Installing a modern video intercom and access management system on an apartment building, commercial property or office space is a surefire way to upgrade security, save property managers time, and generally improve tenant satisfaction.
The problem? However, because multiple access control systems exist in today’s market, it’s a steep challenge to sift through the available commercial access control system options.
One popular company, ButterflyMX, has emerged as a leader in the video intercom and physical access control industry but lacks some core features found in its competitors. So, whether you’re installing an entire video security system from scratch or replacing an existing access control system in your property, it makes sense to conduct your due diligence—after all, this system is likely to stay in place for years to come.
Today, we’ll discuss the best ButterflyMX alternatives to consider when reviewing your access control security and video intercom system needs. We also cover important questions worth understanding as you seek out a modern access management system.
What Is ButterflyMX?
ButterflyMX simplifies building entry with its smartphone app and property management software dashboard. Residents can enter the building with a simple phone swipe. They can create QR codes and delivery pins to provide others access (and are told when these are used).
Each door entry is logged with a photo, the date, and the time, so property managers can easily monitor live video and sort through past logs to enable greater access control.
1. Gated community access
Rather than hiring someone to monitor entry into a gated community, ButterflyMX’s wireless intercom system makes it possible for residents to let their own guests through the gate through access control options. Video allows them to visually confirm their visitor has arrived and let them into the community. A property manager can audit gate releases, buzz workers in, and revoke entry if necessary.
2. Catching unauthorized entry
Property managers can see date- and time-stamped photos of people who enter the building through the ButterflyMX access control solution. Residents can also review door releases to their homes with date and time stamps. In the unlikely event someone unauthorized enters the premises, there is ample evidence and documentation.
3. Hands-free entry
While there are several convenient ways to enter a building with ButterflyMX’s wireless intercom system, perhaps the easiest is through voice commands, which work via voice-enabled assistants such as Siri and Alexa on mobile devices and even an Apple Watch. A resident carrying heavy items, which may even block their face, can still enter the building by giving the demand to their device through the access control solution.
1. Audit trails
Property managers can view live video and date- and time-stamped photos for 365 days. In the event someone enters the building who shouldn’t, ButterflyMX makes it easy to see who and when.
2. Smartphone (or regular phone) property video intercom
Tenants can enjoy the ease of remote access control with their smartphones. Expected guests can use virtual keys that can be revoked at any time. Unexpected guests can video call so tenants can confirm who is there before opening the door with a swipe or voice command.
Through their smartphones, tenants can also review door releases with date- and time- stamped photos and unlock a key-fobbed elevator. If a smartphone isn’t nearby, an Apple Watch works as well. Even residents without a smartphone can choose to receive a regular phone call and press 9 to open the door for a guest.
3. Package delivery
For buildings with a package room, delivery workers can enter their designated PIN to drop off a package. The resident receives a notification when the package has arrived.
- Balance of safety and convenience: People who need to enter the building can do so in several ways, such as swipe-to-open, voice commands, video calls, and virtual keys. Strangers have no building access, and in the event they manage to tailgate in, live video and time-stamped photos can identify the individual.
- Fast and easy installation: It’s simple to get this apartment intercom up and running for residents. There is no need for the building wiring and in-unit hardware that traditional video systems require, which can cut down on installation costs. The smart intercom only needs internet, power, and door strike. However, the installers do need to be ButterflyMX-certified.
- Trusted and highly rated company: ButterflyMX is trusted by more than 7,500 communities, 650,000 people, has thousands of five-star ratings online, and recent reviews are very positive of their professional access control management solution.
- Vandal protection issues: Some reviews have expressed concerns around vandal protection of the touchscreen. There is a risk that someone can break the touchscreen for the intercom, incurring hardware replacement costs.
- No loitering or tailgating detection: “Tailgating” is a term used in the security sphere to describe an unauthorized person following an authorized person into a secured area. In this situation, it would be a stranger entering one of your apartment buildings after someone who lives there or a guest. The authorized person entering doesn’t realize the person who came in directly after them didn’t have permission to do so and likely assumes it’s another tenant’s guest. While ButterflyMX’s security features can help identify tailgaters after the fact, it does not include tailgating detection.
- No facial recognition: People have become used to opening their phones and apps with just their faces. ButterflyMX does not offer this feature, however, unlike some competitors.
