As a self-professed techie who always take pride in owning and trying the latest and coolest gadgets – there has been one notable omission in my home for the longest time – a smart lock.

The reason is simple – shopping for a smart lock isn’t easy. Every major smart lock manufacturers such as Samsung and Yale have a huge range of models at various price levels. The features are also confusing even for a techie – there’s RFID access cards, smart pins, bio-metric senors, bluetooth control, etc just to name a few.

At my office, we use a Yale smart lock that was left over from the previous tenant. This particular Yale lock was incredibly confusing to use. Registering new user pins or fingerprints involve removing the battery cover and then pressing a couple of special buttons and codes like how we would do cheat codes on Digimon, and is a frustrating process every time I had to do it. As the co-founder of Originally US, an award-winning mobile app consultancy, user-friendliness of a product is something I pay particular attention to.

Because of reasons such as these, I have been holding off getting a smart lock for my home for the longest time because I simply couldn’t find a product in the market that make sense.

Until I came across the Smart Mortise Lock by igloohome.

igloohome is a small (relative to their competitors) local company that got its start in 2015 during an internal hackathon held by Singtel. After having use the Smart Mortise Lock for more than a week, I would say that this is a typical case of David vs Goliath, where the product created by a small outfit massively triumphs those created by the likes of Yale and Samsung.

At S$ 649 including free installation (a limited time promotion which will run until 30th April), the Smart Mortise Lock is one of the most affordable smart lock options available in the market. Note that while igloohome is a small local outfit, the lock mechanism itself is sourced from a reputable South Korean manufacturer, so we are assured of its quality and reliability.

The installation process was easy enough. Basically, I just let the very friendly and competent technician do all the work, while I use that approximately one hour of installation time to familiarize myself with the manual.

Technician at work, do not disturb!

My naked door

A bulk of the installation process involves drilling larger holes into your door to allow the lock mechanism to be installed. One disadvantage of this requirement is no longer possible to change to a smaller lock in future (such as a traditional dumb lock) as those unsightly drill holes would be exposed.

Drilling in progress

 

With all thee braces, it looks like a heart bypass surgery is going on

First glimpse of the Smart Mortise lock, waiting to be installed

While the installation is ongoing, I busy myself with the instruction manual.

Sleek looking instruction manual

 

Pairing is straight forward and easy

QR code pairing currently does not work, so I went with manual pairing. This is actually easier than it sounds. Simply install the igloohome app on your mobile phone, look for the lock’s bluetooth name in your phone’s bluetooth setting screen and connect. That’s it.

Unlocking the lock is easy enough. You get quite a few options out of the box. You are given two RFID tags with a hook which you can attach to your purse or bag similar to how you attach a keychain. You also get two RFID stickers which you can paste anywhere you want. You also get two physical keys if your parents or grandparents at home refuses to touch technology.

Physical Keys

RFID Tags

I pasted my RFID stickers behind my car key, so now I only really have to bring a single key out. Talk about convenience!

Igloohome RFID sticker behind my car key

If you need more RFID stickers to paste on your mobile phones and all other places you can think of, you can easily purchase generic stickers from the internet. Just look for ‘ntag’ 203 or 213 stickers. I’ve ordered mine at S$ 1.55 for 10 on aliexpress!

Still, all these options pale in comparison to unlocking the lock with something that you already have.

A few of your existing RFID cards, such as the Kopitiam card, can actually be used as an ID tag to unlock the smart mortise. Note that this doesn’t mean you can use ANY Kopitiam card to unlock ANY smart mortise lock. You need to register your card to your lock before it can be used, just like registering an RFID tag.

Of course, other unlock options exist too. You can simply remember a pin and unlock by entering a pin code if you have forgotten to bring out ANY of your keys or RFID tag. You can also unlock via the mobile app provided over bluetooth connection, although this process is slow and isn’t something I would use daily.

Most other smart locks at this price range doesn’t come with a companion mobile app, making it extremely difficult to set new pin, assign new RFID cards or even know when your lock battery is going to give out.

Fortunately, igloohome’s products all work with the igloohome companion app, making it extremely convenient and fuss free to manage access cards, pins as well as to monitor the status of your lock.

The strength of igloohome’s app is that it allows you to easily manage scenarios where you need to grant all kinds of different access to your home or property. You can assign both permanent and single-use or short-term pin codes to different people without even being near your lock.

Extremely easy in a multi-user environment

 

Managing access

Existing pins and RFID tags can also be easily managed from your mobile app.

Lock overview

Conclusion

Igloohome’s Smart Mortise Lock is one of the best smart lock to buy at this price point.

If you need sophisticated features to manage different kind of access to your home or property (I’ll definitely be using igloohome for my office in future), or if you value the user-friendliness and simplicity of managing your lock through a mobile phones, or if you just want to support the gutsy Singaporean underdog fighting against other smart lock goliaths, I strongly recommend that you consider Igloohome’s Smart Mortise Lock.

Update: Igloohome just secured a USD 4 million round of investment! This will definitely give them even more ammunition to take on the big guys!