Back in late 2019, Aqara released their N100 smart lock with HomeKit functionality, for the Chinese Mainland market, and whilst the lock design would work for many doors outside of China – most notably Europe – the N100 was never easily available outside of its main market. Fast forward to 2021, putting to one side the rumours of an Aqara smart lock in the style of the Yale Linus or Nuki Smart Lock 2.0 (read our Nuki review HERE), Aqara are gearing up for the release of a new and improved N100 for European users.
What’s new and improved, you might ask? Well, most smart locks for HomeKit use Bluetooth in order to work, or they’ll come with a WiFi bridge, to connect the Bluetooth lock to your network and the outside world, although these bridges don’t have any impact on the way HomeKit works as such, as they’re chiefly designed for the respective companies’ own apps.
The original N100 also used Bluetooth, but the updated version uses both Bluetooth AND Zigbee 3.0, which means much faster response times if nothing else, although it would appear that you have to choose either Zigbee or Bluetooth for your connection, not both. Additionally, whereas the original N100 worked with Mi Home and HomeKit, the update can now be used with Aqara Home, for even better integration with other Aqara devices (assuming you don’t use Mi Home of course). Interestingly, like the recently released EU version of the Aqara M2 hub, the N100 can be added to both European and Chinese servers. Importantly, the lock will have the relevant certification for your region, although Aqara recommends checking with your nearest supplier for more information.
The lock has a Grade B product safety level, and a Grade C lock cylinder safety level. For power, the lock utilises eight AA batteries, and in the event of dead batteries, the lock can be powered by the built-in USB-C port supplying 5v, presumably from some from of power pack you might use with your phone.
In terms of the lock itself, it’s designed to fit doors that use a mortice type lock, which is more widely available in Europe. As before, the N100 comes with a variety of ways to unlock it, including – for traditionalists – a mechanical key, voice or app control using Siri or the Aqara or Home apps, passcodes via the built-in keypad, fingerprint unlock via the sensor built into the handle, as well as NFC. The lock can store up to 50 fingerprints, and 50 keycodes. The NFC option uses a keycard that can be purchased separately from Aqara. We’ve got something similar here from Terncy, that works with their Titan Smart Lock, and it’s very fast, so I’ve no doubt it’ll be just as swift with the N100. Unfortunately, NFC within the iPhone isn’t supported, which is in Apple’s hands, but if you use a Chinese version of the Mi Band 3, 4 or 5, or have a Xioami phone with NFC, these will work.
Keypad functionality has all the usual functions you would expect, including permanent, time-sensitive or temporary passcodes, but also features an option to tap in random numbers both before and after your actual passcode, so that it’s harder for someone to determine the real code.
If all of the above wasn’t enough, the N100 even includes a doorbell, with a speaker built into the inside half of the lock. You’ll also get a notification on your phone if someone presses the doorbell, although only via the Aqara app, not HomeKit. If you’re concerned that you won’t hear the doorbell, your Aqara hub can also be set up to play a ringtone every time the doorbell is pressed, in order to boost the overall volume. The doorbell speaker also doubles up as an alarm, to alert you if the door isn’t properly closed, or if someone is tampering with the lock.
The only potential downside is that the N100 may only be suitable for apartments, as it doesn’t seem to be designed for outdoor use, although the operating temperature is impressive; -25ºC ~ 70ºC.
There’s currently no firm information on price or a release date, but the N100 is now listed on their EU site, as well as the Aqara app set to the European server.