Best Smart Lock: Nest x Yale vs. August vs. Kevo vs. Schlage (2018)
After months of testing, I determined August Pro Gen 3 is the best smart lock overall because of its auto-unlock feature and HomeKit support. Nest x Yale is the best keypad option, and Schlage Sense is a decent budget alternative.
I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing four smart locks (Nest x Yale vs. August Pro Gen 3 vs. Kevo Gen 2 vs. Schlage Sense & Connect) while evaluating six categories: setup, unlocking, locking, interior design, exterior design, and software.
August Pro Gen 3
- Setup: You keep your previous lock, and the app’s installation walkthrough takes 10 minutes.
- Unlocking: It auto-unlocks when you arrive home. You can also use Siri, the keypad, or the app to unlock.
- Locking: It auto-locks after a set period. You can use Siri and the app to lock too.
- Inside Design: It looks like a hockey puck and the batteries are easy to access.
- Outside Design: You use the same external keyhole lock and latch from the existing lock.
- Software: DoorSense warns when the door isn’t completely shut.
Best for you if...
You want easy setup and a smart out-of-the-box lock that auto-unlocks when you arrive. The keypad is optional but recommended for when things go awry. Android users who want control while away need August Connect for $50.
Nest x Yale
- Setup: The Nest app offers a walkthrough video, but you’ll have to replace existing lock parts.
- Unlocking: You enter your access code or use the Nest app. There’s no auto-unlock.
- Locking: It can auto-lock after 10 seconds, 5 minutes, or 10 minutes, or with Yale button.
- Inside Design: It’s the best-looking of the locks I tested and doesn’t stick out as far.
- Outside Design: It’s beautiful, featuring a sleek, well-built, low-profile keypad, but there’s no keyhole.
- Software: The Nest app is great, but it’s not compatible with a smart assistant yet.
Best for you if...
You want a brilliant design with the capability to check its status while away and have more than one entry door. It’s the best keypad option on the market, but the lack of auto-unlock is disappointing; it’s something Nest could easily do.
Schlage Sense & Connect
- Setup: There isn't a walkthrough tutorial in the app, and you need to remove the existing deadbolt.
- Unlocking: You can type in your code, ask Siri, or open the app. It’s loud and annoying.
- Locking: You tap the Schlage button, ask Siri, or open the app.
- Inside Design: It’s huge, ugly, and attracts attention.
- Outside Design: It’s a push-button display but ugly and outdated.
- Software: The app is messy, but you can give guest access codes.
Best for you if...
You’re an Apple user on a budget and not bothered by ugly aesthetics. Schlage Sense has HomeKit, so you don’t need the Schlage app or additional hubs to control away from home. Both Schlage locks are ugly, bulky, loud with poorly designed software.
Kwikset Kevo Gen 2
- Setup: An interactive guide in the app walks you through installation and you need to remove the existing deadbolt.
- Unlocking: You tap Kevo to lock if your phone’s with you, but it fails most times.
- Locking: You can tap Kevo, open the app or use a standard key.
- Inside Design: It has a sturdy-looking, thin metal cover that goes over the plastic base.
- Outside Design: It looks an ordinary lock with a keyhole.
- Software: It requires guests to download an app, and you can't control remotely.
Best for you if...
You want a lock that’s unreliable and unintelligent with no benefits over a conventional lock. Instead of searching for your keys, you’re getting out your phone to get a better connection with Kevo. Even then, Kevo won’t always unlock on the first try.
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Why listen to me?
- I’ve been obsessed with gadgets since I was eight years old.
- I bought each device with MY money.
- I’ll update this post frequently because my opinions change.
- I don’t have insider access. I’m just like you, the everyman.
After a week with smart locks, I wanted to call it quits and scrap this post.
Installation was a pain, doors didn’t lock when I wanted, Bluetooth connections were shaky, keypads responded slowly, and the locks just weren’t “smart” overall.
During my second week of testing, I came home with five bags of groceries in each hand and finally experienced the magic.
My keys and phone stayed in my pocket, while my door unlocked itself automatically. All I had to do was turn the knob.
It took hours of tweaking settings and learning about each lock to get to that point, but I got there.
What are the benefits of a smart lock?
You can leave your keys behind. You can give houseguests, babysitters, nannies, or housecleaners temporary or recurring scheduled access to your home. You can record who comes and goes. And they provide peace of mind.