- Poor performance outdoors: Several reviews of the service report substandard performance when ButterflyMX’s video intercom system is placed outdoors and exposed to the elements. Tenants are unable to use the device as expected, often resulting in poor access control system functionality.
How Much Does ButterflyMX Cost?
ButterflyMX systems have different prices depending on whether it’s Surface (mounted on a wall or pedestal) or Recessed (mounted into a wall or pedestal) and what size you want.
A 7-inch Surface is $3,995, while the 11.6-inch Surface is $5,995. A 7-inch Recessed is $4,495 and the 11.6-inch Recessed is $6,495. You can request a free quote on the company’s full lineup of products, from its flagship access control device to other devices.
Why Consider Alternatives to ButterflyMX?
Here are some reasons you might be considering an alternative to ButterflyMX:
- You want to compare prices and functionality from a few vendors before selecting one.
- Many video intercom systems in the market today have far more features for improving security, and resident convenience (e.g., face recognition door unlock, loitering detection, proactive package theft reduction).
- Cost: Several options can cost 40% to 50% less than ButterflyMX video intercom hardware and software.
Best ButterflyMX Alternatives: Access Control Systems
The following are the best alternatives that we have found for ButterflyMX’s access control systems. Please note that each system has a differing array of pros and cons—some exceed ButterflyMX in more ways than in others.
Whether they prove to be better overall alternatives will largely depend on what you’re looking to spend and what features you want.
1. Swiftlane Video Intercom Systems for Apartments
Swiftlane’s apartment entry system provides a large variety of methods for how tenants, their guests, and workers can enter apartment buildings:
- Swiftlane includes multi-tenant video intercom, with remote access and video intercom calls between resident and visitors
- Residents can go inside their homes with facial recognition access, just like how they unlock their phones.
- Residents can also use the Swiftlane app’s smart access technology to open the door with their voice.
- Through the Swiftlane app, they can also enter by holding their phone up or just letting the system detect the phone in their purse or pocket through its smart access control.
- Anyone who prefers a more old-school method can use an assigned PIN or keycard. (Building managers or tenants can also let people in remotely by providing a temporary PIN.)
1. Remotely allowing staff entry
Property managers and landlords are busy and can’t always be at apartment buildings to let in maintenance workers, cleaning staff, and other contractors. But for safety reasons, they also don’t want to give workers unlimited access to the buildings.
Swiftlane’s apartment building entry system has a solution: Contractors can be given a PIN that can only be used within a designated time frame.
2. Tenants who forget keys or fobs
Tenants forget their keys. It happens. And it’s frustrating not just for the tenant, but also for whoever has to let them into the apartment building.
Fortunately, several methods allow them to get in without a key. They can use the Face Recognition Access Control system by looking into the SwiftReader. Alternatively, they can enter with their phones using the Swiftlane mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android. They can open the door from within the app, put their locked phone close to the reader, or let the signal be detected from the phone in their pocket.
And if all else fails, they can simply type in an assigned PIN.
3. Tenants need to let guests in remotely
A tenant might need to let others in without being able to physically go to the door—maybe they’re in bed or out of town, or maybe there’s an emergency.
With Swiftlane, tenants have the ability to remotely unlock the door from anywhere. They can have visitors use the video intercom system or just the audio version so they know who is at the door. Then, residents can let them in without moving.
Alternatively, tenants can create single or multi-use codes to let others into the apartment building. Creating a one-time-use PIN ensures the person can’t access the building again later and they only receive temporary access. This is preferable to having tenants hide keys for pet sitters and other visitors.
1. Multi-tenant video intercom
Swiftlane’s video intercom system stops tenants from accidentally letting unwanted people into the building.
Did you know that many people buzz all of the apartments in a building, knowing that someone will admit them? It’s more commonplace than you realize. Furthermore, sometimes tenants need to let someone in when they aren’t home, which a buzzer system doesn’t allow.
Using the video system, a visitor finds the person they want through the touchscreen directory. The residents get a video or telephone call. They can visually verify the person, with 1080p HD video, before letting them in, even if they aren’t home. The unlimited photo log of visitor activity heightens security.
2. Mobile app access control systems
Forget your keys? Swiftlane’s mobile app access lets you unlock doors straight from the app. No free hands? No problem! Don’t dig for a key—use Siri voice commands to unlock your doors.
