Would you entrust your home security to August’s new smart lock?
I’m a bit torn about smart locks. On one hand, I never leave my home without my phone but have been known to leave my keys behind, demonstrating a baffling order of priorities. On the other, my phone’s battery life is not what it was, and I’d look really stupid having to explain my life decisions to an emergency locksmith. On a biologically implausible third hand, I do like the idea that I can check my phone and make sure I remembered to lock the front door, rather than having a constant nagging feeling that all my earthly possessions are being systematically removed from the house.
The one thing keeping me permanently on the fence about the whole thing is the price involved. Making your locks smart costs hundreds of pounds, while cutting a spare key costs a couple of quid. Still, others are clearly more free-spending than I, and August is back with a couple of new smart locks and a smart doorbell. This is what you get for your money.
At the top of the new range is the $279 (~£206) Smart Lock Pro. Its pro features amount to a slightly snazzier design, and a broader range of connectivity options with support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HomeKit and Z-Wave Plus. The more prosaically designed Smart Lock, meanwhile, comes in at $149 (~£110), has fewer connectivity options, but still has the same party tricks: a sensor will tell you if the door is really closed, you can lock your home remotely, and you can set up temporary keys for guests – which is handy if you happen to own a property with Airbnb tenants.
Incidentally, it’s a common misconception that smart locks make conventional keys redundant. Because the device sits on the inside of the door, you can still lock and unlock your door with a regular key. The device is battery-powered but, like a Fitbit or a Tile, it will send you an email when it’s running low on juice, giving you plenty of time to remedy the issue.
Completing August’s new range is the August Doorbell Cam Pro, which lets you see the people ringing the doorbell: is it the Amazon parcel you ordered, or a door-to-door salesperson? The new version adds in a built-in floodlight to make images clearer in the evening, buffered video that captures the steps leading up to a doorbell press, and improved streaming video quality. It retails for $199 (~£147) – which is the same price the current version goes for in the States.
Good improvements all round then, although I’m still unconvinced that the advantages offered are anything better than just cutting an extra key. Keys fit easily under a plant pot. Batteries do not.