A wonderful thing smart lock is said to be the foundation of any smart home system. For years now, there have been very few HomeKit-compatible smart locks on the market that support Apple’s Home Key. But many companies are trying to change that. One of them is Aqara.
As an internationally renowned smart home device maker, Aqara has been selling smart locks compatible with Apple Home Key for a while, but exclusively in East Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore.
Now, the company is launching the first Home Key smart lock in the US, Aqara U100 Available right now for $190. Is the wait worth it? I’ve been testing it for the past few weeks and the short answer is: Absolutely.
Smart lock Aqara U100
The Aqara U100 Smart Lock is the first in the US that combines the Apple Home Key, keyboard, fingerprint, NFC tag, and physical key to unlock all options for $190.
Getting the Aqara U100 on my doorstep was pretty easy, even though my review unit didn’t come with instructions. It takes a few minutes to figure out which piece goes before the other, but deadbolts are a pretty simple mechanism. The whole process takes less than 15 minutes.
Once I had the U100 smart lock on the door, I set it up using the Aqara app on Iphone and use Aqara M2 Hub to connect to it.
While Aqara Hub is not required to use basic smart lock features, it is required to perform remote locking and unlocking operations, view current lock status, and configure settings. Set password from your phone as well as create automation with other Aqara devices.
Without a hub, the U100 dongle can only connect to your phone via Bluetooth and be controlled as long as you’re within Bluetooth range.
The Aqara U100 Smart Lock is unique in the US as it is the only smart lock on the market that offers the following unlocking options simultaneously:
- Unlock password: The U100 lock has a keypad to enter a 6-10 digit password to unlock, and the user can add a one-time password or a password that only works for a set period of time, such as for a babysitter every day. weekdays from 3-6 pm. The lock can have up to 75 passwords set up in the app.
- Fingerprint unlock: After setting up the U100 to unlock with my fingerprint, I never had an unrecognized or unresponsive issue. Users can add up to 50 fingerprints in the app, and Aqara says its fingerprint reader has a 98.6% recognition rate.
- Apple’s Home Key: I’ve set up a U100 key to unlock with my iPhone with an NFC-enabled Apple Home Key. This will add a virtual key to your iPhone Wallet and you can only unlock your smart lock by carrying your iPhone or Apple Watch near it.
- NFC tags: You can also program NFC tags to unlock the Aqara U100, which is perfect for anyone who isn’t an Apple user or to use as a keycard for guests in the house.
- Mechanical keys: The U100 smart lock comes with two physical keys to use and the keyhole is hidden behind a sliding panel on the lock face.
While I don’t find the Aqara mobile app very intuitive, I do like the different features available for the U100 key. You can add different users and give them a unique unlocking method. For example, I created myself a password and fingerprint to always know who got in and how when checking the lock’s event history.
The app also allows you to customize the alert settings and choose the voice volume and language for any voice alerts during the lockout. You can set the device to automatically lock when the door is closed (no additional modules needed) thanks to the built-in gyroscope for motion detection.
That being said, it’s not all sunshine and the doors automatically lock. Sometimes I struggled to lock the U100 behind or when I swiped it, and at times I had to turn inside to find the mechanical key because it didn’t work for me.
While my experience has been mostly positive, I have also found the app to be very slow and unreliable when it comes to giving me a lock status, even when my phone is within Bluetooth range . Sometimes it shows me the wrong status and says the door is locked when I can clearly see it’s not.
I still love the Aqara U100 for two things: 1.) The pros outweigh the cons and 2) It’s a new product with the upcoming firmware upgrades constantly improving its performance.
Considering the complexity of smart locks, I entered this review with a bias because of the simplicity of the locks. Level Lock + and the beautiful design of Yale Security Lock SL. But all the extra unlocking features make Aqara U100 unique has turned me around.
Being able to consistently (and flexibly) unlock the door with my fingerprint or Apple Watch, rather than one or the other, added exactly the level of convenience to my life that I seek. search on all smart home devices.