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Best Bluetooth tracker 2022: AirTag and other alternatives

Bluetooth trackers have been on the market for more than a decade, serving as personal spies for your keys, wallet, backpacks, and other belongings. They’re exceptionally easy to set up and even easier to use. 

The question is: Which Bluetooth tracker should you buy? With dozens of brands, sizes, and price points available on store shelves, finding the ideal tracker requires a bit of…information tracking. Fortunately, ZDNet’s team of subject matter experts have tested, reviewed, and compared the very best Bluetooth-enabled offerings on the market, and assembled the top picks below.

Also: Best GPS trackers for kids: Tech for peace of mind

Apple AirTag

Best for Apple users

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Jack Skeens/Shutterstock

The Apple AirTag hit the market in 2021 and has kept its foot on the pedal since. The coin-sized tracker only works with Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, and does so seamlessly and effectively. By making use of its built-in U1 ultra-wideband chip (for Precision Finding) and Apple’s extensive Find My network, the AirTag can track down keys, wallets, bags, and anything else the trinket can fit into. 

The AirTag’s battery is rated to last one year and can be replaced with another CR2032 unit afterward. A pack of one AirTag sells for $29, and a four-pack for $99.

More: Apple AirTag full review

Pros:

  • Precision Finding with the U1 chip is bar none
  • Apple’s Find My network is dependable
  • Replaceable battery

Cons:

  • Not compatible with Android devices
  • Must buy a key ring accessory to latch onto items
  • Easily scratched

Tile Pro (2022)

Best for long-distance tracking

Tile Pro (2022)

Image: Tile

It’s easy to get carried away with the “Pro” moniker. What exactly does that entail? For the Tile Pro (2022), it means a greater tracking range (400 feet), a loud alarm, and a new IP67 rating to keep the tag safe from splashes and rain. For reference, competing trackers like the Apple AirTag and Samsung SmartTag can be detected within 200 ft via Bluetooth — the Tile doubles that.

The Tile Pro looks a lot like a key fob, and you might be okay with that. The size is warranted as it’s equipped with a larger-than-average speaker for a more discernible alarm and a replaceable CR2032 battery. A tag sells for $35, which isn’t cheap, but well worth the money if you’re an iOS or Android user who wants the furthest tracking range.

Pros:

  • 400 ft range is almost double that of competitors’
  • IP67 rating for water resistance
  • Works with both iOS and Android

Cons:

  • No ultra-wideband precision tracking
  • Slightly larger form factor than traditional tags
  • Pricier than competing offers

Chipolo CARD Spot

Best for wallets

chipolo-card-spot-hero.jpg

June Wan/ZDNet

Chipolo’s just-released CARD Spot is shaped like a credit card, connects to Apple’s Find My network, and gets our pick for best Bluetooth wallet tracker. While traditional, coin-shaped finders can also keep your wallet in check, they often create a bulge that makes stashing the accessory cumbersome. The CARD Spot is designed to live in your wallet, measuring at a thickness of 0.09 inches — about the same as two credit cards stacked together.

The other trick is Apple’s Find My network integration. By dialing into the expansive, crowdsourced ecosystem, the Chipolo can be tracked within a 200-foot range via Bluetooth, and virtually anywhere else via nearby Apple devices. A card sells for $35 and fits in most wallet types.

More: Chipolo CARD Spot full review

Pros:

  • Sleek, credit card design is ideal for wallets
  • Alarm gets plenty loud
  • Apple’s Find My network integration

Cons:

  • No ultra-wideband for Precision Finding
  • Non-replaceable battery
  • Not compatible with Android

Jiobit Smart Tag

Best for kids and pets

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Image: Jiobit

Besides locating keys and wallets, Bluetooth trackers make for handy-dandy gadgets to keep your child or pet under surveillance. If you’re able to spend a little more than the standard trackers for added safety and security features, look to the Jiobit Smart Tag. The Jiobit can be clipped onto a belt, collar, or backpack, and provides always-on connectivity and real-time location tracking.

This is all done via Jiobit’s dedicated cloud subscription, which does come at a per-month fee — alongside the actual tracker. At the basic level ($8.99 a month), you’ll gain access to the standard, real-time tracking features. But by paying more — especially for the Protect plan ($16.99 a month), Jiobit gives you access to location histories, phone alerts, and unlimited location-sharing with other users.

Protect plan users can also take advantage of the tracker’s built-in emergency button. When pressed, your phone will receive a ping and be given the option to call 911.

More: Best GPS trackers for kids

Pros:

  • Real-time location tracking
  • Physical panic button is helpful for urgent care
  • Charger and accessories included in the box

Cons:

  • Must buy tracker and subscription plan to use
  • One week battery life requires frequent charging

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag

Best for Samsung users

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Image: Samsung

Like the AirTag and iPhone, the SmartTag is at its best when paired to a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Unlike the aforementioned picks, the SmartTag doubles as a trigger for smart home automation. You can press the tag to turn on lights, the air conditioner, or even open the garage door. But, this is limited to appliances that fall under the SmartThings ecosystem, which is more limited than what Alexa and the Apple Home Kit can work with.

Still, the Galaxy SmartTag is a formidable Bluetooth tracker, with a loud speaker, a replaceable battery, and a rugged build that can take a bump or two. The tracker sells for $29 but we’ve seen it go for much less, making it a great value buy for Samsung users.

Pros:

  • Doubles as a smart home button
  • Loud and audible speaker
  • Rugged design handles key scratches well

Cons:

  • Only compatible with Galaxy phones
  • Bulkier than competing trackers

How did we choose these Bluetooth trackers?

When testing and reviewing the listed Bluetooth trackers, we considered several key factors: Precision, battery life, speaker volume, and tracking range. The best picks tick all four boxes and then some. They’re also distinguished by unique selling points that make each one ideal for a specific core of users.

Which Bluetooth tracker is right for you?

When shopping for a Bluetooth tracker, the main factor that you should consider is compatibility. The AirTag and Chipolo CARD Spot, for example, only function with Apple-made devices. For greater companionship, we’d recommend looking into Tile’s Bluetooth offerings.

It also helps to know what you’re tracking. For keys and smaller items, coin-shaped trackers will do the trick. For larger belongings such as wallets and passports, consider card-shaped options.

What if my Bluetooth tracker runs out of battery?

Most Bluetooth trackers come with batteries that can either be swapped out or recharged. For offerings that don’t have replaceable batteries, manufacturers often incentivize trade-ins by offering discounted renewals. Chipolo, for one, will sell you a new CARD Spot at 50% off when you trade-in your existing tracker. 

Are there alternative Bluetooth trackers worth considering?

Besides the top five mentioned above, here are more Bluetooth trackers that will keep your belongings in check:


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