Have you ever come home from the supermarket, your arms filled with groceries, and tried to unlock your door without dropping anything? Even the best smart locks require you to pull your phone out of your pocket. The Schlage Encode Plus looks to add more convenience to the process, by letting you unlock it via a tap from your Apple Watch or iPhone. As we discovered during this Schlage Encode Plus review, it’s fantastically easy, but if you don’t own an Apple Watch or iPhone, then this might not be the best smart lock for you.
Price and availability
The Schlage Encode Plus went on sale on March 31, 2022; it costs $299, which is $50 more than the Schlage Encode, which will continue to be sold alongside the Encode Plus. It’s available in two styles (traditional Camelot and contemporary Century) and three finishes: Matte Black, Satin Nickel and Aged Bronze.
Other smart locks sold by Schlage include the Schlage Encode, which has all of the same features except for HomeKit compatibility; the Schlage Sense, which connects via Bluetooth and works with HomeKit; and the Schlage Connect, which is available with either Z-Wave or Zigbee — however, with the Sense and the Connect, you’ll need a bridge or smart home hub to link the lock to your home Wi-Fi network.
If you have an Apple TV or a HomePod mini, you can link the lock to those devices, which will allow the lock’s batteries to last a bit longer than they would if you connected it directly to Wi-Fi.
Design and features
Outwardly, the Schlage Encode Plus looks nearly identical to its predecessor, the Schlage Encode. The exterior portion has an illuminated touch-sensitive number pad with a physical key slot underneath. The part of the Encode Plus that sits inside your home has a dark top cover that slides off so that you can replace the four AA batteries needed to power the lock.
The big new feature of the Encode Plus is that if you have an iPhone or Apple Watch, you can simply tap it against the Encode Plus to unlock your door. This is thanks to Apple’s Home Key feature, which adds a “key” to the Apple Wallet app on your iPhone and Apple Watch (it also gets added to the Wallet of anyone you share your Home with). That’s a lot more convenient than tapping in a code or digging your phone out of your pocket.
Unlike some other smart locks, the Encode Plus doesn’t have a way for you to supply emergency power in case its batteries die; the Yale Assure SL, for instance, has two metal contacts for a 9-volt battery so you can get back into your home.
It also has a number pad, but the numbers don’t move around as a preventative measure, nor is there an option (as there is on the Kwikset Obsidian) to require users to press two random numbers before entering their code.
The Schlage Encode Plus can store up to 100 codes; while that’s a good many, it’s far short of the 250 codes offered with the Yale Assure SL and the unlimited number of codes you get with the August Smart Lock.
However, the Encode Plus does have one feature not found on many other smart locks: a built-in alarm. In the event someone tries to jimmy the Encode Plus, it will emit a siren that should at least deter someone from attempting to break in.
In addition to HomeKit, the Encode Plus also works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Amazon Key, and Yonomi, so you can integrate the lock with other smart home devices, and use those assistants to lock your doors.
Unlocking the door with my iPhone was as simple as tapping it to the lock. The same goes for the Apple Watch; I simply tapped the watch face to the Encode Plus, and it would lock and unlock within a second. When using your iPhone, you can simply tap a corner of the phone to the smart lock for it to open; you need to tap basically the entire face of the Apple Watch to the lock, which can be a little awkward.
Using Express Mode, you can unlock your door without having to unlock your iPhone or Apple Watch first, which is an extra layer of convenience, especially if you don’t have a free hand.