Monday, July 15, 2024
Gadgets

Best Bluetooth trackers 2023: Expert tested and reviewed


No one likes losing things, and while our lives are becoming increasingly digital – and therefore ping-able – there are still items like your keys, purse, or pet that don’t come with Bluetooth tracking built-in. Or perhaps you just can’t seem to remember which beige gym locker you put your bag into. Regardless, one of the easiest ways to keep track of your belongings is by attaching the respective item to a Bluetooth tracker. They’re small, have a long battery life, and can be easily found with the other object you always have with you, your smartphone.


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Using the built-in Bluetooth radios on your phone (and sometimes other devices too), a tracker can lead you to the precise location of your lost belongings. And these devices are no longer relegated to the world of third-party accessories, Apple and Samsung both make their own trackers, and Google plans on rolling out its own Bluetooth tracking network at some point.

But not all trackers are created equal, and if you’re in the market for a way to keep tabs on your valuables, it can be hard to find one that will work best with your phone or even easily attach to whatever you’re trying not to lose. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you, finding a selection of Bluetooth trackers that will work whether you’re on iOS or Android, or tracking a pet or your wallet. And better yet, you can learn about all of them below, starting with our tested and true selection for the best Bluetooth tracker overall, the 2022 Tile Pro.


The Best Bluetooth tracker: Our top picks

A ovular keychain with a button on the top and a keyring loop.

Tile Pro (2022)

1. Best overall Bluetooth tracker

Works well regardless of what phone you use

$23 $35 Save $12

The Tile Pro has excellent range, water resistance, and a replaceable battery working in its favour, but its ability to work with iOS and Android is what makes it a great choice for everyone.

Pros

  • Long range
  • Replaceable battery
  • Water resistant
Cons

  • Subscription required for some useful features

The Tile Pro is Tile’s largest tracker, but for a good reason: its battery is replaceable. The Pro also offers 200 meters of range (in our tests that was more reliably 100 meters), is water-resistant, and supports Android or iOS, so you should be covered if you decide to change phones. The size of the Tile Pro is a bit bigger than other trackers, but it can still easily fit on keychains, luggage, and backpacks without problems. Like Tile’s other devices, it can also work in reverse.

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What is Tile, how does Find with Tile work and what devices can you use it with?

Tile is best known for its Bluetooth trackers. You can connect to Tile and use it to keep track of your possessions. Here’s how it works.

Click the “Tile” button on the Pro and it’ll buzz your phone so you can find it.

Apple AirTag vs Tile vs Galaxy SmartTag: How to the trackers compare? photo 12
Pocket-lint

Tile’s network is composed of 40 million trackers, so finding a lost item is really a matter of whether another Tile user walks in range of your tracker, which in my experience can vary greatly depending on where you live. Tile can also inform you if you’ve left a tag behind with a notification, but that feature, along with the ability to see the location history of your tracked item for the last 30 days, requires a Tile Premium subscription. Buying a new device gets you a year of Premium for free, after which it’s $30 a year. It’s not exorbitantly priced considering the peace of mind it could give you, but it’s also a cost you might not want to pay.

A circular silver and white tracker with an Apple logo on the back.

Apple AirTag

2. Best premium Bluetooth tracker

The go-to pick for iPhone users

$25 $29 Save $4

Apple’s AirTag offers the easiest setup and use of any Bluetooth tracker, with a sleek design and no subscription required. You’ll need to have an iPhone and some kind of accessory to slot it into, though.

Pros

  • Precision finding
  • Replaceable battery
  • Find My network is big and growing bigger
Cons

  • Only works with iOS
  • Requires additional accessory to attach to anything

Apple’s AirTag offers the smoothest Bluetooth tracking experience available thanks to its deep integration with iOS (and only iOS) and Apple’s hardware. The small coin-sized device has a replaceable battery and can be customized with text or emoji upon purchase.

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The real power of the AirTag is Apple’s Find My network, which draws on the Bluetooth signals of all its hardware products to find the location of tracked items. You can also use an iPhone with a U1 chip to take advantage of the AirTag’s “Precision Finding” feature and receive a precise visual guide to navigate you towards your lost item, but it works well.

Airtags editorial

The AirTag’s major disadvantages are that, by default, it has no way to be attached to anything without an additional accessory and there’s no way of using an AirTag to find a connected iPhone.

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This naturally increases the cost of getting into Apple’s Find My ecosystem beyond the friendly starting price. Sure, there are a lot of fun accessories to slot your AirTag into, but it does make getting started a tad inconvenient.

