Kwikset Kevo Contemporary review

The Kwikset Kevo Contemporary looks good, is well-built and is easy to use.
The Kwikset Kevo Contemporary looks good, is well-built and is easy to use.
The Kwikset Kevo Contemporary looks good, is well-built and is easy to use.

Highs

  • First-class installation experience
  • Modern design and selection of finishes
  • eKey sharing makes access easy for family and friends.
  • Simple to use
  • Comprehensive selection of third-party integrations

Lows

  • Limited features
  • Bluetooth connectivity sometimes fails, disabling one-touch access.
  • Remote access and smart home integration requires the $100 Kevo Plus gateway

Launched back in 2013, the first-generation Kwikset Kevo was a pioneering smart lock, delivering touch, key fob and smartphone-powered home security to your front door. While that trailblazing debut model suffered from a lack of Android support and zero integration with third-party devices, Kwikset steadily improved the lock, with an accomplished second-generation device that was better-prepared for mainstream use.

Now there’s the $229 Kwikset Kevo Contemporary smart lock. From a feature perspective, it’s similar to its predecessor (still available and rebranded as “Kevo Traditional”), supporting one-touch locking, app control and electronic keys that can be sent to family and friends. But with a fresh design and an expanding array of smart device integrations available, it’s a great time to check out Kwikset’s progress – particularly in light of increasing competition from the likes of August, Yale and others.

Kevo Contemporary’s square faceplate is compact but striking, with an integrated LED stripe that subtly suggests it’s no dumb deadbolt.

One thing that hasn’t changed with this new model is the price. At $229, the lock certainly positions Kevo as a premium device, but on paper, it offers better value than Nest x Yale. However, stacked up against the excellent August Smart Lock, it looks pricey. Unlike August, which cleverly fits on your existing deadbolt, Kevo includes both front and rear door fittings, which explains at least some of that price delta.

Available in four finishes – Iron Black (which is the finish we’re reviewing), Venetian Bronze, Polished Chrome and Satin Nickel – Kevo Contemporary’s square faceplate is compact but striking, with an integrated LED stripe that subtly suggests it’s no dumb deadbolt.  An all-metal rear housing, protecting Kevo’s electronics and twin AA batteries, matches neatly but suffers from the chunkiness that plagues most smart locks. Dimensions of 5.75 x 2.75 x 1.4” (14.5 x 7 x 3.5 cm) give Kevo’s backside a boxy appearance, but the premium finish is more refined than the larger, two-tone Nest x Yale lock.

First-class build quality, installation experience.

You can see that a huge amount of work has been employed by Kwikset to make installation as simple as possible. Interactive installation guidance, available through the Kevo app, asks you a couple of questions about your door, such as its thickness and deadbolt aperture sizes, then presents customized, step by step instructions. Potentially confusing parts, such as screws – which come in various sizes – are individually packed and coded to minimize mistakes. Together, these additions create a fantastic installation experience that’s up there with the best.

Internal build quality is also excellent – a leap above the disappointing Next x Yale smart lock, which suffers from cheap, poorly made components. Follow the guidance and you should be up and running in less than 30 minutes.

Simple security features make home access easy

Once you’ve calibrated the lock (which requires you touching the deadlock twenty times to repeatedly lock and unlock the door) you can check out Kevo Contemporary’s features. That shouldn’t take too long, as it’s a reasonably simple lock. When accompanied by your smartphone (in or out of a pocket), you simply touch the Kevo’s keyhole to lock or unlock the door.

The Bluetooth sometimes failed without warning, which completely disabled one-touch unlocking.

The lock’s status LEDs will illuminate, and you’ll hear the deadbolt move. A long beep provides additional confirmation of the lock action.

Alternatively, open the Kevo app to see the current lock status. A simple tap on a large circular button toggles the lock. Alternatively, two traditional keys are provided, or you can purchase a $30 electronic key fob for easier touch access. So simple, even your grandmother can use Kevo.

In use, we found Kevo Contemporary to mostly work well, although the Bluetooth connection between our phone and the lock sometimes failed without warning, which completely disabled one-touch unlocking. Whether the issue was with the lock or the phone was unclear, but it’s a moot point. It should work reliably every time.

To be fair to Kwikset, most Bluetooth smart locks we’ve tested suffer from connectivity issues, and on most occasions, the phone and lock paired automatically within seconds. But we’d still always recommend having a traditional key or key fob with you as a backup.

Kevo’s eKey feature provides digital access to family and friends equipped with a smartphone. Access can be easily configured in the Kevo app, with both unrestricted and scheduled access available. Alternatively, guest keys provide unlimited access for a 24-hour period, making it an ideal choice for regular baby sitters and other visitors. Key management is easy, and access can be amended or withdrawn in a couple of taps.

Enhanced smart home integration adds real convenience, at an additional cost

Kevo integrates neatly with a growing range of smart home devices, including thermostats from Nest and Honeywell, Skybell and Ring smart doorbells and Amazon Alexa (although the Google Assistant is a bust at this point). Extended service integrations can be unlocked courtesy of IFTTT support, so if you want your Philips Hue lights to turn on when your door is unlocked, for example, you can.

The bad news is that you’ll need to spend an additional $100 on the accompanying Kevo Plus gateway for integration. As a bonus, a gateway adds remote access to your lock so is a worthwhile, if unwelcome investment. On this occasion, Kwikset didn’t send over the gateway for us to test with Kevo Contemporary, but previously, we’ve been pleased with its performance. If we get the opportunity to test out the gateway with the lock, we’ll update this review.

Warranty information

Kwikset Kevo Contemporary is supported by a lifetime mechanical and finish warranty with a one-year warranty for the lock’s electronic components.

Our Take

Kwikset Kevo may not have all the features of a leading lock like August, but looks good, is well-built and is easy to get along with. To get the most from the lock, you’ll need to add an additional $100 to an already premium $229 price tag to make the lock smart. If you’re already sold on Kevo, then it’s a worthwhile upgrade. With enhanced smart home features and a great new design, Kevo Contemporary is a Kwikset’s best smart lock yet.

Is there a better alternative?

The third generation August Smart Lock is more compact and cheaper than Kwikset Kevo and slots over your existing deadbolt. It’s a great choice.

How long will it last?

A lifetime mechanical and finish warranty ensures you can trust Kevo’s deadbolt hardware, while Kwikset has continued to invest in software and feature updates since launch. You should have no concerns here.

Should you buy it?

We’d tip the August Smart Lock over Kwikset Kevo if we were forced to make a choice, but that said, Kevo Contemporary remains an excellent choice.

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