One of the best Bluetooth trackers for 2023

Should you’ve ever been derailed from an on-time departure by a set of misplaced keys or misplaced pockets, you’ll profit from a Bluetooth tracker. These small devices connect to your stuff and use your smartphone to maintain tabs on the place they’re. There aren’t a ton of gamers within the subject but, however we examined out a number of the hottest choices to search out our high picks and show you how to determine which is the very best Bluetooth tracker for you.

What to search for in a Bluetooth tracker

Bluetooth trackers are small discs or playing cards that depend on short-range, low-energy wi-fi indicators to speak along with your smartphone. Connect one to your stuff and, if it’s in vary, your cellphone can “ring” the chip so yow will discover it. These monitoring gadgets supply different options like separation alerts to inform you whenever you’ve left a tagged merchandise behind, or the place a misplaced merchandise was final detected. Some may even faucet into a bigger community of smartphones to trace down your gadget whenever you’re out of vary. Relying on what you need the tracker to do, there are a number of specs to search for when deciding which to get.

Gadget compatibility

Like most issues from the oldsters in Cupertino, AirTags solely work with merchandise within the Apple ecosystem. The corporate has opened up access to its Discover My community to third-party producers, together with Chipolo, although. Its One Spot and Card Spot finders work with Apple’s giant monitoring community, however solely pair with Apple gadgets. Chipolo’s traditional trackers will work with both Android or Apple gadgets, as will Tile trackers.

Discovering community

Crowd-sourced discovering capabilities are what make headlines, with tales about recovering stolen equipment or monitoring misplaced baggage across the globe. Utilizing nameless indicators that ping different folks’s gadgets, these Bluetooth monitoring gadgets can doubtlessly inform you the place a tagged merchandise is, even when your smartphone is out of Bluetooth vary. Apple’s Discover My community is by far the most important, with over a billion iPhones in service all operating Apple’s Discover My app by default. So except an iPhone person opts out, their cellphone silently acts as a location detector for any close by AirTags.

Whereas Android telephones outnumber iPhones globally, they don’t have the same, unified community but. Throughout this yr’s I/O convention, Google introduced upcoming upgrades to its Discover My Gadget community, beginning with higher anti-stalking measures, a few of which it not too long ago debuted. The whole roll out of the FindMy-rivaling community has been delayed till the top of this yr. We all know of some trackers that may benefit from the brand new system and as soon as they’re obtainable, we’ll take a look at them out and replace this information.

Within the meantime, Tile presents the second-largest discovering grid, with each smartphone that runs the Tile app performing as incognito locators. After Life360 acquired Tile, the 47 million customers of that app had been added to the 50 million current Tile customers, creating a large community.

In our exams, AirTags provided almost real-time location knowledge and had been quickest to search out gadgets deserted in spots round Albuquerque, together with a bar, bookstore and occasional store in Nob Hill, together with numerous out of doors hangouts on UNM’s campus. Bluetooth monitoring Tiles had been in a position to find our misplaced gadgets more often than not, although not with the identical pin-point accuracy as AirTags. Chipolo’s Spot trackers function on the identical Discover My community and carry out on par with the AirTags.

Chipolo’s traditional trackers, alternatively, don’t have a lot of a crowd-sourced community to talk of. But as we used the trackers, the dimensions of the discovering community began to really feel much less vital within the face of typical, on a regular basis use circumstances. It was their potential to out-perform in each different means that boosted Chipolo’s traditional trackers to the highest of our record.

An assortment of bluetooth trackers arranged in a grid on a wooden background. Trackers include black Tile trackers in various shapes, two silver and white AirTag trackers and a round blue Chipolo tracker attached to a set of keys with a multitool key chain.

Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Separation alerts

Right here’s the place a tracker’s day-to-day utility actually shines. A separation alert lets you already know whenever you’ve traveled too far out of your tagged gadgets, which is helpful if you wish to ensure that your laptop computer bag, or jacket or umbrella at all times comes with you whenever you go away the home.

These notifications work whenever you’re out and about too. Should you’ve received a tracker in your pockets and stroll out of a restaurant with out it, the separation alert ought to kick in, leading to fewer misplaced gadgets. This function additionally tells you the place your tagged merchandise and cellphone had been final paired, permitting you to retrace your steps when you occur to overlook the alert.

