Smartphone Controlled Kevo Lock Tested

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on May 04, 2017

Smartlocks are a growing market, with millions sold. Kwikset's Kevo is one of the most common choices, using the Unikey smart phone access control platform.

Many like the concept of controlling locks with their phones but doing is not easy, as shown by hyped startup Lockitron struggling with design troubles and no clear winner yet in the market segment.

However, few products can claim the brand experience and market history of Kevo, who recently released a 2nd generation lock under the Kwikset brand. We bought a lock to test and run through the paces:

How well does Kevo work, and does it succeed where previous residential smart locks have failed? Inside, our test results.

Test ******** *******

*** **** ***** **** has **** **********, *** **** lengthy *** *********** *********** challenges:

  • **** ***** ******: ** *** *******, we **** ****** *** three ******* ** ********* the ****. ***** ******* mechanical **** *** ********* faster *** **** ******** in ********* *** **** than ***** *** ********** or ***-***** ********.
  • ******* *****: ** *** ****, ******* the ***** ******* ** consistently ******* *** *********** and ***** ****** ***% reliably, **** ********* ******* like **** ***** *********** and ***** *** ******** and ******* ************ *** responsive *** ******* *********.
  • ***** *** ****: **** ******* **** *** triggered ** ***-******** ******, but **** *** ****** manual *** **** ******. Kevo **** *** ********* or ******* **** ******** switches **** ****** **** a ******** **** ** opened, ******* **** *** door ***** ** ******** and *** ******** ******* without ********* *** ***** occured.
  • ******** *******, *** ****** Doors: **** **** ***** with *********** **** *******, but **** *** *** mortise **** *******. ****, Kevo **** ** ********* on ***** **** ******* spaces *** *********, ****** lock **** *** **** its *** **** ****, knob, ** ******. ***** those ***** ** ***** are ****** ** ********* doors, *** ******** **** style ** ******** ** interior, *******, ** *******/****** doors.
  • *** ***** ****** ******* Hub: **** **** *** to *******, ** ***** must ** ****** *** range ** *** *** app. ** ***** *** remote ****** *******, ** additional $*** *** **** be *********.

*** ************ ***** ***** the ******* ** ***** and ************ *********** *** and *********** **** ** out *** '****' ******** that *** ******/******** **** times *** *** *** when * ************* *** of ****** ** ******.

***** **** ********* *** prohibited ** **** ************ from ********** *****/**** ***** for *** ******* '**** egress' ************, **** ** *** suitable ********** *** **** ******** ********** **** *********** ***** like ********** *** ******.

Three ******* ** *********

**** **** ***** ******* to *******/******/**** * ****, and **** ****** *** of ****:

  • ********** ****: **** ******** *****, Kevo ***** **** *** mechanical **** *** ** activate *** **** **** for ********* ******* ***** apps ** ****, *** as * ******* ****** method ** ******* ***** is ****.
  • ********** ****/****: **** ***** **** use *** **** **** app ** ******** *** lock, *** * ********** fob **** **** ************ users ** ***** **** a **** ** **** have ** **** ** battery *****.
  • *****: *** ***** ****** enables * **** ** just ***** *** **** of *** **** ** open ** *****. ** examine **** ******* ** the ********* *******.

*** **** *** ****** users ** **** '*****' to ******, ******** **** also ******** *** ***. Kevo ***** *** ***** eKeys *** ****, *** each **** **** ** registered ** ******** ***** and **** ****** ** shared ***** ********* *****.

Touch Operation *******

******* **** *** **** shows *** *** ***** method ** ********* *** lock **** *** *** a *** ** ***, but **** ******** ***** to ***** *** **** face.

* '*****' ***** ***** the **** ** **** locked *** ******** ** shown *****.  *** ******** of *** ***** *** ring ******* ***** ** event, **** *** ***** flash ******* '******' *** the ***** ***** ******* 'unlocked':

** ***** ** ** responsive ** * *****, the **** **** **** an ******** *****'* ********* on/ *** ****** ** a ****** ** ****** on *** ******* (****** side) ** *** ****. Touch **** *** **** without *** ******** ** the *** ***** '****' within *****, **** ** they *** *** ********** handled ****** **** *********.

****** *************** **** ****** on *** ***** *******, there ** ******** *********** to *** ****** ***** to ******* ******** ** the **** ** ****, as ********* ** *** .gif *****.  ***** *** image ** ******** ** this ****** ** ****** bolt ******** **** ***** otherwise ** ****** ****** the *****, ****** ********* Kevo's ******** *** ********* to *** **** ** phones ** ********* ** both *********** *** ********* to *** ****. *** proper ********, *** ***** feature ******** *** **** be ****** *** ******* the ***** ** *** to ** **** ** user *******, *** ** the ****.

