When comparing smart deadbolts and smart locks, things can get confusing pretty quickly.
It seems that every manufacturer offers multiple versions with the same product name but different features, so it can be easy to click “Buy” and later realize that you chose a smart lock that doesn’t meet your needs.
Here, we are comparing the Schlage Encode (and Encode Plus), Lockly Secure Plus (and Secure Pro), and Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro. But regardless of which smart locks you are comparing, the key element is ruling out locks that have features that are incompatible with your needs.
- Do you need a standard lock or a deadbolt?
- Do you want bluetooth connection, Wi-Fi, or Z-wave?
- Is the lock compatible with your existing smart home hub?
- What access methods do you need? For example, do you want a physical key backup for when the battery goes out? Do you want to access the lock with your fingerprint, via a mobile app, or both?
If you want a quick, overly simple comparison, we’ll try our best:
- The Schlage Encode is well-built and includes built-in WiFi and an audible alarm, but is frequently out-of-stock and doesn’t feel particularly “smart.”
- Lockly Secure Plus adds a fingerprint sensor and a digit-scrambling keypad (for security) which can be disorienting to some users, and requires an expensive WiFi adapter (or an upgrade to the Secure Pro) in order to access full functionality.
- Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro is a great value as the least expensive of the bunch, but has a buggy app, the shortest warranty of the products listed, and doesn’t give you any options for finishes or colors.
Connectivity & Bridge Requirements
All three smart locks make things confusing on us, since there are multiple versions of each product available.
Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro
The Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro uses bluetooth connection only, but you can also purchase a bundle that includes a WiFi adapter for ~$20 extra.
Then, Ultraloq released a U-Bolt Pro WiFi that has built-in WiFi and a U-Bolt Pro Z-Wave that is compatible with Z-wave hubs.
Lockly Secure Plus & Secure Pro
Lockly Secure Plus has bluetooth connection only, but you can add a WiFi adapter for $70.
Lockly also has a product that is called the “Lockly Secure Pro,” which is really just the Lockly Secure Plus that is bundled with a WiFi bridge and a door sensor.
If you are purchasing a new Lockly and want WiFi connection, it is cheaper to purchase the Lockly Secure Pro. But if you have a Lockly Secure Plus already, you can essentially “turn it into” a Lockly Secure Pro by purchasing the WiFi bridge.
Schlage Encode makes things much simpler than the product lineup of Ultraloq and Lockly.
Schlage Encode, regardless of the version, connects via built-in WiFi. So there is no need to add a bridge or adapter — just purchase the Schlage Encode and you should be good to go (unless you need HomeKit integration, but we will cover this later).
Every smart lock on the list is powered by 4 AA batteries. However, battery life is going to vary from one product to the next. And your usage patterns will modify battery life significantly, as well.
The bluetooth-only models (Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro and Lockly Secure Plus) should have the longest battery life, since they don’t have to maintain the WiFi connection. And if you convert them into a WiFi lock by purchasing a WiFi bridge, the bridge is plugged into AC power, so it won’t drain the battery any quicker.
The WiFi locks on the list (U-Bolt Pro WiFi and Schlage Encode) will have a shorter battery life, since they connect via WiFi.
Having said that, Schlage is still expected to get 6 months per the manufacturer. And Lockly models get a full year per the manufacturer. Some users have exceeded a year of battery life with the Lockly, but we haven’t been testing the product long enough to confirm or deny this report!
The key thing to know is that any smart lock that has built-in WiFi is going to burn through batteries quicker.
But at the end of the day, replacing a few batteries twice per year rather than once per year isn’t a big enough difference to make a purchase decision.
Battery winner: Tie (all last ~6 months or more)
All 3 products excel when it comes to ease of installation. A screwdriver is all you really need to get the locks in place.
Schlage Encode probably has the easiest installation of the bunch. If you have your tools ready and you are relatively handy, you will probably be able to get the Schlage installed in 15 minutes max.
If I had to rank one product as worst in this category, Lockly Secure Plus is probably the hardest to install. Some users have complained about installing the Lockly, but it still shouldn’t take much more than 15-20 minutes unless you run into unforeseen circumstances.
The Lockly product has some eccentricity during installation — namely that the company recommends drilling an additional hole for more support. You can work around this with adhesive, but long term it is better to break out the drill and spend the few minutes needed to reinforce the install.
The Ultraloq is nearly as simple as the Schlage to install — only a screwdriver is needed, and the job should take 10-20 minutes.
Installation winner: Schlage Encode (Schlage has been making locks for a hundred years)
Price & Availability
Here is one category where you can really start differentiating one lock from the next.
The Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro is the most affordable of the bunch, particularly for the bluetooth-only version. It is the only lock on this list with a sub-$200 MSRP. When you get to the Z-wave version (the top-of-the-line Ultraloq product), the price is comparable to the Lockly Secure Plus and Schlage Encode.
Ultraloq has also sold a lot of smart locks for one simple reason — they have been able to avoid stockouts during the pandemic. So, buying an Ultraloq is really simple, since they are (relatively) affordable and can always be found on America’s favorite retailer.
On the other hand, Schlage Encode and Encode Plus have been plagued by stockouts. While they are great products, you need to act quickly when they become available.
Lockly Secure Plus and Secure Pro occupy a sort of middle-ground between Ultraloq and Schlage. Lockly Secure is easy to find in stock, but usually runs well north of $200. On occasion, you can find Lockly Secure available at a discount price.
Price & Availability winner: Ultraloq U-Bolt (affordable & easy to find); Schlage Encode is the clear loser (frequently sold out)
Software, App, & Features
Schlage Encode Summary
Schlage is a well-known brand that has been making doorknobs and locks for over a hundred years. But since it isn’t a “tech” company, some users are concerned about the software and mobile app options.
Thankfully, the Schlage Home app functions better than we had expected. The built-in WiFi connects without issue, and the app is well-designed (albeit simple).
Although Schlage Home isn’t loaded with features, the features that are available all work smoothly. And the app still has plenty of “smarts” for most users — the app has an “easy button” to toggle the deadbolt open/closed, you can create multiple access codes with time limits and settings, and notifications are pretty smooth and reliable.
A unique feature on the Schlage Encode is the audible alarm that sounds whenever someone attempts to force the door open. Neither of the other smart locks on this list have the audible alarm feature. For further security, you can create admin and guest accounts, and be notified each time the deadbolt opens.
The Encode doesn’t have an auto-unlock that opens the deadbolt when you approach the door, although the Encode Plus has a tap-to-unlock feature with Apple products.
Speaking of which, the Encode works with Alexa and Google Assistant but not Apple HomeKit.
However, the Schlage Encode Plus is a new-and-improved version that adds HomeKit compatibility. For anyone with a smart home that functions in the Apple ecosystem, Schlage Encode Plus is probably your best option (but again, you have to find it in-stock first).
Lockly Secure Summary
With the Lockly Secure Plus, you will be missing out on most features (remote monitoring and smart home integrations) unless you add a WiFi adapter.
Lockly Secure Plus doesn’t integrate with any voice assistants, but you can integrate with Google Assistant and Alexa by upgrading to the Lockly Secure Pro (or, alternatively, by purchasing a WiFi adapter for a Secure Plus). HomeKit integration isn’t available on either Lockly product at this time.
From a design standpoint, Lockly has two advantages when compared to the Schlage lock.
First, Lockly has a fingerprint sensor. Fingerprint sensors are often hit-or-miss, but during testing the Lockly actually functioned quite nicely.
Second, Lockly has a peculiar keypad that is different from the usual 0-9 keypad on most locks. Instead, the lock has four “buttons,” and each time the lock is used, it scrambles the digits.
For example, on a normal lock, the 1, 2, 3, and 4 button will be in numerical order. On Lockly, these numbers get scrambled each time — so the 1 might be on the upper right today, but the lower left tomorrow.
Why does this feature matter? There are actually two reasons.
The advantage is that it makes it harder for anyone to spy on your keycode by looking at fingerprints. On a traditional fingerprint lock, your fingerprints will reveal which digits you press. But on Lockly, nobody can use this method to guess your keycode.
The disadvantage, though, is that it can be disorienting for a user. It takes longer to memorize your keycode when the buttons get scrambled each time. And you have to hunt for the digits more than you would on a normal keypad, where your keycode quickly becomes second nature.
Similar to the Schlage, the Lockly app isn’t particularly feature-dense, but it works without too many hiccups.
Ultraloq U-Bolt Summary
Software is the biggest downfall of the Ultraloq U-Bolt.
It isn’t terrible, per se, but the app is frustrating, and trying to connect to WiFi and other devices is unreliable. Thankfully, the app doesn’t get used too often for most of us. But, the WiFi issues seemed to constantly plague the device during testing.
The U-tec app is well-designed when it works. Like the Schlage app, I liked the “easy button” that allows you to toggle your deadbolt.
Oftentimes an app gets too complicated, making it hard to find the most important features. So it is nice that these smart lock apps still emphasize the main purpose — locking and unlocking the deadbolt.
The WiFi connected versions integrate with Alexa, Google, and IFTTT, but still not HomeKit.
Like the Lockly, the main selling point of the U-Bolt is the fingerprint sensor. U-Bolt didn’t test quite as well as Lockly, but the fingerprint sensor still rates pretty high. There were very few issues with the sensor, and the keypad is simple and easy to use also.
