- Editor Rating
- Rated 3.5 stars
- Very Good
- Kwikset Kevo Review - Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt
- Reviewed by:
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- Cosmetic AppealEditor: 70%
- Design & Build QualityEditor: 80%
- FeaturesEditor: 50%
- FunctionEditor: 70%
- Value For The PriceEditor: 40%
The Kevo by Kwikset adds keyless entry to your home via a Bluetooth deadbolt.
The evolving world of technology has taken on a significant role in the way traditional consumer home products are approached. Home automation is on the rise, and the mobile devices integration to communicate with the physical world around us is a focus that many manufacturers see an opportunity within.
While attending last year's Consumer Electronics Show, I was able to demo a unique product called the Kevo by Kwikset. The product's concept is based on a traditional deadbolt except internally it harnesses a mechanical motor that can operate via Bluetooth signals.
By logging into the Kevo app on a mobile device or by using the included key fob, the deadbolt mechanism can be engaged by a simple finger touch. Having been initially intrigued by the idea, I reached out to Kwikset to secure a review sample to test it a real-life situation and see whether lives up to its rather steep $219 price-point.
The following review is based solely on my hands-on experience using the Kevo on the front door of my home for a period of over 30-days. No outside influences or bias have had any affect on the outcome of this review.
The Kevo arrives packaged in a high-quality, branded box that houses the Kevo unit itself, several mounting accessories, two physical keys, one Bluetooth key-fob, and four AAA batteries.
Kwikset has been involved in this industry for over 60 years, and the stellar build-quality of the Kevo unit reflects this. The exterior piece is comprised of durable metal, suitable for all types of weather conditions and ready to withstand years of use. Surrounding the physical key hole is a thin LED ring that is used for supplying notifications. This is a clever design element that works well while still remaining subtle enough to keep from drawing any unwanted attention. The circular design mimics that of most traditional deadbolts so switching to the Kevo should not result in any sizing issues.
My review unit sported their ‘Venetian Bronze' finish which is the only dark option offered. It was not my first choice since I have a black front door (Satin Nickel would have been my first preference), but it did grow on me over time. An advantage to the dark finish is that it hides fingerprints well and keeps my Kevo looking clean without the need for any extra effort.
The interior piece is considerably less appealing and a bit of an eyesore due to its over-sized design. This large size is necessary to accommodate all the important electronic internals and the included four AA batteries to make the Kevo function properly so there isn't much that could be done to shrink it. On the back, you'll find the same lock/unlock latch found on a traditional deadbolt. This is the only method of locking the Kevo once you are inside the house.
The top rear panel slides off to reveal a QR code as well as three buttons and four switches. This QR code functions as a way to simplify the syncing process with the mobile app. It is always nice to see a company go above and beyond to keep their products user-friendly for even the least tech-savvy consumers and in this case Kwikset did a great job of accomplishing this. When setting up the Kevo for the first time, you'll need to remove this panel and follow the on-screen directions (via the Kevo app) to calibrate the lock to your home's layout.
The Kevo's purpose is the same as a standard deadbolt yet it offers a few innovative features that offer added convenience. Triggering the deadbolt's locking and unlocking mechanism can be accomplished in one of three different ways: a physical key, a Bluetooth key fob and the Kevo mobile app.
Each unit ships with two physical keys so to lock or unlock like a traditional deadbolt. This is ideal for a member of the family who likes to do things the old fashioned way or one who prefers to avoid any complication of technology. The physical lock itself offers “SmartKey” re-key functionality which allows the ability to re-key your lock in only three steps. Unfortunately, my existing house keys were not of a Kwikset brand, so I did not have the luxury of this testing out this feature since they were not compatible with SmartKey.
Bluetooth Key Fob
In addition to the physical key, Kwikset includes one electronic key fob with each purchase. It is black and in similar in size to a USB flash drive. It works by transmitting a Bluetooth signal to the Kevo which grants access when within close proximity. I would like to see more than one key fob included at the $219 price-point (two would have been more appropriate), but you do have the option to purchase additional units for around $25 each.
One Kevo unit supports up to eight different key fobs, and a single key fob can be configured to work on up to 25 different Kevo locks. I see this being most useful for child or other member of the family who might not have their own mobile device yet or as a backup on your key ring in the event that your smartphone has a dead battery.
The third and most popular option for Kevo interaction is the mobile app. As of right now, the application is only available for download via the iOS App Store and supports the iPhone 4S or higher, the third generation or higher iPad/iPad Mini, and the 5th generation iPod Touch.
