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Yale Assure Lock 2 review: almost perfect

I want three things from a smart lock: a slim, attractive design, more than two ways to control it, and the ability to connect to my smart home, with no single-purpose Wi-Fi bridge taking up an outlet in my house. Yale’s flagship smart lock series, the Assure Lock 2, ticks all those boxes. Plus, they work with all the major smart home platforms if you add the right networking module, and they now come in fingerprint or Apple Home Key variants.

The Yale Assure Lock 2 starts at $159.99, the Assure Lock 2 Touch (from $199.99) adds a fingerprint reader, and the Assure Lock 2 Plus (from $209.99) has Apple Home Key. But you can’t get both in one lock, which is a shame, and Yale still hasn’t delivered on its promise of bringing Matter and Thread to its flagship locks.

Each lock in the series is a full deadbolt replacement lock with the same ultra-slim exterior, the keyed models being slightly longer to make room for the keyway (overall, it’s the smallest keypad smart lock I’ve tested). They all share a nice, neat rear housing containing the four AA batteries and thumb turn (this is also one of the smallest I’ve seen), and they can all be controlled with the built-in keypad or via Bluetooth using the Yale Access app (iOS or Android) or the Apple Home app (including Siri voice commands).

Support for other platforms comes via Yale’s ingenious swappable networking modules. The Wi-Fi module lets you connect to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and others, while the Z-Wave module is for Ring Alarm, Samsung SmartThings, and other Z-Wave systems. Yale has said it will offer a module for Matter over Thread, but it’s been delayed pending better support for locks within Matter.

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The Assure Lock 2 line comes in a few configurations on top of the base models. Here’s the current lineup:

I tested all three models, installing the Touch on the front door (as fingerprint unlocking is my favorite entry method and the best option for my kids), the Plus on the back door (which I use every morning while taking care of my flock of chickens), and the Assure 2 on the door from our garage (I’d previously tested this on my front door, too). While all three are excellent locks, the Assure 2 Touch is my favorite because fingerprint unlocking is the fastest, most reliable way to open a door. While not totally hands-free, it never failed in my testing.

The Yale Assure 2 Touch and Yale Assure 2 Plus smart locks.

The Assure 2 smart locks are the slimmest, least obtrusive keypad smart locks I’ve tested.

I find fingerprint unlock more reliable than Home Key (my Apple Watch Series 6 is normally dead by the time I get home after a day out); it’s also easier than pulling my phone out, and quicker than typing in a code. Plus, my kids never forget their fingers or let them run out of battery.

While Yale’s implementation is super fast and reliable, the downside is that the fingerprint reader is tiny and a bit of a tricky target. Setting up the fingerprint was also buggy. You do it through the Yale app, and it kept timing out on me, although it did eventually work. You also can’t add multiple prints to a user; you have to create a new profile for each finger. I like to register three or four fingerprints per person, two per hand. There’s also a limit of 20 fingerprints.

The base Assure 2 at $159.99 is a great option if you can do without a fingerprint reader, and you also get a physical keypad at that price. While the touchscreen looks better, it’s more expensive and less intuitive to use. Once you get the hang of it, it is responsive, and I’ve not had any issues in the six months I tested the Assure 2, but the physical keypad will be easier for guests to get to grips with (or renters if you were using this for an AirBnB).

Unlocking the Home Key-enabled Assure 2 Plus with my Apple Watch was very fast.

Using the iPhone works promptly, too, and will work for a few hours after your phone has run out of battery.

If you love the ease of unlocking your door by simply tapping your Apple Watch or iPhone on the lock, the Assure 2 Plus ($209.99) with Apple Home Key does this very well. But it’s disappointing there’s no fingerprint reader nor the option of a physical keyway (which you can get on the other two models). You also can’t get a physical keypad — it’s touchscreen only. It does make it a sleek-looking lock, though, and it’s hands down the best-looking Home Key lock with a built-in keypad.

In testing, Home Key worked instantly to unlock the door. Using my watch is my favorite method, as it’s essentially hands-free (although twisting your wrist is a tad awkward). I wish you could share Home Keys with people outside your Apple Home; currently the Apple Home app only lets you share codes.

