NFC keycard, and smart dwelling / voice management. That’s a lot of choices — though solely the primary three work out of the field.
For the keycard, keypad, or fingerprint entry, you’ll want one among SwitchBot’s two Bluetooth keypads. These connect with double-sided tape (or screws in case you favor). I examined the fingerprint model, which prices $60, and it labored rapidly and reliably.
The non-fingerprint model is just $30, however fingerprint entry is my favourite means to use a smart door lock. The keypads additionally work with NFC keycards. (One is provided and you should buy a three-pack for $15.) Though, when you’ve got a keypad, I don’t see a want for a keycard, as you possibly can dole out everlasting, non permanent, and one-time codes to anybody who wants entry. Annoyingly, six digits is the minimal right here, which is a lot of digits.
When you don’t go for the additional keypads, one other unlock possibility is utilizing the 2 NFC tags that come with the lock. You’ll be able to pair these to your cellphone to lock or unlock the door with a faucet of your cellphone. However you might have to use two tags: one to lock and one to unlock. Sticking two white items of plastic on your door doesn’t enhance the general look right here, and when you’ve got your cellphone out already, utilizing the iOS or Android lock display screen widget is sort of as quick.
The SwitchBot does work with Amazon Alexa, Google Residence, and Siri Shortcuts (however not HomeKit), so you need to use voice instructions to lock and unlock the door and add the lock into smart dwelling Routines (Alexa and Google solely).
However you want a $40 SwitchBot Hub Mini to join the lock to Wi-Fi and make these integrations; the lock itself communicates over Bluetooth. You additionally want the hub to management the lock or verify its standing while you’re not at dwelling utilizing the SwitchBot app. The hub works with all of SwitchBot’s devices however wants to be put in close to the lock.
Working the SwitchBot with an Apple Watch over Bluetooth.
I put in the SwitchBot Lock on my again door, which is a fundamental entryway to our home. It leads into our mudroom from our storage and will get a lot of foot visitors. The fingerprint reader and keypad made it simple for my kids to use the lock — no want to obtain an app. With out these, although, there may be not a simple means for a child with out a smartphone to entry the door.
I used to be additionally disenchanted that the notifications when the door is unlocked didn’t present which code or fingerprint was used. That is a frequent characteristic on different smart locks and one I personally use to assist maintain observe of my older youngsters’ comings and goings after I’m at work. I might verify the log within the app to see who unlocked it, although.
Locking and unlocking are quick when controlling it with the keypad, however the cellphone app takes over 5 seconds to join — very irritating in case you’re standing within the rain. The Apple Watch connects extra rapidly, and in case you didn’t have a keypad, is the simplest means to management the lock. All these interactions are over Bluetooth, so you have to stand by the lock. To regulate it remotely with the app or voice management, you want the hub.
Setup and set up had been fast, beneath 5 minutes in all. This is likely one of the lock’s greatest promoting factors, but it surely additionally wasn’t completely simple. There’s a little bit of lining up to do to be sure the lock will flip earlier than you tape it to the door, and also you want to use a small screwdriver (provided) to alter the spacing of the lock. Cleverly, it attaches in any path, vertically or horizontally, so you possibly can match it round your door deal with. It additionally comes with a magnet to sense when the door is open or closed, though I might nonetheless lock it remotely whereas it was extensive open with none alert or notification.
The SwitchBot app is primary. There’s no means to create schedules to lock or unlock the door at a set time of day, and the auto-lock characteristic was very spotty. It solely labored with each the “Lock after a set time frame” and the “Re-lock if the door has been unlocked however not opened” toggles on, and even then, it was unreliable. This looks as if a software program bug which will get fastened. But it surely did imply I had to get my cellphone out to lock the door (there are iOS and Android lock display screen widgets to make this faster), use the Apple Watch app, or use my key. Once I added the keypad, although, I might hit a button to lock it.
There are some helpful notification choices, together with when the door is locked, if the door has been left unlocked, and if it’s been left ajar after a sure period of time. Notifications require the hub to work, and actually, they need to simply promote this with the hub. It undoubtedly makes it a higher smart lock. With the hub, I might join to Alexa and add the lock to an Alexa Routine that routinely locked it each night time at sundown.
The SwitchBot Lock a good possibility for renters who can’t change their door lock in any respect or for individuals who can’t or gained’t take away any a part of their present deadbolt. It does want to stick to the doorframe utilizing a heavy-duty adhesive, which is able to probably take some paint with it in case you ever take away it. Comparable retrofit choices from August, Wyze, and Bosma require eradicating the rear deadbolt, they usually all price over $100.
However its smart options are restricted to controlling the lock domestically with your cellphone, Apple Watch, or present key. If you add within the Wi-Fi hub, you get away-from-home management and extra helpful smart dwelling integrations, however solely with Google Residence and Alexa; there’s no HomeKit help and restricted IFTTT integration. (The lock is just a set off, not an motion.)
When you additionally add within the keypad — particularly the fingerprint one — this turns into a way more helpful proposition, however you then’re knocking on $170, nearer to the worth of much less ugly choices with higher smarts that don’t require all this additional tools (however do require eradicating some or all of your door lock). These embody the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock plus Keypad and the Eufy Smart Lock Contact with Wi-Fi (fingerprint reader and keypad in a single however a full lock substitute).
The largest advantage of this lock is its versatility. You’ll be able to even use two on one door to deal with multipoint locking. Its capacity to seize just about any sort of locking mechanism, together with a key, means it might be the one smart answer that works for your door.
Pictures by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge