Your cart is currently empty!
SWITCHBOT LOCK REVIEW: A TINY ROBOT HAND THAT UNLOCKS YOUR DOOR
The SwitchBot Lock, which costs $99, is the first smart door lock I’ve examined that doesn’t change any current lock components. As an alternative, it fastens to the back of your door above the thumb turn. This eliminates a significant drawback of smart locks: a difficult installation. The SwitchBot Lock, however, has a rather peculiar appearance; my husband actually stopped dead in his tracks and asked, “What is that thing?” When I initially saw it, I had a similar reaction and wasn’t at all convinced that this sizable piece of black plastic would be able to unlock my deadbolt.
I was surprised to find that the SwitchBot Lock moves that thumb turn just as well as I can, and despite being affixed only by double-sided sticky tape, it remained firmly in place throughout my two-week testing period. (Long-term durability has not yet been determined, although it appears promising so far.)
The drawbacks include its lack of intelligence and the absence of a few essential functionalities (haha). To add smart home control and a keypad, you also need additional accessories costing about $70. This brings its pricing closer to alternatives that appear more upscale, such the $230 August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, which requires a little more effort to install but doesn’t leave you with a great big piece of plastic on your door.
- Easy to install
- Fast operation
- Works with a lot of door locks
- Optional keypad with fingerprint reader
- Up to seven unlock options
- Clunky looking
- No native scheduling
- Auto-lock unreliable
- App can be slow
- Keypad and Wi-Fi hub almost double the price
The SwitchBot Lock is an aftermarket, Bluetooth-powered smart door lock that you can lock and unlock with the SwitchBot app on your phone or Apple Watch. (It is incompatible with Home Key.) It uses 3M VHB tape to secure itself to your door and a tiny plastic grabber to hold onto and operate the lock’s thumb turn.
Anything can be turned by that grab. This is a fantastic option for folks with non-traditional door locks and multipoint locks who can’t get any other smart lock to function because videos in Amazon reviews show it even turning a key (see a list here). Its moving base plates, which are expertly built, stop the lock from twisting off while spinning the lock.
SwitchBot specializes in making everyday objects intelligent. They have a tiny robot that turns on your lights for you, and they also have a robot that crawls down your curtain rod to open and close the drapes. For your door lock, this one is a robotic hand. You can discover the ideal fit for your setup because it comes with three different sized adapters. The SwitchBot Lock only adds the capability to utilize your phone or watch as your key, leaving your traditional key and manual deadbolt operation intact.
The Keypad Touch adds a fingerprint reader for another way to unlock your door.
There are a total of seven ways to control the door lock: your key, the smartphone / Apple Watch app, NFC tags using your phone, a key code using a keypad, a fingerprint reader, an NFC keycard, and smart home / voice control. That’s a lot of options — although only the first three work out of the box.
The keypad and door lock.
You’ll require one of SwitchBot’s two Bluetooth keypads to use the keycard, keypad, or fingerprint entry. These are taped on using two-sided tape (or screws if you prefer). I put the $60 fingerprint version to the test, and it performed well and swiftly.
My preferred method of using a smart door lock is fingerprint access, even if the non-fingerprint version is only $30. NFC keycards can also be used with the keypads. (One is provided, and a three-pack costs $15.) Although I don’t think you need a keycard if you have a keypad because you can give out one-time, temporary, and permanent codes to anyone who requires access. Unfortunately, six digits—a lot of digits—is the minimum allowed here.
If you don’t go for the extra keypads, another unlock option is using the two NFC tags that come with the lock. You can pair those to your phone to lock or unlock the door with a tap of your phone. But you have to use two tags: one to lock and one to unlock. Sticking two white pieces of plastic on your door does not improve the overall look here, and if you have your phone out already, using the iOS or Android lock screen widget is almost as fast.
The SwitchBot does work with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Siri Shortcuts (but not HomeKit), so you can use voice commands to lock and unlock the door and add the lock into smart home Routines (Alexa and Google only).
But you need a $40 switchbot hubmini to connect the lock to Wi-Fi and make these integrations; the lock itself communicates over Bluetooth. You also need the hub to control the lock or check its status when you’re not at home using the SwitchBot app. The hub works with all of SwitchBot’s gadgets but needs to be installed near the lock.
Operating the SwitchBot with an Apple Watch over Bluetooth.
I installed the SwitchBot Lock on my back door, which is a main entryway to our house. It leads into our mudroom from our garage and gets a lot of foot traffic. The fingerprint reader and keypad made it easy for my children to use the lock — no need to download an app. Without those, though, there is not an easy way for a kid without a smartphone to access the door.
