Can my smart phone act as an arrival sensor and unlock my smart lock?

My wife and I are looking for the best door lock to use with SmartThings. We’ve focused on Kevo and Schlage, since it seems those 2 are the best out there (unless someone can tell me otherwise). For me, the big perk to a smart lock is the remote lock/unlock feature which I imagine I can do with the Schlage through the smartthings app. If I did that with the Kevo I have to buy the addon and that is pricey. My wife wants to be able to just touch the bolt and have it unlock (instead of using a keypad code).

I told her we should get the Schlage (much cheaper) and also an arrival sensor, but she doesn’t want to have to carry the sensor around with her all the time. Can her smartphone act as an arrival sensor? If not, is there another way to accomplish this? I realize her smartphone is bluetooth, but is there some way to trigger things with her phone?

I just got my Smartthings hub and am obviously a noob. Any help would be appreciated.

Yes, you can use your phone as a presence sensor. In the app go to Market Place->Things->Sensor->Presence sensor->Mobile Phone. People have had varying success with using their phones. Sometimes they stop updating, some times they hop in and out of the geofence, and I am sure there are other problems. If you go this route make sure to have both phones signed in on different accounts. It seems ST gets confused when the 2 devices use the same account. I personally had a lot of issues for about the first 3 months until I separated the accounts. Since then been about 90% solid. Every so often my (Android) or my wife’s (iOS) stop responding but usually just start working again after some time or a restart.

EDIT: One other tidbit is you may find that the registering of being home isn’t fast enough so you’ll be standing at your door waiting for it to unlock. I have mine turn on lights when I get home and I’d say it works about 75% of the time.

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Yes, your SmartPhone (Android or iOS) can easily be set up as “Presence Sensor” in SmartThings. It will use your phone GPS to create a GeoFence to detect if the phone is within a certain radius of your house. This can be used as a trigger for many tasks in SmartThings, including locking/unlocking a door.

You really do need to think through the logic of automatically unlocking your home though. There are cases where SmartThings will detect a change in presence even though your phone has never left your house. You really don’t want to automatically unlock your door in the middle of the night while you sleep. Additional logic can be added to prevent these “false alarms”, but you need to be aware that ST is NOT 100% reliable. I choose to NOT trust ST with the security of my home’s physical locks exactly for this reason. A physical key is a pretty simple, inexpensive, and reliable tool for locking/unlocking a deadbolt after all.

Everyone’s use case is unique though. Just do your research ahead of time and know that by adding automated door locks, you are making some trade offs. Even Amazon will not add support to the Echo to unlock a door, as they see that as a liability they do not want to take on (e.g. burglar yells through an open Window “Alexa unlock the door!”)

Can you clarify what you mean by different accounts? As in, we are both on a family plan with verizon so would that be considered the same account? Or are you talking about accounts within Smartthings. I’m sure this is a noob question. Ha.

And thank you for your response. That is very helpful. I’m trying to figure out if there is a better way to go with this than to rely on the smartphone, but don’t know what it is.

I’ve also heard that the Kevo lock when touched doesn’t always work great either. Any suggestions on which lock to use an how to make this the most effective?

this thread may help you with setting up your phone presence

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What @farlicimo is talking about, is that you have to have multiple users added to your ST account

Ummmm, “My Contacts” is a feature that ST has never fully implemented, so most users have never even seen it.

In order to add another user, please click the “More” button in the ST App’s bottom right corner, then click on “My Account”, then “Manage Users” and follow the directions to add another user, giving them full access to your ST’s devices, as well as a means to create a phone based Presence Detector.

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That feature was available for a while. However, not too manu users have ever used it. In truth, the did remove it and modified it since the last ‘great’ ST app re-build…

I can’t remember how I added a user originally but in the app (Android) if I go to the lines in the top left->My Account->Manager Users I have the option to add more users there. Not sure if that’s only showing because I already had one user. I’m not posting from my phone so can’t include screen shots.

The “My Contacts” feature was supposed to come out at the same time as Hub v2.0 and ST App v2.0. It appeared on Android phones, but not iOS. If you signed into an Android phone and configured the “My Contacts” feature, it persisted when using iOS devices as well. The code is still in there, however some features were broken by it (specifically, the push events for your hub being offline and low battery warnings.) I believe this may be why ST pulled the feature and no longer seems to have any intention on continuing to deploy it. It is still there if you happened to set it up early. But new users will not even see the option as ST has hidden it. Too bad, as it really is a useful feature to be able to notify non-ST users of events in your home. For me, I could let my children be notified of certain events without having to give them full access to my ST account.

IIRC, in order to add an extra user to your ST account (e.g. an added presence detector), you have always had to do it using the method I outlined above.

