The 5 Best Smart Locks of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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The 5 Best Smart Locks of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Smart locks take a routine, often tedious daily ritual—entering or leaving home—and make it far more convenient, far more secure, and a little more fun.

Most smart locks are either a deadbolt replacement or a deadbolt adapter (which replaces the thumb turn with a motorized one). We have also added a pick for a smart doorknob replacement lock.

We recommend the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt for its best-of-breed combination of robust hardware, simple installation and controls, top tier security, and overall reliability.

This easy-to-install, sharp-looking Schlage deadbolt works flawlessly, is intuitive to use, and provides robust security.

This fast, quiet, and largely friendly deadbolt replacement has an excellent fingerprint reader and Apple Home Key compatibility.

The top feature of this compact, versatile, and quiet smart lock is a fast (though sometimes faulty) fingerprint reader, and its rubber number keys will please most anyone.

Fast, quiet, and easy to install, this deadbolt adapter has a built-in sensor to detect when your door is ajar, plus it comes with a tiny plug-in Wi-Fi adapter.

A nearly identical model to our top pick, this keypad smart lock replaces a doorknob—not a deadbolt—with an accessibility-friendly lever handle.

You can find two types of deadbolt smart locks—a full replacement or an adapter for an existing deadbolt. Another category is doorknob replacements.

Choose a smart lock based on how you want to unlock it: with a code, an app, a fingerprint, tap-to-unlock using a phone or fob, or geofencing (which uses your phone’s location).

If you can use a screwdriver and a smartphone app, installing a smart deadbolt takes 5 to 15 minutes, plus 10 to configure its settings.

Every smart lock has a companion app, but Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, and Google Assistant let you control locks and other devices in a single app.

If you can’t or don’t want to replace your deadbolt, the Wyze Lock is a deadbolt adapter with sturdy, reliable hardware and a great app.

For doors with no deadbolt, the Schlage Encode WiFi Lever is a doorknob replacement lock that shares the same attractive features as our top pick.

This easy-to-install, sharp-looking Schlage deadbolt works flawlessly, is intuitive to use, and provides robust security.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Home

Of the dozens of smart locks we’ve tested, the Encode is the easiest to install and among the most intuitive to use. It does lack some of the higher tech features of other picks, like a fingerprint reader or door status sensor, but it’s an extra-tough commercial-grade lock with a built-in alarm and dead simple operation. For anyone who wants a reliable, predictable, and trustworthy guardian at their home’s entrance, it’s hands down the best choice.

If you want Apple Home compatibility, the pricier Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt has the same features and the addition of Apple’s Home Key, which lets you unlock the Encode by tapping it with your iPhone or Apple Watch.

This fast, quiet, and largely friendly deadbolt replacement has an excellent fingerprint reader and Apple Home Key compatibility.

Compatibility: Apple Home and Home Key; Amazon Alexa and Google Home

The Aqara Smart Lock U100 is a deadbolt replacement model with a keypad and the best fingerprint reader we’ve tested. It also has the quietest and fastest mechanism. The U100 is one of the first locks to support Apple Home Key, which lets you hold or tap an iPhone or Apple Watch to its face to unlock the door (we still prefer the fingerprint reader). The U100 doesn’t have Wi-Fi built-in, and so to access it remotely or receive notifications requires the use of either an Apple Home hub device (either an Apple TV or a HomePod or HomePod mini) when used with an Apple HomeKit network, or an Aqara hub if you plan to use the Aqara app, Alexa, or Google Home.

The top feature of this compact, versatile, and quiet smart lock is a fast (though sometimes faulty) fingerprint reader, and its rubber number keys will please most anyone.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Home

The Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro WiFi is a versatile smart lock with a pleasing low-profile design and a fast, quiet mechanism. It has Wi-Fi built in and can be unlocked six different ways, including with a numerical code, using an app, through a physical keyway, and—the pièce de résistance—via fingerprint. The fingerprint scanner is our preferred way to unlock it, however it is far more finicky than the Aqara and may need troubleshooting periodically. The raised number buttons feel more readily predictable to use than pecking numbers on a keypad or touchscreen. No matter which method you use to trigger the U-Bolt Pro WiFi, it responds quickly. After long-term testing we experienced a concerning battery drain issue that affects some other users and that the company acknowledges (see below for important information).