If you are all in on Apple Home, which is likely if you are using Home Key, then there’s no need to pay $80 for the Wi-Fi module. However, in my testing, locking and unlocking the Assure 2 Plus remotely just using Apple Home — no Wi-Fi module — was less reliable. It sometimes timed out and failed. This has happened with other Home Key locks I’ve tested, so it’s not specifically a Yale issue.

a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white”>Smart home connectivity

All three Assure 2 locks work over Bluetooth and can be controlled with the Yale and Apple Home apps out of the box. If you have an Apple Home hub (HomePod or Apple TV), you can control your lock away from home, but otherwise, you’ll need a Yale connectivity module, to add support for other smart home platforms.

I tested the Wi-Fi Module ($80), which works with any Assure 2 lock and adds compatibility with more platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings (over Wi-Fi), Airbnb, and Philips Hue (to turn your lights on when you unlock and off when you lock).

The Wi-Fi module for the Assure 2. There’s also a Z-Wave version, and a Matter / Thread option is in the works.

Controlling the locks over Wi-Fi was noticeably slower than Bluetooth, taking about 10 seconds to respond, but it worked reliably. I could also lock and unlock with voice using Alexa or Google (pin codes are required for unlocking) and add the lock to smart home Scenes and Routines.

A Z-Wave module works with the Assure 2 and Assure 2 Touch to add compatibility with Ring Alarm, Samsung SmartThings hubs, and other Z-Wave systems (at the expense of Wi-Fi; you can’t have both). The Z-Wave module will not work with the Assure 2 Plus. Yale says a Matter over Thread module will come at some point to connect to most of the above (hopefully).

All three locks have built-in touchscreen keypads, other than the base Assure 2 model, which has a physical keypad. The touchscreen keypad is matte and very clean-looking; it’s so unobtrusive that it’s a surprise when the keys light up.

The downside is that it doesn’t light up with a single touch. I discovered this at 6:30AM when I was rudely awoken by a loud banging on the door. My husband was back from work, and I hadn’t yet trained him on the new lock. In his post-24-hour-shift exhaustion, he couldn’t figure out how to get the keypad to show up. 

I can’t remember when I last used a physical key to get into my home

As I should have told him earlier, he needed to put his palm over the lock or press the Yale button to get the keypad to show. (For the record, I hate branding on door locks; it’s something smart locks have introduced and needs to go away. My front door is not a billboard.) All of this is unnecessary. Just let me tap the screen. If that sounds like it’ll be an issue for you, go for the standard keypad version on the Assure 2. It has physical buttons which are less discreet but easier for everyone to use.

Whichever lock you use, the Yale Access app lets you add unlimited guests to the lock and allow full app access or give them a code and schedule the time they can use it. You get 250 codes, and you can revoke them anytime. It’s worth noting that you can’t schedule access for anyone with a fingerprint on the Touch model; it’s all access for them.

All the Assure 2 locks work with a DoorSense magnet that can tell you in the app if your door is open or closed.

DoorSense is another feature available on all the locks; it’s set up in the Yale Access app and lets you see if the door is open or closed before locking it remotely — the locks come with a magnetic contact sensor that’s easy to install on the door frame. The app is also where you can set up auto-lock and auto-unlock and view a log of every interaction with the door, including who unlocked it and how (unless they use a key). 

The Yale app isn’t great; it’s slow to load and not intuitive. While the walkthrough for physically installing the lock is detailed and easy to follow, the app makes little attempt to show you how to set up the lock’s features. With the Touch, it never prompted me to set up fingerprints, so I had to dig around to find out how to do that (and, as noted, had trouble getting it set up). Having said that, I’ve yet to find a good smart lock app, and Yale’s is one of the best in the scheme of things. The good news is once you’re set-up, you’ll rarely need to use the app.

All the locks work with Yale’s auto-unlock feature, which uses your phone’s location and the lock’s Bluetooth radio to unlock the door when you approach. This is by far the easiest method, completely hands-free, as your door automatically unlocks itself as you approach… in theory.

I’ve been testing auto-unlock on Yale and August locks (August and Yale are sister companies, and the locks share the same apps) for years now, and when it works, it’s great, but it is not reliable.

It fails about two times out of 10, in my experience — and standing in front of your door for a few seconds waiting for it to do its thing is beyond irritating. Here’s where I find a fingerprint reader or Home Key more reliable and almost as fast.

