We.lock Smart Lock Review [SOHO-EU] – Pin code & RFID smart lock makes this more convenient to use than Bold

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Welock SOHO Smart Lock Review Rating

Summary

The We.Lock SOHO had the potential to be an amazing lock and once installed it does work well. However, the app lets it down and there are concerns about the overall security.

Overall
65%
65%
  • Overall - 65%
    65%

Pros

  • Attractively priced
  • Easy to fit
  • Easier/More convenient to use than the Bold Smart Lock

Cons

  • Poorly designed app with terrible registration process
  • Questionable encryption/security

We.Lock, or Welock, depending on which site you go on, is an affordable Chinese brand specialising in smart locks. They offer a wide range of locks catering for different markets. This includes locks to cater to US deadlocks and a different set of products for the EU market, which typically having a more secure multi-point lock system.

I was sent the We.lock SOHO-EU, which has a keypad and can also read RFID tags and be unlocked via your phone. This also appears to have the same functionality as the PCB41.  Alternatively, the Ai.one Smart Lock swaps out the keypad with a fingerprint scanner.

Specification

  • Unlock Method:
    • RFID Smart Card
    • Temporary and Code access 
    • Mobile Phone APP (Bluetooth Connection)
  • Mechanical (Key) Backup: No
  • Power backup: Yes, microUSB
  • Battery: 3x AAA with 1 year approximate life
  • IP Rating: IP44
  • Security Level: Super B, Bank-Level (whatever that means)
  • Fitting: Universal design with a maximum of 60mm on either side of the tumbler for doors with a thickness of 55-105mm

Welock SOHO vs Bold Smart Lock

The Welock has a similar design and method of use as the Bold Smart Lock I reviewed recently. In some ways, it is a much better lock, but in others, it is much worse.

Both locks work by engaging and disengaging the outside knob. They both require you to manually turn the knob to unlock the door and neither lock uses a traditional key for a mechanical backup.

So how do the locks compare and what are the pros and cons?

Welock SOHO Smart Lock

Advantages of the Welock SOHO Smart Lock:

  • Multiple methods of access including pin code, RFID tag and via the phone
  • Emergency power using the microUSB port in the event of battery failure
  • Universal design – the barrel length is adjustable so you don’t have to buy the exact size for your door.

Disadvantages of the Welock SOHO Smart Lock:

  • A terrible Android app and a truly awful registration process.
  • All electronics are exposed to the outdoors. They are IP44 rated but there is still the potential of failure or malicious damage.
  • Slower process to lock the door when you leave your property.
  • Unknown security/encryption

Bold Smart Lock

Advantages of the Bold Smart Lock:

  • Much better app and initial set-up process
  • No electronics exposed to the outside
  • You can buy the Bold connect for remote management
  • Bold clickers can be used for access without a phone
  • Easier to lock on the way out

Disadvantages of the Bold Smart Lock:

  • Using your phone is the main way to unlock and this can be very slow
  • Bold clicker is expensive and needs a battery (vs RFID)
  • No way to power the smart lock if the battery dies/fails

Security

Ever since I started covering smart locks the inevitable question of security gets brought up. This was also an immediate concern for me too.

These concerns were assuaged when reviewing locks from the likes of Yale due to the various claims of security. Yale has some locks that are British Kitemark approved and they normally provide some details on encryption. For example, the Yale Linus states it has two-layer encryption which uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology encryption, as well as AES 128 bit and TLS encryptions, commonly referred to as bank-level security.

Bold states:

“Messages between your Bold products and the Bold server are end-to-end encrypted. Each Bold product has its own unique code – that cannot be copied. This way, your certified products can only communicate with each other and our server.”

There is also the fact that physically breaking into a property is going to be considerably easier than bypassing any lock encryption. Also, in comparison, most cylinder locks can easily be bumped, so I am fairly confident my smart lock is more secure than my cheap old-fashioned lock.

However, with Welock I noticed that not much is said about encryption or security. Rooting around the tech specs you will find the only thing they state is “Super B, Bank Level” which could mean absolutely anything.

In my case, I use the Welock on my garage/gym door so I am not overly concerned about hackers bypassing its security. But it is something that needed to be highlighted and should be considered in your buying decision.

Installation, Set-Up and App

I have reviewed quite a few smart locks now and the Bold smart look was quite similar to this. Therefore the physical installation was a breeze.

The one issue I had was that I didn’t note down the lock serial number prior to installation, so I had to remove it all when tried to set it up in the app. In hindsight, it would be easier if you set the lock-up with the app prior to the physical installation.

Unfortunately, the app and registration process is terrible.

I struggled to sign up for an account, the app insisted I get an SMS code and it was incredibly slow sending the SMS and failed to accept it the first 4 times. I am pretty sure this is an issue with it connecting to the remote authentication servers, which again, doesn’t inspire confidence with security.

When I finally registered, everything else went reasonably smoothly, but the app is quite poor and not very user friendly.

In-Use

Thankfully, once I got everything set up, the lock works quite well, and you don’t really need to bother with the app.

For me using the pin code is by far the best method of entry. I don’t need to remember my phone or RFID card and there is no waiting for the phone to connect to the lock. I just type in my pin and enter.

The only gripe I have is that the small LCD display is almost useful in daylight. You don’t really need it so it isn’t a huge problem.

Also, with the Bold lock, I could press the button on the inside then close the door, engage the lock and turn the knob. With this, I have to input my pin again before the outside knob is activated again.

Price and Alternative options

The Welock SOHO-EU-PCB is $199 RRP but is currently available for just $159 and comes with free shipping. I wasn’t charged VAT or any import fees. This works out as £150 RRP or £120 currently.

This makes it cheaper than most competing options:

  • Bold Smart Lock is £169.
  • Yale Linus is £220
  • Nuki Smart Lock 3.0 is £129
  • Ultion Smart Lock is £259

Overall

I quite like the Welock SOHO and for the time being I am going to carry on using it instead of reverting back to the Bold Smart Lock. For me, the pin code access is much more convenient than using my phone and I like the reassurance of having multiple ways to unlock the door.

However, my opinion of the lock is somewhat tarnished because I really dislike the app and the initial registration process was incredibly frustrating. The poor app also raises the question of how good the overall lock security is. I will admit I am somewhat blasé about smart lock security, I am convinced it will always be easier to smash a window and I can’t imagine there are many competent smart lock hackers where I live. That being said, I’d still like the reassurance of knowing what security measures are in place.

Last update on 2022-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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