Fast, quiet, and easy to install, this deadbolt adapter has a built-in sensor to detect when your door is ajar, plus it comes with a tiny plug-in Wi-Fi adapter.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Home

If you’re a renter and unable to swap your door lock (or you simply don’t want to), the Wyze Lock is a low-cost yet full-featured model that connects easily to an existing deadbolt. Installation is a breeze, thanks to the inclusion of a small plug-in Wi-Fi adapter. In our long-term testing, the Wyze Lock has consistently worked great—especially when paired with the optional Wyze Lock Keypad, which lets you unlock using a code instead of an app (or turning on auto-unlock). The Wyze Lock offers a few features our other picks don’t, such as a built-in door sensor that alerts you via a chime and a smartphone notification when someone has left the door open or ajar.

A nearly identical model to our top pick, this keypad smart lock replaces a doorknob—not a deadbolt—with an accessibility-friendly lever handle.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Home

For anyone who doesn’t have a deadbolt on their door, we recommend the Schlage Encode WiFi Lever smart lock. It’s a full replacement for a doorknob or lever, and like its sibling, it has a keypad, a physical keyway, and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for remote access via an app. The Encode Lever has physical lock and unlock buttons on the non-keypad housing, which makes it easier to use than others. By default the Encode auto-locks after being opened (you can set how long), but if you want the lock to remain unlocked in “passage” mode you can hit the unlock button; when you want it to lock and then continue auto-locking you hit the lock button.

I’ve been covering technology and trends for two decades at a number of national print and online publications and I’ve been testing smart locks in particular since 2015. I’ve lost count of the number of smart devices installed in my home, but on a good day it’s 30-plus. None of them work perfectly all of the time.

Smart locks are both the most useful and, at least theoretically, the most potentially risky smart devices you can install at home. They make entering and leaving your home far more convenient by freeing you from having to carry keys (and in some cases a smartphone, too). Most make it possible to securely customize access to your home—not only to family and friends but also to renters, tradespeople, and even mail carriers or package-delivery workers. We’ve found that smart locks that feature a keypad are especially useful, making life more flexible and even safer for a household with kids who are too young to have smartphones.

You’ll find a few main categories of DIY smart locks. There are deadbolt and doorknob smart lock models. For deadbolts there are full-replacement devices, which require removing your existing deadbolt and installing all-new hardware. And then there are deadbolt adapters, which are add-on devices that replace the interior thumb turn of your door’s existing deadbolt but not the deadbolt mechanism itself.

Smart locks don’t need to be connected with other smart devices to be useful, but should you want to do that, you can link them up using a single smartphone app so that it’s easier to access and control all your devices. Your options include popular smart platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, and Google Home. Once you’ve configured your lock on your smart platform, you might use it to tell one or more other devices to turn on or off, or perhaps even to trigger a string of automated actions—for instance, having your front lights turn off and your heat or AC kick on whenever you arrive home and unlock the door.

Here are a few ways in which a smart lock might be a useful addition to your home:

Smart locks, especially keypad models, are perfectly suited for rental-property and vacation-home owners such as Airbnb hosts, who have to deal with frequent key exchanges (in fact, with some locks, Airbnb now offers to automate the code creation for guests).

One especially important buying tip: If your door has a mortise lock, with the latch and bolt in an integrated unit, or a door handle and latch that are a single unit, none of the smart locks we recommend will fit. In most of these cases, to accommodate a new smart lock, you need to replace that integrated unit with a standalone doorknob or lever and possibly a deadbolt—extra work and hardware that for some may end up being cost-prohibitive.