Timed **** *******: **** *******

** ****** *** **** time **** ****** ****, with *** ********* ******* in *********** ***** **** option. *** **** ****** used ******* ****, ******* 1.2.13 ** *** ***, and *** ******* ******* of *** ******:

  • ***(*.* *******): ***** *** phone *** (****** **/ iOS **.*.*), *** **** needed ** ******* ** event **** ***** *.* seconds, ***** *** ******** from ***** ***** ******** but ******* *** *** being ********. *** *** automatically ******** ** *** lock ** *** **** during *** ******* ** launching *** ***.
  • *****( * - ** seconds): ***** *** ******* touch ****, *** ******* generally **** *** ******** time ** ****, *** longer ** ******. ** lock * ****, ***** usually ********* *** ********* the ********* ** ***** * seconds. *******, ********* ****** more ********* ** *******, sometimes ****** ******** '*******' to *******. ** *** test, ***** ***** *** 'unlock' ************ ***** **** positioning *** **** ********** recalibrated *** *** ***. Once ****, *******, ***** generally ******** *** ******* in ***** * *******.
  • ****(* *******): ***** *** included **** ** ****** an ******* ******* *** the ******* ******. ** sampled *** ********* ***** ten ***** **** ****** keys **** ******-***** *** activating *** ****. ** general, ***** ****** **** about * *******, ****** it ****** **** ***** the *** ** *** authenticated '*****'.

*** **** *********** *****, the '***** ** ******' feature **** ** **** desired, ** ****** ********* the **** ******* **** to ******** * ***** or **** *** *********** with **** ****.  *******, that ********** ******* ** susceptible ** ****** *** may **** ******* *** phone ****-****** ** **** reliable.

Mixed ******* *******

********* ***** ********* ****** is ****'* ****** ******** review ******* ** ******** sites **** ******. *** the *** *** *****, **% of ******* *** '*-****', **** **% ****** '3-stars' ** *****, **** many ****** ******* **** the '*****' ********:

  • "*********** **** $*** *** a **** **** * still **** ** *** keys ****. *** ***** to **** ******* ***** about **% ** *** time... **** ****** **** on *** ***** *****."
  • "*** *******: **% ** the **** **** *** tap *** ****, ******* happens! *** *** *** lock, *** **** ***** swirls, *** **** *******!!!! There ***** ** ** no ***** ** ****** to ****."
  • "** ******* ***** ** to ** ***** ** get ** ** ****** by *****. ***** ***** an ******* ** ***, it **** ****** ** recalibrate, ******* *** ******** in *** **** ** the **** *** ******* minutes ***** *** ****** lights **** ****** *** around."
  • "******* ***** *** ***** many **** **** **** to ** ****** ***. To ***** *** "***** to ****" ***** *****. I **** ***** ** front ** ** **** for * ********** ****** of **** ******* *** tapping **** *** **** actually ********** ***** *% of *** ****."
  • "*** **** ****** ** get **** **** **** a ****** **** ** the ***** ** **** feature...unfortunately, **** ** *** part **** ** ** buggy ** ** **********. "

****** ********* ** **** that **** ** *** dissatisfied ******* **** ******* of ****** **** ** iOS **.* ****** **** has ***** **** ******** addressed ** ***** ******** releases. ***** *** **** performance *** ***** ********, Unikey's ********* ******* *** adept *** ********* ** troubleshooting ********, *** ****** other ******** ****** ******** like *********, *** ******* ******* able ** ******** ********* overall ******* ***********. 

Kevo ***** **********

*** ****** *** ******* options *** '**********', *** claiming ***** *** *** based ***** ********.

  • **** **** ~$***: ** ****** ** this ******.
  • **** **** ~$***: ***** ******** ******* 1 ****** ** *** box *** ******** ** Gen2 ******.
  • ****** ********* ~$***: ******** ** ****, this **** **** *** include * ********** **** cylinder *** ****, *** claims * ****** ** integration ******* ********* ***** HomeKit, *****, ****, *** other *-**** ********* *********** in ******.
  • ********* **** $** - $***: ***** Bolt ** ****** *** cheapest ** *** *****, it **** *** *** worst ******* ******* ** reseller ***** *** **** models ****** *********** '*-** weeks' ******* ***** ******** 2+ ***** ***.

** ***** ** ************ and ***, *** ** the ***** ******* *** new ***** ******** ** replace ******** ***-***** **** hardware ********* *** *** not ***** ** **** locks.