You can even unlock the doors remotely to let in someone who is walking your dog, watering plants, or needs access for another reason. It’s safer to remotely let visitors in yourself rather than hiding a key that could get lost or stolen.
3. Touchless facial recognition technology
Tenants can enroll their faces through the Swiftlane mobile app and access the building with face recognition. The technology has advanced anti-spoofing via 2D and 3D depth data. Tenants don’t have to worry about forgetting keys or fobs and can get in much easier when carrying heavy items.
- Vandal and impact protection guarantee: You can rest easy knowing your system won’t be stolen or vandalized. Every Swiftlane apartment intercom system is IK07 impact rated, uses custom security screws, and has a sturdy aluminum enclosure. For extra peace of mind, you can purchase additional theft and vandal protection insurance.
- Real-time security monitoring and tailgating detection: Swiftlane has tailgating detection to prevent break-ins and sends automatic tailgating alerts. And the cloud-based dashboard lets you see door access in real time to stop any unauthorized individuals.
- Streamlined operations for property managers and landlords: Swiftlane’s smart video intercom systems don’t require a property manager or landlord to be on-site at any time. Property managers can remotely add or remove tenants from the dashboard and give temporary PIN access to vendors and maintenance workers. They can create single-use PINs that expire after five minutes or multi-use PINs scheduled during a timeframe when people need access. The process is intuitive. The website says it can be easily learned in 10 minutes; it didn’t take us much longer than that.
- No in-unit wall mounted intercom receiver. Calls must come through a mobile app, a landline phone, or a tablet.
- Newer company: If track record matters to you … well, Swiftlane doesn’t have much of one. It was founded in 2019, and thus has not been around for nearly as long as many of its competitors.
How much does Swiftlane cost?
Depending on the model and features you want, a Swiftlane video intercom costs between $1,300 to $2,200. Interested parties can receive a quote based on the number of buildings, number of entry doors, and number of units.
2. LiftMaster CAPXLV Smart Video Intercom Access Control System
The LiftMaster CAPXLV apartment intercom system doesn’t overdo it with endless features, but instead focuses on perfecting the basic functions tenants need most.
Tenants can view live video of visitors and either use their smartphones to let people in or make virtual guest passes for them ahead of time. Don’t want someone to come in? Tenants can deny access. The system also sends out alerts if a suspended code is used or an active code is being used too much.
1. Unexpected resident guests
When tenants have a guest unexpectedly visit, they can confirm the guest with a 135⁰ view video camera. Once they see who it is, they can grant access from the myQ Community app.
2. Planned resident guests
When a tenant knows a visitor is coming and the tenant won’t be home or will be too occupied to grant access, they can virtually send a guest pass so the visitor can enter.
3. Unauthorized re-entry
Let’s say the property manager gave a contractor an entry code to access the building for work. The property manager ends up needing to fire the contractor and suspends the entry code afterward. Not only would the contractor not be able to enter the building with a suspended code, but the property manager would also get an alert if the person attempted entry.
1. Remote programming and activity monitoring
Property managers and tenants can monitor the door activity in real time through live streaming. They can also look at past entry data. Managers can also grant and revoke access codes and modify directory entries.
2. Property management software integrations
LiftMaster CAPXLV has integrated partnerships with Entrata, Yardi, RealPage, and more.
3. Grant/deny access from the myQ Community app
Tenants can easily identify visitors at the entrance. If they want to let them in, they can unlock the entrance right from their phones.
LiftMaster CAPXLV pros
- LiftMaster’s other popular products: LiftMaster automatic garage door openers and commercial gate openers are very popular. If you already use and love this brand’s products, it might make sense to stick with them for your apartment intercom needs as well.
- Reliability: The local system memory means entry will work even if the internet is down. Data is protected, too.
- Data storage: The system stores video clips every time someone accesses the building. These clips can be stored in the cloud or locally.
LiftMaster CAPXLV cons
- No landline calling: Residents must have a smartphone to use this product. Some competitors have a landline calling option for residents who prefer that method, but LiftMaster doesn’t have this ability.
- No tailgating feature: When someone enters with a guest pass, an unauthorized person might follow them inside. This can be seen when reviewing past entries, but it won’t automatically notify anyone of suspected tailgating.
How much does the LiftMaster CAPXLV Smart Video Intercom cost?
