Technology can be disruptive, changing the way we do even the most basic things. However, tech can also go with the flow, working with existing infrastructure rather than supplanting it. The SwitchBot Lock is one such technology, designed to work with the door locks many of us already have in place.
For the most part, the SwitchBot Lock succeeds in its promise of being a smart, simple, keyless door lock. However, its excellent $99.99 price point may be a mirage for some owners as they’ll need to add a few optional accessories to help the SwitchBot Lock reach its full potential.
Understanding the SwitchBot Lock
The SwitchBot Lock is installed solely over the door lock on the interior of your home, so there’s no concern for things like weather or bad actors knowing about or having access to the device. It’s compatible with Deadbolt or Jimmy-Proof locks, including those from popular brands like Kwikset, Schlage, Baldwin, Emtek, and Omnia.
The SwitchBot Lock utilizes ATS-128-CTR encryption as a safeguard against any potential threats.
Essentially, if your interior door lock has a nub that you’re able to turn by hand, the SwitchBot Lock should work with it, although the company does have a compatibility checker on its website that can let you know for sure.
The lock I’m using the SwitchBot Lock on is a Schlage Deadbolt. Although I don’t know the exact Schlage model, it’s physically identical to the B60 622 SwitchBot lists on its website.
Setup: Ready to Go
- Material: PC+ABS
- Product Size: 4.4 x 2.3 x 2.9in (111.6 x 59 x 73.2mm)
- Weight: 8.9oz (253g)
- Power Input: 3V CR123A (x2)
- Battery Life: At least 6 months (10 turns per day average)
- Motor Life: Up to 50,000 life cycles, or around 10 years (10 turns per day average)
In the box is the SwitchBot Lock main unit with a pre-installed pair of 3V CR123A batteries, PH1 cross head screwdriver, a magnet, a pair of SwitchBot NFC tags, 6 NFC tag memo stickers, additional double-sided tape, wet wipe, 3 thumbturn adaptors (1 is pre-installed), and a user manual. It’s a fairly comprehensive package that should cover most installation needs and even a re-do.
To make use of the SwitchBot Lock, you need an iPhone or Android smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth 4.2 or higher, the SwitchBot app (available for iPhone and Android), and a free SwitchBot account. Installing and running the SwitchBot app is the first step in the setup and installation process.
Using the App and Installation
- System Requirements: iOS 11.0 or newer, Android 5.0 or newer; SwitchBot Tag: iOS 13.0 or newer, iPhone XR or newer models; Android 5.0 or newer, any models that support NFC; Apple Watch: Apple Watch Series 2 or newer models and WatchOS 4.0 or newer versions
- Communication Mode: Bluetooth 5.0 (compatible with Bluetooth 4.2 or above)
After installing the app on my iPhone 12 Pro Max, I gave it permission to use my location while using the app, Bluetooth access, and the ability to send me notifications so all of the features would work. Unfortunately, I was neither prompted to create an account nor to add and set up the SwitchBot Lock.
I manually signed up for a SwitchBot account, creating a username and password. After entering the verification code sent to my email, which activated my account, I tapped the “+” icon to add a device. I pulled the battery tab on the top of the lock and the app found the SwitchBot Lock. At that point, it prompted me to give the lock a name, which I did. There was also an option to pick the room the lock was going to be placed in, but that was greyed out.
The next option was to either install the SwitchBot Lock or be walked through the process by the app with a video or pictorial guide. I chose the pictorial guide, which mirrored the steps on the rear of the manual.
The first step indicated was to clean the installation surface with the included wet wipe. The second step was to select an adaptor from the three provided that fit my lock thumbturn. The pre-installed adaptor was too narrow for my lock type, so I needed to swap it out for the XL size. Unfortunately, there were no instructions on how to swap the adaptor, but I was able to refer to the setup video to see that it clicks in and out.
In the meantime, the app logged me out. After logging back in, I was greeted with a calibration error because I never finished the lock installation process (and a prompt to upgrade the firmware). I let the app upgrade the lock’s firmware while I continued the lock installation process.
The third major step was tuning the height of the SwitchBot Lock. This involves adjusting the main unit stand with the included screwdriver and pulling the stand outwards until it’s the correct distance. Placement was fiddly, but I eventually figured out that the bolt would turn smoothly if the SwitchBot Lock adaptor was placed towards the lowest, widest part of the door lock.
Once the placement was correct, I secured the four screws on the main unit stand and removed the backing from the pre-installed double-sided tape, securing it to the door. I returned to the app to calibrate the SwitchBot Lock, which involved manually unlocking and locking the door, then having it automatically unlock and lock. Success.