We look for locks that offer the best balance of convenience, security, and useful smarts while requiring as little technical complexity, ongoing management, or troubleshooting as possible. The features we required for consideration include:

Other specs and features we looked for but didn’t require:

We’ve spent thousands of hours using smart locks since 2015, and our focus in testing is their consistency, reliability, and ease of use.

We continue to keep our current picks installed and in everyday use whenever possible, and we replace them with new test models as necessary for at least a week, in most cases for several weeks or even months. We also methodically trigger the locks up close using our smartphone via Bluetooth, as well as over our home Wi-Fi network, and then we do so again remotely by connecting via cellular signal.

In each companion app, we explore the available settings and preferences—such as turning audio signals or LED lights on and off, as well as enabling auto-lock and auto-unlock functions when applicable—and we take note of the speed, reliability, and usefulness of the notifications and the ease of adding and managing access codes.

In assessing the physical hardware, we take a close look at the ease of installation and the quality of the materials used for the various components. We also consider the physical robustness of each lock and, where applicable, the keyway (see the section immediately below for more on this topic).

Wirecutter takes security and privacy issues seriously and, as much as possible, investigates how the companies whose products we recommend deal with customer data. We research all of the security and data-privacy practices behind our picks, including an extensive questionnaire to confirm issues that we think should be of primary concern for any potential buyer.

Some people assume that connecting a front door lock to the internet necessarily adds a new way for thieves to infiltrate the home, and that a smart lock is fundamentally more vulnerable than a standard door lock.

Our view is that while it’s technically possible for a smart lock to be exploited electronically, through eight years of closely reporting on and testing these devices, we have yet to find a single case of a smart lock being electronically exploited in the real world—only in labs or at hacker conventions. We think the reason is straightforward: Few home burglars are hackers; they are thieves who tend to enter homes by force, using something like a trusty crowbar or screwdriver. By that logic, smart locks are the more secure option because they provide ways to let a homeowner know when their home is entered, and in many cases have a built-in tamper or impact alarm. We’ve concluded that a home is more secure with a smart lock.

Similarly, our research and FBI burglary statistics show that lock picking also isn’t a realistic threat to homeowners. Most residential burglars break down doors or merely enter through unlocked doors. Burglars don’t have the time (or the skills) to fiddle with lock picks. (For more on this topic, see “It’s Ridiculously Easy to Pick Some Smart Deadbolts, But We Aren’t Alarmed.”)

Until recently, deadbolt locks have been graded by ANSI and BHMA (the American National Standards Institute and the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) on their ability to withstand brute-force entry attempts—namely, smashing—with a grade of 1 to 3. For deadbolts, Grade 1 is the top ranking, reserved for a commercial-use lock with a 1-inch-thick latch bolt that can endure 10 strikes of 75 pounds and a million open/close cycles. A Grade 2 lock is considered closer to residential level, with a bolt that is 0.625-inch thick and able to withstand five strikes of 75 pounds and 800,000 cycles. In 2021, BHMA launched a new system for residential locks that grades deadbolts from A to C in three categories—security, durability, and finish—with the top grade being AAA.

The smart locks we recommend are as safe as or safer than their mechanical counterparts (which, for instance, can’t alert you when your front door is unlocked or opened). The Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt and Schlage Encode WiFi Lever are both ANSI Grade 1 and BHMA AAA. The Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro WiFi is rated ANSI Grade 1. The Aqara Smart Lock U100 meets ANSI Grade 3 standards—though it has not been officially certified—which is the lowest level for a residential lock. (Since the Wyze Lock relies on your existing deadbolt, it has no grade or ranking of its own.)

A major security consideration with smart locks is whether to enable auto-lock and auto-unlock, features found on all our picks. These features trigger the lock based on your location (a technology also known as geofencing) via some combination of Bluetooth, cellular signal, GPS, and Wi-Fi. Having your door automatically trigger as you walk up to it is the essence of convenience, but it puts you at risk of an accidental trigger that leaves your front door open to anyone. Some models come with a little magnet, which you install near the lock, to determine when the door is closed or open, ensuring that you don’t lock the deadbolt when the door is left ajar (the Wyze Lock has this sensing built in). Another option for some locks is to use geofencing as a trigger, which requires that you confirm the unlock signal on your phone before it can activate, a far more secure but also less convenient approach.

