Tom's Guide Verdict
The Level Lock Touch lets you open it with just a tap of your finger.
Fits most doors
Can be opened by App, key card, or fob
The touch-to-open feature is cool
No Google Assistant support
Touch to unlock sometimes takes a few seconds
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Open your door with a touch? It sounds like something from the Jetsons, but it isn’t. The Level Lock Touch edition does just this, working with the Level Home app to make opening the front door easier. When it is all set up, you can unlock the front door with the touch of a finger — a feature that separates it from the rest of the best smart locks.
For the less technically savvy, It can also be used as a standard lock (with two included keys), work with smart cards, or integrate with an Apple HomeKit or Ring smart home. If you want to keep your existing lock and keys, check out the Level Bolt, which replaces just the internal deadbolt mechanism, but as this Level Lock Touch edition review will show, it’s a great option for a new door or completely replacing an existing lock.
Level Lock Touch review: Price & Availability
Level also makes the Level Bolt ($199), which replaces the bolt mechanism in your door lock, and is otherwise completely hidden from view.
Level Lock Touch review: Design
When the Level Lock Touch is installed, it looks like a standard, no-frills deadbolt lock with a simple, modern design. We tested the Satin Nickel finish, and it looked attractive against an older wooden door.
The smarts of the lock are all built into the mechanism that fits inside the door: there is no indication it is a smart lock apart from a discreet Level logo on the end of the deadbolt. That’s a nice change from the somewhat obvious look of most smart locks, which are visible to a casual passer-by and advertise their technology.
Level Lock Touch review: Installation
Like most locks, the installation of the Level Lock Touch depends on the door. Most modern doors will come with pre-cut holes for the mechanism and the deadbolt, so it is just a question of following the instructions to install the mechanism, put the battery inside the deadbolt and screw everything into place. Older doors may require a bit more work because the mechanism that fits inside the door is bigger than non-smart locks. If the hole through the door isn’t quite wide enough, you may have to make it bigger using a lock drill jig and a drill to enlarge the hole for the mechanism. That was the case on the older door that I installed the Lever Lock onto, where the hole through the door had been drilled for the smaller mechanism of a manual deadbolt.
You should also definitely check the dimensions of the door and the existing holes before you buy as well: the Level Lock will only work with standard 1 ¾-inch thick doors with a 2 ⅜ or 2 ¾ inch backset (the distance between the edge of the door and the center of the lock mechanism). It won’t work on thinner doors and can’t replace a mortise lock. Level offers a neat guide that tells you if it will work with a few questions.
Level Lock Touch review: Performance
Once the lock was installed, it was time to get the Level Home app (available for iOS and Android) and connect the two. I tested this on Android and found it was mostly hassle-free, except that the Level Home app requires more permissions than most. You have to give it permission to not be suspended by Android (so it can run in the background when needed) and to access your location all of the time. That’s because the app has to be running and to know your location to detect that you are at your front door.
Like some other smart lock, the Level Touch uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone, but also uses your phone's GPS to make sure it is you and not an interloper. For instance, when you leave the house and get in your car, it won’t enable the touch to open until you have moved away from home and then come home again. That’s to prevent someone from using the touch-to-open feature when you are in the driveway.
Touching the lock front to unlock the door is definitely cool, and could be very useful if you are carrying things or are herding your children. It does take a few seconds to work, though, which may just be long enough to make you think it isn’t working and start getting out your keys. You can disable this feature for both locking and unlocking the door if required: having the ability to lock the door with a tap on your way out is much easier than using a key if you are in a hurry.
The Level Touch also comes with Key Cards, credit-card-sized NFC cards that can be used to unlock the door. Two of these come with the lock, and Level also sells keyfob versions of these. These are a useful option for kids who don’t have cell phones yet or those who often leave them at home: stick one in the school bag and they have a way to get in if needed.
For those who are really bad at remembering to take keys with them, you can also buy an $80 wireless keypad that can be programmed to work with any or all of your Level locks. You can also integrate the lock with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa smart home services, as well as Ring systems. There is no support for Google Home though. It is also easy to provide access to other users: you can create limited-time passes or add new users from your contacts. They then get an invite to download the Level Home app and a one-time link that adds them to the list of users.
Level Lock Touch review: Verdict
The Level Lock Touch adds some nice new features over other smart locks: it is definitely nice to be able to unlock the door with a touch without taking anything out of your pocket. The key cards/fobs are also a useful feature for those without cell phones. That comes at the cost of more cost and complexity, though: you have to replace the entire lock and the new one is not rekeyable, so you’ll need to get new keys cut for everyone (Two keys are included with the Level Lock Touch). So you lose some of the advantages of the Level Lock.
It is also more expensive: the Touch costs $329, which is more expensive than many of the best smart locks such as our top pick, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, which is usually around $249. iPhone or Apple Watch owners might also want to consider the Schlage Encode Plus, which lets you open your door with a mere tap of your phone or watch against the lock. But, there’s no getting around the convenience of using a fob or merely your finger to open your door.
Richard Baguley has been working as a technology writer and journalist since 1993. As well as contributing to Tom's Guide, he writes for Cnet, T3, Wired and many other publications.
I like the idea of the touch feature but I’m curious about how far an iPhone or Watch has to be for touch to not work. Bluetooth has a range of 30 feet. NFC has a range (I think) of 3 cm.Reply
What technology does the lock use for touch — Bluetooth or NFC? Their tags and keycard use NFC but it’s not clear which the iPhone and Watch use. I’m assuming NFC but want to verify before buying a lock.
Here’s why I’m asking…
If me and my iPhone are inside a locked home and within a few feet of the lock can someone outside of the home unlock the door by touching the lock?