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Here is a classic example of what you need to be wary of when using ST to automatically unlock your home…

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Everyone is giving you really good advice and resources. Just a couple of things I would add.

First, when they mentioned separate accounts they meant you have to invite your wife on to your account thru SmartThings. When she accepts your invitation she will set up her own login credentials. This will allow SmartThings to tell the difference between your phone presence. If she logs in with your credentials SmartThings will see both phones as you.

Second, phones as presence sensors have been a little flaky from time to time for some users. Personally mine has been very solid. But, you can improve the reliability by making sure wi-if is always turned on your phone. Connecting to your home wi-fi upon arrival at your home will help with location accuracy.

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I set up an IFTTT applet in both my phone and my wifes that sets or resets a virtual switches when the wifi is disconnected or reconnected. Then used a core piston to monitor those virtual switches. If were both gone the alarm is turned on. If either of us return the alarm is turned off. This has worked flawlessly for over a month. Theres a 1 minute delay on disconnect, no delay on reconnect. The alarm has always dsarmed by the time we get out of the car and make it to the door.


I recommend you have your wife rethink using a smarthings FOB. She just puts it in her purse and forgets about it. Doesn’t have to be on her keys.

I have 2 women in my smartthings setup, each has one in her purse.

Or another option is to just leave it in the car if your hub can see it there. Some people even wire in regular batteries and leave it in a plastic box in the car. Car home = I’m home.

You can pair this FOB with her phone, or phone running life360 for more methods of detection. Then plug those methods into an app called Reliable presence.

This app watches all the presence devices you tell it too. Then if any one of them leaves it marks you away. Any one returns it marks you as back. It helps when a sensor get stuck in one state.

Some people use core to monitor their coming and going. Some with android pho as use tasker path to detect connection to home WiFi.

With all these options your presence can be hit and miss. Some people have very reliable others do not. It usually takes a little work to get it pretty reliable. In my situation the reliability went way up using the FOB’s. Only issue is when my daughter leaves hers In her car at the edge of where the hub can see it.

In my house we do use the presence to unlock our door. Alot of people won’t do that. We have not had any issues with the house unlocking when we didn’t want it too. We have had a few instances where it failed to or was slow if we were quicker. It does take it a little bit to do it’s thing.

Hope that helps your decide.


Holy cow, this is some really great feedback and advice.

Our wifi is pretty good, so i’m hoping that will help make this work well. We will need to tweak and fine tune this thing until we get it right.

I may get one of these FOBs so we can try it out as well, but my wife sometimes likes to go for walks and take nothing but her cell phone.

Thanks everyone for the insight. With that I will be getting the Schlage and trying to set this all up. Wish me luck.


In this case, if she walks far enough that she leaves the Geo fence and smarthings phone presence is working. Then her phone should trigger her as away. We have the issue in my area that if we walk around the block we leave and return to the geo fence as we circle around the house. Hopefully that won’t be the case for you. Possibly if you used tasker and sharptools approach as one of your presence triggers. When her phone disconnects from your WiFi she would be away. Then back upon reconnection.

Just be aware, the connection to WiFi, the tasker, sharptools, to the cloud and back will have some delay. So she might have to use the keypad in those instances.

Presence is a tricky trigger to master.

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Logan - I have a very similar setup, using Schlage TouchScreen connected locks + SmartThings hub. I’ve tried a lot of different options for the setup you’re looking for - when you arrive at home, the door unlocks. When you leave home, the door(s) auto-lock. Here’s what I have found:

  • I use my SmartThings app on both my iPhone and my iPad. When I am logged in on both devices, and leave the iPad at home, the presence sensor doesn’t seem to differentiate that I only want my iPhone to be the presence sensor. I have contacted SmartThings support about this, and followed their instructions, but it made no impact.
  • Like some of the commenters above, I found that the SmartThings presence sensor-based triggers have about a 75% success rate in unlocking the door (and in my case turning on a few outdoor lights too) right away.
  • I tried a few third-party apps. I’m not overly thrilled about adding more third-party apps to something that secures my home, but I gave in for now because they seem to work :-). I have IFTTT applets setup to detect when I arrive home on my iPhone and to unlock the door. Downside to IFTTT for us is that each IFTTT applet can only lock/unlock one door. In our case, we have 3 exterior doors on Schlage locks that I want to auto-lock each time I leave the house and unlock when I arrive, so I have to set up a separate applet for each one. Ick. However, IFTTT has been the most reliable in the last few months while I’ve been testing it.
  • I also tried Stringify, which I really like but need to learn how to use better. Stringify would allow for a single trigger (like arriving home) to trigger several actions, like locking or unlocking multiple doors, with one “flow.”

Hope that helps, good luck!

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this is what I want! “core piston” research has begun…

Ressearch webCoRE, not CoRE (Older version).