Overall we believe that carte blanche geofence triggering is essentially risky, most especially for city dwellers, who are more susceptible to an opportunistic thief (who may be in the vicinity when a door is accidentally unlocked). If you live in a suburban or rural location, the risks are more of a personal judgment call.

Overall, the companies behind our picks have very good security and privacy policies. They all require you to create a login in order to use the smart features, they all encrypt those credentials when they store the data in the cloud, and none of them share your personal data or location info with third parties—that is, unless you opt to do so by integrating your lock with a platform like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Among our picks, only the Wyze Lock offers the ability to use two-factor authentication, a system we recommend that requires you to enter a special PIN code before changing the lock settings and is a generally good method of keeping your devices secure.

Wirecutter continues to test all of its picks, a process that includes keeping track of app, firmware, and policy updates as well as hardware and software incidents. Should any privacy or security issues be found with any of our picks, we’ll report them here and, if necessary, update or alter our recommendations.

This easy-to-install, sharp-looking Schlage deadbolt works flawlessly, is intuitive to use, and provides robust security.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant

If you’re looking for a low-profile, no-fuss lock with a foolproof keypad and the ability to connect to Wi-Fi without requiring a plug-in adapter, we recommend the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt. It’s particularly easy to install, and using it is intuitive so it won’t stymie technophobes. It does lack a few attractive features found on other locks, but we think its reliability and trustworthiness are a good trade-off. Battery life has been excellent, lasting six months or more at a time.

All things should install as easily as the Encode. As the saying goes, it’s the details that matter, and Schlage has done a wonderful job of removing (most) points of friction. The front assembly is special. The Encode has restraining clips making installation much easier. That holds the front assembly in the hole of the door so it doesn’t fall apart while screwing in the bolts.

There’s also room for the cable to be tucked away, which often causes difficulty, no need for special tools or pins, and there’s a handy code printed right on the instructions for getting it set up. Note: take a picture of the code and save the literature for future use.

You won’t find a sturdier smart lock. The Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt is literally in a class of its own when it comes to the toughness of its physical hardware, which is ANSI Grade 1, or the top ranking for a commercial-grade lock. Bolstering these impressive specs is the inclusion of extra-long 3-inch screws and a thick steel strike plate, which secure the bolt in the doorjamb when the Encode is locked. Those screws are recommended by locksmiths as a way to ensure that your door is highly resistant to being kicked in.

Your parents (and grandparents) will appreciate it for its aw-shucks simplicity. Unlike many locks that need to be woken with a button press or sometimes a palm over the keypad (which risks accidental button presses), the Encode is awake and registers your first button press—its keypad is especially nice compared with a touchscreen—and once you type in your four-digit code it automatically unlocks, so there’s no need to press an unlock button. This seems a modest feature, but as someone who ran a vacation rental for year, please trust that many locks have interfaces that sometimes can be flustering, especially those that lock you out (see our runner-up).

Another lo-fi detail we love is the low-battery indicator right on the keypad above the logo—no need to worry about app notifications or arcane LED signals. And the ultimate throwback is a prominent keyway, in case the household luddite wants to wallow in their inconvenience.

It has a built-in alarm, which is a great way to dissuade a potential thief. You can adjust the sensitivity so it doesn’t go off whenever a delivery box is tossed a bit too zealously at your front door.

Compared with the fast and quiet Aqara, U-Bolt Pro, and Wyze, all of the Encode locks are relatively loud and slow, which sometimes leads to accidental lock jams when people open the door while it’s still retracting the bolt.