A smart lock should secure your home while you’re away without making it difficult to enter when you return.
Smart locks aren’t for everyone and they’re not perfect. But they’re a must if you’re a parent who wants to track when your kids get home, someone who doesn’t want to carry keys around, or an AirBnB host.
At the end of this comparison, I kept my August Lock. It’s been great for three months. It automatically unlocks 98% of the time. I ask Siri on my Apple Watch or type in my code on the keypad for the 2% of failed auto-unlock attempts.
I considered keeping Nest x Yale, but I don’t have other Nest products and the lack of auto-unlock was a killer for me.
Things To Know
- Smart locks only work with deadbolts, and only if your door is shut completely and well-aligned.
- Bluetooth can be challenging, and all smart locks use it in some capacity. Smart locks should use NFC, fingerprint or facial recognition, but they don’t have that technology yet.
- HomeKit support for iPhone users is nice but not a necessity.
- Automations in the Home app (i.e., locking the door automatically when the last person leaves home) aren’t fully automated like they are with lights and thermostats. You get a message on your iPhone asking, “Would you like to run this automation?” when it’s time to run the automation. If you don’t tap “run” after five minutes, it doesn’t run.
- Asking permission to unlock is fine, but why does an automation need my permission to lock? Where are the bad guys who LOCK doors?
- If you want to use Siri to unlock, your iPhone needs to be unlocked first. Although, your phone doesn’t need to be unlocked to lock the door.
- To control a smart lock with smart assistants, you’ll need a smart hub (i.e., SmartThings, Wink) or a HomeKit hub (i.e., Apple TV, HomePod, or iPad).
- Smart locks have an auto-lock feature that triggers after a specific amount of time has elapsed since the door was last unlocked. It’s a solid feature in certain circumstances but not perfect in real life. For example, if you go outside for quick tasks like taking out the trash or getting fresh air, you might find yourself locked out if the timer is too short.
August Pro Gen 3
- You only need a screwdriver to install it, and you get to keep your previous lock setup. The only thing you’re changing is the deadbolt lever on the inside. This makes August the most compatible and easy-to-install smart lock on the market.
- The app is well-designed and walks you through a 13-step installation with video gifs for each step. It took a combined 10 minutes to set up the hardware and software.
- “Auto-Unlock” unlocks your August when you arrive home, but this only works if you leave your home. For example, if your August looks while you’re hanging out in your yard, it’s not going to Auto-Unlock because you never left the geofence. You’ll have to use the app in that situation. This is the only smart lock with a auto-unlock feature and it works almost 100% of the time.
- The more secure “Auto-Unlock” method (if you’re HomeKit hub owner), is to create an automation to unlock the door when you arrive home. The notification is waiting for you when you get to the door and you tap one button on your phone to unlock. You don’t open any apps.
- You can unlock in the August app, Home app, or the Apple Watch app.
- You can use Siri after your phone is unlocked.
- You can unlock with your original key.
- You can buy the optional August Keypad for $50 and create entry codes. (It’s another device that needs batteries. I got around seven months from the two AAA batteries.)
- August gets a “C+” for this category because I’m assuming you don’t buy the optional August Keypad. With the keypad, it gets an “A” because you can lock with one button on the keypad.
- There isn’t a way to automatically lock your door with with geofencing after you leave the house like August implies.
- You can set it “Auto-Lock” after a set amount of time passed since it was unlocked.
- You can lock with the August or Home app.
- You can ask Siri to lock.
- You can lock with your original key.
Inside Design (B):
- It sticks out from the door more than the others, but it’s unobtrusive and doesn’t take up much space.
- It looks futuristic, but it’s not as intuitive as an old-school (dumb) lock. Guests don’t know they can turn it to unlock.
- The magnetic metal battery is easy to remove but it’s not going to fall off on its own.
Outside Design (B+):
- You use the same external keyhole lock and latch that you used on your previous lock, meaning you get to use your old key.
- It’s discreet, so no one has to know it’s a smart lock.
- None of the technology components are outside. This means you don’t have to worry about temperatures, humidity, or rain affecting the operation.
- My roommates struggle with shutting the door completely. DoorSense warns you in the app that the door isn’t shut. When that happens, it won’t use the Auto-Lock feature.
