The Welock Touch43 is a fingerprint/keycard/Bluetooth unlockable smart home door lock that I’ve been working on a review for for a couple of months now. We’ll get to why it’s taken a couple of months in a bit but first let’s cover what this is.
TL;DR – very well manufactured piece of hardware, software and documentation need a lot of work.
At its core the Welock Touch43 is a battery operated Bluetooth (or Wi-Fi gateway,) controllable fingerprint enabled smart lock with a fairly easy to use (once you understand it,) on-device configuration. On device configuration is great if you understand it, if you don’t and are learning it’s too freaking quick to deal with without some frustration due to the battery saving timeout.
Physical lock install was easier than expected although it did take me a second to figure out the inside adapter plate. Oh, pro tip: the inside handle plate has a number on it you’re going to need. Write it down or take a photo of it. That number I do not believe is anywhere else (it says it’s on the box, I didn’t see it.) The physical lock and construction of the thing I’m going to say is near perfect. That’s a fairly rare statement from me. Easy install, looks exactly like it should, and when you get it set up it works.
The current text of this product on the Welock website is “Welock Fingerprint Door Lock Bluetooth WiFi Smart Locks for Front Door Touch43” – we’re going to come back to this text in a minute. When I started this review it said that, and the PR mentioned it was Alexa compatible (with Google Assistant coming soon,) – these were interesting selling points to me.
As I always say on Pocketables “coming soon” means it’s never coming. This is most Kickstarter claims, support, etc. We can hope that a feature will be there but if it’s not there when you order it, don’t expect it to be there. I don’t see any public posting saying Google Assistant was going to be there, just some emails back and forth. There’s an Alexa skill walkthrough for the Wi-Fi gateway available here.
Welock Touch43 Wi-Fi claims & execution
The Touch43 has no Wi-Fi capabilities. It has Bluetooth capabilities. You can additionally purchase a thing called a Wi-Fi box that sits near the lock, connects to your Wi-Fi, and when an unlock request is made via the internet connects to the Touch43 via Bluetooth and requests an unlock. The Touch43 is not a Wi-Fi device and I somehow missed that on first read through quite possibly because it says it’s a “WiFi Smart Locks.” This description is misleading and needs to be changed. It’s like saying my alarm system is a Wi-Fi alarm because I can use an internet connected button-pressing device to press a button on an infrared remote control that activates the system.
I mentioned to our contact that I’d been interested in this in the smart “unlock from anywhere” capabilities, and they sent me a Wi-Fi box. Setup was a breeze, and a few minutes later the app and all recognized the lock and I could theoretically add it as an Alexa device. I didn’t because I was having some issues and I really don’t like the idea of Alexa having much access. For all I hate on Google, giving Amazon any access to my house beyond an Echo Dot sitting in a noise chamber isn’t happening.
And then one attempt, the Touch43 just wasn’t there. The lock just did not appear anymore in the app via the Wi-Fi gateway. It would come and go occasionally. I’ll spare the long story here, took me two days to track down, but I discovered that the Wi-Fi gateway box was having trouble with the Bluetooth signal because 1) the box was inside, 2) the Bluetooth receiver on the lock is outside, 3) I have a metal door and it blocks most of the Bluetooth signal.
Yup, unless the Wi-Fi Box is right next to the door, or outside, the lock comes and goes. This would mean if I wanted a front and rear door version of this I’d probably be looking at two Wi-Fi gateways.
This is not good as each Wi-Fi Box requires power, positioning, etc. My cell phone’s Bluetooth works with no issue from half a house away, so I suspect this is mostly the Wi-Fi Box’s issue.
There’s remarkably little documentation that came with the Touch43, and very little I can find that doesn’t involve pointing me to a YouTube video. I’m a text guy, this drives me nuts.
I don’t see a way to assign a name to a fingerprint unless a person has an account. There’s no easy walkthrough of how to add a fingerprint (it’s hold button for 5ish seconds, unlock as admin, select from the lock menu, and if your friend you’re adding misses their 5 second window do it all over again) and overall it really needs someone who’s used the lock to sit down and write out exactly how to do it in text and not-YouTube format.
The software functions, has weird feedback such as “the lock has already responded” when unlocking. That particular message means in about 5-10 seconds the lock will unlock. It feels a little like an OEM branded software that was mostly translated but is missing a few things.
Software needs work, ability to add an authorization via fob, fingerprint, or app straight from the app. I’d love to see Google Home/Assistant integration. Easier access sharing and naming of people. Better error messages. It’s a start but there’s a lot that needs to happen.
The Touch43 problems
I attempted to make five videos for this lock. What happens when the batteries die? Usage of the app. Installation. Attempts to break in. And how to add a fingerprint.
The installation video was chucked just for lighting. During the app usage video I managed to unlock the Touch43 and it did not relock itself. I’ll note I’ve watched the video and attempted to recreate this event, but on video I caught an unlock and never-relock (until II chose unlock again.) An unlocked door when you expect it to re-lock is problematic to say the least. As mentioned however I was never able to re-create it sticking unlocked.
The fingerprint I went and attempted to add one person and after five attempts did. Breaking in I did not succeed.
What happens when the batteries die is an interesting one. You can power the lock externally by lifting up a flap and plugging in a charger cable. At that point there’s no display and I’m told the only way to unlock at this point is by using the app. There’s no display. So yeah, hope you’re traveling with a Micro USB cable, power bank, and a phone if you need to access this in the event of an emergency where the batteries have died. It seems like if you’re powering it externally things like fingerprint unlock should be the primary things that work. Bringing two electrically powered devices into the mix to fix what is caused by a third electrically powered device’s inability to get juice seems unwise.
If the door is opened and rotational pressure is maintained on the door handle it will never re-lock as well. That takes some effort but you can recreate by unlocking and taping a rock to one side of the handle. I don’t believe this is a security risk, but just something I found.
The Touch43 in use for the past two months
As a lock, you tend to forget it. Once the kids and wife were in with fingerprint ID nobody’s mentioned it. It has so far always locked other than in that one video I have, so we’ve got a fluke going on. I’ve had similar failures with Schlage, although their issue I’ve twice run into was they wouldn’t unlock. Usually while I was freezing to death.
The lock looks good, doesn’t make a bunch of noise, and since positioning the gateway and failing at making several videos it’s been remarkably unremarkable.
The software really does need some work, it’s too fractured and basic at the moment.
The documentation is mainly what I would say needs a complete overhaul. I shouldn’t have to go to a YouTube video to find out how to do something. It should be written in the printed documentation, written on the website, not a FAQ. It’s only a FAQ if it isn’t answered in the documentation.
Is it worth it?
It’s currently $150 for the Touch43 (which gets you Bluetooth unlocking, fingerprint scanning, RFID tag unlocking) and an additional $40 for the WiFi Box, which is remarkably overpriced in my opinion.
While I am a cheapskate, $10 would get you a Raspberry Pi Zero W with WiFi & Bluetooth. That would be more than enough to handle the job and more. The Welock WiFi box is extremely cheap feeling. It’s a chipset and some plastic and a weak antenna.
The Touch43 – probably correctly priced if it included the WiFi.
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