The Best Bluetooth Trackers for 2021

Unless you’re very organized, you’ve probably lost something in the last month. Maybe your sofa cushions swallowed your remote. Perhaps an energetic pet took your keys off the counter and knocked them under the sofa. Or you may have left your umbrella in a coffee shop. No matter what you are prone to losing, a Bluetooth tracker is a quick and inexpensive way to make sure you can find it again.

Tile is the most established brand in the Bluetooth tracker market and offers the most diverse selection of products. Apple and Samsung are relatively new, but AirTag and Galaxy SmartTag have special features that work well within their respective ecosystems.

All Bluetooth trackers serve the same general purpose, to help you locate lost items, but the details vary widely, so you should do your research before making a purchase. We’re here to help with buying advice in this breakdown of our top-rated trackers.

How to choose a Bluetooth tracker

Smartphone compatibility tops the list of things to consider when choosing a Bluetooth tracker. Tile is the only company on our list that sells trackers that work with both Android and iOS. Apple’s AirTag will technically work with any device capable of running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 and later, but you need an iPhone 11 or later to use your Precision finding characteristic. Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag only works with Samsung Galaxy phones running Android 10 or later and have the SmartThings Find app installed.

The Tile Mate (left) is slightly larger than the Apple AirTag (right), but has a hole for the key fob.

Location accuracy is the next most important consideration. All the trackers on this list are relatively accurate, but AirTag takes the win thanks to its ultra-broadband connectivity. If you are using an iPhone 11 or later, Precision Finding gives you step-by-step directions to your lost item. Samsung’s SmartTag + also uses UWB, but we have yet to review it.

Samsung’s regular SmartTag and all Tile trackers have proximity indicators, but they lack the accuracy and ease-of-use of Precision Finding. Tile plans to enter the UWB race in early 2022 with its upcoming Tile Ultra, and if it runs on Android and iOS like its other trackers, it will compete strongly with AirTag.

The maximum range is another relevant aspect. Some Bluetooth trackers claim that they can connect with your smartphone from distances of up to 400 feet, but all the trackers we’ve tested have a maximum range of less than 100 feet. If you are using a Bluetooth tracker on items that tend to stay in one area, such as a TV remote that is probably somewhere in your living room, the maximum range does not matter much, but it is important if you plan to use the tracker in your keys or purse.

A robust pager network can help balance some of the technical limitations of Bluetooth. All trackers on this list can be placed in Lost mode, allowing other people’s phones to discreetly detect the tracker and inform you of the location of your lost item. Tile has a large network of users, but it depends on people downloading its app and properly updating various settings on their phones. However, that may change with Amazon Sidewalk, which allows many Amazon smart devices to detect missing Tile trackers. Apple’s huge Find My network uses an app built into iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS.

Take a moment to think about how you plan to use a Bluetooth tracker before purchasing one. Some models work better for certain applications than others. Samsung SmartTag, Tile Mate, and Tile Pro have holes that allow you to easily attach them to your keychain. The Tile Sticker has an adhesive backing, while the Tile Slim can easily slide into your wallet. Apple AirTag is a standalone product that requires an accessory to attach or mount. Several key fobs on the Apple website work with third-party AirTags and accessories.

Lastly, if you are concerned about green waste, you have two options: Apple AirTag or Tile Tracker. They both have batteries that can be easily replaced. The Tile Mate, Tile Slim, and Tile Sticker have non-replaceable batteries that should last about three years.

Tracking children and pets

Bluetooth trackers are great tools for finding lost items. They are not that good at locating people or animals. the Jiobit and T-Mobile SyncUP They are LTE-enabled trackers that are best suited for monitoring the very young. The Fi is an LTE-enabled collar that sends your pet’s location updates multiple times per minute. However, all of these devices are backups for adult supervision as they can be easily removed or removed.

Not only are Bluetooth trackers not useful for tracking young children, but those with small removable batteries can present a problem. choking hazard. To be safe, keep your trackers out of the reach of small children and pets.

Staying safe while using Bluetooth trackers

Bluetooth trackers join apps, computers, smartphones, tablets, vehicles, and dozens of other tools that can be used for technology-enabled stalking. They’re not very accurate or consistently found, but they’re affordable, readily available, and small enough to slip into a bag without you knowing.

Apple improved its anti-stalking features shortly after AirTag was announced and plans to launch an app for Android users later this year that will alert them if an unknown AirTag is near their smartphone. Samsung added additional anti-stalking features too, but the update unfortunately requires you to manually scan your SmartTags. Tile will add a scanning and security feature to your app in 2022 that allows you to scan your environment for unassigned trackers.

For more information, the National Centers for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center has a wealth of information that can help keep you safe.

Finding your lost items is now a little less stressful

Bluetooth trackers are not perfect, but they can be a great help if you are forgetful. With a little patience, trackers greatly increase the likelihood that you will find that lost backpack or remote.

If you decide to go the Apple route, check out our top AirTag tips.

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