Lock ************

*** ******** ************, ******* ***** that **** *** ** installed ** **** ******** in ** ******* ** less.  **** *** ******** lock ** *******, **** replaces ** **** ***** main ****** - *** front ****, ** ********** deadbolt, *** *** **** controller ****.

*** ***** **** ** the **** ******* ********* a ******* **** ****, with *** ***** ********** being * **** ** LEDs **** ***** ** and **** ******** ** the ***** ** ******* lock ***** (****/********/***** *** so **).

*** '******' ** *** unit *** ********* ** the '**** ********** ****' installed ** *** ********/******* side ** *** ****.  This **** ******** *** battery ****** (*** *********), the ******** ******, * status ***, *** *** mechanical ********** **** ** lock *** ****:

*** ******** **** ******** a ***** '***********' ****** to ******* ************* **** installed, *** * ***** bank ** *********** **** control *** ***, *****, and '*****' ******** ** the ****.

Main ***** *********

****** **** ********* ******* on ******** *** ***** and ******** ** *** unit ** ********** * control ***** ** *** base. *** ***** ** run ******* *** **** cylindrical ***** **** *** is ******** **** *** base **** * *********** connector.

**** ***** ******** *** front '*****' ******* *** LED **** ** *** battery **** ** *** back ** *** ****. A ********** ********** *** also **** *** ***** lock ** *** ******** and ********* ** *** base *** ** ******** used ** ***** '********** only' **** *****.

Kevo *** *** *** *****

**** ** ******** ** be * *********** ********, but *** ***** ** knob ****. **** ***** that ***** **** **** one ***** ****, **** those ********* ****** ** office ** ****, ***** Kevo ******** ******** ******* hole ** ***** ** use *** **** ** else **** **** *** have * ****** ** knob.

**** ******** ***** **** two ***** *** ******* or ********* ******** ********* with * ******** *** use **** **** ** additional *************, *** **** can ****** ********* ** common **** *********** ** backset **********.

Bad ****** *** ******* *******

******** ********* ******** ********** three ******* ****** *** removing *** **** ***** to ****** *** ******* tray, ** ***** *****:

*********** **** ***** **** likely **** ** ****** batteries ** ***** **** and ******* ******** ***** per ****, ***** ****** to *** ******* **** would ** *******. ****, a ********* ****** ** ******** into *** ***** *** does *** ******* ****** to *** *********.

Unikey ****** *******

******, *** ******** ******* backends ** ******** ******** vendors, ******** ******* *** app *** ***-***** ************.

** *** ****, *** app ***** ******* *** fairly ******** **** *** iPhone ** *** ******* v1.2.13 **** ********.  ********** times *** ********** ***** varied, **** ****** ********* when *** *** **** were ******** ******, ** nearly ** ******* ** lag **** *** ***** and/or *** ******* **** hibernation ****.

*** *** ********* ** simple, **** *** **** button, *** * ************* log ** **** ******:

*** *** ** **** a ******* *** ** events **** ********* *** the ***.  ****** *** events *** *** *****, potentially ********* ** ******** activity, *** ***** ****** are *** ******* ***** as ******, *** ** valid ****/****** ******.

User ******** **** 

*** **** ***** ********, allowing *** ***** ** quickly ***** *** **** with *** ******** ****** tool ** * *** key***** *** **** *** keyway. **** ******* ****** a **** ** ****** keys ******* *** ******** of * ********* ** repin *** **** ** required ** **** *****.

** *** ****, *** feature ****** ****, ******** if **** ***** ** the ***** *******, ***** is ** **** ****** of ********* *** **** without ********** ***** ** a **** ** * locksmith.

*** ***** ***** ***** demos *** *******:

Needs ***** *** *** "****" ****** ******

** *** ****, *** of *** ******* ********* for **** ** **** it ****** ** ***** proximity ** ******, ****, touch, ** **** ** activate *** ****. ******* the ***-***** ********, ** users *** *** ****** BLE ***** ** *** lock, ** ******* ** possible.  **** ***** ***** remote ***** *** *** away **** *** **** have ** ******** ***** control ** *** ******* lock *** **** *** an ********** '****' ***, shown *****:

*******, ******* ***** ** additional ****** *********'****' *** *** ~$*** more ** ****** **** ******** base ****** ********. *** **** hub ** ******** ** bridge *** *** ******* the ***-***** **** *** an ******** ***** ****.