- You can do cool integrations with IFTTT, like turning on certain smart home devices when August is triggered.
- You can check the status of your lock when you’re not home if you buy August Connect for $50. Or if you have a HomeKit hub like Apple TV, iPad, or HomePod.
- You can grant one-time access at a specific time or recurring access (i.e. every Tuesday from 5-7) to anyone. Guests have to download the app and confirm with their phone number and email. It’s too much work for a guest. If you want to grant temporary or recurring access, it’s best to get the August Smart Keypad for $50.
Nest x Yale
- Getting the hardware on the door was easy with a walkthrough video from Nest.
- For installation, you need to remove the existing deadbolt setup. Then, drill a bigger hole if the existing one isn’t 2-⅛” (most are 2-⅛” already), install a new deadbolt latch, mount the front and back plates, and attach the wires.
- Once the lock is on the door, the speaker gives you voice guidance and the final steps take place in the Nest app.
- Yale’s strike plate for the doorway is unique and smaller than anything I’ve seen. It’s required because Yale won’t lock fully with other strike plates. This frustrated me because my pre-existing deadbolt hole was bigger than the entire Yale strike plate.
- You can place a finger on the Yale logo on the keypad to activate the screen.
- Once the keypad lights up, you tap in your code followed by the check mark. The check mark seems like an unnecessary extra step.
- There’s no auto-unlock based on geofencing or NFC.
- The keyhole is normally the failsafe option for smart locks when things don’t go as planned. Yale thinks differently. If your batteries run low, you hold a 9-volt battery to the bottom of the lock while typing in the code.
- I know what happens when the battery is dead, but what happens if the software fails or the system dies, or the motor gets locked up? How do I get into my house if I only have one exterior door? I haven’t had these problems, but this is concerning.
- You can tap the Yale logo.
- You can set it to auto-lock 10 seconds, 1 minute, and 5 minutes after you’ve unlocked it.
- You can use the Nest app.
- If Nest detects you’re not home, it puts itself in Away Mode and locks if it’s not already. In my experience, Nest doesn’t go into Away Mode until at least an hour passes. You shouldn’t rely on Away Mode to lock your house, but it’s HUGE if you forget to lock before you leave.
Inside Design (A):
- It’s the best-looking of the locks I tested and doesn’t stick out as far from the door as the others.
- The batteries are easily accessible with one screw.
Outside Design (A+):
- It’s beautiful, featuring a sleek, well-built, low-profile keypad. It’s a piece of art and everything I could ever hope for in a design aesthetically speaking.
- The touchscreen has a better touch response than most I’ve tried and even works brilliantly in cold weather.
- The numbers are bigger and brighter than Yale Assure.
- There’s no keyhole, which adds to the minimalistic look.
- The touchscreen works while wearing gloves.
- I wrote about Yale Assure’s hideous app, but luckily you don’t need Yale’s software with Nest x Yale. The lock and setup are controlled with the Nest app.
- The Nest app is great. You can control the lock away from home and do cool integrations with your other Nest products. For instance, when you unlock Nest x Yale, Nest Secure alarm system can disarm automatically.
- Nest needs an auto-unlock feature. Here’s an idea: The Nest Hello video doorbell can recognize familiar faces and put names to the faces. What if Nest x Yale auto-unlocked each time Nest Hello saw a familiar face that you registered? There are lots of security risks and the software would have to be flawless. This is probably why it isn’t a feature. But in a couple years? I can see it! At the very least, Nest could implement the same system that August uses.
- There’s no HomeKit, Alexa or Google Assistant support. Nest said Google Assistant is in the works. There’s a chance for Alexa in the future, but HomeKit will never integrated with Nest products.
- When your batteries are low there’s an indicator on the touchpad and in the app.
- You can set schedules for when you want people to have access or create permanent codes for each household member.
- You can see a history of who’s opened the door and can turn on notifications for when certain people unlock the door.
Sense & Connect
- There wasn’t a walkthrough tutorial in the app, but the paper instructions were fine, and Homekit setup was simple.
- For installation, you need to remove the existing deadbolt. Then, drill a bigger hole if your previous hole isn’t 2-⅛” (most are 2-⅛” already), install a new deadbolt latch, mount the front and back plates, attach the wires, and install a new strike on the door frame. It took 30 minutes from start to finish.
