Schlage Connect review: The Z-Wave version of Schlage's smart deadbolt is big on brawn, not brains Credit: SchlageSupplied Art
Business Management

Schlage Connect review: The Z-Wave version of Schlage's smart deadbolt is big on brawn, not brains

It can get complicated figuring out various smart lock model names, so here’s the short of it when it comes to Schlage’s offerings: Schlage Connect is the version to get if you have a smart home hub, such as Wink or SmartThings. Schlage Sense is the company’s Wi-Fi and HomeKit-compatible smart deadbolt. Schlage Encode, meanwhile, also connects via Wi-Fi. Encode is not HomeKit compatible, but it does support the Amazon Key inside-your-front-door delivery service. 

All three locks come in multiple finishes and in two primary designs: Century if you’re looking for a modern design, or the more ornate Camelot if you prefer a traditional aesthetic.

It gets even more complicated from there, because you need to select a Schlage Connect based on the type of smart home hub you have: One version talks ZigBee (and is Amazon Key compatible ), and one speaks Z-Wave Plus (and is not Amazon Key compatible).

schlage connect century bright chrome Schlage

Schlage’s locks remain some of the largest you’ll find on the market, particularly the component that fits on the inside of the door.

The Z-Wave Plus version is also compatible with Ring Alarm, which came to market as a home security system, but is growing into a smart home hub via the recently launched Works With Ring certification process. The ZigBee version of the Connect is not currently Works With Ring certified.

Schlage Connect app 3 Christopher Null / IDG

A simplistic app interface (via Samsung SmartThings in this case) covers the basics—and little else.

You’ll also find older Z-Wave versions of this lock still on the market, and since they all look about the same, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the fine print to know which version you’re getting. The specific model reviewed here is the Z-Wave Plus version, model number BE469ZP CAM 619. Models without the ZP code use an older (but by no means obsolete) Z-Wave chipset that is slightly less secure, electronically speaking, although they are also considerably cheaper.

Don’t panic if you already have the version with the older Z-Wave chipset. The security hole in previous-generation Z-Wave technology is so difficult to exploit that it’s almost a non-issue (although those locks are not Works With Ring certified either).

As for the rest of the codes in the model name, CAM refers to the Camelot style, and 619 indicates a satin nickel finish.

Now that we all know what we’re looking at, let’s consider the actual lock. As with the Schlage Sense, it’s a monstrous beast, consuming 8.5 x 3 inches of real estate on the inside of your door once installed, and presenting a decidedly industrial appearance. Hardware installation is straightforward thanks to a revised and greatly simplified instruction manual, though the hefty, awkward components can take a little trial and error to get seated together properly.

Since this version of the Connect is a Z-Wave lock, it does not have its own app to install. In fact, you don’t need an app or a smart home system at all to use the lock’s smart features. All the programming can be done via careful coding through the numeric keypad on the front of the lock, the main function of which is adding and deleting PIN codes. Other settings, like disabling beeps, enabling automatic locking, and factory resets can be performed via the keypad too. (Note that you’ll want to head online for virtually all this documentation; the quick-start guide includes very little of it.)

schlage connect app 1 Christopher Null / IDG

An event log shows when the lock was engaged and disengaged, but it doesn’t reveal the manner in which that happened (with a PIN, via the hub, or with a physical key).

It took me a few tries to successfully add the Connect to a Samsung SmartThings hub, in part because I mistakenly used the old version of the SmartThings app, which contained outdated and inaccurate instructions. I found the correct instructions online and, to both Schlage’s and SmartThings’s credit, successfully got the lock working with SmartThings and the old version of the app, which I didn’t think would even be possible. Once I tried everything again with the proper version of the app, everything proceeded smoothly.

Within the SmartThings app you can do surprisingly little with the lock: You can manually lock and unlock it, check the battery, and see a history of recent activity. The history log isn’t completely reliable or thorough—and it’s mightily lacking in detail about how the door was locked or unlocked (via app, keypad, etc.)—but it’s more information than you’ll get without connecting it to a hub. You can’t add or remove new PINs here, time-restrict them, or see who’s coming and going based on their code, all of which makes this a poor choice for rental units and other complex entry environments.

Connecting via SmartThings also allows you to control the lock through Alexa and Google Assistant, and Alexa support was fine once I ran through the discovery process. Note that by default you can only lock the Schlage via Alexa, not unlock it, as this presents a potential security risk should someone be able to yell through your window for Alexa to open the front door. This can be changed via a settings menu, but if you’re that trusting of a person, perhaps you don’t need a smart lock anyway.

One other interesting feature of the Connect series is an onboard alarm that will sound if an incorrect PIN is entered too many times or if someone otherwise tampers with the lock. It’s not very loud, though, and it’s rather redundant if you’re linked to the lock to a smart home hub.

Mechanically, the lock works smoothly and without complaint, and the keypad is reliable easy to use, coated with a rough and tactile material that keeps fingerprint smudges (and those who might use them to sniff out your PIN) at bay. Compared to locks with their own apps, the reliance on a third-party hub and app leaves plenty to be desired by way of “smart” functionality, but strong and secure hardware goes at least some of the way toward easing that pain.

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