This smart home competitor is loaded with features
In the highly competitive world of smart door locks and home securing solutions, Lockly may not be the first brand that springs to mind. The market for smart locks is already relatively saturated thanks to entries from and the clout of companies such as August, Nest, Amazon, and even Kwikset.
This company is not, however, a newcomer in this space by any means and the gadget I was able to test, the Lockly Secure Pro - Deadbolt Edition - proves that this company is well suited to compete in even the premium segment.
Not only do both the Lockly Secure Pro Deadbolt and Secure Pro Latch devices offer the same level of security as their respective competitors. That stacks on additional features with a huge array of app-based controls and granular access management as well as making installation and setup as simple as possible with full and secure voice control once the installation is complete.
It's true that there are several cheaper options available and Lockly itself has a few options that are priced below the Secure Pro gadgets. There are devices with a wider array of aesthetic options since the Lockly Secure Pro gadgets are only available in Satin Nickel or Venetian Bronze. None of that means that these devices aren't worth considering or that they're overpriced starting at just under $300.
In addition to the convenience Lockly's newest smart locks provide, they allow for security that goes above and beyond with customizations, long battery life, and the ability to all but put an end to entry entirely at the flip of a switch.
After recently having the opportunity to check out one of their latest products, I can safely say this company and the Lockly Secure Pro Deadbolt, in particular, needs to be on your short list.
Everything’s included and easy to install
When it comes to any home improvement-type project, among the most important aspects to consider is just how easy that project is going to be. Lockly starts out making things easy by including a full set of easy-to-read instructions and the hardware needed to install the IoT device without needing to drill any holes.
In fact, every piece of this was completely put together out-of-the-box, making the process almost identical to installing any other deadbolt (or door latch in the case of the more standard lock).
That would not necessarily have been enough for my installation since I didn't already have a deadbolt and my door was metal. Making matters worse, I have almost no experience with this type of installation or putting proper holes into doors to install any lock, to begin with.
Lockly also includes full-scale templates for each side of the door and a guide to get everything lined up based on several common door thicknesses. That's alongside detailed step by step instructions from start to finish and an app that can be downloaded for a full video guide with interactive 3D visualizations of the process.
The one area this seems to differ from a standard deadbolt installation is the need to calibrate the lock by installing all but one of the included batteries to allow left/right calibration before placing the fourth.
The precision needed in cutting the hole for the bolt is different too since any grinding or rubbing will cause failures during locking or unlocking at a distance. Finally, a secondary hole can be cut for added stability or 3M sticky pads can be used which standard deadbolts don't need.
So, the entire process took less than two hours. It bears repeating that included not just the process putting the two sides of the lock together as would be the case if I’d already had and was just replacing a standard deadbolt (or a latch, for the other variant of this gadget). That particular portion of the process only took just over 10 minutes.
That includes several trips to the hardware store -- a ten-minute drive away -- to buy the appropriate hole-cutting bits and placing a new strike guard and catch for the deadbolt’s slide as well as setting up fingerprints and the Wi-Fi hub.
Locked down completely or not ...as needed
Stepping past the lengthy installation process and the Wi-Fi hub for Alexa and Assistant smart home integration, there are a few features on this particular lock that really seem to set it apart.
The first of those is embodied in a small switch that resides just above the locking mechanism itself on the interior side of the system. Toggled up, the lower portion of the switch has a green color while the top portion is red when toggled down. That symbolizes what the switch itself does, which is to completely deactivate the screen on the exterior display of this lock.
With the external display turned off, there are only two ways through the door the lock is placed on -- either by key or by 3D scanned fingerprint.
That effectively puts an end to entry by anybody other than pre-authorized parties in the users closest circle, adding an additional layer of security that doesn’t appear to be present on almost any competing system. If the home is entered -- or exited -- the switch toggles back to turn the display on, making it ideal for denying home entry after you’ve headed off to bed.
The battery life on the lock itself is exceptional too.
After weeks of use, we only noticed that drop by just one or two percent. I’m not entirely confident in the accuracy of that since I’ve periodically received in-app messages about improving the accuracy further by opening and closing the door. But getting locked out if the power goes out or if the batteries die isn’t a major problem either.
