Schlage has been making locks since 1920, and the only way to stay in business that long is to adapt with the times. The company's new Sense Smart Deadbolt lock works with Bluetooth and Apple's HomeKit to keep users connected their front doors at all times. Between encryption protocols, a digital keypad and a backup keyhole, Schlage aims to keep homes secure while offering more convenient ways to get in and out, including unlocking a door with just the sound of your voice.
I got a chance to see the smart deadbolt lock in action at a press event in New York City, and the lock appears to be a solid choice for those who insist connecting everything in their homes to the Internet. The smart deadbolt fits into most pre-built North American doors, and all that's needed to install it is a Philips head screwdriver.
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Once the Sense Smart is installed, a user can control it a number of different ways. By using an iOS app and connecting via Bluetooth, he or she can lock or unlock it, but that's fairly standard procedure. What's more interesting are the deadbolt's additional features.
Users can program up to 30 codes, ranging from four to eight digits in length, and then set parameters for times and days that the codes will work. For example, you could set up a code that allows a dog-walker to enter the house between 12 PM and 3 PM on weekdays, or for a family friend to enter anytime on weekends.
I found the keypad itself quite striking. The lock itself comes in three varieties: Matte Black, Satin Nickel and Aged Bronze, and each keypad has a slightly different font in keeping with the lock's design sensibility. The keypads are also responsive and remarkably resistant to fingerprints.
Beyond that, the smart deadbolt had a few other useful features. Since the Sense Smart is compatible with HomeKit, you can issue voice commands to lock and unlock the door via Siri. You can also program an audible tone whenever someone enters or leaves, and the lock can emit a siren if it detects forced entry. If you leave your home without locking the door, you can set the lock to shut automatically, in intervals between 15 seconds and four minutes.
Logistically, the device runs on 4 AA batteries, which should last it about a year. A clever "nuisance delay" will start popping up when the batteries get low, making users wait about a second before punching in keycodes. This should, in theory, remind you to change the batteries when asked.
The Schlage sense smart deadbolt does possess some limitations, though: Unless it's connected to an Apple TV via HomeKit, it cannot control locks from distant locations. Since the lock connects to the iOS app via Bluetooth, controlling it obviously isn't possible if you travel even a moderate distance away from your home. There's also no Android app, and no guarantee the device will get one; it's specifically designed to work with Apple's HomeKit, after all.
Still, if the Schlage lock sounds like something you want in your place of residence, it's available now for $229. You can pick it up at most home improvement stores, as well as online retailers such as Amazon.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.