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Expert Shopper Electronics

AirTags are everywhere: What to know and advice on buying

These tiny trackers let you know exactly where your things are


Apple and Android owners have similar functions on their mobile phones that let them track a device when it goes missing or stolen. Apple’s Find My feature and Google’s Find My Device app are both great for locating tablets and other phones, but what about your keys, luggage or pet? 

That’s where object trackers come in. The New York Police Department has even urged vehicle owners to fit these on their cars to aid in vehicle recovery should they get stolen. New York City Mayor Eric Adams went a step further, announcing that 500 New Yorkers will receive a free Apple AirTag, one of the more popular trackers.

How they work

Colloquially known as air tags, the small square or disc-shaped gadgets are used to keep tabs on anything you don’t want to lose. They use Bluetooth to communicate their position with any paired mobile phone, but there is a significant limitation. 

Unlike GPS trackers, these devices are bound by the data transmission distance of Bluetooth, which is usually around 33 feet. It’s the same principle as losing the connection to a Bluetooth speaker if you move outside the range. 

For clarity, GPS trackers have an unlimited, global range in object tracking as they have a built-in SIM card that connects to a mobile network. They are also more expensive, bulkier and heavier than Bluetooth trackers. However, depending on the manufacturer, the distance can be extended by utilizing the collective mobile phone power of others to relay the signal back to you. 

Best Bluetooth trackers 

Apple AirTag

Apple’s tracker is a firm favorite among iPhone users, and while it comes in only one design, there are several customizable holders, collars and baggage tags for them. The 1.6-inch metal disc uses ultra-wideband technology to improve accuracy and boasts a built-in speaker for audible cues. Since it uses Bluetooth, The Apple AirTag has an immediate range of 33 feet, but when “Lost Mode” is enabled, it dramatically expands the range through the Find My network.

Sold by Amazon

Tile Mate

Tile, owned by Life360, specializes in gadgets that can locate personal items. This 1.49-inch plastic square has a hole punched in one corner, so it’s easy to attach to keys, bicycles or anything that can move. It's compatible with iOS, Android and smart home systems.  Tile Mate can also locate your phone when you double-press the button. Similar to Apple, it utilizes the wider Tile Network to locate objects that are outside of Bluetooth range.

Sold by Amazon

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag

Samsung’s tracker is a perfect choice if you have a Samsung phone, as it’s incompatible with iOS or other devices. Similar to other trackers, it has a small hole in the corner that you can affix to an object you want to track easily. It measures 1.59 inches in length and width and is only 0.39 inches thick. Through the Galaxy Find Network, the SmartTag’s locating distance is increased to 130 yards.

Sold by Amazon 

Chipolo One

One of the smallest trackers, the round Chipolo One measures only 0.29 inches thick and has a diameter of 1.49 inches. In addition to letting you see where the tracker is located, it will also remind you when your paired phone is about to move out of range. You can also share the tracker’s location with others, and it’s compatible with iOS and Android phones.

Sold by Amazon

Anker SmartTrack Link

Compatible with Apple’s Find My network, the SmartTrack Link alerts you if you leave an object behind and sends a notification to your phone. It has a water-resistant coating, a replaceable battery and weighs less than an ounce.

Sold by Amazon 

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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