On the underside of the exterior casing, there are two metal nubs that allow the keypad and reader to be powered if the battery dies, locking the homeowner out. Holding a 9V battery to those powers it on and it works as it normally does, staying secure and providing ample time to get in and replace the batteries.
Thanks to an AES256 Encryption-secured Bluetooth connection, if a full power-outage occurs, users can still get in with what Lockly calls an “Offline Magic Key.” Available via the app, that hands out access codes to guests even without internet connectivity on the lock side.
Means of entry and app features
Setting aside voice entry or locking, there are a number of ways to enable or disable the lock with Lockly’s Secure Pro system. At first glance, managing all of those is overwhelming but the Lockly application keeps that and the lock’s other features organized and intuitive.
The simplest way to describe the features and the access methods is to explain how the application itself is laid out.
In true Material Design 2.0 fashion, that’s laid out with a bottom bar with icons split into four distinct sections. The control tab interface, aside from fingerprint access to the door, is the easiest way to check the lock’s status and to unlock or lock the door. That’s where the remaining battery life is shown and is the primary page loaded after getting set up as well.
A small icon at the top toggles between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity on that page, with the time and date show and a three-dash menu at the top right. Under that top menu, users can set up new devices, buy new products, and lock the app down behind another layer of security in case the device is lost or stolen. That’s also where guests can access one type of code via the “I Received an Invitation” option.
At the center of the UI, there’s a lock icon that shows whether the lock is engaged and allows unlocking or locking at a tap.
The “Log” section, as expected, provides a full history of unlocks, showing manual unlocks with the interior knob or key as well as named unlocks by fingerprint or code.
Under the “Access” tab, there are three sections, the first is labeled “Access Code” and provides three different types of assignable code. Each of those requires the user to download the application and enter a key in the above-mentioned invitation section to retrieve their entry “eKey” code but each also applies to a set time-frame and has different set-up conditions.
Adding a “Trusted User” allows a home’s guest to have permanent access until a lock administrator revokes access. It requires a Bluetooth connection to the lock when it's being set up the first time.
The second type, a standard “Guest” setup, allows the user to set a period of time during which access will be granted and can be set up from anywhere via mobile or Wi-Fi connection. The receiving user will need to use the app to gain access to the lock within 72 hours or the eKey will expire.
Finally, a “One-Time Access” code can be created too, that’s valid for a user-set period of time and does precisely what its name implies.
For Guests that won’t have the app, an Offline Access Code can be given on the second section of the Access tab. The code will be generated in-app by the homeowner and can be sent to guests however they choose but will only remain active for a set period of time. It doesn’t require the users to be online but will have to be put into the door pad twice to unlock the door.
Finally, up to 99 fingerprints can be stored for the easiest access.
In each of those modes, a name is given to the user who will have access so that the homeowner knows exactly who and when the lock was deactivated. Each of the pages has its own history too, for more efficient sorting depending on how the lock is primarily being used at the time.
Better still, incorrect entries on the keypad will lock down the system for an hour, giving the user time to find out if that was by accident or if the authorities need to be notified.
With Assistant or Alexa
Of course, in day to day use, you can forget the app entirely, especially with Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa integrated via the Wi-Fi hub (included in ‘Pro’ editions of the locks). A single tap on the touchpad will lock the door from the outside and the lock can be disengaged or clicked into place by name once it's been added to the respective AI.
Adding that is easy, requiring users to follow the usual steps for adding a device and with the lock appearing straight away rather than requiring complicated logins. I used Google Home and Assistant for integration but the process is likely as simplified on the other platform as well.
The best thing about using voice to unlock or lock the device is how well that integration performs. Voice recognition plays a role here to keep things extra secure. Locking the door simply requires the command “Hey Google, lock my front door” for instance but unlocking requires a key code that’s been tied to the users’ voice. Similarly, users can easily ask at a distance if the door lock is engaged.
So, when I set up the app, I was able to unlock or lock it with ease but other in the home were not able to unlock it even with my four-digit passkey. To unlock by voice, each user will need to be linked in with the app and set up their own passkey and the system didn’t allow the key to be abused even once -- not even by another user with a similar voice profile to my own.