Prices for this apartment intercom system may vary depending on the dealer. Clicking the “Dealers Near Me” button on the LiftMaster website shows dealers in your area. You can contact nearby dealers for an accurate quote. The price typically is a little higher than $3,000.
The durable, intuitive Latch intercom system makes it simple for residents to receive audio or video calls and unlock the door remotely for approved guests.
1. Extreme-weather access
Latch can operate in virtually any weather, handling temperatures from as low as -22°F to as high as 140°F. The tactile buttons are easy to press while wearing gloves.
2. Unexpected deliveries
The Latch Delivery Assistant’s virtual doorman makes sure delivery workers can get in when necessary. It notifies tenants that a package has arrived. And if a Latch camera is installed in a package room, it can monitor that room as well.
3. Tenants don’t use legal name
There are many reasons a person might be known by a name other than their legal name. For example, foreign exchange students sometimes decide to go by more Americanized versions of their names. Other people go by middle names or have gone by a nickname so long that even long-time friends forget the legal name. Some people require extra privacy and don’t want their full first and last names listed in a directory.
Latch lets tenants decide what name to have listed in the directory for increased security and to reduce confusion for guests.
1. Enhanced audio
The microphone has numerous features, including noise reduction, echo cancellation, dual microphone, and automatic sensitivity adjustment.
2. Instantly connects with other Latch devices
Having all devices connected means a property manager can control all access from a single platform.
3. Tactile buttons
While similar products use touchscreens, Latch uses tactile buttons that are intuitive and easy to use, even when wearing gloves.
- Vandalism-proof materials: The sturdy materials used include stainless steel, impact-resistant glass, and glass fiber-reinforced resin. The screen uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
- Flexible connectivity: The intercom can be connected via Ethernet, cellular LTE, or Wi-Fi.
- Custom resident names: Tenants can decide how their names appear on the intercom interface. This eliminates confusion if a tenant never uses their legal name socially and goes by a middle name, for example. It can also help with privacy if a person prefers to only display the first letter of a first or last name.
- Only one-way video calls: Several competitors offer two-way video calling in case the tenant wants to be seen.
- No entry log: Unlike competitors, Latch doesn’t take photos with date and time stamps of people who enter the building. If an unauthorized person enters the building, there isn’t any evidence of who the person is or when they entered.
How much does Latch’s video intercom cost?
Potential customers must contact Latch to purchase. Latch doesn’t list current prices, but the visitor entry intercom costs $2,999, and the company charges a $2 per unit per month software fee. Price may vary depending on contract length and number of units.
5. AlphaTouch Cloud-Based PoE Video Intercom System
The AlphaTouch Cloud-Based PoE Video Intercom System uses a touchscreen door entry system. Guests can two-way video call tenants, who receive the call on an indoor monitoring device in the unit or via a smartphone app. Tenants can unlock the door from the app.
1. Unauthorized attempted entry
When anyone attempts to gain entry to the building, whether successful or not, the system takes a photo of that person and saves it along with other details, including the time, date, resident called, and whether the door was opened.
Let’s say someone repeatedly tried to access the building through multiple tenants, but nobody admitted the person. The authorities could be contacted to question that person about why they wanted to enter.
2. Dog walker or house sitter
Tenants don’t have to be home to allow visitors entry. They can either have visitors video call and then unlock the door remotely, or create visitor QR codes.
3. Building expansion
Property managers don’t have to worry if the number of tenants grows from dozens to thousands. The AlphaTouch system can work with any number of tenants.
1. Easy updates
When software updates are available, the system automatically notifies property managers and residents. Just click to update from anywhere.
2. Visitor log
Any time someone calls a tenant or enters an access code, the system takes a photo and notes the date, time, the tenant being called, and whether or not the door was opened. If necessary, the log can be accessed by the authorities.
3. Time-limited visitor QR codes
Not all visitors need unlimited access. With AlphaTouch, visitors can be given time-limited QR codes to ensure only temporary building access.
- Affordability: While you need a quote to access current prices, AlphaTouch is usually one of the more affordable intercom system options.
- Scalability: This multi-tenant intercom system can work with any number of door entry stations and any number of tenants.
- Well-established company: Alpha Communications was founded in 1983. The company president and founder has more than 50 years of experience in the industry.