The Schlage app is not great. All smart lock apps have some delay as they all connect to the lock first and then update the status of the lock before loading the app. The Schlage can only be updated locally, via Bluetooth, and so the process is sometimes tedious, especially if you are across the house or upstairs and hope to adjust a setting. That doesn’t apply to adding or adjusting a user, which is helpful.

This fast, quiet, and largely friendly deadbolt replacement has an excellent fingerprint reader and Apple Home Key compatibility.

Compatibility: Apple Home and Home Key; Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Matter

The Aqara Smart Lock U100 is a deadbolt replacement model with a keypad, but it also includes a fingerprint reader. It’s also far quieter and faster than the Encode. It’s an especially good option for Apple fans due to Home Key support. However, it’s far more complicated than the Encode, and may sometimes frustrate households who aren’t tech enthusiasts.

You may not have heard of Aqara, but we have (a lot). Aqara certainly isn’t a household name in the way Schlage is, however we have been testing and using the brand’s products for a few years now and are impressed by the company’s ever-growing ecosystem. We often caution about making a big purchase from an untested brand, and we are confident in this case that Aqara has the capacity and intent to support its products and customers.

Installation isn’t hard, but the app, which guides you through the process, can be a bit confusing and frequently uses unfamiliar tech jargon. Still it’s intuitive enough once you get things set up to figure out, and the Aqara app is clean and useful.

One quirk we encountered during setup came when we integrated the U100 with Apple Home. In the process the lock was automatically detected as a Matter device, and then appeared twice as two devices in the Apple Home app. Aqara says it’s fine and you can feel free to delete one instance, but it’s a curious effect of using Matter.

Fingerprinting never felt so good, especially if you have had blinkered success with other smart lock models (such as the U-Bolt Pro). In a fraction of a second the lock senses and unlocks, most of the time on the first press. It is not perfect, and as with any tech device in general and finger reader in particular, it is absolutely user-dependent: I have zero issues, but impatient children often put a finger on crooked and then pout in defeat when it is unrecognized. If you can follow modest instructions—put the finger in the center of the circle—you should be fine.

Apple Home Key is welcome but isn’t an improvement on a fingerprint or a code. The idea is that you hold or tap an iPhone or Apple Watch to its face to unlock the door. Trying to get the NFC chip on the iPhone in just the right spot often took a few tries, and the positioning feels off. (If you’ve ever struggled to use tap-to-pay at retail stores you know the struggle.)

You will need to add a hub. Unlike our other picks, the U100 doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi, so to be accessible remotely you either need to buy a relatively low-cost Aqara hub (they start around $55) or, if you plan to use Apple Home, a HomePod, HomePod Mini, or Apple TV can function as a hub as well.

If you mess up too often, you get (temporarily) locked out. As a safety precaution against someone attempting to fiddle with your keypad, if the wrong code is put in, the U100 will flash an angry red. Do it a set number of times (it’s adjustable in the app), and it will sound an alert and lock down the keypad for a minute or as long as 30 minutes (you can wait or use the app or a physical key to unlock it). This may happen if you don’t learn to wake the keypad first with a palm on the keypad (or press the lock button) before typing in your code. We like to keep it on, and think of it like a game.

The top feature of this compact, versatile, and quiet smart lock is a fast (though sometimes faulty) fingerprint reader, and its rubber number keys will please most anyone.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

The Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro WiFi was our previous pick, and we continue to adore its feature set, hardware, and general performance. We’ve demoted it for now though, due to a couple of small shortcomings and quirks, like erratic fingerprint reader performance and the lack of low-battery notifications (see below for important details), that make it less of a solid general pick for most people. We think the combo of these issues makes it a less attractive pick overall, however in the right home and hands it’s a time-tested journeyman.

We are big fans of little locks, and the Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro WiFi has among the slimmest profiles for both the indoor and outdoor components of any lock we’ve tested. The hardware itself is precision-made which you feel when triggering the lock. The Pro provides multiple ways to get into your home quickly and is notably quiet and fast compared to our top pick. While beauty is subjective and the U-Bolt Pro isn’t necessarily winning pageants, to my eyes at least it is not tacky or overly industrial, and is perfectly at home on a door without offending. It’s like the smart lock next door.

