The smart home is getting smarter, but not everyone wants to completely do away with their old systems. For example, while there are plenty of smart locks out there designed to completely replace your old lock in favor of a keypad or new keyhole, some people want to keep the ability to use their older keys.
That, however, is where August comes in with the August Smart Lock Pro, which fits onto your existing deadbolt and allows you to keep using your old key when you (or your landlord) wants to, while still adding the benefits of a smarter lock.
But while August is hailed by many as the best manufacturer of these retrofit smart locks, the August Smart Lock Pro still isn’t cheap: At $229 (around £179, AU$300) for just the lock, and $279 (around £219, AU$380) for the lock with the “Connect” Wi-Fi adapter, the August Smart Lock Pro is an investment.
Is it worth buying anyway? We installed one in our own home to find out.
Design and setup
When you first take the August Smart Lock Pro out of the box, you’ll notice that it’s a nice-looking lock. It’s certainly bulky at 3.4-inches wide and, at 2-inches deep protrudes from your door, but it’s clearly well-built with a nice aluminum finish. The result isn’t overly uninviting or opulent, the way some smart home tech can be.
Installing the device is easy: All you’ll need to do is download the August app, create an account, then open the menu and hit the “Set up a new device” button.
The app is good at walking you through the steps of installing the lock, but even if it wasn’t, doing it yourself is very easy. Simply take off the inside of your existing lock, find the right adapter, slot the lock into your door, and install the batteries. Really anyone with a screwdriver can do it – which is good news for those that find the concept of replacing their lock a little daunting.
Setting up the Connect Wi-Fi adapter is also pretty easy. Like with the lock, you simply have to open the menu and hit the “Set up a new device” button. Then tap on the Connect and do as the app says. (We found that when setting up the Connect it’s best to have it plugged into an outlet as close to your lock as possible.) It’ll likely be able to reach your Wi-Fi network pretty easily, but the Bluetooth connection built in to the lock by default is a little more limited.
There are a few things about the lock’s design that lend themselves to an easy experience. For starters, it’s extremely easy to use the lock manually. Simply turn the outside ring of the lock clockwise to lock the door, or anti-clockwise to unlock it. That’s perfect for most users, considering your partner is most likely a little less inclined to adopt new smart home tech than you are.
On top of that, the lock features a ring of lights on the front, indicating status, and it’s extremely easy to replace the batteries simply by pressing in on the August logo to remove the front cover.
In general the installation of the lock is very easy, and while the device is a bit bulky, it’s still well-designed and easy to use. It should fit right at home in any modern-looking house and will keep the landlord happy should they stop by for a visit.
We’ve already discussed the fact that the app makes it super easy to install the lock and related accessories, but thankfully it also makes it very easy to use the lock in day-to-day life, too: When you open the app, you’ll be greeted with an overview of your properties and locks, which makes it easy to jump to each lock, if you have multiple set up. Tap on a lock, and you can quickly lock or unlock it simply by tapping on the green or red circle.
Sometimes, we found that the app took a few second to find the lock and react to your command, but in general the app was very quick.
Simply locking and unlocking the August Smart Lock Pro isn’t all you can do from the app, however. You can also set up automation, which can be helpful for those that want to set up their lock and then forget about it. From the app, you can set the lock to automatically unlock when you leave a 200-foot radius around your home, meaning the door should be ready to open as soon as you get home.
You can also set the lock to automatically lock after a certain period of time – though we wish you could apply the same location-based automation as you can with unlocking the device.
Last but not least, you can set “smart alerts” to tell you when the door is locked or unlocked, when the door is left ajar, when the door is automatically locked or unlocked, and so on. In other words, it should be easy to always keep tabs on the status of your lock, if that’s something you want to do.
Function aside, the August app is relatively well-designed and easy to navigate. It looks pretty modern, and should fit right at home on any flagship smartphone. We did the majority of testing on an iPhone 7 Plus, and it worked perfectly fine.
Smart home compatibility
Thankfully, the August Smart Lock Pro doesn’t just work within the August app – you can also use the lock with other smart home devices.
For starters, it works with Apple’s HomeKit ... though, unfortunately, getting the Connect adapter doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use it remotely through HomeKit without a HomeKit hub like an Apple TV or HomePod. When added to HomeKit, you can control the lock with your voice, which is extra helpful. With a hub, you can also set up automation and notifications for the lock’s status, which can be very handy.
On top of HomeKit support, the August Smart Lock Pro also works with Z-Wave Plus products like the 2nd Gen Amazon Echo and Samsung SmartThings Hub, and, if you have the Connect, it’ll work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, too.
There are a few systems missing from the list, like Wink, but most of the major players are all covered.
The August Smart Lock is a great way to give your lock smart features without doing away with the good ol’ key. It’s responsive and super easy to use, plus the app looks and works great, too. Of course, it’s not perfect – the lock is a little bulkier than we would have liked, and it’d be nice to have more smart home integration.
For those that use HomeKit, Google Assistant, or Alexa, this may well be the way to go ... but It’s not the only way to go. If you are comfortable with doing away with your old key, then a device like the Schlage Sense might be more convenient for some, and it works with about as many smart home systems.
Still, for people who are renting, live with someone who prefer using a key, or who simply want a super easy-to-install and relatively well-designed device, the August Smart Lock Pro is a great option, and one that’s easy to recommend.