The Schlage Encode Plus smart lock is, without doubt, the most highly-anticipated HomeKit compatible hardware release in years… well, not this device specifically, but whichever would be the first to support Home Key which was announced at WWDC 2021. When the Schlage Encode Plus was leaked in December last year and rumored to have not only Home Key support, but also thread support, it seemed like the perfect lock was finally on its way, and indeed it was, and now it's here — if you can find it in stock anywhere.
At US$299, the Schlage Encode Plus became available at various traditional home and DIY retailers on March 31st 2022. The lock is available in two trims, the more classical looking Camelot, and the more modern Century, and both are available in Satin Nickel or Matte Black.
I was lucky enough to not only get my order in, but also to receive it three days earlier than expected!
As you can see the packaging isn't exactly exciting, a mostly plain brown box and the contents are wrapped in just enough packaging to protect the finish.
Laying it all out, we have — left-to-right — the inside assembly with the thumb turn and battery compartment (upside-down), the deadbolt, touchpad, installation hardware, and instruction manuals in English, Spanish, and French. It also comes with a single "backup key" as Schlage has taken to calling the old school physical key — it certainly sets the tone for how Schlage expect you to use this lock.
All you should need for the installation is a Philips screwdriver.
The first step is to remove your old lock, in my case the HomeKit compatible Kwikset Premis — a lock that has performed admirably, but is only compatible with the original HomePod, and chews through batteries at an astonishing pace.
Unfortunately, as you can see from my door, I have no recess for the deadbolt faceplate… and the paper manual doesn't mention there is an alternative faceplate for drive-in style installation, which I didn't realize till after chiseling out the necessary hole for the default faceplate. I highly recommend using the digital manual, as it covers all of this.
Once I had chiseled out the hole, it was a simple matter to insert the deadbolt, threading through the power cable from the touchscreen, and screw in the backplate on which to install the inside assembly.
Immediately, I noticed an improvement over my Kwikset Premis — the battery compartment was accessible without needing to remove any screws, something I had to do at least every other month.
Next up, it was a simple matter of setting it up in the Schlage Home app, and then you'll be able to add it to HomeKit.
Once you have scanned the code, you'll be prompted to setup WiFi and your first door code. Then you're ready to add it to HomeKit.
Note: you will not be able to set it up with the Schlage Home app without registering for an account.
After choosing to add it to HomeKit, you need to scan the HomeKit code hidden under the back cover, or on the back of the manual. Doing so will prompt you to follow the standard Add to HomeKit flow:
Unlike other devices, once you've entered a name, you'll be prompted to set up Home Key, followed by the option to turn on Express Mode. Express Mode will allow you to unlock your new lock without authenticating on your phone first:
You'll also be asked to setup your Access Codes, including your own personal code, and allowing the use of existing codes (i.e. the one you setup earlier in the Schlage Home app setup).
Once complete, you'll have a new "Card" added to your Apple Wallet, on both iPhone and Apple Watch:
In reality though, if you have Express Mode turned on, you won't ever see this except briefly after you raise your phone or watch to the lock.
Despite the uninspiring packaging, the lock is exactly what I expected. It's not going to win any design awards, with both styles looking like pretty much every standard lock on the market today by various and sundry manufacturers, there's nothing remarkable about this lock — which some might consider to be a good thing, security through obscurity is a real thing. It will appeal to a large base of customers, and is likely to be a drop-in replacement for your existing deadbolt, smart or otherwise.
Ignoring my chisel mishap, installation was very easy (almost identical to my Kwikset Premis), and setup in HomeKit worked first time, flawlessly. As a bonus, it happens to color match my existing door handle perfectly.
The lock is extremely responsive, even though it is currently connecting over Bluetooth rather than Thread — I suspect because it's the closest available transport that isn't WiFi, but even still it's much more responsive than my Kwikset Premis, and much quieter too.
Home Key usage is fast and works great, a truly magical experience that just works, as Apple might put it.
The lock also supports Alexa, and Google Home platforms, as well as standalone with just the Schlage Home app — of course, none of these have Home Key support.
- The first Home Key compatible deadbolt on the market
- Thread Support
- Fast and Responsive
- HomeKit integration, and Home Key works flawlessly
- Classical Looks will please many
- At $299, the price is at the top-end of the market
- Paper instructions were lacking, leading to unnecessary installation steps
If you're in the market for a smart lock with Apple HomeKit and Home Key support, there really isn't another option right now… and luckily, you won't need to settle with the Schlage Encode Plus. At $299 the lock is on the more expensive side, but if you can fit it into your budget, you won't be disappointed. Overall, a nearly flawless execution from Schlage. Zero-hassle HomeKit integration, Home Key, and Thread support, this lock was everything we wanted, from the get-go. Hopefully, Schlage will be able to keep up with demand, and maybe they'll produce a few more designs for those who aren't a fan of the classics.