The new lock’s smaller size, improved motor, and upgraded connectivity add up to a better overall experienc
There is no shortage of app-connected smart locks on the market right now. But if you aren’t interested in completely replacing the lock you already own, keys and all, you can turn your existing deadbolt into a smart lock with one of August’s devices. The latest version of this smart deadbolt is the Wi-Fi Smart Lock, which sells for $249.99 and is available for purchase now.
Two-hundred and fifty dollars is a lot of money for the privilege of unlocking your door with a smartphone app. Fortunately, the Wi-Fi Smart Lock is all metal, with a premium feel and sleek design that fits in with modern decor. August is offering the lock in two colors — silver and black — to match your existing hardware. It’s compatible with most deadbolt locks in the US, and installation is as simple as removing the interior lock lever and mounting the Wi-Fi Smart Lock in its place. You then add the lock to your Wi-Fi network through the August smartphone app and connect it to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s HomeKit.
The biggest difference between the new Wi-Fi Smart Lock and the version that preceded it is the new lock is considerably smaller and sleeker. According to August, it is 45 percent smaller in volume and 20 percent thinner than the Smart Lock Pro. In more practical terms, it’s gone from looking like two hockey pucks stacked on top of each other to something that more closely resembles a standard doorknob. August CEO Jason Johnson told me in an interview that the new model is “the size August always wanted it to be.” Designer Yves Béhar adds that the “smaller size is easier to rotate for smaller hands or children, while also allowing the lock to be more discrete and blend in with the home.”
While the more compact size and independence from a secondary bridge are the most obvious upgrades, it isn’t until you start using the new Wi-Fi Smart Lock that you can appreciate its other improvements. Inside the lock is a new motor that’s smoother and quieter than before. The grinding sound when manually twisting the lock open or closed is gone; it’s now as smooth as a standard deadbolt lever. Johnson says the motor is a “high-precision gearbox” sourced from Japan and is “repurposed from surgical equipment.” Still, it meets the same power and torque requirements as the older, larger motor.
Aside from the aesthetic and mechanical upgrades, the new Wi-Fi Smart Lock does all of the same things as its predecessor. You can have it automatically lock the door when you leave and unlock it when you return home so you never have to fumble with keys. If you install the additional sensor (included in the box) on your door frame, you can have it alert you when the door has been left open for an extended period of time. You can use the August app to remotely lock or unlock the door from wherever you are, or you can provide temporary access to guests. You can link it to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple’s HomeKit for voice control and automations with other smart home devices. It is a smart lock, and it does smart lock things.
In my testing over the past couple of weeks, I found the lock to be very reliable when controlled through August’s own app, largely reliable when used with voice commands through Alexa, and on the flaky side when controlled through the Alexa app. I also had some weird behavior with HomeKit support. The lock works just fine on an iPad or iPhone, but it shows up as unresponsive in the Home app on my Mac. It’s hard to say whether these issues are due to their respective platforms or the August lock, but it’s annoying when the thing doesn’t work when you expect it to, regardless of whose fault it is.
Thanks to the pandemic and current travel restrictions, I haven’t been able to test the automatic locking and unlocking features extensively. But in the couple of times I took a far enough walk through my neighborhood to extend beyond the geofencing bounds and trigger those functions, they worked as expected. The lock would show as locked in the app when I got far enough away and then unlock itself as I approached the door coming back.
August claims that the two CR123 lithium batteries in the Wi-Fi Smart Lock should last the same three to four months as the four AA batteries that the prior version used, but I haven’t been testing it long enough to validate that claim. There was an instance early on in my testing where the lock reported its batteries were dead after just a couple days of use, but August says this was a bug in its battery prediction algorithm and that it has been resolved on the back end. After replacing the batteries and continuing testing for over a week more, I have not seen the low battery warning show up again.
The CR123 batteries used in the new version do allow the device to be smaller, but they are harder to find in stores and less convenient to replace than the standard AA batteries from before. You can set up an Amazon Dash replenishment system in the August app to have them automatically ordered and delivered when the lock determines they need to be replaced.
Though the new Wi-Fi Smart Lock is technically $30 less than the Smart Lock Pro it’s replacing, it’s still a pricey addition to your smart home for what largely amounts to conveniences. It’s nice to be able to ask Alexa if the front door is locked before going to sleep or to have it unlock automatically when you pull into the driveway. It’s also nice to be able to use your existing deadbolt and keys without there being any evidence that you’re using a smart lock on the outside of your door. Renters can also install this and not have to worry about their landlord losing access to the home.
The new lock also looks nicer and performs better than its predecessor, both of which are welcome improvements. But while smart locks were new things half a decade ago, they are commonplace enough now that you either already know that you want one and are willing to pay the premium to get it, or that they are just expensive novelties and aren’t necessary in your home. (August, for its part, offers smart locks at a range of prices and capabilities, enticing you with lower-cost options if you’re willing to give up some frills.) If you’re in the former camp and looking to get a smart lock, then the Wi-Fi Smart Lock provides a nice combination of design and capabilities.