Review: August Smart Lock Pro + Connect | iLounge

Review

Review: August Smart Lock Pro + Connect

A-
Highly Recommended

Company: August

Model: Smart Lock Pro + Connect

Price: $279

Share This Article:
Jesse Hollington

August impressed us with last year's second-generation August Smart Lock, a welcome iteration that took the company's very popular 2013 Yves Béhar designed original and added HomeKit support and some nice internal design improvements. Now August is back again with the third-generation of its flagship product, now dubbed the August Smart Lock Pro, which bundles in the August Connect bridge and adds new DoorSense technology, Z-Wave Plus compatibility, and improved power efficiency. The updated Pro is also joined by a new entry-level August Smart Lock ($149) that provides the standard August smart lock features without HomeKit or Z-Wave support, and August is also continuing to sell last year's August Smart Lock with HomeKit for $199 for users who may not need the more advanced features of the new model.

August Smart Lock Pro retains the same iconic design as its predecessor, and in fact you’d be hard-pressed to tell the two apart without a close visual inspection — Smart Lock Pro features a triangular grip pattern on the outer ring as compared to last year’s circular pattern. More importantly, though, August is packing more into the box than last time. While the universal mounting plate, tailpiece adapters and four preinstalled AA batteries are still included, the August Smart Lock Pro also now bundles the August Connect bridge — previously a separate $79 purchase — allowing users to access the August Smart Lock Pro when away from home either via the August app, Alexa, or Google Home. Although HomeKit doesn’t use August Connect — you’ll still need an Apple TV or iPad to act as a Home Hub for remote HomeKit access — the inclusion of the bridge is still a bonus even for HomeKit users, as you’ll need it to remotely access advanced features of the lock through the August app, such as issuing virtual keys and viewing your activity log.

The other very interesting addition to Smart Lock Pro is DoorSense, a new sensor designed to allow you to not only be able to confirm whether your deadbolt is fully extended into your door frame, but also whether your door is open or closed. DoorSense takes the form of a small magnet that can be either surface mounted on the inside of your door frame or flush mounted above the strike plate. The sensor comes set up in a surface mount housing that can simply be screwed on, but it can easily be popped out of the housing and attached to a cover for flush mounting.

One of the things we’ve liked about August’s smart locks from the beginning is that they don’t require you to replace your entire locking mechanism, and August Smart Lock Pro is no exception. The installation process is identical to last year’s version, requiring that you simply remove the inside plate of your deadbolt lock, attach the universal mounting plate in its place, slide on the color-coded tailpiece adapter specific to your brand of deadbolt, and snap the August Smart Lock into place. August thoughtfully includes an adhesive strip to hold the front part of your deadbolt in place while you’re working on the back of the lock, and the August app now includes a step-by-step tutorial to walk you through the process. With the majority of deadbolt locks, anybody who is comfortable with a screwdriver should be able to get August Smart Lock Pro installed in about two minutes. If you’re upgrading from last year’s August Smart Lock, the process is even simpler, as the same universal mounting plate is used — in that case you can just remove the second-generation Smart Lock and attach the new Smart Lock Pro in its place.

Installing the new DoorSense sensor is a little bit more involved, as you’ll need to either drill small holes for the two surface mount screws or drill a larger hole in the inside edge of your door frame for flush mounting the sensor. We opted for the flush mount installation in our case, which involved drilling a 5/8” hole on the inside edge of our door frame and then simply pushing the sensor into the hole. In our opinion, as long as you have the appropriate drill bit on hand and your door frame is compatible, we strongly recommend the flush mount option as it conceals the sensor entirely and ensures optimal positioning of the sensor; with the surface mount option, August recommends taping the sensor down first and calibrating it before permanently mounting it, however this is not required when flush mounting the sensor inside the door frame.

Once everything is installed, the August Smart Lock Pro is paired up with the August app in the same way as its predecessor, which will also add it into your HomeKit configuration in the process. The only major difference here is that during the calibration stage you’ll be able to also calibrate for DoorSense, which will take you through the process of not only locking and unlocking the door but also opening it and leaving it slightly ajar so that DoorSense can detect when your door is open or closed. The set up process will also now take you through joining the August Connect to your Wi-Fi network and ensuring that it’s placed within optimal Bluetooth range of the lock.