- Missed calls mean no entry: Several reviews from tenants complain that the system sometimes freezes or lags, causing them to miss calls. The guest has to try calling again to gain entry.
- No features for easier tenant entry: AlphaTouch’s entry capabilities are all focused on making it easy to grant or deny access to visitors. There are no features that let tenants enter the building hands-free, such as voice commands or facial recognition.
How much does AlphaTouch’s video intercom cost?
You need to get a quote to purchase this apartment intercom. Alpha Communications doesn’t list prices for the AlphaTouch system; potential customers must use the website to build a system and request a quote. Also note that Alpha Communications charges monthly fees.
DoorBird is Germany’s leading manufacturer of IP door intercoms. Its multi-tenant apartment building system can be used at multiple entrances, elevators, and other rooms of the building.
1. Delivery person granted limited access
Delivery workers can be given unique digital keys that only work during designated hours. Outside of those hours, the keys are disabled for improved security.
2. Visitor while tenant is away
Even if a resident isn’t home, when a guest rings the doorbell, the resident gets a push notification on their iOS/Android device. The tenant can still talk to and look at the guest and then open the door.
3. Visitors at night
DoorBird’s cameras have night vision and the microphone has noise reduction. Even if someone rings the bell at night, a tenant can easily verify if it is a person they know and decide whether or not to let the person inside the building.
1. Remote video call entry
Guests can find the resident of their choice in the digital name directory and ring that doorbell. The tenants get push notifications on their phones and can see and talk to the visitor. Once the identity of the person is confirmed, they can open the door. This works even if the resident isn’t home.
2. Remote management
Through the DoorBird WebAdmin, building managers can access all IP video door stations. Without stepping foot on site, they can complete tasks such as updating the names on the digital doorbell.
Managers can also remotely enable or disable unique digital keys for cleaning staff, maintenance crews, and other workers. Digital keys have unique identifiers and the building manager can specify what times it works, the amount of time, and which doors can be opened.
3. Tenant access methods
One way residents can enter is through dual-band key fobs managers can remotely configure. Another method is through the app. Tenants can also use individual PIN codes. If there is just a single unit, they can use a fingerprint module.
- Superior video and audio: DoorBird’s cameras use an ultra-wide-angle lens with HD video that has infrared LED for night vision. The microphone has echo cancellation and noise reduction.
- Bonus features for tenants: In addition to all of the building entry features, tenants’ indoor stations also provide room-to-room communication, weather updates, and concierge call.
- Enhanced security: Building access is automatically logged for safety purposes. Any stolen or lost digital keys can quickly be blocked and replaced.
- Requires minimum internet speed (landline): The minimum Internet upload speed is 0.5 Mbps. It’s recommended that your network components aren’t more than 2 years old.
- Maximum of 200 key fobs: Only 200 key fobs can be registered, which may be limiting to larger apartment complexes.
How much do DoorBird’s access control solutions Cost?
You need to request pricing from DoorBird. Door stations run anywhere from more than $600 to nearly $3,200. Indoor stations list for around $550. Expect an IP video door station for multi-tenant buildings to cost around $2,500. The price for the indoor station is around $500. This includes automatic cloud storage of entry photo logs for the most current motion sensor events. Seven-day HD storage requires a $58 annual subscription.
FAQs About Access Control Systems
How do you use a condo intercom?
Condo intercoms work by connecting a visitor to a building resident through an intercom system. When a visitor comes to the intercom, they can select an entry from the system and press “dial.” Based on your specific system, it will send a phone call or video call to the resident. The resident can communicate with the visitor and press a button to release the door using a door cloud access control system mechanism. This works with standard electrical locks, negating the need for a smart lock.
Is it a challenge to replace existing security systems with a new, modern access control system?
If you’re thinking about converting an existing building intercom to a modern access control and video intercom system, there are several factors to consider. Some of the primary considerations include cost of hardware, installation and monthly fee, wireless vs. wired intercom calling, and the possibility of retrofits in the current building infrastructure.
How long does it take to install security systems on a commercial property?
The time to install depends on many factors, such as:
- Whether you can reuse the current wiring
- Where new wires need to be placed
- The total amount of hardware and installation scope needed for the upgrade
- Whether it requires special permits or other approvals in the building
- The lead time of the hardware being used
- Installer availability
Integration with products sold by office management software companies can add additional time to the desired installation and operability timeline.