A square tracker with rounded corners that has a cutout for a keyring.

Eufy Security SmartTrack Link

3. Best value Bluetooth tracker

Find My tracking on the cheap

$14 $20 Save $6

Think of the Eufy Security SmartTrack Link as the best of Tile and AirTag in one device. It uses Apple’s Find My network, has a keyring hole, and can be used in reverse to find a lost phone. All for a price that’s dramatically cheaper than the competition.

Pros

  • Built-in keyring hole
  • No subscription required
  • Replaceable battery

The Eufy Security SmartTrack Link gets you the design of a Tile tracker and access to Apple’s ever-growing Find My network for a very affordable price. The SmartTrack Link is also water-resistant, has a range of around 80 meters, and a battery life of about a year that can be extended with a replaceable battery.

Critical for anyone in the market for a Bluetooth tracker, it has a built-in keyring hole, so there’s no need to shop for any additional accessories or ways to attach it. The SmartTrack Link is primarily compatible with iOS and the Find My network of connected Apple devices, but you can get more limited functionality on Android through the Eufy Security app. The SmartTrack Link might not be as visually attractive as an AirTag, but it’s more immediately useful out of the box.

A white, circular tracker with a keyring hole at the top.

Chipolo ONE Point

4. A Tile alternative for Android

Support for Google’s upcoming tracking network

The Chipolo One Point is one of the first Bluetooth trackers designed to work with the Android Find My Device network. It has a built-in keyring hole, is splash-proof, and has a Bluetooth range of around 60 metres.

Pros

  • Built-in keyring hole
  • 60 metres of range
  • Replaceable battery

Buying a Chipolo One Point is making a bet on the future. The Bluetooth tracker is only splash-proof and has about 60 meters of range, which is more modest in the grand scheme of things, but it does come with a built-in keyring hole and has replaceable batteries, two nice-to-haves that make it useful out of the box.

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More importantly, it’s also one of the first few trackers designed to work with Google’s Android Find My Device network. Previously used for finding lost phones, the Find My Device network is officially expanding to include other devices, including trackers, and using the Bluetooth signal of Android devices to find lost items. Right now, the Chipolo One Point is available to pre-order and shipping in batches, but it seems like an excellent alternative to a Tile if you’re on Android and interested in Google’s tracking solution.

A thin, card-shaped tracker with a button on the bottom left corner.

Tile Slim (2022)

5. Best tracker for wallets

Flat enough for a back pocket

$25 $35 Save $10

The Tile Slim is a wallet-sized tracker with water resistance, a three-year battery life, a respectable Bluetooth range, and access to Tile network of devices.

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • Three years of battery life
  • 76 metres of range
Cons

  • Requires a subscription for some features
  • Battery isn’t replaceable

But what if you want to track something flat? The Tile Slim is all the company’s tracking capabilities in a mostly flat, rectangular tracker that fits nicely in wallets or attached to passports. That includes water resistance, a three-year battery life, and a Bluetooth range of about 76 meters.

tile review photo 14
Pocket-lint

Unlike the Tile Pro, the Slim doesn’t have a replaceable battery, which means you’ll have to buy a whole new Slim once your first battery dies, but Tile does let you bring in your old Tile to a Best Buy to recycle it if there’s no e-waste disposal places near you. Producing additional waste is one of the few flaws of Tile’s whole system, but because of the unique size and shape of many of its products, it’s also how the company claims its long battery life.

A circular, puck-shaped tracker with a logo on the top.

Tile Sticker (2022)

6. Best tracker you can stick anywhere

Perfect for remotes or pet collars

$20 $30 Save $10

Tile’s smallest tracker is also potentially its most useful. The Tile Sticker is water-resistant with 76 metres of Bluetooth range, and its adhesive back means you can stick it to just about anything you want to keep an eye on.

Pros

  • Adhesive back
  • Three years of battery life
  • Water resistant
Cons

  • Requires a subscription for some features
  • Battery isn’t replaceable

The Tile Sticker doesn’t have a keyring hole, but goes a step further with an adhesive back. That means you can stick it to TV remotes, game controllers, and even pet collars without needing an extra attachment tool. It ships with water resistance, a three-year battery life, and 76 meters of range like the Tile Slim. And like all of Tile’s devices, it works with either iOS or Android operating systems.

tile review photo 18
Pocket-lint

The Sticker might be Tile’s smallest tracker, but it would be wrong to suggest it’s tiny. Anything you stick it to is going to look kind of goofy. Still, for the ability to track something as easily lost as a remote, it’ll do the trick – and the size may even help you track.