Once configured, August Smart Lock Pro provides the same basic features as the previous version, and in fact taken purely from a HomeKit perspective there’s actually nothing new at all (see our August Smart Lock with HomeKit review for more information on how the August Smart Lock works with HomeKit). As we noted last year, however, where August distinguishes itself is in the features that it provides beyond what HomeKit allows for. While last year’s version had some nice advanced features to begin with, DoorSense allows for even more interesting new tricks — the August app can now indicate whether your door is open or closed in addition to whether it’s locked or unlocked — the standard green circle is now only shown when the door is unlocked and closed, with a broken yellow circle used to indicate that the door is actually unlocked and opened. The solid red dot also confirms that the door is both locked and closed — if you extend the deadbolt while the door is open, the August app will indicate that with a broken red circle instead.

August’s auto-lock feature also takes advantage of DoorSense, allowing the door to be automatically locked once it’s closed — either immediately or after a user-specified delay. It’s a much more useful implementation in our opinion than the previous auto-lock feature, which merely re-locked the door a few minutes after it had been unlocked. August’s auto-unlock feature is also still here, and although it’s unchanged from the prior version, it’s still one of the best features of the August Smart Lock family, combining geolocation and Bluetooth proximity to automatically unlock your door as you approach it upon returning home. August’s Smart Keypad is also still available as a $79 add-on, and still works with Smart Lock Pro in the same manner as with last year’s lock, although it’s worth noting that August has added scheduled and time-based entry codes for Smart Keypad users in a software update earlier this year.

DoorSense also forms an important part of August’s new Active Monitoring, which is a new smart alert system that the company presently has in beta. Active Monitoring replaces the basic alerts of the original August app with the flexibility of customizable rule-based alerts. For example, you’ll be able to receive notifications when your door is opened or closed, or if it’s been left open for longer than a specified amount of time. Alerts can also be set to only notify of events that occur within a specific time window, such as late at night, or during the time of day when you expect your kids to be coming home from school, as well as only when specific users unlock the door, either manually from within the app or using auto-unlock. As the service is still in beta, not all of the alerts are yet available, but we definitely like the idea of more customizable alerts, and what’s been included so far appears to work quite well.

We’ve been pretty impressed with August’s products — the company’s second-generation HomeKit-enabled Smart Lock was our pick for best lock in our 2016 Best of the Year Awards — and the new Smart Lock Pro takes an already great product and makes it even better. While at $279 it doesn’t come cheap compared to other solutions, it provides good value for the price — by comparison last year’s second-generation Smart Lock came without the $79 August Connect bridge and was originally priced at $229. About the only real caveat here is the same one that we noted last year — August still sells the Smart Keypad as a separate product, which pushes the cost of August’s solution to almost $360 for users who want to be able to use numeric entry codes — either as a backup or for guests — as compared to solutions like Schlage’s Sense ($229) which include a built-in keypad; however in our opinion August’s more advanced features like auto-unlock will obviate the need for a keypad in many cases, and there’s no question that August offers one of the best iOS user experiences we’ve seen among locks. August’s new DoorSense technology also adds a whole new dimension to the experience, enabling a considerably more practical automatic locking feature and opening the doorway to more useful alerts (no pun intended). Also, although August’s addition of Z-Wave Plus Technology is out of the scope of an iOS-centric review, it’s still worth acknowledging that it’s a useful enhancement that will allow Smart Lock Pro to be incorporated into a wider array of home security and monitoring systems. While not everybody needs all of the advanced features of August Smart Lock Pro — something August is tacitly acknowledging by continuing to sell its second-generation Smart Lock with HomeKit — there’s no doubt in our minds that August’s new Smart Lock Pro is the lock to buy if you’ve got the budget for it.

 

Comments

Discuss

Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

Related First Looks + Reviews

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2017 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy