This is a UK – We Own It review of the Nokē Bluetooth Padlock.
The Noke Padlock was launched after a successful Kickstarter in 2014. It raised an impressive $652,828 of their $100,00 goal. Before you ask, no it’s not from our friends in Sweden but USA, the name is just a play on words pronounced – ‘No Key’, get it!
It was created by design and product company Fuz Designs, it has since split into a separate company.
What does the Noke Bluetooth Padlock do?
Nokē is a padlock but with…no keys!
The way to unlock the padlock is via your phone ( iOS / Android / Windows ) or with a special combination of presses of the shackle, a feature they call Quick-Click.
You can also buy a separate fob that can also unlock it – we think that is a little cheeky considering the lock itself is not cheap.
To unlock it, all you need to do is be near the lock,with a setup phone and Bluetooth turned on. Press the shackle until the light changes from blue to white and it will unlock. This type of unlock is called 1-Step Unlocking.
The issue with 1-Step is that if the phone is in range and someone tries their luck and presses the shackle it will unlock. We therefore recommend using 2-Step Unlocking – this requires you to press the shackle and then confirm the unlock in the app, this prevents anyone trying their luck opening your lock if your near enough.
To use Quick-Click you set a code, something they explain in a very complicated manner but basically its long and short presses of the shackle. Just like a combination lock but on the shackle not a keypad.
The accompanying App comes with a few functions:
- Adjust range of control. This is very important if your using it in a small area for example a gym where you will be near the lock and don’t want to turn on 2-Step Unlocking.
- Share locks with friends, although this is not remote control also working via Bluetooth.
- See the location of where a lock was last used and what action was done. This is good for ‘did I lock the..’ moments.
Unlike a lot of its competitors it’s weather resistant, up to an impressive IP66 “Totally protected against dust / Protect from strong water jets“.
The lock is well designed, with a modern brushed steel look and a weighty feel. The clever part of the design is that the accent above the ē is the LED indication light.
- Flashing Green = Unlocking
- Red = Locked
- Blue / White = Woken up
How does it work and what is the tech?
The lock connects to your phone via Bluetooth 4.0 using 128-bit AES encryption.
On top of the standard encryption they have added another layer of 128-bit encryption and created their own custom protocol for all communication.
It is powered by a 2032 watch battery that they claim is designed to last a year. The good thing is this can be replaced, unlike other tech like Tile that dies with the battery.
If the battery fails it has a jump start feature to enable you to open it. You just remove a clip at the bottom of the lock and hold a 2032 battery onto the exposed terminals and it will start.
How easy is it to set up?
- Install the app
- Open the app
- Press and release the shackle
- Setup the lock including setting the ‘Quick-Click’ code
However the app is a little buggy, almost feeling like a beta despite being version 2.1
Fields in registration were named incorrectly:
‘Confirm name’ is supposed to say ‘Confirm email’ this caused confusion as the validation rule prompts you to correct it.
The Quick-Click code states it has a minimum requirement, and rightly so to prevent anyone getting lucky after a few attempts. However, you can actually set anything and it’s accepted:
Left screen shows the requirement, right shows its ignored and can set anythingWhere the date and time is supposed to be displayed in the app under activity it displays ‘null’.
All these, all be them small, bugs do create a lack of confidence in the product, not good for a security product.
What’s the connectivity?
Unfortunately, other than to its own app via Bluetooth it doesn’t have any.
They are really missing a trick here, for example if it had Wi-Fi it could allow remote unlocking or scheduled unlocking. This would be brilliant for allowing couriers to put deliveries in a locked storage box after they have spoken to you via a Ring video doorbell.
One frustrating thing is digging around their website and the ‘Pro’ app, designed for business, comes with an API and SDK. As well as a management portal. We only assume they have deliberately limited the functionality of the standard Nokē to allow them to up-sell businesses to the Pro version.
They also do not have an Apple Watch app, again frustrating as this would allow unlocking when you don’t have your phone but you do your watch – like at the gym.
How much does it cost?
£60 – Not too expensive when considering the features however to replace an existing combination lock it does seem expensive. Especially considering the lack of smart connectivity.
What’s it like living with it?
We used it for the gym a few times and it is handy not having to remember a combination or find a key. However as the locker rooms are near the gym floor we ensured 2-Step Unlock was enabled.
When we decided to go for a swim, we suddenly realised why they have the Quick-Click feature as the phone is locked inside the locker. Again this highlights why 1-Step Unlock is not a good idea as if your phone is in the locker anyone could open the lock on the outside!
What are our final thoughts?
Nokē has great potential, the physical lock is good just the app and the connectivity needs work. At the moment we are not sure this is a replacement for combination locks however a few tweaks and new features and it easily could be.