Android users are left in the dark for now as there is no companion app offered via Google Play. The Kevo website blames the lack of a uniform Bluetooth 4.0 standard within the Android OS as the culprit to this issue. The good news is that Android Lollipop changes this Bluetooth standard, so the Kevo team has opened up an invite-only beta program in an effort to work out all the bugs for a future Android app release.
The app acts as the primary hub to control Kevo-related features and functionality. This is where you manage existing eKeys and send new ones to friends or family. The term eKey refers to a digital Bluetooth code that enabled grants access to the deadbolt. The eKeys are linked to a Kevo account and then stored without the app itself so there is no literal codes or passwords you need to remember. This does mean signing up for a Kevo account is required, but the process is quick and painless.
Each purchase comes with 2 Anytime eKeys and unlimited Guest ekeys. Guest ekeys offer unlimited access for a 24-hour period whereas the Anytime eKeys offer unrestricted access until the key is manually disabled. While none are included with purchase, you can also get Scheduled eKeys that offer the recipient access based on controllable days and times.
Have a housekeeper who cleans your home every Thursday morning? You can setup a Scheduled eKey that solely works on Thursday mornings to prevent unwanted access outside of work hours. This could be being particularly useful for someone whom has a vacation rental property as they can allow temporary access to renters without the hassle of dropping off and picking up a physical key after the rental period has ended.
Additional Anytime and Schedule eKeys can be purchased through the app for $1.99 each. While the price per eKey is reasonable, I'm not impressed with Kwikset's decision to only include 2 Anytime eKeys. At $219 per unit, the inclusion of 4-5 eKeys would have been a suitable number for the average household, and I can't help but feel as though they are nickeling-and-diming with their current structure.
One thing that is important to note about the use of eKeys is that you'll be required to keep your device's Bluetooth turned on with the app running in the background for the touch-to-unlock feature to work properly. This will have a slight effect on battery life, but from my experience it has been much more minimal that I had initially anticipated.
Beyond eKey management, the app has a few other notable features. It has a ‘history' tab that tracks all Bluetooth activity on for the deadbolt in a list, particularly useful for keeping tabs of what time family members come home or go out. You can also setup push notifications for individual eKey holders to give you an immediate alert when they have performed an unlock or lock of the Kevo. The downfall to these features is that they only track Kevo activity via the mobile app so the use of the key fob or traditional key will not show up in push notifications or be reflected within the history tab.
From time to time, Kwikset will push out new firmware updates for greater compatibility or bug fixes. I had to do this recently since a new update was pushed out to support the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The process is simple and only requires you to keep your device running the Kevo app within a few feet of the Kevo while the update is pushed to the unit.
Safety And Security
Safety and security are always a primary concern when dealing with a deadbolt as it is often the sole element keeping an intruder from entering your home. The integration of Bluetooth functionality adds another layer of potential security risks in regards to hackers. To combat this Kevo has integrated multiple levels of military grade encryption thus making the device essentially hack-proof.
During the initial calibration process, you teach the Kevo the layout of its surroundings, and it will learn whether or not the Bluetooth signal is located inside or outside your home. The purpose for this to ensure someone outside the door will not be able to engage the lock even if a valid Bluetooth connection is sensed within close range from the inside of the door.
In the unfortunate event that you need to revoke someone's existing eKey, this can be done easily via the mobile app or web interface. Active eKeys are transferable so two free eKeys can be swapped to a different users as long as you disable the previous eKey holder first.
Kwikset's SmartKey technology is advertised as offering superior pick-resistance in addition to being bump-proof so this adds great difficulty for unwarranted access should someone be skilled at picking locks. I have no concerns for hackers or lock picks given the area I live in, but I would rather be safe than sorry so these added security features are surely appreciated.
As I stated earlier, the Kevo includes 4 AA batteries which are used to power the unit. Battery life is always a huge worry in this type of product as a dead battery will only allow access via the traditional key method. In this case, the four AA batteries are rated for 8766 hours (just over 365 days) of operation.
Lack Of Remote Access
I anticipated the Kevo to have support for Wi-Fi or Z-Wave control given the $219 price-point. It is the only feature that limits it from being a full ‘smart' device, and it could be useful in many situations. I'd love the ability to be able to remotely lock or unlock the deadbolt while away from home or just the ability to check whether the deadbolt is actively in the locked position via the app. I'm not saying these are must-have features for most consumers however without them the value on the dollar is significantly lower, and the price does not reflect this.
