The Best Bluetooth Trackers to Help You Find Your Stuff

Today, many of our personal gadgets — including smartphones, laptops, smartwatches and even headphones and wireless earbuds — are integrated with tracking technology that allows us to locate them in case they are misplaced or stolen. To find them, all we have to do is open a certain app and it’ll tell us where that device was last located. For Apple devices, it’s the Find My network. For Samsung smartphones and tablets, it’s Find My Mobile. And for Google devices, it’s Find My Device.

Of course, not all of our gadgets are integrated with such tracking technology. And neither is any of our personal belongings, such as bags, bikes and other non-electronic gear that could potentially get lost. The good news is that you can easily attach a separate device called a Bluetooth tracker to any of these gadgets and belongings and it’ll track it in exactly the same way.

Tile has been the biggest name in Bluetooth trackers for almost a decade — and they are, offering a wide variety of trackers in various shapes, sizes and other capabilities. However, the market for Bluetooth trackers has gotten exceedingly crowded thanks to Apple and Samsung — two tech goliaths — throwing their hats in the ring, releasing AirTags and Galaxy SmartTags, respectively, and now we as consumers have options.

How do Bluetooth trackers work?

As their name suggests, Bluetooth trackers use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to connect to your smartphone and share location data with it. This allows you to pinpoint its location by simply opening up the tracker’s companion app or via the tracker’s website and logging into your account. The catch is that the Bluetooth tracker has to be within roughly 150 feet of your smartphone to maintain this BLE connection. If you go out of range, the app or website will show you the tracker’s last known location.

The neat thing is that Bluetooth trackers have a special ability to relay location information to your smartphone even if they go out of range — and they do this by crowdsourcing location information. For instance, even if you lose an AirTag and anybody with an iPhone comes with BLE distance (roughly 150 feet) of it, it’ll be able to share location data and your Find My app will have an updated location of your AirTag. If you have a Tile tracker, it works exactly the same way aim that smartphone must also have the Tile app downloaded.

What to look for

Ecosystem and compatibility: It’s best to commit to one ecosystem of Bluetooth trackers, be it Apple’s, Tile’s or Samsung’s. This is because they all work a little bit differently and use separate app for keeping tabs of all your Bluetooth trackers. Also, not every Bluetooth tracker is compatible with every smartphone. AirTags work with iPhones. Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTags only work with Galaxy smartphones. Tile trackers work with both iPhones and Androids.

Size and shape: Tile is really the only company that makes Bluetooth trackers in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. This allows you to get one that specifically fits your needs, say if you want to stick a tracker to a bike or slip one into your waller. Apple and Samsung only currently offer one type of Bluetooth tracker.

Water resistance: Most Bluetooth trackers have a water resistance rating, so they’ll survive if you leave them out in the rain or accidentally drop them in a pool. However, different trackers are more or less water resistant, which is important depending on how you plan on using the tracker.

Battery: Bluetooth trackers are relied on their battery life to work properly, so the longer the battery life the better. Some Bluetooth trackers don’t last as long but have replaceable batteries. Others don’t have replaceable or rechargeable batteries, so you’ll need to get an all-new tracker once its battery dies (usually after two or three years).

Special features: Some Bluetooth trackers have special and exclusive features. For example, AirTags support Precision Tracking, which is a feature that allows iPhone users (so long they have an iPhone 11 or later) to pinpoint the exact location of the AirTag when in Bluetooth range. Tile’s trackers also have a two-way tracking feature that helps you, if you have the tracker, find your missing smartphone.

The main hurdle when it comes to Bluetooth trackers is the smart ecosystem they work with and device compatibility — because they pretty much all work the same (although each has some unique features and capabilities. We tested each of these Bluetooth trackers with a compatible smartphone — AirTags with an iPhone 13 and Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTags with a Samsung Galaxy S22 — and tested Tile trackers with both (as they work with iPhone and Android alike).

  • Works really well with iPhones.
  • High water-resistance rating (IP67)
  • Precision Finding is a killer feature
  • Doesn’t work with Androids
  • Must have new-ish iPhone for Precision Finding
  • Need to buy an accessory to hold AirTag

AirTags are Apple’s button-sized trackers that can be attached to things like a keychain, a backpack, a bike or any other of your personal belongings. They work exclusively with iPhones, but you need an iPhone 11 or later (must have U1 chip) to enable Precision Finding, which allows you to pinpoint the AirTags location when in Bluetooth range. The catch is that you really need to buy an accessory to hold your AirTag.

  • Works excellent with Galaxy smartphones
  • AR Finder is a killer feature
  • No accessory needed thanks to keyhole design
  • Doesn’t work with iPhones and non-Galaxy Androids
  • More expensive than most other Bluetooth trackers

Samsung’s 2021-released Galaxy SmartTag+ is an upgraded version of its previous Galaxy SmartTag. It’s pretty much the same size and shape, and has the exact same features. The difference is that Samsung added an ultra-wideband chip that gives the “Plus” model a precision finding feature (which Samsung calls AR Finder) that’s very similar to Apple’s AirTags. The catch? It only works with Galaxy smartphones.

  • Accurate tracking
  • High water-resistance rating (IP67)
  • Excellent battery life (3 years)
  • Two-way tracking can help find your lost phone
  • Battery can’t be recharged or replaced

The Tile Mate is the company’s flagship Bluetooth tracker that’s designed to easily attach to a keychain. The 2022-model has been given improved range and water resistance. Plus, if somebody finds it they can scan a QR code on the back to get the owner’s contact information.

  • Accurate tracking
  • Longer range than other Tile trackers
  • loudspeaker
  • Replaceable battery
  • Two-way tracking can help find your lost phone
  • More expensive than other Tile trackers
  • Heavier than other Tile trackers

The Tile Pro is essentially an upgraded version of the Tile Mate. It has a replaceable battery, a louder built-in speaker and almost double the range (400 feet vs 200 feet). It has a keyhole so you can easily attach to a keychain.

  • Tiny size and adhesive back
  • High water-resistance rating (IP67)
  • Excellent battery life (3 years)
  • Two-way tracking can help find your lost phone
  • Battery can’t be recharged or replaced

The Tile Sticker is a small button-sized tracker that is unique because it has an adhesive back that allows you to stick to things like remotes or various household items.

  • Designed to specifically fit in your wallet
  • Sustainable design
  • Two-way tracking can help find your lost phone
  • More expensive than most other Tile trackers
  • Unique design limits its uses

The Tile Slim is about the size of a credit card and is designed to easily slip into your wallet and keep track of it. It supports Tile’s new Lost and Found feature that allows somebody to scan a QR code on its back and get the owner’s contact information.

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