Every tracker handles left-behind gadgets in a different way. Each AirTags and Chipolo embrace the function by default. Tile trackers require a yearly subscription to allow the alerts (at the moment $30 per yr). Each AirTags and Tiles can help you flip off separation alerts at sure areas, that means you may set your own home as a “secure” place the place gadgets may be left behind, however alerts will nonetheless set off elsewhere. Chipolo doesn’t supply secure areas, however you may toggle out-of-range alerts on a per-item foundation.

In our exams, the Chipolo despatched an alert after we received between 250 and 450 ft away from our tagged merchandise. AirTags alerted us between the 600- and 1,400-foot mark. And Tiles despatched a notification after about a mean of 1,500 ft. Tile notifications weren’t constant on an iPhone, however labored properly when working with an Android cellphone.

Connectivity, quantity and design

The function you could use most frequently is the straightforward “discover my keys” operate. You probably have your cellphone, however no thought the place your tagged keys are, you may faucet a button within the tracker’s app to make the tracker ring. Tile and Chipolo traditional trackers may also allow you to double click on the gadget itself to make your cellphone ring, however AirTags and Chipolos operating on the Discover My app don’t supply this function.

The quantity of the tracker might decide whether or not yow will discover an merchandise buried in your sofa cushions or in a loud room. AirTags have a repute for being on the quiet facet, and that aligned with what we noticed (measuring roughly 65 decibels). Chipolo’s keychain-style tags, each the Apple-only model and the device-agnostic model, and the Tile Slim pockets tracker had been the loudest, measuring between 83 and 85 decibels.

Design will decide what you may connect the tracker to. AirTags are small, easy discs that haven’t any means of securing to something with out equipment, that are quite a few, however that’s a further price to contemplate. Each Chipolo and Tile supply trackers with holes that simply connect to your key ring, and each corporations additionally supply card-shaped variations designed to slot in your pockets. Batteries are replaceable for AirTags, Chipolo One and Tile Professional. Tile Mate and all card-shaped trackers don’t have replaceable batteries, which suggests you’ll have to switch the whole unit every time it dies. Pebblebee trackers are rechargeable. We’re at the moment testing them and can replace this information to share how they stack up.

Stalking and stealing

AirTags have not too long ago gotten a number of consideration for dangerous actors planting them on folks to be able to stalk them. Whereas this truth might not affect your shopping for determination, any dialogue of Bluetooth trackers ought to observe what steps Apple, Google and Tile have taken to handle the problem. If an AirTag is detected shifting with you and other than its proprietor, the gadget will ring to warn you of its presence. Whether or not you’ve gotten an iPhone or an Android cellphone, so long as you’ve gotten location companies and Bluetooth turned on, you’ll mechanically get an alert with no additional steps required. Tile presents the same function by means of its normal app, and it doesn’t require a Tile account to seek for suspicious close by trackers.

Lately, Tile launched a function known as Anti-Theft Mode, which allows you to render certainly one of its trackers undetectable by others. Meaning if somebody steals your tagged merchandise, they gained’t be capable of use the anti-stalking options to search out its exact location and disable the tracker. In fact, that doubtlessly makes a Tile simpler to make use of as a stalking gadget, so to be able to allow the function, it’s important to confirm your ID and conform to a $1 million penalty for misuse.

Usually, a Bluetooth tracker might or might not be the most suitable choice for combating theft. Anecdotal tales abound wherein folks have recovered stolen items utilizing a tracker — however different tales are extra cautionary. Apple nonetheless doesn’t promote its trackers or discovering networks as a technique to cope with theft. GPS trackers, alternatively, are usually marketed for simply that function.

How we examined

Earlier than deciding on which trackers to check, we researched the sector, person critiques on Amazon, Greatest Purchase and different retailers, together with discussions on websites like Reddit. We additionally checked out what different publications needed to say on the matter earlier than narrowing down our picks to Apple AirTag, Tile and Chipolo trackers.