Danalock is just about to release their Smart Lock, which offers remote access and lock status checking with Wi-Fi and Z-Wave support at a $170 price-point. This is $50 cheaper than the Kevo and assuming it works well, it could be a great deal considering especially since they offer unlimited eKeys (full or limited access) for no extra charge.
Installation And Calibration
Installing the Kevo took about 45 minutes from start to finish as I had to modify my door's deadbolt hole slightly to make it fit properly. I believe my door is to blame more than the Kevo as it designed to fit the two standard sizes, so modification is not expected for most.
The calibration process was simple and straight-forward thanks to the QR code as well as the step-by-step instructions supplied via the mobile app.
Accuracy & Responsiveness
The Kevo's performance when properly calibrated has been nothing short of impressive. In my case, it correctly recognizes my eKey on first attempt around 95% of the time. To be fair, most of the failed attempts are likely more related to user error as I sometimes find myself accidentally canceling out of the Kevo app earlier in the day. How well you calibrate the device will ultimately determine its accuracy so be sure to take your time or re-do the calibration sequence if you experience poor performance.
I was skeptical on how good the inside/outside sensor would work in reality as the calibration required for this is very minimal. Now that I have tested this function in a variety of different scenarios, I can confirm that my skepticism was unwarranted. Access is allowed as long as the key fob or mobile device is within close range, in front of the Kevo unit. However, if I position the source of the Bluetooth connection parallel or behind the Kevo, this access is halted, and the lock will not engage. The precision of this feature is astounding with the difference between access being granted or denied being determined over just a matter of millimeters.
When the Kevo is touched with a valid eKey in range, the lock averages around three and a half seconds to complete an unlock and slightly less to perform a locking action. Some may think three and a half seconds is sluggish, but in reality this is much faster and more convenient than pulling out a traditional key-ring, locating the key, inserting it the correct way (admit it, we all struggle with this) and lastly unlocking the deadbolt. Could this response time be improved upon in future generations or software updates? Definitely, but for now it is satisfactory in my opinion.
Having lived with the Kevo for the past month or so, I have grown to love the convenience. I can take my dog for a walk with the need to only bring my iPhone or send a temporary eKey to a friend who left their wallet or jacket at my house the night before. It gives me piece of mind as I'm less reliant on a physical key that can be easily lost or stolen while on the go.
Notable Bugs & Issues
My experience using the Kevo has been more good than bad, but there are a few rough spots that I encountered while testing the product. On a few occasions, I have witnessed the Kevo mistakenly lock itself without any initiation from me. Two of these experiences happened while exiting my front door to walk to my mailbox. Thankfully I had my iPhone on me to let myself back in as I would have been locked out otherwise since my keys were still inside.
The good news concerning this issue is that it is not widespread, so I've only had it happen a handful of times. What is even more important is that I've only witnessed it happen with the locking function and have yet to see it mistakenly unlock, so there is no evident security risk. I do think the latest firmware has fixed or diminished this problem as has not happened again since updating the firmware about a week ago.
The second issue involved the lack of accuracy within the ‘history' tab of the Kevo app. For the most part, the history tab updates accordingly, but there have been multiple times where the second eKey assigned to my family member has been utilized, but not reflected within the history. This isn't a huge deal to me as I live alone, but it may be a larger worry for a family who wishes to accurately track their children or spouse. I can't say the history tab is entirely precise from my experience.
Kwikset's Kevo adds great convenience to a consumer's home although with this convenience comes at a high price tag. The product is not an easy sell at its $219 price-point for a few reasons.
When compared to lower-priced competitors, the lack of support for Android, Wi-Fi and Z-Wave technology is a big disappointment. When you add in the nickel-and-dime pricing scheme for additional eKeys and key fobs, I can't guarantee the $219 price-point is money well spent. The deciding factor is how much of a budget you have to work with and what type of features you seek.
If you're patient enough, I'd recommend waiting for a significant price drop on the current model or a 2nd generation version release that has greater compatibility and features. While I haven't had a chance to test it yet, Danalock's BTZU100SC Smart Lock is another to consider since supports Android, Wi-Fi, and Z-Wave right out of the box plus offers unlimited eKeys for only $179.
Does the Kevo work as advertised? Absolutely. Has it added convenience to my life? Without question. Could I go back to living without it? Of course. Would I consider it a “must-have” in its current state? No.
As a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and our Managing Editor, Colt loves testing out the newest tech products/services. His goal is to help better educate other consumers to ensure the most satisfying purchases decisions on consumer electronics and services. When he is not working on creating new content, Colt enjoys spending time with his two Australian Shepherds, Mia and Zoey.