Up to 100 passcodes
Amazon Key compatible
Lacks some advanced features
Here are the Schlage Encode's specs:
- Keyway: Schlage "C" keyway, 5-pin tumbler (key included)
- Backset: Universal Backset Adjusts to 2-3/8" (60mm) or 2-3/4" (70mm) doors
- Door thickness: 1-3/8 in (35 mm) to 1-3/4 in (45 mm)
- Certifications: Commercial Standard Certification ANSI/BHMA A156.36 Commercial Grade 1 and Residential Standard Certification ANSI/BHMA A156.40-2015 Grade AAA in Security, Durability and Finish
- Connectivity: 2.4GHz WiFi
- Code capacity: Up to 100 4-digit access codes
- Dimensions: 3" x 5" x 0.9" (exterior portion) and 3" x 5.5" x 2.2" (interior portion)
- Power source: 4 AA batteries
You can buy the Schlage Encode in two styles—the modern Century and the more traditional Camelot—in colors like Satin Nickel, Matte Black, Bright Chrome, and Aged Bronze to match whatever doorknob you already have. Alternatively, you can buy it bundled with its own matching handle in black.
What We Like
It's incredibly easy to set up
Having tested numerous smart locks over the years, I can confidently say that the Schlage Encode is one of the easiest to set up. Even if you've never replaced a deadbolt before, the instructions and in-app tutorial will walk you right through the process with few hiccups. Unlike more complex locks, which might require special cable routing, extra brackets and sensors, or lots of fiddling to get everything set up, the Schlage Encode is very straightforward, and should be doable with nothing but a philips-head screwdriver.
The app is similarly easy: you'll need to create an account with Schlage, but once you do so, adding your lock to the app should be very simple. I only ran into one quirk: When requesting a two-factor authentication code, which is required for setup, the "Resend Code" button is much more prominent than the "Submit" button, so I kept instinctively hitting the wrong button rather than submitting the code I had. Be sure to press the Submit button in the upper right-hand corner when entering the code Schlage texts you.
Note that all smart locks may require some tinkering with your doorjamb and strike plate. You need to be able to turn the knob without putting any pressure on the door, so if your door sticks or doesn't slide perfectly into the doorjamb, you may need to widen the deadbolt's hole—or fix the door with the help of a professional. One of the doors in my house works with smart locks just fine, while the other needed me to widen the hole for easier locking.
It's responsive and reliable
It doesn't matter how many features your smart lock has if it only works half the time. Our favorite part of the Schlage Encode—and one of the reasons we awarded it our "Best Overall" title in our list of the best smart locks—is how well it responds to commands. When you tap the lock button in the app, ask Alexa to lock your door, or press the lock button on the keypad, the Encode responds within a few seconds, and the mechanism is really quiet to boot—not so with most other smart locks, which can get a little noisy.
While it's not the only reliable lock on the market, many other locks may be slower to register or have clunky apps that take longer to load the lock's status. Speed and reliability may not be sexy features, but they're some of the most important. You want something that works every single time, without you wondering whether something went wonky.
It works with Alexa, Google, Ring, and Amazon Key
I think voice control is one of the most useful parts of any smart home device, though many smart locks—particularly those based on Bluetooth—won't work with Alexa unless you buy a separate WiFi bridge (if the manufacturer even offers one). Since the Schlage Encode works over WiFi by default, you never have to futz with Bluetooth settings, and it integrates easily with services like Alexa and Google Assistant.
There's nothing quite like locking your doors as you head upstairs for the night, or from your car as you're leaving the house. This should be standard with any smart home product, but with locks, it isn't always included.
The Schlage Encode also supports Amazon Key, so you can easily allow delivery people to unlock your door and deliver the package inside. This is completely optional, though, so if you'd rather not give access to strangers, you don't have to. If you have a Ring doorbell or security camera, Amazon Key will even let you unlock the door from the Ring app, as you check who's knocking.
What We Don't Like
It's not as versatile as other locks
Many smart locks offer fingerprint scanners for super-quick access, geofencing that auto-unlocks when you arrive home, or the ability to notify you if your door is left open. The Schlage Encode offers none of these advanced features, sticking with the basic keypad as its main method for front-door access. For most people, this is fine—I'd argue a keypad is the most important of these features, as it allows you to give anyone access without them downloading an app or being present to register a fingerprint. It is, however, slightly less convenient than some of the other options, so it isn't quite as exciting as the Encode's more versatile competitors.
In addition, while I'm happy to see Alexa and Google Assistant on the Schlage Encode, it's lacking in smart home integration overall. It doesn't support smart home platforms like SmartThings, HomeKit, or IFTTT, nor can you add it to other security systems like Abode. For hardcore smart home enthusiasts, the Encode may be a bit too basic—but for most people's needs, it does the important stuff and it does it well, which is what matters most.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, as long as it fits your budget and use case
The Schlage Encode costs between $200 and $275 depending on the color and style you choose, which is on the higher end of average for smart locks we've tested. Couple that with its slightly smaller feature set, and it's not necessarily for everyone—but its overall quality is some of the best we've seen, and it's still the first smart lock we'd recommend to most people. It contains all the most crucial features (like a keypad, virtual keys, and voice control over WiFi), and it's so easy, quiet, and reliable that we think it'll suit the majority of users better than cheaper or more advanced options.
That said, the smart lock that's best for you will have a lot to do with how you use it. If you're looking to unlock your door as fast as possible when you come home, I'd go for the Kwikset Halo Touch. which uses a fingerprint scanner instead of a 4-digit code for a similar cost. If you're on a stricter budget, check out our Best Value pick, the Wyze Lock. It's slightly clunkier and the keypad is a separate purchase, but it's extremely reliable and costs just under $100. If you have a fully decked-out smart home and want your lock to integrate with all your other products, the August Smart Lock Pro may be more your speed, thanks to its HomeKit support, Z-Wave compatibility, and feature-rich app.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Whitson Gordon is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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