Smart Digital Locks are a Necessity (Review)
Do you really need smart digital locks?
Some 15 years ago, smart digital locks for your door were for homeowners who could afford it. Others felt that smart digital locks weren’t as secure as the traditional lock and key and were easily hackable.
It’s different nowadays, where majority of the homeowners prefer smart digital locks for better convenience. Habits like digging through your bag for the keys, misplacing your keys when you’re in a rush to step out of home are no longer an issue thanks to smart digital locks.
There are so many brands of smart digital locks to choose from. But I went with igloohome for its award-winning design and technology. Being a local company, it is also a plus for maintenance. I am reviewing this as a first-timer’s experience using smart digital locks at home.
All of igloohome locks are black, which is the easiest colour to match with different kinds of door and gate colour or material. It can be boring for some, but I’m fine with just one colour as locks shouldn’t stand out too much.
Size and measurements of your door and gate matters for compatibility, so make sure you check them over at this link before making your purchase. Both the Mortise 2+ (for main door) and Rim Lock (for gate) come with an electronic keypad that brightens up upon touch. The Mortise 2+ has an additional fingerprint scanner.
Smart Digital locks compared to traditional locks
We used to lock our main doors, then gate and we’ll add an additional padlock for enhance security—all with keys. How are these secured comparing with smart digital locks? It may sound dumb, but personally all locks can be open (if the perpetrator really wants to), regardless if it is digital or key. As such, it really doesn’t matter which is more secure. What matters more is—once again—convenience. In this case, going for smart digital locks makes more sense.
Choosing a secure smart digital lock
That said, I would avoid digital locks that require a WIFI connection to operate because they can be hacked. You will also want to find one that has Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). I read that having 2FA authentication is a plus, but I’m not sure if I will have this over faster access to open the locks. Finally, get a smart digital lock that has the ability to create longer passwords to prevent ‘brute force attacks’ from hackers. These are just some important security functions to look out for in a digital lock, and igloohome locks fulfils them.
How many different access options?
Everyone opens their smart digital locks differently, and it later on becomes a habit after choosing the one you find the easiest and most convenient. This is why locks have a variety of different functions made available, though most of the time you will use just one or at most two of the available options. Mortise 2+ can be operated with the following methods:
Fingerprint Sensor: My favourite option, because you have your fingers/thumbs with you all the time. And thankfully the fingerprint scan has a high success rate of getting it right. Out of the 10 times we tested, we managed to open the lock eight times. Fingers must be aligned straight though.PIN Code: You can set a ‘Duration PIN’ that works for a period. It’s useful if you have temporary visitors you don’t want to give a physical Bluetooth key to, people like your part-time helper or a confinement nanny. The ‘Recurring PIN’ works every one day of the week. ‘One Time PIN’ works only once, great if you would like your friend to collect an item from your house while no one is at home.Bluetooth Key: This unlocks the door via a mobile app. And as an admin, you can also set someone else in the family to have the mobile bluetooth key on their phone without them having admin controls.Keycard: A physical small card which you can bring along and put it in your wallet. Notably, the keycard even works through a leather wallet. Multiple cards can also be registered through your mobile app.Physical Key: This is also called the emergency key which you should carry it with you in case you’ve forgotten to bring along your phone, your keycard or can’t remember your PIN… which chances are very slim for all to happen at once. But I still carry it with me, just in case.
The best part about this smart digital lock is that all entry and exits are logged into your mobile app which you can review if required. It’s great because all individual access methods can be named, and you know who comes in or out and at what time of the day.
From Left: Emergency Key (M2+ and RL), Keycard, Key Fob
So many options for what? Just gimmicky?
People like options, that’s just how it is for most products. Most importantly the options of the product must work well. Personally, the Fingerprint Sensor is a must-have and it works well. You can save both your left and right index fingerprints in the event you’re carrying items on one hand. It is simple to use and even my son enjoys using it effectively.
