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Circuit Breaker

August’s third-generation smart lock is uncomplicated and cheap

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Photo: August

Much like Nest did a few weeks ago with its Thermostat E, August has begun offering a cheaper version of its flagship product with a fresh design. August’s new third-generation Smart Lock has moved away from the circular design that it was known for (which can still be found on the Smart Lock Pro) to a more elongated look with a physical turn key.

The first thing you’ll notice (or won’t) about the new Smart Lock is that it won’t confound your friends or family members who haven’t seen a smart lock before. It looks rather normal, and in the few weeks I’ve been using it, no one has even mentioned it. That’s a drastic shift from the circular design, which was a talking point every time someone laid eyes on it.

But that’s what smart home products should do: blend in with your home without calling attention to themselves. It took three generations, but August has finally accomplished that.

Photo: August

The Smart Lock has been pretty much flawless for me. I’ve locked myself out of my house twice and was able to get back in, thanks to the fact that the app connects to the Smart Lock over Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi. That made me reconsider which smart device one should start building their smart home with. In my experience, most people start with light bulbs or a smart speaker, but maybe we should start with a smart lock? It can save you in a pinch, especially if you get locked out late at night, and help avoid a costly call to a locksmith (or an embarrassing one to your landlord).

As usual with August products, the installation was pretty simple: you don’t have to swap out your deadbolt so you can keep your keys, and the entire process took about 15 minutes. Although Nest went with the strategy of building the same product with different materials at a cheaper price with its Thermostat E, August’s new Smart Lock is lacking a number of features compared to the Smart Lock Pro.

There’s no Z-Wave Plus or Apple HomeKit support, and without the $79 August Connect bridge, you can’t use Alexa or Google Assistant, or remotely control your lock away from your home either. Those are notable missing features, but it makes the price gap — $279 for the Pro and $149 for the standard Smart Lock — a bit more understandable, and August won’t cannibalize its product line like Nest may have done.

Photo: August

You can still use the Auto-Unlock features, track who is coming and going, and send guest keys to visitors for easy access. It also comes with DoorSense, which will alert you if your door is unlocked, and double the battery life of its predecessor. But if you want to use voice controls, you’ll need the Connect bridge or the Smart Lock Pro.

So which August Smart Lock should you buy? If your main desire is to be able to unlock or lock your door with your voice, or you have a smart home system based on Z-Wave Plus, you should probably get the Pro. But if you just want to keep from getting locked out and you’re willing to live with people who will be confused or irritated by the round design of the Pro, the third-generation Smart Lock is probably the best choice. You get the smart features without drastic aesthetic changes, and that should be the goal for every smart device right now. It’s no wonder August just got bought by the biggest lock maker in the world.

The August Smart Lock is available in silver and dark gray for $149 from August.com and on Amazon.