Level is a relatively new company in the smart home scene, but today it’s announcing its second product of the year: the Level Touch. The Touch uses the same clever engineering and sleek design of the Level Bolt, but packages it into a full lock replacement and doesn’t rely on any existing deadbolt parts you may have. It costs $329 and is available in a variety of finishes from Level’s website starting today.
Though the Touch uses the same interior mechanism as the Bolt, it comes with a front bezel with a keyhole and a back bezel with a traditional lever, effectively replacing all of the parts of your door lock. By expanding to the outside components, Level is able to add capacitive touch to unlock or lock the door, authenticating over Bluetooth LE through the phone in your pocket. You can walk up to the door and just touch the outside of the lock to have it unlock for you.
There’s a smart lock in there, though you wouldn’t know it from a glance Photo: Level
Even though the Touch is wholly replacing the deadbolt in your door, it maintains Level’s sleek design and ethos that smart technology should blend in with normal life. It does not look like smart lock from the outside or the inside — there are no hefty battery backs or motors glommed on to the inside of the door, nor are there any keypads or fingerprint scanners on the outside.
Instead, all of the electronics, motors, battery, and smarts are embedded inside the lock mount and the deadbolt itself, out of sight. It is still compatible with the majority of deadbolts in US homes and occupies the same size as a standard deadbolt. Level even boasts that you can install the Touch with just a single screwdriver in as little as ten minutes — no drilling or routing required.
The lock itself is made from stainless steel and Level claims it is certified to meet the highest industry standard for lock security and reliability. The standard lever on the inside and keyhole on the outside mean you can also use it just like the deadbolt you currently have.
In addition to the new touch controls, the Touch lock also supports NFC access cards, two of which are included with the lock. You can program the cards using the Level app on your phone and give them access to multiple entrances or homes. You can also remotely wipe the card or revoke access if it gets lost. It’s not unlike the NFC guest key the Tesla Model 3 uses.
The Level Touch installs in the same way as a standard deadbolt with a single screwdriver Photo: Level
Level is also upgrading its mobile app to add features such as a vacation mode to extend battery life; automatic lock and unlock when you leave and approach; and a passes feature that provides access to a space through a link you can share. It’s designed to be used for meeting rooms and small offices where access needs to be remotely granted for a small group of people for a limited time. In my test of the Level Bolt earlier this summer, one of my biggest complaints was how simple and underfeatured the app was, so it’s good to see Level is improving it. These new app features will also be available for the Bolt, as well.
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Like the Bolt, the Touch works with Apple HomeKit, but it does not yet support Amazon Alexa or Google Home, though the company tells me it is working on adding support for other platforms. The new auto lock and unlock feature in the app mean you won’t have to rely on HomeKit’s geofencing for that feature anymore, and it also extends it to Android users, which didn’t have any automatic unlock function available to them before.
If the original Level Bolt was a proof of concept that this kind of system or technology can work, the Level Touch is a more complete realization of the idea. It does have some shortcomings compared to the Bolt — you can’t use your existing keys with it, and two new keys come in the box, for example — but on most every front, it’s a fuller experience than what’s available with the Bolt.
The Level Touch’s price puts it at the very top of the smart lock market
Still, the Level Touch’s price point puts it at the very top of the smart lock market, and you really have to value its sleek design to opt for it over the many other options available. Level is leaning into that high-design and high-price with a partnership with high-end handle manufacturers to make levers and door handles that match the Touch’s design. It’s also working on partnerships to embed its technology inside existing handle sets.
But for now, if you want to have the smarts of a smart lock without telling the whole world you have one, the Level Touch is for you.