I haven’t been using much of the various PIN Codes because most of the time someone is at home, but it may be of great use to you if you’re often out and about. Sadly, the fingerprint scanner is not available in the Rim Lock (Gate), so I use the regular pin for that.
Good Sensor with High Success Rate
Battery type and lifespan
Thankfully, the type of batteries used for both digital locks are the same: AA batteries. With Mortise 2+ requiring eight pieces and Rim Lock requiring four. The batteries do last very long. For the M2+, it started operating on 2 February 2021, and to date, 87% power remains. That is six months of usage! Considering that a door lock is used daily, that is phenomenal performance.
The changing of batteries is easy too, especially for M2+ that only requires pressing on the back cover to open the battery compartment up. Rim Lock though will require a tiny Allen key to open it up, as it is reachable by outsiders.
Mortise 2+ Battery Compartment
Rim Lock Battery Compartment
Is the set up difficult?
The instruction manual can be found on the QR Code. Even without that, it is actually pretty simple if you just follow the instructions in the app. There are step-by-step guides from adding in a new lock into the app to giving access to your key cards. The UI/UX is very intuitive and most if not all the functions are within the app.
Also, there is no need for Internet connection at all. They have created a technology called algoPIN
, that uses a combination of their mobile app, cloud system and PIN code to work. There’s a lot more to the technology behind, so if you’re keen to know how to works just check it out here.
Do note that it’s best to leave the film intact as it helps to keep off fingerprints. I regretted taking out my Mortise 2+ film.
Some REALLY useful features
Masking/Decoy pin: The purpose of the Masking PIN makes it difficult for anyone to see you pressing the PIN number or for anyone to guess your pin by the fingerprints left on the keypad. It is not foolproof, but at least it confuses people who wants to know your number. All that is required is to add in additional numbers in front of your actual PIN number.
Masking PIN & Actual PIN
Key Fob: This small key is included in the Rim Lock purchase. And its sole purpose, according to the installer, is to allow homeowners to open both the main door and gate digital locks with just a single press on the button from inside (at home).
How far a distance can you use the Key Fob to unlock? Can you use the Key Fob outside of home?
The sweetest part to the key fob is to actually bring an extra key fob when you’re out. I’ve tested it out myself and within a distance of approximately 6 metres away, you can press the key fob and both locks are opened by the time you walk in the front of your door. This is probably the fastest access method out of all.
Key Fob on the side of Main Door
Child Lock proved useful too for my toddler
Things to improve on
It will be great if there are widgets for the mobile app or even an Apple Watch. Imagine having a widget within easy reach that allows you to unlock the door even before reaching home, or being able to create a last minute random PIN that allows your Mother-in-Law a delivery person to drop off your online purchases from a widget—with the assistance of an in-house CCTV of course. At the moment, you will need to open the app and configure the above.
Pressing the Key Fob opens both locks, but it takes about three seconds for them to open, which I think could be shortened to 1 to 1.5 seconds.
There isn’t a button to unlock the Rim Lock from inside, which, obviously, is to prevent an easy reach-in by anyone who is outside. To do so, you will need to use the Key Fob or a Keycard to reach the Rim Lock sensor outside. But I feel there should be an easier way. For example, when you open the main door (Mortise2+) from inside, the gate (Rim Lock) automatically opens as well. I wonder if that is possible for other brands?
Internal of Rim Lock with small locking button
Although igloohome locks allow multiple access methods, it doesn’t force you to use only one just because the rest of them sucks. All methods work great, and you also have the option to disable (not use) certain access.
For example, you can choose not to use any Keycards if you’re worried that it may get lost. This adds versatility in how you want your lock to perform based on your lifestyle. If you want a very secured PIN number you can create a longer code, but that also means that you will need a longer time to access, which kinda defeats my personal purpose of having a smart digital lock.
Two daily changes to how I open and lock my door make a huge difference to my lifestyle: not needing to find the two keys within a bunch of other keys while carrying groceries, and simply having both the automated gate and door locked up when we are leaving home. You will know it is worth the change after experiencing it yourself firsthand. Smart Digital locks have been a great home product for my family!