Kwikset Premis Review: Siri-Controlled Smart Lock

The Kwikset Premis, a HomeKit-compatible version of a previously released smart lock, is meant for consumers looking for gadgets that work with Apple’s nascent smart home system. The Premis has all of the same features as Kwikset’s other smart locks, including custom entry codes, as well as a log detailing every time the lock was activated or a code was used. The Premis can also be controlled remotely via Apple TV, and can be integrated with other devices, too. In all, this is a solid smart lock that offers solid security — both physical and virtual.

Design

Kwikset isn’t going to win any design awards for the Premis, as it’s basically just a HomeKit-enabled version of its SmartCode 916 Z-Wavelock. But it does look and feel like a design that would work for just about any style or design of door (and home).

The lock measures 5.6 x 2.8 x 1.2 inches. When in sleep mode, the Premis looks like a normal high-end lock, with a shiny black-plastic plate covering about two-thirds of its surface. This area lights up white with numbers and icons when the device has been awakened by the app or a press on the touch screen. A small blinking LED sits just above the lock turn latch, to show you the battery and lock status.

Because the device has four AA batteries inside and is made from sturdy materials, the Premis is heavier than your average dead bolt.

Installation

The difficulty level of installing the Premis would be best described as intermediate; it’s fairly straightforward, but there are a couple of small things you’ll need to keep in mind for the lockset to operate properly.

It’s slightly disconcerting that the Premis doesn’t come with installation instructions. You do get a piece of cardboard called the “quick setup guide,” but all it tells you is how and where to download the app. Once you’ve downloaded the app and accessed the actual instructions, you’ll be walked through the process from start to finish. The Kwikset website also has several demo videos to help with the installation process.

The trickiest part was making sure the dead bolt and the door were aligned perfectly. There are many dead bolts that need a tug or push on the door to allow the key to turn completely. This happens when the (closed) door isn’t aligned perfectly with the dead-bolt plate on the door frame.

Because the Premis is controlled remotely, it will jam if there’s not a clear path for the dead bolt. Fortunately, the Premis is compatible with door thicknesses of 35 to 51 millimeters (1.38 to 2 inches) and should require no additional cutting or fitting.

All in all, the installation took me about 30 minutes, but I’m not very mechanically inclined. For a moderately talented DIY-er, it will take about 15 to20 minutes to install.

MORE: Smart Home: A Guide to Products, Services and Security

Performance

The mechanical parts within the Premis work exceptionally well, as the device is made with all high-quality, heavy-duty parts. With a brawny 1-inch dead-bolt throw, the Premis offers excellent physical protection.

The Premis features a capacitive touch screen, with a white LED numerical display when activated. I would like to see a brighter display, as it can be hard to read in the bright, reflective glare of a sunny day. It also has a colored LED that tells you the status of both the lock and the battery.

Kwikset says the lock has a Bluetooth range of 40 feet, but in everyday use, I found that the lock worked reliably at a max distance of 15 to 20 feet.

Kwikset says the lock has a Bluetooth range of 40 feet, but in everyday practical use, I found that the lock worked reliably at a max distance of 15 to 20 feet — and 20 may be pushing it.  

There are three ways to open the lock: Siri, the app or a numerical code. You can create up to 30 active numerical codes, which come in very handy for any number of uses, from dog walkers to the cleaning crew to the babysitter. You can even schedule each code for a specific day, time or duration.

Better still, you can get a notification whenever a code is used. This is useful for many scenarios, ranging from knowing that your kids got home from school to using it for a  family emergency drill to account for everyone in the event of a natural disaster.

The Premis can be controlled by up to 16 Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad and 4th-generation Apple TV (or newer). Kwikset says that, for the best results, the Premis lock should be within 40 feet of an Apple TV running OS 9.2 or later. It also works with Siri voice controls on the Apple Watch. Remember, you’ll need iOS 9.3 or later on any device you plan to use with HomeKit.

Security

The Premis offers rock-solid security, employing ANSI/BHMA-grade protection with 128-bit end-to-end encryption to safeguard against would-be attackers. Kwikset says the all-metal housing is tamper-resistant and comes in a satin nickel or Venetian bronze finish.

The Premis has four main security features:

  • Mastercode: Restricts users from adding or changing existing codes.
  • Code Alarm: Alarm sounds after three incorrect consecutive codes are entered.
  • Secure Mode: Disables all user codes at the touch of a button for immediate security control.
  • Auto-Lock: Turn on auto-lock to automatically lock the Premis after unlocking, for added security.

The Premis also has what Kwikset calls Advanced SmartKey. This is said to provide resistance against forced entry techniques and undetectable entry methods, including lock picking and lock “bumping.”

Siri commands work surprisingly well. I gave the lock a simple name ("front door") and was able to successfully lock or unlock it using my voice more than 90 percent of the time.

SecureScreen technology provides additional security by employing random digits prior to entering your personal code to prevent fingerprint and code detection on the touch-screen surface.

MORE: The Best Products That Work with Apple HomeKit

Smart Home Capability

The Premis is Kwikset’s dead bolt created specifically for Apple’s HomeKit smart home system. As such, it works well for its purpose, including voice activation using Siri’s voice commands. because  the Premis uses Bluetooth technology (and not Wi-Fi), it can only be controlled from afar if it’s linked to an Apple TV. As long as your Premis is within 40 feet from your Apple TV unit, you’ll have full access to the lock’s features, even when you’re not at home.

In addition to locking the Premis using the HomeKit app, you can later use the app to confirm that the lock is indeed secured. The app uses large icons and bold colors to communicate the status of whichever smarthome device you’re trying to control. The app keeps a log of all of the dates and times the lock was activated or unlocked, and by which method (key, app or code).

As long as you keep things simple, Siri commands work surprisingly well. I gave the lock a simple name ("front door") and was able to successfully lock or unlock it using my voice more than 90 percent of the time.

Bottom Line

If you use Apple’s HomeKit as your smart home system of choice, you’ll find that the Kwikset Premis operates seamlessly and admirably as a dead bolt for your primary entrance. With Siri voice control capability and the ability to create entry codes for guests, this lockset offers both security and convenience in a package easily operated by the entire family.

Credit: Kwikset

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