SPECS FOR THE SWITCHBOT LOCK
- Dimensions: 4.39 inches x 2.32 inches x 2.88 inches
- Weight: 8.9oz
- Color: Black
- Lifespan: Up to 50,000 cycles
- Power: Two 3V CR123A batteries
- Battery life: Six months locking and unlocking 10 times per day
- Communication: Bluetooth 5.0
- Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Siri Shortcuts, IFTTT, SmartThings
- Encryption: AES-128-CTR
I was also disappointed that the notifications when the door is unlocked didn’t show which code or fingerprint was used. This is a common feature on other smart locks and one I personally use to help keep track of my older kids’ comings and goings when I’m at work. I could check the log in the app to see who unlocked it, though.
Locking and unlocking are fast when controlling it with the keypad, but the phone app takes over five seconds to connect — very irritating if you’re standing in the rain. The Apple Watch connects more quickly, and if you didn’t have a keypad, is the easiest way to control the lock. All these interactions are over Bluetooth, so you must stand by the lock. To control it remotely with the app or voice control, you need the hub.
The top of the lock pops off for battery replacement and to adjust the lock to fit your door.
SMART HOME DATA PRIVACY: SWITCHBOT LOCK
Bringing connected devices into your home also brings with it concerns about how the data they collect is protected. The Verge asks each company whose smart home products we review about safeguards it has in place for your data.
The primary data a smart door lock collects is when you lock/unlock the door and how (keypad, manually, with the app, etc.). When you install the SwitchBot app on your smartphone, you must give it access to Bluetooth, location, and notifications. The app says it will not track or store your location information.
SwitchBot says it uses various security technologies and procedures, including TLS encryption, to protect data. It says it retains data for as long as you use the product and/or as legally required to. Any personal data no longer needed is deleted at regular intervals.
SwitchBot says it does not sell your personal data and only shares it with other companies when you authorize that transfer (i.e. to connect to Amazon Alexa), as well as companies it hires for support or security services.
You can request SwitchBot to update, delete, or deactivate personal information and “opt-out” of having your personal information used for certain purposes.
Setup and installation were quick, under 5 minutes in all. This is one of the lock’s biggest selling points, but it also wasn’t entirely straightforward. There’s a bit of lining up to do to make sure the lock will turn before you tape it to the door, and you need to use a small screwdriver (supplied) to adjust the spacing of the lock. Cleverly, it attaches in any direction, vertically or horizontally, so you can fit it around your door handle. It also comes with a magnet to sense when the door is open or closed, although I could still lock it remotely while it was wide open without any alert or notification.
The SwitchBot app is basic. There’s no way to create schedules to lock or unlock the door at a set time of day, and the auto-lock feature was very spotty. It only worked with both the “Lock after a set period of time” and the “Re-lock if the door has been unlocked but not opened” toggles on, and even then, it was unreliable. This seems like a software bug that may get fixed. But it did mean I had to get my phone out to lock the door (there are iOS and Android lock screen widgets to make this quicker), use the Apple Watch app, or use my key. When I added the keypad, though, I could hit a button to lock it.
There are some useful notification options, including when the door is locked, if the door has been left unlocked, and if it’s been left ajar after a certain amount of time. Notifications require the hub to work, and really, they should just sell this with the hub. It definitely makes it a better smart lock. With the hub, I could connect to Alexa and add the lock to an Alexa Routine that automatically locked it every night at sunset.
It works, but it doesn’t look like it should work.
The SwitchBot Lock a good option for renters who can’t change their door lock at all or for those who can’t or won’t remove any part of their existing deadbolt. It does need to stick to the doorframe using a heavy-duty adhesive, which will likely take some paint with it if you ever remove it. Similar retrofit options from August, Wyze, and Bosma require removing the rear deadbolt, and they all cost over $100.
But its smart features are limited to controlling the lock locally with your phone, Apple Watch, or existing key. When you add in the Wi-Fi hub, you get away-from-home control and more useful smart home integrations, but only with Google Home and Alexa; there’s no HomeKit support and limited IFTTT integration. (The lock is only a trigger, not an action.)
If you also add in the keypad — especially the fingerprint one — this becomes a much more useful proposition, but then you’re knocking on $170, closer to the price of less ugly options with better smarts that don’t require all this extra equipment (but do require removing some or all of your door lock).
The biggest benefit of this lock is its versatility. You can even use two on one door to deal with multipoint locking. Its ability to grab pretty much any type of locking mechanism, including a key, means it may be the only smart solution that works for your door.
Again, Court Sends EFCC Boss To Kuje Prison For Contempt
5 children orphaned as parents d¡£ during Domestic Violence
Ogun Upgrades College Of Health Technology To Polytechnic