Schlage Encode Plus smart deadbolt is exactly the lock I've been waiting for

Friday I received my Schlage Encode Plus smart deadbolt lock, and this morning (Sunday) I installed it.

I've been waiting for the release of this lock since I first read about its announcement at CES 2022.

I'm a picky smart home hobbyist. In my last home I went full Z-Wave with Samsung SmartThings for the controller, but my experience was meh (I'll write that story someday). Since I purchased my new home in July I've gone the other way- I'm trying to connect as many things as possible with WiFi, and using vendor specific technologies, and tying it together with Apple HomeKit.

Here were my basic requirements:

  1. I can use my iPhone to unlock the door, preferably without a bunch of navigation to/in a crappy app
  2. Supports multiple family members without password sharing or fees
  3. Connects to home/cloud using WiFi; no hub needed
  4. I can use a smart home app to see if I remembered to lock my door, and lock or unlock it remotely.
  5. Can use a PIN code if I don't have my phone
  6. Has a physical key if the electronics aren't working
  7. Doesn't look weird.

Apple announced recently that their wallet app on iOS would support digital home and hotel keys in addition to car keys. Since then I've decided that is the solution to my requirements #1-4: no vendor app, HomeKit support, multi-user home sharing, WiFi connectivity, no hub - it checks all the boxes.

Most smart locks nowadays support PIN codes (although sometimes requiring their own app and maybe bluetooth), but not all of them support keys, and those tend to look weird. No thanks.

Schlage's new lock supports the new home key feature, so I got on the wait list and ordered it as soon as it was available.

I'm very happy with it so far. Install was straightforward (the house already had a last-gen z-wave smart deadbolt from Kwikset), and it was super easy to pair with HomeKit by just scanning a QR code and holding the phone up to the lock.

Configuring users took less than a minute each. Open the HomeKit app, it invites you to add the home key to your wallet. Walk over to the lock, tap your phone to the lock, wait a few seconds- done. Minor gripe- it doesn't show you progress while it's provisioning and it takes longer than you might expect, but just be patient. After you add home key, the HomeKit app asks you if you want to set a PIN. Tap OK, enter the 4-8 digit PIN on your phone, wait a few (or more than a few) seconds, and done. Super easy.

Locking and unlocking is literally just walk up and tap your phone to the lock, just like Apple Pay. You can choose whether or not to require FaceID. So far it seems very reliable and repeatable. PIN entry is also super easy, click the unlock button and tap in your PIN on the lock. The old Kwikset lock was more complex; this is about as simple as they could have made it.

Overall I'm very happy with my new lock. No complaints at all so far.

Next step is that I'm going to try replacing the cylinder to one with a Kwikset keyway so that I can use the same key for the deadbolt as for the rest of the house. If that works, then I'll replace the other two exterior doors with the same setup. I wonder how HomeKit handles multiple smart locks - can it use the same key?