- You hit the Schlage button and type in your 4-8 digit code. There’s no need to tap any other buttons afterward.
- Locking and unlocking is loud. It’s annoying and can be heard throughout the house.
- You can ask Siri to assist after your phone is unlocked.
- You can unlock with the included key.
- The easiest way to lock is to tap the big Schlage button.
- You can ask Siri, use the Home app or the Schlage app to lock.
- You can lock with the included key.
Inside Design (F):
- It’s huge, ugly, and definitely attracts attention.
- There’s only one small screw to get battery access, but the battery case doesn’t slide out well because it’s connect by a wire.
Outside Design (D):
- The keypad is not a traditional touchscreen. It’s more of a push-button display, so it works well with gloves or in the cold.
- It’s ugly and looks like an old-school keypad.
- From far away, you can’t tell it’s a keypad because there isn’t a screen and the numbers don’t light up until you tap the Schlage button.
- Other users have reported issues with moisture (from humidity or rain) causing the lock to malfunction. Make sure your lock has overhead coverage and don’t use this lock if you live in a humid climate.
- The app is messy, but you can make it work.
- You can create scheduled times for certain codes to work for specific guests. They don’t need to download an app, just know the code.
- Schlage Connect and Schlage Sense have the same functionality. The one minor difference is the keypad design, but the only major difference is that Schlage Connect can work with Z-Wave devices like Alexa (if you buy a $100 hub), while Schlage Sense works with Homekit out of the box.
- There’s an alarm that sounds when a forced entry is detected.
Kwikset Kevo Gen 2
- An interactive guide in the app walks you through installation. It gets the job done, but the directions weren’t perfect. The app implies you sync Kevo to your phone first, but that isn’t correct. You sync after the lock is installed.
- For installation, you need to remove your existing deadbolt. Then, drill a bigger hole if your previous hole isn’t 2-⅛” (most are 2-⅛” already), install a new deadbolt latch, mount the front and back plates, attach the wires, and install a new strike on the door frame. It took about 30 minutes from start to finish.
- Once your household members have the Kevo app on their phone and are signed in, they tap the top of the lock and, if their phone is nearby, Kevo unlocks the door.
- When it works, there’s nothing more satisfying. It’s like you’re living in the future.
- But Kevo only works on the first try 50% of the time. It usually works on the second try, but I’ve had it fail on the second try too. I’ve never had to try more than three times to get in, but others on Amazon say differently. If an attempt fails, you’re waiting a solid 20-30 seconds. At that point, why not just use a key?
- Kevo won’t work if you’re on a phone call or listening to music via Bluetooth because it uses Bluetooth as well.
- The app needs to be running in the background for a tap to unlock the door. If your phone’s battery dies or you close your apps, you’ll need to restart Kevo in the background. You shouldn’t close your apps because it doesn’t save battery life. But most of my friends, girlfriend included, are compulsive app-closers, and I’m sure lots of others do this out of habit too.
- If you have family members without smartphones, you can buy a key fob to keep in their pocket which allows them to tap and open.
- You can use a standard key as a failsafe.
- There’s auto-lock, but you can only set it to 30 seconds.
- The only way to lock is by tapping Kevo, opening the app or using a standard key.
- You can’t lock yourself out because Kevo senses when your phone is on the other side of the door.
- Unfortunately, you’ll face the same connectivity issues as with unlocking.
Inside Design (B-):
- It has a sturdy-looking, thin metal cover that goes over the plastic base.
- You have to unscrew the three screws to take the battery cover off. Then, slide the battery pack out.
Outside Design (B):
- From the outside, Kevo looks like an ordinary lock with a keyhole. When you tap the top of it, there’s a blue ring that lights up, then turns green when it’s unlocked.
- It doesn’t look fancy and won’t attract unwanted attention.
- You can give someone scheduled access on Kevo, but they need to sign up for an account, download the app, keep it on their phone, and have the app open when they tap. That’s too much to ask of a guest.
- You can’t control anything remotely, and it doesn’t work with Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri (HomeKit) out of the box.
- For an extra $100, the Kevo Plus Hub gives you remote access and smart assistant controls. Unfortunately, even with the hub, it isn’t compatible with HomeKit. Also, the Alexa command is wordy, “Alexa, tell Kevo to lock the back door.”
- Because of limited features, Kevo’s batteries seem to last longer than others.