Right here’s the complete record of each tracker we examined:

After buying the trackers, I examined each over the course of some weeks utilizing each an iPhone 11 and a Samsung Galaxy S22 Extremely. I recreated seemingly person experiences, corresponding to dropping and leaving gadgets behind at residence and out within the metropolis. I planted trackers at completely different spots close to downtown Albuquerque, principally concentrated in and across the College of New Mexico and the encompassing neighborhood of Nob Hill. Every take a look at was carried out a number of instances, each whereas strolling and driving and I used the measure distance function on Google Maps to trace footage for alerts. I paid consideration to how straightforward the app was to make use of, how dependable the phone-to-tracker connection was and some other perks and disadvantages that got here up throughout common use.

Greatest General: Chipolo One

Greatest General
Chipolo One


Chipolo One

Appropriate with each iPhone and Android gadgets, the Chipolo One was the loudest tracker we tried and had essentially the most dependable alerts and quickest close by detection talents.

Fingers-on testing is nice at smashing assumptions, and that’s what occurred with the Chipolo One. This tracker’s crowd-sourced discovering community can’t evaluate with Apple’s AirTag or Tile. Actually, after I left the Chipolo for twenty-four hours simply exterior the busy pupil union at UNM, I used to be by no means alerted {that a} member of the Chipolo community had detected my merchandise. However as I used it and pictured how most individuals would use a tracker each day, the gadget proved its price and earned its spot on my keyring.

The One is a small and colourful plastic disc with a gap. It really works with each Apple and Android gadgets and requires an app which is straightforward to make use of and simply pairs new trackers. The app and monitoring expertise on an iPhone and a Galaxy cellphone had been almost equivalent, working equally properly on each platforms. It rang the loudest of all of the trackers, so misplaced gadgets had been rapidly discovered round the home. In contrast to different trackers, there was by no means a delay between urgent the Ring to Discover button and listening to the trill. The ring delay for AirTag was by no means quite a lot of seconds and Tiles would typically join and ring after not more than ten seconds. Whereas that’s not a deal-breaking delay, it may add to the stress of dashing out the door.

The place the Chipolo One actually set itself aside was with its separation alerts. I’d solely get a half to 2 blocks away (or a mean of 350 ft) earlier than getting an alert asking if I’d forgotten an merchandise. Neither AirTag nor Tile ever beat Chipolo to the punch. The alerts had been constant whether or not I used to be forgetting an merchandise at residence, at a espresso store, or inside my automobile.

So far as dropping stuff out within the wild, it can get you again to the spot the place your cellphone and tracker had been final paired. Meaning when you miss an alert or don’t have them turned on, Chipolo will provide you with instructions (through your maps app) and take you proper to the place you left your merchandise. In a single take a look at, I had a buddy cover the tracker close by after I wasn’t wanting. I left the world and returned hours later, utilizing the final location info to guide me inside a number of ft of the tracker’s exact location. Ringing the tracker then made it straightforward to search out. In fact, if somebody walks off along with your tracked merchandise, the Chipolo shall be more durable pressed that will help you out.

Should you’re involved about misplaced baggage whenever you journey or when you fear you could lose issues on trains or buses, this isn’t the tracker for you due to its a lot smaller discovering community. However when you’re searching for a useless easy technique to discover your keys and ensure your jacket leaves the bar whenever you do, the Chipolo One is difficult to beat.

Greatest for iPhones: AirTag

Greatest for iPhones
Apple AirTag

Photograph by Valentina Palladino / Engadget

Apple AirTag

With the widest discovering community we tried, Apple’s AirTags excel at tapping into the group to search out misplaced gadgets.

AirTags work with iOS’ Discover My app, so that they don’t require any further downloads. Should you’ve used the Discover My app earlier than, you’ll seemingly perceive how this works. These are the quietest of the trackers we examined and every time you press the Play Sound button, the tags solely ring for seven seconds. You’ll have to preserve urgent when you don’t discover your merchandise instantly and AirTags can’t be used to ring your cellphone.

As for separation alerts, AirTags had been constant, at all times delivering a “left behind” alert after I traveled about 1,200 ft away, or about three sq. blocks, with out an merchandise. You’ll be able to flip off separation alerts for any given tracker, in addition to designate sure areas, corresponding to your own home or office, as exceptions for the notifications.