Installing the Yale smart lock was straightforward and took me about 10 minutes.

a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white”>To key or not to key

The Assure 2 and Assure 2 Touch both have the option of a physical keyway. There’s no key on the Assure 2 Plus.

If you opt for the keyed model, which does not cost more, Yale sells replacement cylinders for Schlage and Kwikset keyways and can key them to your existing locks. But if you have multiple exterior doors, you don’t really need a keyhole on the one with the smart lock, do you? I’ve been testing smart door locks for over a decade, and I can’t remember when I last used a physical key to get into my home. My teenage children have never used one, as I found out with some embarrassment when I dropped my son off at a college dorm for summer camp.

The only scenario I can think of — beyond some catastrophic mechanical failure — is if I managed to let the lock run out of battery. Even then, you can jolt the Yale lock back to life with a 9-volt battery long enough to input your code.

While keeping a 9-volt battery on hand feels weirder than sticking a spare key under a flower pot, it’s definitely more secure, and 9-volt batteries are easier to get ahold of in a pinch.

The Yale Assure Lock 2 blends right in on my front door. All three locks come in three finishes — black suede, bronze, and satin nickel (bronze is coming soon for the Plus).

a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white”>Pick a lock

The Assure 2 line offers something for everyone. From a $160 lock with Apple Home and auto-unlock to a $290 lock that does all that plus works with Apple’s Home Key, Alexa, and Google Home. But the $200 Assure Lock 2 Touch with a fingerprint reader is the lock I’d pick.

While I’d like to see a lock with Home Key and a fingerprint reader, the fingerprint-only Assure 2 Touch will work well for most people. It’s an excellent smart lock with a good design that will blend in with most door hardware. It offers several easy and reliable ways to access your door while ditching your keys, but you’ll use the fingerprint option the most.

At $200, it’s also one of the least expensive smart locks that works with Apple Home, so you get away-from-home control if you already have an iPhone and Apple Home hub. If you’re an Android household, you’ll want to consider upgrading to the Wi-Fi module for smart home integrations and locking and unlocking outside of Bluetooth range.

I do wish Yale had one lock that did it all — a keypad, fingerprint reader, keyed option, and Apple Home Key support. When I asked Yale about this, it cited cost; one lock that does it all will be very expensive. But there is already a lock with all these features for under $200 — the Aqara U100 (it also supports Matter!).

However, Yale’s lock feels sturdier than Aqara’s, and I don’t recommend Aqara’s for most people as its design is very techie, and it needs an Aqara Zigbee hub for most of its features, which bumps up the price and complexity. (Though an Aqara U100 lock and M2 hub are still around $20 less than any of the touchscreen Assure 2 locks with a Wi-Fi module.) 

The $200 Assure Lock 2 Touch with a fingerprint reader is the lock I’d pick

It’s also disappointing that there’s no Matter / Thread module for the Assure 2 yet. The company’s reasons for the delay make sense: Matter support for locks is currently very limited. While I’m confident they’ll follow through once that changes (Yale already has one lock that supports Matter and Thread — a first-gen Assure lock, and it’s on the board of the organization that runs the new standard) we all know not to buy a product today based on the promise of a future update.

I’m excited about this, though, because the Thread connectivity could solve the problems that plague most smart locks today — battery life (swapping your batteries out twice a year is more tiresome than it sounds), range (I couldn’t control the Yale lock from my bedroom over Bluetooth), responsiveness (Wi-Fi connectivity can be very slow), and the need for extra modules and bridges to control a lock remotely or with voice assistants.

But there is still no smart lock in the US with a fingerprint reader, Home Key, a built-in keypad, and Thread/Matter connectivity — that’s sort of the Holy Grail of locks for me right now. (The Schlage Encode at $300 has Thread, Home Key, and Wi-Fi but no fingerprint reader and won’t support Matter.)

Most people will be very happy with whichever of the Yale Assure 2 locks best fits their needs and budget, but when (okay, if) Yale releases its promised Matter / Thread module for the Assure 2, I’ll be first in line to test it.

Photography by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Update October 6th, 2023, 10AM: This review was originally published on September 24th, 2022 as a review of the Assure Lock 2. We’ve updated the review following testing the new Assure Lock 2 Touch and Assure Lock 2 Plus.