Chipolo-One-Spot

Chipolo ONE Spot

7. Convenient AirTag alternative

A keyring hole comes in clutch

The Chipolo One Spot is really only an alternative to the AirTag when you take into account its keyring and that it works on the Find My network of devices. The tracker is splash-proof, with a one-year battery life and 60 metres of Bluetooth range.

Pros

  • Supports Apple’s Find My network
  • 60 metres of range
  • Replaceable battery

Think of the Chipolo One Spot as the Apple version of the Chipolo One Point. It has the same IPX5 splash-proof rating, the same keyring hole, the same 60 meters of range, and the same one year of battery life. The only real difference is it connects to Apple’s Find My network rather than Google’s.

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In terms of features, the Spot isn’t quite up to snuff when compared to the Apple AirTag, but if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require additional accessories to be truly usable, and are okay losing out on features like Precision Finding and water resistance, then it’s a more than suitable alternative.

The best Bluetooth trackers: Bottom line

Finding things with a Bluetooth tracker can save you hours or days of searching and worry, but doing so requires finding the right device for you. The Tile Pro, with its flexible compatibility with both major mobile operating systems (Android and iOS) and its long range and replaceable battery, means that it should be able to help you find your things for years to come. Using all of its features will require a Tile Premium subscription, but if you plan on adding on more Tile devices in the future, you can easily justify the yearly cost.

A ovular keychain with a button on the top and a keyring loop.

Tile Pro (2022)

Editor’s Choice

Capable and flexible

$23 $35 Save $12

The Tile Pro has excellent range, water resistance, and a replaceable battery working in its favour, but its ability to work with iOS and Android is what makes it a great choice for everyone.

Pros

  • Replaceable battery
  • Long Bluetooth range
  • Water resistant
Cons

  • Requires a subscription for some features

Of course, for the most well-designed and easiest Bluetooth tracking experience, it’s hard to beat an Apple AirTag. In fact, for committed iPhone users, there’s really no reason not to use Apple’s trackers other than their premium price. Uniquely capitalising on Apple’s hardware for lost item guidance while also managing a slim form factor, they’re easily worth the investment.

But if price is your biggest concern, the Eufy Security SmartTrack Link might be the best deal of all. The SmartTrack Link adopts some of the most handy features of Tile’s tracking system, like the ability to use trackers in reverse to find your phone, with Apple’s expansive Find My network of devices, all for less than $30.

How we picked Bluetooth trackers

Pocket-lint has extensively reviewed and researched Bluetooth trackers, covering all of Tile’s recent product updates and newer devices from phone manufacturers, like the Apple AirTag and Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+. Taking into account past reviews and our comparison of the recent competition, we selected a group of Bluetooth trackers along the lines of price, features (including which network of Bluetooth-enabled devices they use to find lost items), and shape and size.

How important is having a big Bluetooth range?

How far away you can be from the tracker and still remain connected over Bluetooth is one of the simplest specs to check for and thankfully, one that most trackers easily cover. On average, the claimed Bluetooth range for the trackers we listed were regularly 76 meters and up, which is more than enough for most purposes, especially if your chosen tracker has some way of sending you a notification if it’s left behind.

Since all the major Bluetooth tracking networks use a combination of trackers and mobile devices like smartphones to update the location of a lost item, a bigger Bluetooth range isn’t just a benefit for you finding your device with your phone, it means it’s more likely to be located at all.

Which network is better, Apple, Google, or Tile?

It’s going to depend on where you live and what devices and trackers you already own. Tile is an established player and already has a fairly large number of Tiles and phones with the Tile app installed in the wild to pick up on the Bluetooth signal of lost items. Apple, with millions of phones, tablets, and computers with Bluetooth radios in them, has an even bigger net to catch lost things which could get you to your lost item even faster. The wild card is Google’s Android Find My Device network. There are even more Android devices than there are Apple ones, but fewer trackers that use Google’s network. Ultimately, which makes the most sense for you will depend on where you live and what you’re willing to spend, but both Apple and Google’s networks feel the most useful.

Which tracker is best for preventing stalking?

Both Apple and Google are working on a industry-wide specification for handling unwanted trackers (they also encrypt location data in general), and it’s always worth it to research how a company plans on handling the misuse of one of its products before you buy it. So far though, both Apple’s Find My app and Google’s Find My Device app can notify you if they detect an unregistered tracker traveling with you, which is really the bare-minimum at this point.



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