One function that AirTags have that no different tag presents is the flexibility to faucet into the ultra-wideband (UWB) wi-fi protocol. This lets you play a enjoyable sport of cold and hot with an merchandise when it’s inside about 25 ft of your iPhone. Directional arrows and a diminishing distance meter in your iPhone’s display level you to an merchandise with out having to ring it. This labored reliably about 75 % of the time in my exams; generally it was simply simpler to ring the merchandise when the directional discovering couldn’t preserve a lock on the tracker.

UWB is supported by iPhone fashions 11 and later and whereas newer Galaxy and Pixel telephones additionally assist UWB, no Android-compatible tracker has but been launched. In 2021, Tile introduced one that may, however has since missed its promised launch window of “early 2022.”

AirTag’s potential to find a misplaced merchandise out within the metropolis is nearly eerie. I had somebody (who was not carrying an iPhone) take my bike with a tracker hidden underneath the seat to a location a bit over a half mile away. I set out a couple of minutes later and toggled on Notify When Discovered within the Discover My app. Inside three minutes, I acquired a notification that the bike had been “seen” close to an handle. Tapping on Instructions navigates to Apple Maps, which took me to a spot about 30 ft from the bike. Had it been obscured from view, I may have then used the Discover Close by button to activate the UWB finding options. Ringing the tag was too quiet to listen to on the sidewalk.

If you’d like the identical scary-precise group discovering options, however with a louder ring and a gap within the tracker, the Chipolo One Spot is a strong choice. It doesn’t supply UWB capabilities, nevertheless, and the separation alerts are the identical as with AirTags (letting you get 1,200 ft away earlier than a ping, versus a mean of 350 ft with our high rec, Chipolo One traditional).

Greatest for Android: Tile Professional

Greatest for Android
Tile Pro


Tile Pro

Tile has the second-best discovering community and Tile Professional presents a replaceable battery.

Tile will work with both Android or Apple gadgets, however the expertise is a lot better on Android. Sure connectivity points and an absence of alerts that plagued the iPhone expertise didn’t present up in exams with the Galaxy cellphone. One caveat to notice is that Tile requires a subscription to allow separation alerts. Tile Premium goes for $3 per thirty days or $30 per yr and consists of location historical past and merchandise reimbursement of as much as $100 on gadgets that you simply register with the corporate, they’ll additionally ship out a recent battery every year. Tile stands out as the one tracker firm providing reimbursement — even with out a subscription, they’ll pay out up to $25 for gadgets that you simply register with them.

The Tile Pro is a key-fob formed gadget with a metallic keychain gap that feels sturdy. The Professional’s ring was only a few decibels quieter than the Tile Mate (78 versus 82 decibels), however the connectivity vary was higher with the Professional, and it was extra correct in finder community exams. On high of that, that is the one present Tile gadget with a replaceable battery, which lasts about one yr.

For the lost-item exams, I had a buddy take the Professional to random areas. After turning on the Notify When Discovered function, an alert would arrive between 5 and ten minutes later saying my misplaced merchandise was “discovered by the group.” The map particulars had been usually correct inside about 100 ft or so, although it sometimes thought the Tile was at a enterprise subsequent door to the place it truly was. With out the UWB function, precision discovering of an merchandise was trickier. In a single take a look at, the tracker ended up in a loud pub. Whereas the instructions pointed me to the fitting location, it will have been tough to search out the merchandise if I hadn’t noticed my buddy, because the ring operate was ineffective among the many din.

Greatest pockets tracker: Tile Slim

Greatest pockets tracker
Tile Slim


Tile Slim

The slim design and loud ring will show you how to preserve tabs in your pockets.

The Tile Slim is louder than each the Professional and the Mate, and almost equals the loudest tracker we examined, the Chipolo One. It really works with each Android and Apple gadgets and its thick bank card form matches within the slots of a typical pockets (although it usually gained’t join when inside an RFID-blocking pockets). The separation alerts you’ll get when you pay for a Tile subscription activate at about the identical distance because the Tile Professional, letting you get round 1,500 ft away earlier than pinging you a few left-behind merchandise. When utilizing an iPhone with Tile trackers, separation alerts hardly ever got here and connectivity between the cellphone and tracker was spotty at finest, even in shut proximity. Should you use an iPhone, the Chipolo Card Spot is equally loud, runs on Apple’s huge Discover My community and constantly offers you a left-behind alert at round 1,200 ft.