One final feature that is worth mentioning is the “anti-peep tactile keypad.” Basically, this just means that you can add random codes to the beginning and/or end of your keycode, and the door will still grant you access as long as you entered the correct string of digits at some point.
If you are concerned that someone may be watching you as you unlock the door, you can add in a string of meaningless digits to obscure the fact that your real keycode is just “1234.” So, typing “749378571234857483” still unlocks the door, but it will be a lot harder for someone’s wandering eyes to memorize.
Software & Features winner: Schlage Encode (if you don’t need the fingerprint sensor), built-in WiFi, quality app, & HomeKit integration if you get the Schlage Encode Plus; if you need the fingerprint sensor, then Lockly Secure Plus/Pro win this category
Access Methods: Keys, Keypads, & Fingerprint Sensors
All three smart locks can be accessed with a physical key and/or a keypad. These features are fairly standard, but we give the manufacturers credit for keeping the physical key option.
With smart home devices, it is tremendously frustrating when a technology fails and there is no fallback option.
For example, if bluetooth isn’t working, it is nice to be able to connect your phone to a speaker with a good old-fashioned aux cable. And even though most of us stream shows and movies over WiFi, I’m still a sucker for a laptop with a DVD drive.
So, even if your WiFi fails and your smart lock runs out of battery, you can use a physical key with any of these 3 locks.
Lockly Secure Plus and Pro also add the fingerprint sensor. The original Lockly Secure locks this feature, but almost all Lockly smart locks on the market today are either the Plus or Pro version.
As mentioned previously, the non-traditional keypad of Lockly takes some time to get used to. Some people love it and some people hate it, but it makes sense from a security standpoint.
In addition to the fingerprint sensor, Ultraloq U-Bolt adds auto-unlocking based on proximity detection. This is a nice feature that is lacking in many other smart locks.
All three brands have an illuminated keypad to help you see in the dark.
Access Methods winner: Ultraloq U-Bolt, with the versatility of a physical key, keypad, fingerprint sensor, and auto-unlocking based on proximity
Build Quality & Style
In this category, it is obvious that Schlage specializes in locks. The Schlage Encode is heavy-duty, solid, and well-built. It also has an ANSI 1 grade, which essentially means it is commercial-grade in terms of strength.
The U-Bolt also has an ANSI 1 grade but doesn’t feel as solidly built during testing. Lockly doesn’t have an ANSI grade.
None of these locks are flimsy, by any means. And if you are worried about your home being broken into by brute force, there are other home security products that you should consider rather than a simple deadbolt lock.
Schlage offers a lifetime warranty on the mechanical aspects of the lock, and a 3 year warranty on electronics.
Lockly has a 5 year warranty on mechanical, and a 2 year warranty on electrical.
Ultraloq has a lifetime warranty on mechanical, but only 18 months on electronics. However, you can purchase an extended warranty from Ultraloq for a relatively affordable price.
In terms of styling, it largely comes down to personal preference.
The Schlage Encode has a practical look that is subtle but looks classy. It has a stately appearance, especially when the backlighting is on, although the interior view is much more plastic-heavy than the stylish exterior. You can choose from a bronze, nickel, or black.
Lockly doesn’t look cheap, per se, but it doesn’t have the sleek appearance of the Schlage. It is also quite bulky on both the interior and exterior. Like the Schlage, your color options include bronze, nickel, or black.
The Ultraloq has much more of a cheap, gimmicky design. It grabs your attention, for sure, but it might look out of place on a large or expensive-appearing home. And further, Ultraloq doesn’t give you color/finish options, either.
If you need a solidly built smart lock that includes WiFi without adding an adapter, Schlage Encode might be your best choice. And if your home operates in the HomeKit operating system, the Schlage Encode Plus will allow for easier integration. In addition, Schlage Encode has the nicest appearance of any lock on this list, an ANSI 1 rating for security, and is the only product here with an audible alarm built in.
If the Schlage Encode isn’t on any store shelves in your area, or if you want a smart deadbolt with a fingerprint sensor, Lockly Secure Pro and Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro are great options as well.
Lockly Secure Pro & Plus have a non-traditional keypad that takes some time to get used to, and the installation process can be a little more challenging than the Schlage and Ultraloq, also. But it gives you numerous options for colors and finishes and is much easier than Schlage Encode to find in-stock.
Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro is the cheapest and has an easy install process, but it only comes in one color and isn’t as nicely styled as the other products. Additionally, there are a number of options (bluetooth-only, Wi-Fi, Z-wave, etc.) that can make it easy to accidentally order a version that doesn’t suit your needs. However, if you need a smart deadbolt in the sub-$200 price range, it is hard to top the Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro, all things considered.