Lockly Vision Elite review: two become one

Technology

A great smart door lock but just an okay video doorbell

It’s big, bulky, and has a design that bellows “I am a high-tech door lock,” but the $499 Lockly Vision Elite packs a lot of function into its sizable frame. A smart lock and video doorbell in one, it’s designed for someone who wants both of those things but doesn’t have the space or setup to install two large gadgets on their front door.

However, cramming a video doorbell into a smart lock was bound to come with compromises, and while this is an excellent smart lock, it’s only an okay video doorbell — chiefly because its motion detection is spotty, and there’s no people or package detection. Also, while Lockly includes a little sign telling visitors to press the button on the door lock, no one is going to ring your door lock.

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The Vision Elite is a full deadbolt replacement lock that boasts an almost absurd number of features. In addition to the built-in camera, it has an integrated door sensor that can tell you if it’s open and no fewer than five ways to unlock your door: an integrated keypad; a fingerprint reader; the Lockly smartphone app; voice control using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant; and of course, a regular key.

It doesn’t have NFC communication to support Apple Home Key (it doesn’t support HomeKit at all), and there’s no auto-unlocking as you approach, but there are plenty of options here.

You can create and share digital keys through the app, though your visitor has to download the Lockly app to use them. If they don’t want the hassle and you’re not at home, you can generate an “offline” keycode for them and revoke it at any point.

The Lockly Vision Elite features an integrated video doorbell, and it has a solar panel over the keyhole.

The keypad also has what Lockly calls “PIN Genie” technology: three numbers in every touchpoint. This makes it impossible for anyone peeking over your shoulder to guess your code. You can also set it to random mode so the buttons change every time. This does make it harder to input your code, though, as you have to hunt for the numbers each time.

A view of the Vision Elite’s keypad, with numbers grouped in sets of four, making it harder for people to guess which ones you’re pressing.
The PIN Genie keypad is designed to confuse lookie-loos.

An integrated doorbell camera sits above the keypad. When a visitor presses the doorbell button (situated below the keypad), the lock emits a loud “ding dong,” and the app sends an alert. From here, you can view a live feed and control the door lock from the same screen, a feature only a few other video doorbells offer. Ring has the option with its video doorbells and certain smart locks, and Apple HomeKit can, but only if both the smart lock and video doorbell are HomeKit-compatible.

There’s also no subscription to view recorded video from the doorbell camera since the footage is stored locally on an included hub. Ring, Nest, and Arlo charge from $3 to $6 a month to see recorded video. The hub, which has to be connected to your router with an Ethernet cable, can hold up to 91 hours of video on its 32GB of non-expandable storage, and it acts as a Wi-Fi bridge for out-of-home control and smart home integrations. It works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home but not Apple HomeKit. Lockly says it is working on plans to support Matter.

While this is a great smart lock, it’s not a great video doorbell. It’s just okay. Which, considering it’s squeezed into a door lock, isn’t that surprising. It’s also the best video doorbell / lock combo you can get right now — the only other option is this lock’s predecessor, the Lockly Vision. I tested that a couple of years ago and was unimpressed with the doorbell features then.

The Lockly app opens to the lock control; tapping on the video image takes you to the live feed, where you get controls to lock / unlock the door and talk to the visitor.

This model is better — with a much-improved camera (1080p HD) and a portrait aspect ratio for a top-to-bottom view that gets both packages and people. The audio is also clear and full-duplex, like a phone call and not a walkie-talkie, and there’s now infrared night vision.

Plus, Lockly added motion detection, so it will record when someone comes up to your door but doesn’t press the button. (The earlier version only recorded when someone pressed the button.) This means that if your delivery driver just drops and runs and you miss the motion notification the app sends, you will still get a recording of the event.

smart lock for $300 or a fingerprint-only version for just $160; add a Ring Video Doorbell 4 for $220 (or the Ring Pro 2 if you have doorbell wires), and you get a lot more function from your doorbell, including viewing footage on a smart display and people and package detection.

With Ring, you need to pay a subscription fee for video recording. If that’s a deal-breaker, Eufy offers both fingerprint-enabled smart locks and video doorbells with no subscription fees and is launching its own two-in-one video doorbell smart lock for $400 later this year. If you’re not interested in fingerprint unlocking, Schlage, Yale, and Kwikset have good smart locks for under $300.

But if you have limited space on your front door to fit multiple smart devices, no doorbell wiring, and you only really care about the people that ring the doorbell and not anyone or anything else that might skulk around your front porch, the Lockly Vision Elite will do a good job.

Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

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