REVIEW – Back in August I reviewed the Level Bolt Invisible Smart Lock and loved it so much I purchased several more to install throughout our home. Its ability to transform any deadbolt into a stealthy smart lock is an impressive bit of engineering. Well, the folks @Level have recently introduced the Touch, the ‘smallest smart lock’ that adds features and functions to their ecosystem. Level’s new Touch smart lock adds the ability to secure your home with (as the name implies)…a touch. Let’s check it out.
What is it?
The Level Touch is a very well built, connected/automated lock mechanism, door hardware, and deadbolt assembly engineered to hide in plain sight. The Level Touch not only enables you to use your phone or smart card as your (wireless) key but enables you to lock or unlock your door with a simple touch of the finger. Like the Level Bolt, the Touch gives you all the benefits of a smart lock without having to have a massive, ugly growth on the inside of your entry door.
What’s in the box?
- Key housing
- Paddle assembly
- Strike plate
- Door keys (2)
- Keycards (2)
- CR2 battery
- Long cap
- Security bolts
The Level Touch is compatible with most standard US door cutouts with backset lengths of 2 3/8″ and 2 3/4″, thickness between 1 3/4″ – 2″, and ANSI standard 2 1/4″ bore hole diameter. The Level Touch is compatible with iOS and Android devices and communicates via Bluetooth and can be added to your Apple HomeKit.
Design and features
The Level Touch, in many respects, takes over where the Bolt Invisible Smart Lock leaves off. Like the Bolt, the Touch is impressively well made and easy/simple to install in literally minutes.
A majority of the motor drive, deadbolt, and door hardware is made of metal with just a few of the parts constructed of plastic and glass. Very deceiving in many ways, inside the motor assembly is a surprising number of gears and electronics to bring the Touch and Bolt to life. I have been using Level locks for months now and other than a rare glitch, they operate without issue.
The bolt portion of the Touch slides into the motor assembly like a puzzle piece and is held securely in place by a set screw. One of the differences between the Bolt and Touch are the contact points in the Touch’s motor assembly pass-thru that the key housing slides into. My guess is that the exterior hardware sends a signal thru these leads when touched to activate the motor, locking the bolt.
The Level Lock is powered by a CR2 battery housed in the bolt itself for easy access when a battery change is needed. Even though the bolt is hollowed out, it is made from metal with a threaded end and o-ring to protect the battery and electronics from moisture.
I guess one of the few negatives with the Touch is that it doesn’t allow you to use your existing locks and keys. But I say that with a caveat, theoretically you can take the Level key housing to a locksmith and have it keyed to existing locks in your house if the two are compatible. That said, the touch feature works very well…with a simple touch of the exterior housing the lock mechanism activates and you’re good to go. Truth be told, I don’t even carry my house keys with me 99% of the time anymore.
Fit and Finish
The machining and finish of the Touch are as good as any door hardware I have installed over the years. IMO the Touch has a timeless, yet modern design that would look great on any door (tho my wife’s vote on this is still up in the air at the moment).
The only part of the Touch I found just OK is the front plate of the key housing is made of glass and doesn’t match the brushed metal. My guess is that’s for better connectivity with other devices.
Installing the Level Touch is pretty quick and easy. Simply replace your existing deadbolt with the Level Touch. All you need is a Phillips screwdriver too makes this happen.
Like the Bolt, the Touch requires unencumbered movement cause the motor assembly is only so strong. So the Touch must be able to move freely to avoid the motor and bolt from jamming. Once the bolt can move freely, simply install the Touch door hardware and the physical installation is complete.
Level’s iOS/mobile app communicates with the Touch via Bluetooth and, if available, HomeKit that will enable more advanced capabilities/features.
The app’s design is easy to set up and simple to use. Just press and hold on the door tab to open or close your various locks. The app is color coded with each locks’ status: if the tab is white, the mechanism is unlocked. If the tab is black, it is locked. The app enables you to manage users allowing them full access or limited use passes based on your needs.
The Touch also includes several programmable keycards similar to those used in hotels these days. The keycards are managed via the Level app and can be controlled remotely (aka turned off if lost).
I mentioned in my Bolt review, the Level + HomeKit integration was a bit glitchy at the beginning. But over time, the partnership has gotten better and along with it the overall user experience. The notifications and auto-unlock are now more or less seamless. Having never used a smart lock with HomeKit connectivity I never realized how cool it is…to hear the bolt unlock itself as I get within a few feet of our front door really is awesome. Now that does come with one qualifier: the Level app needs access to your iPhone’s location services all the time. Which does impact your iPhone’s battery life and potentially your privacy.
Once installed properly, the Level Touch smart lock works very well. Its ability to seamlessly lock with a touch and unlock as you walk up to your front door is extremely convenient. The Level engineers have done an excellent job creating a smart lock ecosystem that, unless you know what you’re looking at, can’t even tell it’s there. The apps’ management and notification systems is also very nicely done and polished, simple to set up and use.
What I like
- Excellent build quality
- Very well engineered
- Completely invisible/assembly is hidden in door
- Better HomeKit compatibility/integration
- Compatible with most standard US deadbolts and door cutouts
What needs to be improved
- To have the system unlock when you walk up to it requires the Level app to always have access to your location
Overall I really like the Level Touch. It is a very well done smart lock that most won’t even know that it is anything other than a normal deadbolt. Its fit and finish match most, if not all the door hardware you can buy at your local Lowes or Home Depot. At $329, the Level Touch is definitely one of the more expensive smart locks currently on the market but none of those are anywhere as compact or stealthy either. I tell you…locking your door with a touch of the finger or arriving home, arms full of groceries and not having to dig out your keys to unlock your door is without a doubt a very nice modern day convenience.