August Home has a fourth-generation lock on the market today and it’s a good option for renters, those too intimidated to replace an entire lock, and anyone who’s a fan of the distinctly modern August design. This lock is much smaller than August’s earlier locks, adds Wi-Fi, and has a $249.99 price tag. As someone installed the first generation August lock way back in 2014, I can say that this one is better.
It’s significantly smaller — approximately the diameter of a tennis ball and protruding about 1.5 inches off of the door. This is roughly 20% slimmer than the original and Pro versions.
There are also some significant changes inside the lock that affect the overall experience. The original August used Bluetooth radios to connect to your phone, and if you wanted remote control (when you weren’t within Bluetooth range) you needed a $70 device to convert the Bluetooth signal to Wi-Fi. The latest version has Wi-Fi already.
The new lock uses two CR123 batteries in place of the original lock’s four AA batteries, which is one reason it’s smaller. The battery decision also helped generate enough power for the lock to support Wi-Fi, which requires a lot more power than Bluetooth. Jason Johnson, the founder of August Home, says the batteries should last between three and four months depending on use. I’ve only had the lock for a week, so I can’t tell you how long they last yet.
But the decision to use a relatively uncommon battery means that the August will let you know aggressively when it’s time to change the battery. Eventually, August may set up some sort of auto fulfillment for the batteries, so you don’t have to stock a strange battery. For now, buyers might want to keep two extra batteries lying around the house.
Physically, this lock uses the same high-quality materials. The lock is well-designed and feels good in your hands. For manual use, a quick flick of the wrist to the left unlocks it, and a flick to the right locks it. One critique people have for the August lock is that it’s not actually a lock. The August is a connected deadbolt turner. On the inside of your home, you have a Wi-Fi connected device that flips the bolt; on the outside of your home, everything stays the same and your original keys still work. To me, this is an asset that makes it helpful for renters who have rules about changing out a lock.
Setting up the lock is pretty simple. You’ll unpack the lock, download the app from the Google Play or Apple App store, and install the August app. From there, you can create an account or add your new lock to an existing account. On an Apple device, the process requires a simple QR code because August supports Apple’s HomeKit. You will need the app to calibrate the lock, however. On an Android device, the process is still easy. The app uses Bluetooth to detect nearby locks and then lets you connect the lock to Wi-Fi.
When I first installed an August lock back in 2014, it took me about 10 minutes and a single screwdriver. This time around, I got a bit stuck during the physical install because the space between the wood trim on my door and the deadbolt was pretty small. To physically install the lock, you unscrew the plate holding your deadbolt (be careful, because the outside plate can also fall off if it’s not taped or you aren’t holding it) and then screw on a mounting block. You’ll find the appropriate plastic cylinder that fits the turner of your deadbolt and put that on the lock, fitted in the mounting plate. From there, you’ll line up your lock and then close a set of wings on the side to affix it to the mounting plate.
My wings didn’t have enough room on the side to let me align the lock properly, so I had to build up my lock using the mounting plate that came in the box and a second one I made to raise it so the wings didn’t get blocked. It was a simple solution, although I suppose it does mean my lock protrudes a bit more than one that didn’t have this problem. Still, the lock worked just fine.
The August lock comes with a door sensor that you can embed in the door frame or tape to the door near the deadbolt. This sensor tells you if your locked door is actually engaged or if the deadbolt is extended outside the door meaning your door would look locked from the app, but is actually open in the real world. I didn’t install this because I am renting and the last time I installed the sensor, the tape ripped off all the paint. But the sensor is the same and it worked the last time I tested it, so I will assume it works now.
Now, with the lock on my door and connected to my phone and the internet, it was time to play with functionality. You can set the lock to auto-unlock when your phone gets near the lock, which is the handiest aspect of the August. You can also open it using your phone, which is helpful if you’re elsewhere in the house and want to let someone inside. The app retains the same design cues as before, with a simple green open circle for unlocked and a filled red circle for locked. Hitting the circle changes the lock’s state and, whether on Wi-Fi or in Bluetooth range, the door locks and unlocks almost exactly when pressed. It can also make a sound when changing state, but I turned that off to avoid annoying my family.
I also turned off the auto-lock feature, which many people like. This feature automatically locks the door a short amount of time after you open and close it. I tend to wander outside without my phone or my keys fairly often, so this feature inevitably locks me out. August does sell a keypad separately for folks who want to engage this feature and also forget their phone and keys. If you enter the key code, then you can unlock the door.
You also can get notifications when people unlock and lock the door. The notifications can happen anytime the lock changes state or you can set it up for certain people. So you could get notifications when your kid or housekeepers unlock the door.
The August ecosystem is well established, and since the acquisition by Assa Abloy, which is the parent company behind Yale locks, it has continued to expand its integrations. I tried my lock with the Alexa ecosystem and Google Home. I had a few hitches getting Amazon’s Alexa to “see” the state of my lock in the app, but I did manage to lock the August using Alexa. For voice integrations, think about naming your lock descriptively, such as “back door” or “garage door” so you can ask Alexa to lock the garage door.
I also linked the lock to Google’s Assistant and the Google Home devices. There I had to set a password so I could unlock the door using Google. I typed in my password and then tried it. The first time Google wouldn’t recognize the password, so I had to unlink the account and try again. At that point, I achieved success. I’m not sure that saying my password out loud is all that secure, but I don’t see myself unlocking the door with my voice all that often. For someone who may have trouble getting to the door, they may want to think about whether or not a person outside at the door could overhear their password before implementing this option.
This lock is well within the price range of other Wi-Fi door locks, such as Schlage’s Encode lock, which sells for between $200 and $280 depending on the style and the retailer. The Schlage lock does involve replacing the actual lock and it has a keypad, which is a feature you’d pay extra for with the August. If you don’t need Wi-Fi but are interested in a lock that merely turns the existing deadbolt, then the Wyze lock for $99.99 is much cheaper (although a bit wider). It doesn’t have a keypad.
The lock market is getting a lot of attention from manufacturers, and this CES we saw a bunch of innovations around radios and price points. The new August is a good lock and works well with many ecosystems. After the purchase by Assa Abloy, August’s software became the underpinning of other Assa Abloy locks brands, which means your August hardware shouldn’t suddenly become a brick because the company can no longer support the software and security updates.
So if you need Wi-Fi and don’t want to replace your lock, then the August is a decent, although pricey, choice. The hardware, software, and integrations all work well, are beautiful, and are intuitive to use.