You’ve got unlock options galore, including using auto-unlock, app control, fingerprint, code, a keyway and also a not especially mode called Magic Shake that is best left alone (you hold your phone out and shake it, but you have to have the app open for it to work). The hardware visitors see is a semi-circle of concave number buttons around a fingerprint reader in the center. The front face pulls down to reveal a hidden keyway, which is a clever design move.

The fingerprint reader is wonderful, when it works, which is a point of contention for most owners I’ve encountered. Although it is not as fast as the Aqara, if you place a finger in the center circle, press gently, and pause a half second, it works well. But that fades during the winter, either due to seasonally dry skin perhaps or cold affecting the device itself. (As someone living in the Northeast, I rarely used the fingerprint reader in cold weather anyway as I wear gloves.) The company did improve performance between the original Pro model and this one and says it continues to work on the issue but also offers some troubleshooting steps that may help if you do encounter problems.

Battery life is either a problem, or not, which is a problem. We had tested and used our lock for months on end without issue before suddenly experiencing a rapid loss of battery life in early 2023. After replacing the batteries this occurred again within weeks. And again. After troubleshooting with the company they noted this was a known but extremely rare issue and that a firmware fix was coming, which arrived in July. A company representative also confirmed that if a user has a device that encounters this issue and the firmware and troubleshooting steps don’t cure it, then they’ll replace the lock for free. Since then we don’t see a lot of comments on forums about the issue.

The greater concern is that unlike with other locks, the Pro doesn’t seem to send an app notification if the battery is low. The lock itself will flash red and beep if you unlock it and the battery is low, but we’d prefer a direct and early notification to prevent being potentially locked out. (Note that you can always use the physical key, or power it up temporarily using a Micro-USB cable connected to a phone power pack you can plug into the lock and power it.)

After encountering a few setup issues during installation in January of 2022, the lock worked reliably until February of 2023. At that time we began experiencing extremely short battery life of about a week or two, despite trying an array of batteries, including ones branded by the company itself. A Wirecutter colleague experienced a similar issue months later with the Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro with Bridge.

We’ve had ongoing communication with a company representative, who states that this particular issue is known but extremely rare, and that it’s likely due to incompatibilities with a small range of home Wi-Fi routers. A firmware update is available that should fix the problem (this support document explains how to do an update using the app). Should you experience the same battery drain, the company says it will replace the lock free of charge, even if it is out of warranty.

Fast, quiet, and easy to install, this deadbolt adapter has a built-in sensor to detect when your door is ajar, plus it comes with a tiny plug-in Wi-Fi adapter.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant

The Wyze Lock is as good a smart-home bargain as we’ve seen. It offers sturdy and precise hardware, a unique built-in door sensor, and a tiny Wi-Fi adapter, and it’s about half the price of our top pick and runner-up pick. Like the popular August line of smart locks, the Wyze Lock is an adapter model that adds smarts to traditional mechanical deadbolts.

Installation is easy, if you have tools. Once you’ve removed the thumbturn assembly of your existing deadbolt you attach a plate to your lock using the same bolts. You will need both a regular-size Phillps-head screwdriver and a mini Phillips-head screwdriver . Once you’ve secured the lock to your door, you pair it to the Wyze app and the included Wi-Fi adapter. In our tests, setup was delightfully hiccup-free, with the mechanical and app components all connecting seamlessly.

Wyze packed it with features. We especially like that it has a built-in sensor and alarm that alerts you if it has been left open too long. It also auto-locks by default, which seems nice but be warned—we got locked out when we left our house without bringing a phone or key.

Invest in the Wyze Keypad, which adds the ability to create and use PIN codes to unlock the door. We have generally shied away from that solution as it is adding one more potential link for failure, however in long-term testing it has turned out to work rather well (see below). So if you have the Wyze, and it doesn’t auto-unlock well, the Keypad is a great solution.

