You have been sold a lie. You have been told that the smart lock doesn’t exist that there isn’t one lock that does everything in one package well. You are wrong. My quest for the perfect smart lock started way back in 2013 when I first heard about Lockitron at CES when the idea of smart locks was not even a thing.
The idea of a lock that could be controlled via your smartphone, powered by batteries driving a motor to unlock a deadbolt lock was what Lockitron was promising customers, but in reality, it wasn’t as easy as that. The 1st generation barely shipped, reports from those lucky enough to receive one complained about poor experiences, eventually, Lockitron abandoned ship and decided to refocus its efforts on creating the 2nd iteration. I pre-ordered both and after years of waiting and getting bullshit excuses I gave up myself. The product was not shipping and by all accounts, the original idea was never a perfect do it all solution. Time had moved on, so had what I expected from a smart lock.
This is when Gate Labs an unknown at this point entered the market. They introduced Gate, the worlds first and to this date only camera-equipped smart lock that incorporates a key cylinder, camera and keypad with built-in WiFi and no “bridge” device to connect to your existing network. It sounded too good to be true and the fact it was being launched on Indiegogo had me slightly concerned, especially after being burnt by Lockitron. Not one to shy away from a crowdsourced product backing I decided to take the risk, Gate promised so much more but for double the price of the Lockitron and other competitors too that had since entered the market like August. It was a big ask and one that didn’t quite deliver on the original ship date of March 2017. However, in December, Gate announced for international backers like myself who wanted the product early, Gate would send the package on to a forwarding shipping company of my choice to then be delivered. There were some caveats to choosing this route, I didn’t let this hold me back and decided to get the Gate shipped regardless.
Gate Camera Smart Lock
In January, as promised, my order was delivered to me with all the necessary tools and components ready to install. After talking to my resident handyman to come and install the lock, I was worried there would be components missing or we would encounter some issues. But, after installing the free Gate app for iOS my worries soon faded away. The app comes with a very useful install guide full of, videos and tips on best practices for installing the lock. It took just under 30 mins to install and this was because my front door previously never had a lock, we had to carve out the section from the door for the lock to fit. Once the battery was fully charged I was able to start assigning users within the Gate app and test out the motor functions. This worked perfectly from the first attempt. Finally, after all these years was my search over?
- The lock unit is well designed with the key cylinder, keypad and camera all neatly placed in one round housing.
- The battery is removable which means you can add extras if you need and it last’s up to 4 weeks with regular use.
- Everything you need is supplied in the Gate package including screwdrivers and rubber spacers.
- The integrated camera has a 150° field-of-view which means you can see out at edges of door frames.
- The built-in Wi-Fi means no need for a “bridge” style unit to connect to your existing home network.
- Unique access codes for guests and service workers are a thing of beauty, being able to choose custom access date and time restrictions are super useful.
- You can set Gate to auto-lock after different set time intervals for peace of mind and convenience.
…and the bad.
- The iOS/Android app can be slow to respond to the mobile chime requests.
- The camera streaming quality can be patchy at 720p, along with the audio quality which is poor via the app with weird buzzes.
- The lock motor is not instant and like any mechanical component, you need to wait a few seconds for the lock to turn.
- When using the key cylinder it has to be turned around one too many times, it’s awkward and confusing.
There is a lot to like about what Gate have created here, not just because they have delivered on their original crowdfunding campaign, albeit late. The product in its first iteration is a very capable and generally reliable piece of hardware and that is hard to argue with.
Despite a few early shortcomings on its mobile apps, something that will hopefully be updated in the future. It’s worth noting that Gate has both an iOS and Android app which I used, it’s commendable Gate support both platforms at launch. I would hope minor hardware issues I mentioned above will also be resolved in future firmware updates. At the moment, most troubleshooting can be done manually and Gate has a decent library of help articles found on its support pages which appears to be updated regularly.
For now, Gate might be an unknown brand and without a big name retailer behind its marketing and sales to back up the hardware, it might stay that way for a while. That shouldn’t deter you from investigating the Gate smart lock more, for my house set up Gate is the all-round smart lock I was looking for and you should most certainly consider it as a solution.