Although the setup experience could have been better, once I got through it, I found watching the SwitchBot Lock automatically lock and unlock the door to be a pretty magical experience. There’s a slight mechanical whir as the lock turns in a ghostly manner and then a brief, steady green light to indicate a successful lock or unlock.
I typically enter and exit on foot through an electric garage door. That’s hardly energy efficient, particularly with a family of five. Going through the garage door either using a remote opener or entering a code on a keypad beats having to worry about a key, of course, but with the SwitchBot Lock, I was able to greatly reduce my usage of the garage door without having to change my keyless policy.
Besides using the app on my smartphone to control the SwitchBot Lock, I was also able to use my Apple Watch Series 7, although you need a Series 2 or newer. As with the phone, when in Bluetooth range, the SwitchBot watch app allows for simple locking and unlocking functions. To enable control outside of Bluetooth range and many other features, including notifications, a SwitchBot Hub Mini must be added, which I discuss in the next section.
Now onto the two included NFC tags, which can be programmed to lock or unlock directly from a compatible phone or tablet. The idea is that one tag is programmed to trigger the lock function and the other tag is programmed to trigger the unlock function.
What this means in real terms is that when you tap your phone on one of the programmed NFC tags, say the one set to “lock,” your phone will prompt you to open the SwitchBot app and then automatically execute the lock command. For my purposes, I didn’t find this feature particularly useful, but it’s still nice that it’s an option.
The battery should last for about 6 months of daily usage, which is considered 10 lock turns per day. When the battery level drops below 20%, the SwitchBot Lock flashes red and makes a sound with every lock and unlock. Although the 3V CR123A batteries aren’t the most common, they’re easy enough to source and replace by simply popping off the top cover on the SwitchBot Lock.
Compatibility and Must-Have Accessories?
- Third-party Services: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, IFTTT, SmartThings, LINE Clova, API
- Encryption: AES-128-CTR
If you want to control the SwitchBot Lock remotely, receive notifications, or use third-party services, you must buy and set up the SwitchBot Hub Mini.
This is billed as a compact all-in-one infrared remote control for smart homes, connecting any compatible appliance, including a whole range of SwitchBot products, so they can be easily controlled from any location where you have an internet connection.
SwitchBot Hub Mini
Control your SwitchBot accessories and locks remotely and through your favorite voice assistant with this accessory.
Priced at $49, it’s a requirement if you want to enable access to smart assistants and third party services like Alexa, Google Home, Siri, IFTTT, and SmartThings, as well as the SwitchBot app’s more useful features like setting a scene or widgets.
For instance, with the SwitchBot Hub Mini, the SwitchBot Lock’s locked, unlocked, door closed, and door open states can be used to trigger other SwitchBot devices, like the SwitchBot Bot smart switch. So by simply unlocking your door, you can automatically turn on a light.
Similarly, the SwitchBot Hub Mini allows for phone widgets, which create quick access functions that let you avoid the slow process of opening the app and tapping on a commonly accessed function like unlocking the SwitchBot Lock.
Perhaps the most useful accessories, and ones that don’t even require the SwitchBot Hub Mini, are the SwitchBot Keypads. The SwitchBot Keypad is priced at $29.99 and gives you a one-touch lock button, as well as number password or NFC tag unlock functionality.
The SwitchBot Keypad Touch is priced at $59.99 and adds a fingerprint reader to the standard feature-set. Both SwitchBot Keypads are backlit, IP65 waterproof, and provide about two years of battery life using the same type of 3V CR123A batteries as the SwitchBot Lock.
SwitchBot Smart Keypad Touch
Quickly unlock your SwitchBot Lock using your fingerprint or passcode.
For me, either Keypad transforms the SwitchBot Lock into a dramatically more useful and versatile smart lock, particularly if I misplace my phone or I’m not wearing my Apple Watch. It’s great for giving access to trusted friends and family as well with the ability to set additional passcodes, including temporary ones.
Should You Buy the SwitchBot Lock?
Despite the frustrations with the app and not providing the best guidance on how to physically set up and install the SwitchBot Lock, there’s no denying that once you get past all of that, this keyless door lock does exactly what it says it does.
Having the ability to remotely lock or unlock your door, especially with no permanent modifications, is incredibly useful, particularly in this day and age of carrying our smartphones everywhere (and, increasingly, wearing a smartwatch).
Of course, all of the advanced, and arguably some essential, features require an additional purchase of a SwitchBot Hub Mini. I also personally consider one of the SwitchBot Keypads as essential. Nevertheless, even if these add-ons aren’t really optional for most people, at least they’re reasonably priced. Accessorized or not, the SwitchBot Lock is definitely worth navigating through some of its initial hassles to bring your traditional door lock into the 21st century.
You can purchase the SwitchBot Lock from Amazon or directly from SwitchBot’s website.