Battery life can be brief, according to our testing over time. There are a lot of factors involved, including your home’s setup and the location of the included Wi-Fi adapter, and how often the lock is triggered. We were getting about three months of use before we’d receive a battery warning notification. The flip side: Wyze’s conservative warnings work well, giving us about a week before the battery actually died (and it did die).

Like all adapter locks, for the Wyze to be more useful and convenient than a traditional key, you have to turn on auto-unlock. That relies on a technology called geofencing, which tracks the location of your phone and thus knows to unlock when you return home after being away. That does present a potential security risk if the lock misfires when you aren’t coming home, however in our experience the issue tends to be the opposite—that sometimes the Wyze (and other adapter locks) don’t recognize you quick enough and you end up having to open your phone and trigger the lock using the app to get inside.

A nearly identical model to our top pick, this keypad smart lock replaces a doorknob—not a deadbolt—with an accessibility-friendly lever handle.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant

For single-hole doors that don’t have a deadbolt, we recommend the Schlage Encode WiFi Lever smart lever lock, which has the same features and specifications as our top pick. It is a full-replacement lock, and so it requires removing your existing doorknob or lever and installing the Encode Lever in its place.

One simple feature makes it better than any other model we’ve tested: the ability to turn auto-lock on and off with buttons. These two labeled buttons live on the half of the lock that is installed on the inside of your home. Unlike with a deadbolt, you can’t lock or unlock your door when inside using a thumb turn ( the mechanism is all internal) The solution is to have the door auto-lock after a period of time, which is adjustable. This can be a problem occasionally, like when my son locked the door to his room at night, and I couldn’t remember the code and scrambled for five minutes trying to figure out how to get inside (the app!).

The Encode lets you set the status as auto-lock or passage using those two buttons, which should be a no-brainer, and yet all our previous doorknob-replacement picks—the Ultraloq Latch 5 Fingerprint and Ultraloq Latch 5 NFC, a Yale Assure Lever—required either a key code or going into the app to change the mode.

Battery life is, so far, impressive, and at three months of ongoing use, the lock is still at 78% battery life. Would that other locks could fare so well.

Though we’re confident in our picks for most people, many of the other models we’ve tested would be fine choices depending on your needs, preferences, and budget. Note that unlike with our current picks, we don’t continuously long-term test the following models.

If Apple Home Key and aesthetics matter most to you: The Level Lock+ (which joins the Level Bolt and the Level Lock Touch Edition in that company’s lineup) is very nearly a work of industrial art. Its components are precision-engineered, clever, and truly unique. Unlike other deadbolt-replacement smart locks, this model’s smart guts and mechanisms live completely inside your door. You can trigger the Level Lock+ a number of ways, including by touch or Apple Home Key. (If you are using it any other way, you’re bound to run into issues.) But a few overarching limitations prevent us from making it a pick. For starters, Home Key is available only to Apple iPhone owners. And at $330, the Lock+ is expensive. On top of that, it functions only if you have a key card, smartphone, or Apple Watch on your person at all times, and sharing access with others requires their downloading and installing an app.

If you want HomeKit options: We’ve named a few HomeKit-compatible models as picks in the past. One is the Kwikset Premis, a great, reliable device. Its hardware is large compared with that of our current picks, and it is less elegant, but it works well. The Schlage Sense, another previous pick, has a terrific keypad and top-quality ANSI Grade 1 hardware, but over many years of testing, it has suffered from Bluetooth-range issues that have made it unreliable when we’re trying to connect to it remotely—despite its being within spitting distance of both our Wi-Fi beacon and an Apple TV acting as a hub. A Wi-Fi adapter, which also enables Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, is available but removes HomeKit compatibility. Still, the Sense is a solid device and a good choice especially for rental properties.

