Yale Conexis L1 review: the ideal DIY front door smart lock

Say goodbye to physical keys: the Yale Conexis L1 is a smart multi-point lock with NFC, Bluetooth, and serious style

Yale Conexis L1 review
(Image credit: Yale)
T3 Verdict

A great smart lock, shame about the app. But even dodgy software can't dampen our enthusiasm for the Conexis L1, because this is a solid smart front door lock with a huge amount of appeal.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Very well-built hardware

  • +

    Seamless NFC entry

  • +

    Easy to install

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Poor app

  • -

    Noisy alerts

  • -

    Extra virtual keys cost money

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Welcome to T3's Yale Conexis L1 smart lock review! If you've got a multi-point lock on your front door (and you may well do, if you have a modern PVC front door) then a multi-point smart lock is the way to go, and the Conexis L1 is the best smart lock for this purpose. It's a Bluetooth lock (so can be unlocked from phones), it's an NFC lock (so can be unlocked with special tappy keyfobs or cards), and it's a quick and easy replacement for existing door hardware. But just how good is it?

Before we get to the smarts, let's consider the Yale Conexis L1 as a piece of door furniture. It's really impressive, a heavyweight piece of hardware which comes in a host of different colours to match your existing door and letterbox, from plain white to a number of metallic hues. It blends right in and both looks and feels great.

Yale Conexis L1 review

(Image credit: Yale)

The handle turns beautifully and smoothly, and it's pleasingly springy. The whole thing feels heavy (slightly too heavy for the junior members of this household to reliably open, it should be pointed out) and there's no keyhole whatsoever. In its place is a thumb turn on the inside of the door and, well, a big slab of nothing outside. Locking happens via a cut-down euro profile cylinder which resides entirely within the door, shrouded by the handle hardware on either side. It's pick-proof, because there's nothing to pick.

Actually installing the Conexis L1 seems a daunting task, but it's really not hard. Providing your existing hardware matches the 92mm handle-cylinder distance the L1 requires (and, unless you have some really weird door handles, it probably does) the rest is adjustable to fit the through-holes already in your door. There's no drilling, nothing difficult, and the whole thing's over in twenty minutes.

Slap in some batteries, link up your first NFC key via the button on the inside top, and you're away: you have a smart lock, and one that works reliably and cleanly. Tap the NFC key (one tag and one card are included) on the black section on the upper section of the outer handle, and the Conexis L1 unlocks; just pull up the handle to lock, no key required. 

You can unlock from the inside by pressing in the thumbturn and twisting; every action gets its own series of harsh-sounding beeps, and there's a warning if you've opened the door and not subsequently locked it again. It's all impressively easy.

That is until the app gets involved, at least. While Yale's app does encompass all of the core functions of the Conexis L1 – connecting new NFC keys, registering Bluetooth keys, putting time limits on access, and sending access tokens on to your friends and family – it is incredibly rudimentary and particularly ugly, about as opposite to the hardware itself as you're likely to get.

Yes, it works, with Bluetooth keys functioning fine once you've worked out that the L1's Bluetooth mode is activated by a hidden button on that front panel, but we're thankful that it's rarely required, at least for personal use. You could, in theory, put this on a holiday let, but would you? 

That app could leave a bad taste in your guests' mouths, and there's a limited number of Bluetooth keys included, with further keys requiring an additional fee, which does sting a little. Yale's app is also, we understand, not available outside of the UK app stores.

There's plenty of expansion potential; hidden inside the top inside section is a notch for one of Yale's add-on networking modules, which give the option of connecting to either Yale's home alarm system, Z-wave devices such as Samsung SmartThings, or Yale's own Smart Home Hub. 

Locking the door absolutely requires a firm yank of the handle upwards, which is the fault of the mechanics of multi-point locks rather than any kind of flaw on the Conexis L1's part, but one of the latter two modules will at least let you do lock-type things through Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth.

This is a really nice piece of hardware with a really poor piece of software backing it up. Don't let that last point put you off, particularly at the price, because the Yale Conexis L1 is a fantastic front door upgrade in spite of its app.

Alex Cox

T3 magazine's own Gadget Guru is a 25-year veteran of the tech writing wars, and has the scars to prove it. He's written for the UK's biggest technology publications, and knows everything from smart doorbell voltage needs to how to bend Windows to his every whim.