Hands on: Noke Bluetooth Padlock

Forget combos and key: Noke unlocks with your phone, and it's finally here

From bikes to lockers and garden sheds, the Noke makes securing just about anything more convenient with the phone you already own.

Bluetooth can tether your phone to everything from a smartwatch to a smart lightbulb these days, and now you can add another device to add to that list: a connected padlock called the Noke that uses your phone to unlock. (That’s pronounced No-key, get it?)

Launched back in 2014 on Kickstarter, the device has evolved since those early days, and is now nearly ready to ship out to backers. It’s also available as a pre-order, for those who missed out. We got a chance to see the Noke in action.

A classic design

It’s pleasing to see the company hasn’t messed with decades of padlock design, keeping to a simple circular shape for the body, and a U-shaped shackle to keep everything secure. While it could have gone for a space-age style, the traditional shackle works as well here as it did on your high-school gym locker.

Replacing dumb tech with smart tech continues to be an expensive task.

The Noke can unlock when you’re in Bluetooth range, or at the tap of a button in the accompanying app (Android | iOS | Windows). Why choose? Because the minute it auto-unlocks, anyone could slip the lock free and make off with whatever it was securing. The difference could be crucial for your bike, but negligible for your garden shed.

Both these features were demonstrated to us, and worked perfectly each time. It was clearly quicker than fiddling around with a key in a lock, and anyone who has fumbled with a bike chain on a freezing morning will appreciate not running the risk of frostbite while locating and twisting a key for 90 seconds.

Quick-Click could save the day

What happens if your phone dies? After all, it’s hardly unusual for our phones to run out of power during the day. That’s where the backup feature, Quick-Click, comes in. If your phone is out of power, lost, or left behind, an emergency Morse-code style series of squeezes on the shackle will unlock the padlock.

Is all this a step forward in padlock technology? It doesn’t make the lock any more secure, but it is more convenient than having a key, and negates the need for a sturdy set of bolt cutters in an emergency. Incidentally, the Noke is still just a padlock, and provides no more protection than any other.

The lock is weatherproof and made out of steel. What’s worth mentioning is the weight. Just because it doesn’t have a complex lock inside, doesn’t mean it’s a featherweight. It’s quite the opposite at 320 grams, with real weight and heft behind it. It’ll keep things safe, but you wouldn’t want to carry it around in your pocket. The battery is easy to replace, and should last a year anyway. The app has additional features including location-based history, and the option to manage multiple locks.

Conclusion

Replacing a key with Bluetooth tech results in a padlock that’s yours for $70, or about three times the price of a similarly robust padlock with an actual key. Replacing dumb tech with smart tech continues to be an expensive task, but if you’re tempted, then the Noke can be pre-ordered here.

If you can afford the upgrade, you’ll not be disappointed by the build or operation based on our short hands-on time with it. Whether or not the convenience is really worth the price depends on just how much you hate remembering keys and combos.

Highs

  • Strong build
  • Sensible safety features
  • Easy to use

Lows

  • Questionable benefits
  • Expensive
Product Review

Hue who? Nanoleaf Canvas brings a riot of color and vibrancy to the smart home

Fun and festive, Nanoleaf Canvas feature lighting adds personality and vibrancy to any room. Nanoleaf Canvas features squares that you can connect in any configuration you’d like. Sync to music, play games, or relax in soothing light.
Mobile

Quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed

Looking for a few accoutrements to make your smartphone even better? If you, or someone you know, is a sucker for accessories, you'll want to check out our collection of quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed.
Deals

Best deals on smart locks so you’ll never have to worry about unlocked doors

Is your front door locked? We found the best deals on smart home door locks that take the worry out of wondering if your home is secure. You can lock or unlock your doors remotely and some models let you control locks with voice commands.
Mobile

Apple iPad Pro 11 vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4: Which top-tier tablet reigns supreme?

If you're in the market for a new tablet and you want something that can double up as a laptop in a pinch, then you owe it to yourself to check out the 11-inch Apple iPad Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. We compare the two here.
Computing

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Smart Home

Dog or cat shedding? These vacuums do a great job of sucking up pet hair

Got a pet hair problem? Fortunately, there's help for you and your furry friend. We tested out a bunch of vacuums that promise to remove pet hair. Here are a few of the best you can buy.
Product Review

Ring Alarm makes DIY home security simple and affordable enough for everyone

Ring first made waves with its video doorbell, and now the Amazon-owned company is moving on to home security with the Ring Alarm. You can install the sensors and keypads yourself, then have Ring professionally monitor your home.
Smart Home

Rocco wants to rock out. Parrot learns to use owner’s Amazon Alexa

Rocco, an African gray parrot, fell in love with his owner's Alexa unit and ordered himself treats and other goodies, but mostly uses the smart assistant to rock out to his favorite music.
Smart Home

The Echo Wall Clock can help you keep track of multiple Alexa timers

Amazon just released the Echo Wall Clock that was announced at its September new hardware device event in Seattle. The Echo Wall Clock is an analog clock that also indicates the minutes remaining on one or more Alexa timers.
Smart Home

Espresso On Demand: The five best Nespresso machines

Most people still trek down to their local coffee shop to get an espresso or a cappuccino, but you don't have to. A Nespresso machine can put coffee shop quality espresso on your kitchen counter.
Smart Home

This device detects when your pet is at the door and opens it for them

Tired of waiting for your dog to come inside, or running home in the middle of the day to let your four-legged friend out? Wayzn automatically opens sliding doors for your dog and gives you remote control.
Deals

Get electronics gifts for high-tech homes for under $100 with these deals

The holiday season is in full swing with Christmas just around the corner. New deals on interesting, fun, and practical electronic gifts under $100 from major online retailers can convert last-minute shoppers to savvy bargain hunters.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.