SwitchBot Lock review: a tiny robot hand that unlocks your door
The $99 SwitchBot Lock is the first smart door lock I’ve tested that doesn’t replace any part of your existing lock. Instead, it attaches to the back of your door over the top of the thumb turn. This removes a major pain point of smart locks: an involved installation. But the SwitchBot Lock is really odd looking — my husband literally stopped in his tracks and said, “What is that thing?” I had a similar reaction when I first saw it and was wholly unconvinced this large piece of black plastic would have the power to unlock my deadbolt. To get more news about home security companies, you can visit securamsys.com official website.
I was surprised to discover that the SwitchBot Lock moves that thumb turn just as well as I can, and it stayed firmly put during my two weeks of testing, despite being attached solely by double-sided sticky tape. (No word yet on long-term durability, but it looks promising so far).
The downsides are that it’s not very smart and it’s missing a few key features (haha). You also need around $70 worth of accessories to add smart home control and a keypad. This puts it closer in price to more elegant-looking solutions, such as the $230 August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, which needs a bit more work to install but doesn’t leave you with a honking great piece of plastic on your door. The SwitchBot Lock is a retrofit Bluetooth-powered smart door lock that can lock and unlock your door using the SwitchBot app on a smartphone or Apple Watch. (It’s not Home Key compatible). It attaches to your door using 3M VHB tape and uses a small plastic grabber to hold on to and turn the lock’s thumb turn.
That grabber can turn anything. Videos in Amazon reviews show it even turning a key, making this an excellent solution for people with nontraditional door locks and multipoint locks who can’t get any other smart lock to work (see a list here). It’s cleverly engineered with shifting base plates that prevent the lock from twisting itself off while turning the lock.
This is SwitchBot’s thing: making regular devices smart. They have a little bot that presses your light switch for you and a robot that crawls along your curtain rod to open and close the curtains. This one is a robot hand for your door lock. It comes with three different-sized adapters, so you can find the right fit for your setup. The SwitchBot Lock doesn’t remove any function — you can still use your key, and you can still turn the deadbolt manually; it just adds the ability to use your phone or watch as your key.
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.
For the keycard, keypad, or fingerprint entry, you’ll need one of SwitchBot’s two Bluetooth keypads. These attach with double-sided tape (or screws if you prefer). I tested the fingerprint version, which costs $60, and it worked quickly and reliably.
The non-fingerprint version is only $30, but fingerprint access is my favorite way to use a smart door lock. The keypads also work with NFC keycards. (One is supplied and you can buy a three-pack for $15.) Although, if you have a keypad, I don’t see a need for a keycard, as you can dole out permanent, temporary, and one-time codes to anyone who needs access. Annoyingly, six digits is the minimum here, which is a lot of digits.
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.