Tapplock One review

Smart padlocks are nothing new, and we reviewed the Noke Buetooth padlock way back in 2015. However, the Tapplock One is a significantly enhanced version of the same basic idea, but ultra-cool with an integrated fingerprint scanner and rechargeable battery.

Tapplock is a US-based company that is happy to ship orders to the UK via FedEx, but with a hefty shipping price of $38. That means you'll pay a total $137 for the Tapplock One, although a current discount takes this down to $123. Converted to Sterling that's around £97, or £87 with the discount. Further discounts are available on multipacks.

Do note that a week after we posted this review we were invoiced for £17.73 import duty from FedEx, so do budget for that in your purchasing decision.

We hope that in time it will become easier to buy Tapplock in the UK, such as through Amazon, but for now buying direct from the site is your only option.

So why would you pay such a huge chunk of money for something you can buy in the pound shop for a quid? 

This isn't some flimsy padlock that you could crack open like a nut. It's as tough as they come, with a zinc-alloy case and 7mm stainless steel reinforced shackle that the company claims is practically unbreakable. You can't shim the lock with a pick (there's no keyhole), and you won't be able to pry it open.

Not having super-human powers we're happy to take Tapplock's word on the latter. From what we are able to tell it's a very well-built padlock that is reassuringly weighty at a colossal 308g. This thing feels like it means business, but if you're intending to carry it around then you should note that you will feel its presence in your rucksack.

It's also water-resistant - rated IP66 - which means you could use it outdoors, or to secure your possessions in a locker in a swimming pool changing room. Be aware that it is waterproof only with the shackle closed, however, so take care not to allow water inside the lock as you release it.

We're increasingly seeing tech that claims to be water-resistant, particularly in the smartphone market. But although such tech will survive a dip their screens will be inoperable until they're dried off. The Tapplock One has an integrated fingerprint sensor that we found suffers the same fate: while water won't damage the lock, you won't be able to use it until you've dried your fingers and the fingerprint scanner itself.

In dry conditions the fingerprint scanner is very effective. You must first tap the small button on the underside of the lock to wake the device, then place your finger over the scanner. It reads your fingerprint and unlocks the device in 0.8 seconds, and gets faster each time you use it. 

We're particularly impressed with its ability to store 500 fingerprints, which means you can register not only all your own digits but also those of your family members, or perhaps work colleagues if you're planning to lock up some shared storage.

The companion app lets you record and manage those fingerprints, as well as set up a Morse code unlock sequence. This comes in handy at times when you can't use the fingerprint scanner: you tap the button three times, then enter a sequence of long- and short presses of the shackle to unlock Tapplock One. You can unlock it over Bluetooth when it's near your phone, too.

One of our primary concerns with the Noke was its use of a non-rechargeable battery that must be replaced before it runs out, with the assumption that you would keep an eye on this kind of thing within the companion mobile app or carry around a spare. You can keep watch on this much more easily in the Tapp app, which gives you an exact percentage of the remaining battery power, but you don't need to because the LED will flash red when the juice is getting low.

In its favour the Tapplock One has a rechargeable battery that Tapplock says will last for around a year or 3,500 unlocks. When it's time to refill the battery a charging cable is included, though it's a proprietary cable so you'll have to take care not to lose it if you'll be using it only once a year.

Tapplock One: Specs

  • Smart padlock
  • Zamak 3 zink alloy metal body with cut-resistant stainless steel shackle, anti-shim, anti-pry
  • 0.8s fingerprint recognition tech, supports up to 500 fingerprints
  • IP66 water-resistant
  • Bluetooth
  • rechargeable battery lasts one year/3500 unlocks, charges in two hours
  • 308g
  • Smart padlock
  • Zamak 3 zink alloy metal body with cut-resistant stainless steel shackle, anti-shim, anti-pry
  • 0.8s fingerprint recognition tech, supports up to 500 fingerprints
  • IP66 water-resistant
  • Bluetooth
  • rechargeable battery lasts one year/3500 unlocks, charges in two hours
  • 308g

SHOULD I BUY TAPPLOCK ONE?

Tapplock One is a smart padlock that's so cool it could draw unwanted attention, so it's a good job would-be thieves will find it impossible to break its shackle. This is exactly the type of gadget you want because it's cool, but for which you could have trouble justifying its expense. At around £100 with shipping you'll need something precious to lock up with it, or be paying regular visits to the gym.