If you prefer Nest devices: The Nest x Yale Lock is compatible only with other Nest smart devices and has a relatively large touchscreen keypad—which we like. It works reliably, has a smooth mechanism, and is easy to manage. Remote access requires using a plug-in Nest Connect unit, which is included.

If you’re a renter: The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock has built-in Wi-Fi support, which enables you to connect to it remotely without having to rely on a plug-in hub. As with all other August devices, its usefulness is wholly dependent on its auto-unlock feature, which requires that you leave the vicinity of your home for several hundred feet before it can trigger. If you pop out to a neighbor’s house or the corner store, for example, it won’t work when you come back, and you’ll need to rely on your phone or smartwatch to open the door. If you live in an area where you lock the doors only at night, it may be a fine option.

If you prize convenience over guest access: The Kwikset Halo Touch is a deadbolt-replacement model with a modern-style keyway and a fingerprint reader. It’s pretty, and the fingerprint reader works well, but you can’t readily share access to your home as you can with keypad models (you’d need to register a fingerprint for every visitor). The door mechanism also sounds suspiciously like that of the relatively aged Kwikset Kevo, which is to say it’s loud and a bit pokey. Still, for everyday use it works well, and the fingerprint reader was flawless in our tests.

We saw many new smart locks at CES 2024, and others have been announced. Some of the models we hope to test include:

Our experience with the smart locks we’ve tested has been positive for the most part, though we should note that every smart lock we’ve ever used has had instances when it didn’t function correctly or required troubleshooting of some variety—an inevitability to be aware of when you’re choosing to install one of these devices in your home. We have yet to meet a set-it-and-forget-it smart-home device.

A number of locks are perfectly fine but don’t match the price-to-performance value of our picks. That includes the Yale Assure Lock 2, Eufy Smart Lock Touch E130, Eufy Smart Lock Touch & W-Fi S230, and August Smart Lock Pro.

We dismissed the following due to having fewer or lesser features: Wyze Lock Bolt, Lockly Secure Plus, Lockly Secure Pro, and Lockly Vision, the Alfred DB1 and Yale Assure Lock Touchscreen Deadbolt (YRD226).

We don’t recommend the Kwikset Kevo because we found it outdated, unreliable, and poorly supported.

This article was edited by Jon Chase and Grant Clauser.

Yes. Because smart locks are battery-powered, not plugged into your home’s electricity, you can continue to lock or unlock them using their keypad or fingerprint reader, or, if it’s an adapter-style lock, by using your smartphone, since it connects over Bluetooth. All the locks we recommend require battery changes only after several months, some six months or more. Deadbolt-replacement models also have a USB port or battery prongs for you to attach a USB battery should their internal batteries fail unexpectedly.

Geofencing is a tech term for a way through which smart-home devices can trigger based on your location. When you turn on geofencing (it’s a setting often found in the app you use to set up and control your smart device), your smart devices are able to track where your smartphone is, and by extension they’ll know where you are. Using your smart device’s app, you first designate where your home is, which creates an invisible virtual “fence.” You can then have your devices activate automatically whenever you go past that fence in either direction‚ such as having your lights turn off when you leave home. It’s one of the smartest things smart devices can do. (For a more thorough look, see “Geofences Make Your Home Work Better. Here’s How.”)

It’s possible, but currently in the US no major brands sell either handlesets or mortise locks directly to customers, and models sold abroad may not fit the dimensions of US doors. We’re constantly on the lookout, though, and we hope to be able to test and recommend such a model if they ever become available.

No, you can trigger a smart lock without having to connect it to the internet—however, if you want the sorts of features that make a lock “smart,” such as the ability to control it when you aren’t home, to receive notifications when it’s triggered, or to have it connect with other smart devices, then yes, you need to connect it to Wi-Fi.

Jon Chase is an editor leading smart-home coverage at Wirecutter. He has been covering technology as a writer and editor since the days before mobile phones got smart. His work has been featured in various print and online publications, and on television. He currently has over 35 smart devices installed in his home. None of them work perfectly.

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Male End Piece Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).