2nd ********** ****** ****** ********** ****

**** ********* * ****** generation Kevo **** **** ****** a ****** ** ************ over *** ******* **** model.  *** *********** ****** are ***** ** ********** lock ****** ***********:

  • ****** ****/****-********* ****: ***** *** **** of *** ****, *** 2nd *** **** ****** to ** ******* ** mechanically ******. **** ******** ** ****** lock *****, *******'* ***** ********** SmartLock **** *************** '********' ** ***** common ************ ***** ******* **** ** ** undetectable ******. *** *** ********** model ****** ** ****** the '****-****' ******* *** wafer ******* ** *** lock, ****** *** ******* much **** *********.  
  • ******* ***** ************: *** ******** **** used * ********* **** that *** ********** ** simple ***** ***** ******* and ***** ********** ** ************* *********** ******* *****. *** *** ********** model ****** ** ******* a ********** **** **** that ********* [**** ** longer *********] ***** ***** force ******* **** ******** components **** ******* *** lock **** ******* ** tampered ****. ***** ** did *** *********** *** lock ** *** **** (permanently ******** **), ***** are******* *********** ******* ********** videos ********** ********** ***** ****** changes.
  • ********** ******* ******: ** terms ** ******* *******, the *** ********** ***** has * ****** ***** and ***-*** ***** ********* that ********** ********** *** front ** *** ******** of *** ****.

****, *** **** ********** app *** **** ******* for ****** *** *******. However, ***** *** ******* is ********* **********, ******* support ** ******* ** specific ******* **** **** been ****** ** **** for *************.

Comments (6)

I purchased the lock in the above picture and I loved it at first but it keeps losing it's connection to the fobs (fobs are not cheap) and I keep having to reprogram them because they will not open the door so I have to take out my phone and open the app and then wait for it to connect to open the door. If you use the phone it does take much longer to work than just having the fob on you and touching the lock. 

I like the product but I would not purchase it again as it has way too many fob failures so I am going to try the Nest lock next time and see if it will do a better job because my Nest cameras and Nest thermostat work great.

Different product experience but worth mentioning: 

The potential for false 'locked' status.

I had a keypad controlled electronic deadbolt for a server room that did not trigger an alert if the deadbolt didn't properly extend.  The doorway's bolt alignment was not perfect, which meant you could punch in the lock code to extend the deadbolt but if the door was slightly open or being held closed it wouldn't go into the bolt slot but it the electronics would think it was secured.  You had to verify the bolt had fully locked each time (until we replaced it with a traditional keyed lock/bolt).

Very surprising the first time I pushed the locked door and it swung open!

I purchased this very lock several years ago and ended up pulling the battery pack and just using keys.  My opinion is that it was a waste of money.  The touch feature often would not work unless I opened the kevo app on my phone and as this article mentioned the delay was sometimes over 5 seconds.  Its a nice idea but this one is not ready for prime time.

Another problem that I did not like was in order for my wife and I to both use the touch feature we both had to have separate kevo online accounts with different email addresses.  I gave this product one star on Amazon...

I purchased this lock over 2 years ago.  I have to change the batteries about once a year, not a big inconvenience in my mind.  I don't have to unscrew anything to change them, just slide up the back and I have access to the batteries (I believe, it's been a while to be honest).  As for the extra hub needed for remote access, I agree that's a rip off.  I have it and in my opinion it makes it what it should be in the first place.  That being said, when I pull in my driveway, I can hit the unlock button before I grab anything from the car.  By the time I'm at the door it's unlocked. My last comment is, while it definitely is not faster than using your keys, it has been convenient for me to not bring them when I go for my nightly walks/run with my dog.  I bring my phone for music anyway, and don't have to worry about keys.

Based on the time you've owned it, you likely have the 1st generation lock.  I believe the battery tray is accessible on that model, but they changed it in the 2nd gen units.

Do you use the 'Touch to Open/Lock" features?  How does that work for you?

Most of the time, yes I use the touch to lock/unlock.  It used to work 100% of the time with amazing speed.  After the iOS 10 update, it slowed down considerably and probably works 97-98% of the time now.  The few times I hit it and it does nothing, if I open the app and touch it again, it opens.  Not ideal in those cases obviously, but I always think it's the same as if I pulled my key s out from my pocket.  One key thing I found is you have to let the app run in the background (even when app isn't open, option in settings) or you'll have to re-open the app.

I don't want to say it's perfect, because it's definitely not, but it's still the best I've seen out there.  One fun thing to add to this, is Ring, the smart doorbell.  When you link the two, when someone rings my doorbell, I can see who it is, and choose to  let them in (through Kevo integration), when I'm in the basement or upstairs in the office.  

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