The pin can be input via the keyboard on a mobile device too via the Google Home app.
The convenience of that feature and the assurance that it won’t be unlocked by somebody who knows my passkey and is standing outside of the door or a window near in-home Google Home devices shows unexpectedly robust attention to detail.
Making the secure environment your own
Moving beyond the basic, out-of-the-box functionality of the Lockly Secure Pro - Deadbolt Edition smart lock, there are a ton of options in the app settings to customize the experience too.
One of those, as noted above, is the door sensor feature noted above. The frame surrounding my doors were simply the wrong shape and size to accommodate the included door sensor but that's used to ensure the door was shut properly. The door was inset away from the frame by several inches. However, where that does work, it can be accessed via a Wi-Fi or mobile connection from anywhere and is turned on or off via the fourth 'Settings' tab in the UI.
Additionally, found under that tab, there are options to set a dedicated access code, time zone settings, audio settings for the on-lock beeper, and firmware updates for all of the included hardware. The audio beeper kicks on to inform the user they've connected or disconnected from the lock, among other things.
Some of the customizations available include the ability to set an auto-lock timer for anywhere from five seconds to five minutes. That turned out to be a life-saver when out and about since it meant that even if I forgot to lock the front door -- as long as the door was shut properly -- it would automatically lock after the allotted time.
Under another setting, called "RANDOM MODE," the keypad can be made even more secure. Without the mode enabled, Lockly's device already uses the company's patented PIN Genie technology to scramble the placement of grouped numbers on the pad between code entry. In RANDOM MODE, those are jumbled between individual presses, making it even harder for an onlooker to work out what code was put into the pad.
The granular control espoused in all of the settings and access options makes this lock suitable for a huge number of door-securing circumstances as features are turned off and on in whatever manner the situation might call for.
A word on the hardware and aesthetics
As pointed out early on, the Lockly Secure Pro doesn't set itself too far apart in terms of its aesthetic design, particularly in terms of colors available. Those that are available do a good job of being neutral so that they can seamlessly blend with most decor.
More importantly, the hardware feels extremely well made. Not only are the interior and exterior pieces solid and unmoving. The touchpad is very responsive, the gliding mechanisms operate smoothly, and the only sound to be heard is the motor inside. That's loud but not loud enough that I found it bothersome and it certainly can't be heard from outside of the door under most circumstances.
There don't appear to be any weak points in the design that would allow for easy entry or breaking either, just like a standard deadbolt.
Caveats need optimizing but still really worth the money
The primary drawbacks to the Lockly Secure Pro - Deadbolt Edition, in its current iteration chiefly stem from the software. The biggest of those is just how difficult setting up the Wi-Fi hub can be and how well that works as of this writing. Namely, the range of the hub is going to vary quite a lot depending on the surrounding environment and network environment but it seems to disconnect frequently when used as a means to connect directly.
That translates over to the Google Assistant side of things as well, with the lock sometimes taking one or two tries before it registers that it's supposed to lock and do so. That's only happened on the locking side and not the unlocking side, which leads me to believe it's a software issue rather than a component-based problem.
The presence of a physical key slot could also present problems if a determined thief happens to have lock picking skills but in that situation, a determined criminal isn't likely going to be stopped regardless of what kind of lock is installed.
Now, as to why this is still worth the money, the issue didn't extend to any other functionality. In every instance where it was tested, the system was able to tell when the door was locked or not. Bluetooth connectivity was solid too and there was never a time where any other features listed above failed. I also never needed to tell the lock more than twice to lock the doors.
Since installing the lock, there has already been one update to the software that made every other function operate much more smoothly. That means that if the abovementioned issue is software-related, it's not unlikely it will be fixed in a subsequent update.
Irrespective of whether or not the minor hub problem is the result of a software problem or a network environment issue, this is one of the most feature-rich and solidly-built smart locks I have yet to try out. In fact, it's more feature-rich than the overwhelming majority of its competitors in the mid-range price bracket.
So the caveats need to be taken in context to the fact that the Lockly Secure Pro’s issues effectively exist across all connected smart locks. The fact that it is so easy to install and so well-made means this is one IoT device that should be on the radar for anybody exploring that segment of the tech market.