U-Tec isn’t a name we’re too familiar with at HomeKit News, but that looks set to change with the company’s announcement of no less than three new smart deadbolt locks, each offering distinct special features. U-Tec already has its own Ultraloq lineup, which includes latch locks with handles, and deadbolt locks. Still, with the introduction of the new Ultraloq Bolt Series of deadbolt locks (not to be confused with their U-Bolt series), this will be the first time the brand will feature the ‘Works With Apple Home badge. They’ll also work with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, SmartThings, and even IFTTT.
As it stands, none of the three locks we’re going to look at are available yet, but the first two listed on the company’s website are both compatible with Apple HomeKit. The Bolt NFC is compatible with both Apple HomeKit and Apple HomeKey, meaning you can not only open it via Siri or the Apple Home app but also with a HomeKey-compatible iPhone or Apple Watch (iPhone 11, Apple Watch Series 4 or later) by just tapping on the front of the lock. Even though it has a standard keyhole, with Apple HomeKey you’re unlikely to ever use the keys except in an emergency.
The Bolt Fingerprint, on the other hand, does not come with HomeKey functionality, even though it is HomeKit compatible. As the name implies, this comes with a biometric fingerprint sensor that allows you to open the lock simply by pressing your registered digit on the sensor. Whilst HomeKey is a great feature to have, using your finger (or thumb) to open the lock is even more intuitive, and is one less thing you need to get out of your pocket.
These locks come with a built-in keypad arranged around the lock in a style reminiscent of the old analogue phones of yesteryear. This means that aside from all the other options to open the lock, you can also have a passcode set up for each user.
Both models will use built-in WiFi via a module within the lock itself, which is going to mean it should react quicker than standard Bluetooth, whilst also not requiring a separate hub, which is the case with locks by most other brands.
These locks are going to be of most use in North America, where deadbolts are largely the norm, so fitting or replacing a standard deadbolt isn’t going to be complicated at all, with a few screws the most you’ll be needed to work with to install it. They’ll also require eight AA batteries (probably due to on-board WiFi).
We’ve not mentioned the third of these locks of course, but it would appear, at least according to The Verge, that a Matter over Thread version of the Bolt Fingerprint model. This means once again it’ll be compatible with the previously mentioned ecosystems via Matter, but additionally, it won’t use WiFi, but Thread. This should ensure even longer battery life and a bit more futureproofing, although as this will have the fingerprint sensor, it won’t come with HomeKey support, as that’s currently exclusive to Apple Home.
Prices for the two Apple Home locks will come in at US$249, with the Matter over Thread version adding a US$50 premium, priced at US$299, so not exactly cheap, whichever way you look at it. These locks will be debuted at CES2024, which is fast approaching.
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