The best Bluetooth trackers of 2021: It’s a pretty short list
We’ve all been there — you’re trying to hurry out the door, but you can’t seem to find your keys. You check all the usual places to no avail, and suddenly you’re running late. A handy Tile Mate or AirTag would have helped in that situation if only you had one.
A bluetooth tracker is a wonderful investment for those of us that are a little absent minded, or have kids. However, picking the right one isn’t always easy and that’s where this guide to the best Bluetooth trackers comes in handy.
Buying the right Bluetooth tracker for your needs
There are a few things to consider when you’re shopping for your first — or next — Bluetooth tracker. First, you shouldn’t have to worry about how the tracker works. All of the options on our list rely on Bluetooth and an active network of users to keep an eye on the location. No matter whether you go for Apple or Samsung, the basic principle is the same.
As far as differences go, you’ll want to pay close attention to your operating system. If you reside mostly within iOS, you’ll want to skip the Galaxy SmartTag altogether. This is because it only works properly with select Samsung Galaxy devices. The opposite is also true — AirTags won’t even give you a chance on a Google Pixel.
You should probably think about just how much you plan to put your Bluetooth tracker through as well. Some, like the Tile Mate and Chipolo One, are made entirely out of plastic. They boast water resistance, but they may not fare as well against rocks or concrete. On the other hand, the Tile Pro features a metal frame that can take a bit more of a beating.
Best overall: Tile Pro
Tile offers the widest variety of trackers on our list, from the keychain-ready Mate to the wallet-friendly Slim, but the Tile Pro tops them all. It’s simply a more robust Tile Mate in many ways, but that’s what makes it so effective as a Bluetooth tracker. Tile chose a durable metal frame to extend the life of the Pro, and you can replace the battery yourself to keep it around even longer.
One of the most important features of any Tile tracker is that it’s not limited to a single operating system. Whether you prefer Android or iOS — or you flip between the two — you can be sure that the Tile Pro will follow. The Tile Pro is also one of the more colorful options thanks to red, black, white, Rose, and Azurite finishes. Out of your rainbow of colors, however, the black version will probably stay in pristine shape the longest.
A metal frame and water resistance make the Tile Pro one of the toughest trackers around.
As far as general durability is concerned, the Tile Pro is one of the toughest trackers around. The metal frame plays a key role, as does the water resistance. It’s not truly waterproof, but that’s one of the tradeoffs of a replaceable battery. Tile also claims that the Pro packs a Bluetooth range of 400 feet, though you’ll need a clear line of sight to achieve similar numbers.
One Tile Pro will set you back $34.99 while a set of two costs $59.99, but you get more than just a great Bluetooth tracker for your money. Each purchase also includes a full year of the Tile Premium service so that you can try out handy features like smart alerts and a free battery replacement program.
- Durable metal frame
- Replaceable battery
- Loudest ring of any Tile
- Only water-resistant
- Tile Premium required for some features
Check out our full review to learn more about the Tile Pro.
Other products worth considering
Looking for other recommendations? While the Tile Pro is our top recommendation, keep reading below for other choices worth considering.
- Apple AirTag: If you’re dedicated to the Apple ecosystem, it’s tough to top the AirTag. It only works with iOS, but you’ll need a few accessories to get started.
- Samsung Galaxy SmartTag: Samsung diehards will want to lean towards the Galaxy SmartTag. It’s limited to Galaxy devices, so be careful if you plan to switch to a new phone.
- Tile Mate: The Tile Mate is one of the oldest Bluetooth trackers on the list, but it’s not outdated. Best of all, you can choose between Android and iOS.
- Chipolo One: Chipolo’s One is by far the most colorful tracker on our list. It also packs a solid set of free features, giving it great value for your money.
Apple AirTag: The best Bluetooth tracker for iOS
Apple may not have been the first name to throw its hat in the Bluetooth tracker ring, but that didn’t stop the AirTag from landing with a bang. It immediately became the best option for iPhone users and an absolute non-starter for anyone else. The AirTag stands among our top Bluetooth trackers, thanks in no small part to the robust network of Find My users. Each user serves as a data point to help track other AirTags, giving everyone more accurate overall results.
The Find My network makes the AirTag a great pick for Apple users and only Apple users.
The AirTag itself is simple to use — there aren’t really any moving parts. You can once again replace the battery yourself, a key part of the longevity of any tracker. It also generally manages to skirt the Apple Tax, as the AirTag costs the same as one of Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTags. You can only grab your AirTag in white with a small silver backing, but Apple does offer engraving if you purchase directly from the Apple Store.
Even though there’s a lot to like about the AirTag, it does offer one major design flaw. There’s no hole in the tracker itself, which means that you have to buy accessories to attach it to anything. Yes, you could slip it into a backpack or a suitcase, but it won’t work for your keys or on a pet collar without some extra spending.
- Extremely precise location tracking
- Solid anti-stalking measures
- Relies on the strength of the Find My network
- Limited to iOS
- No hole to attach to keychains
Check out our full review to learn more about the Apple AirTag.
Samsung Galaxy SmartTag: The best Galaxy S21 companion
Samsung entered the Bluetooth tracker game right around the same time that Apple did, and it brought many of the same limitations. The Galaxy SmartTag is a great pick, but only so long as you already have a Samsung Galaxy device running Android 8.0 or higher. Essentially, you couldn’t move between a Galaxy S21 and a Pixel 5 if you have any hopes of keeping your tracker connected.
The good news is that the Galaxy SmartTag is incredibly powerful as long as you’ve invested in a few SmartThings devices. You can use it to control your smart lights, run various routines, and even send a text message with the press of a button. It also relies on Bluetooth LE to stay connected and barely sip battery power.
See also: The best Samsung SmartThings devices
Like all of our selections so far, you can change the battery all by yourself. The Galaxy SmartTag is slightly thicker than its Tile Pro rival, so it may not sit as smoothly on your keyring. Right now, a single Galaxy SmartTag will set you back $29.99, and a two-pack costs $59.98. You can also choose from black, Oatmeal, and Denim shades — not exactly the most exciting.
- Replaceable battery
- Large hole for attachments
- Can control your other SmartThings devices
- Limited to Samsung Galaxy devices
- No smart alerts feature
Check out our full review to learn more about the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag.
Tile Mate: The original Bluetooth tracker
The Bluetooth tracker that started it all is still here, and it received a refresh in 2020 to bring it in line with Apple and Samsung. One thing that hasn’t changed throughout the years is the design of the Tile Mate, and it’s nearly perfect the way it is. It’s about as wide as a grocery store rewards card and not too much thicker. As a result, you can easily forget that you even have a Tile attached to your keys until the moment you need to ring it from your phone.
The Tile companion app is a must-have for any premium features.
Just like its Tile Pro sibling, the Tile Mate is free from operating system limits. You can download the companion app on iOS or Android, and the setup process is identical. You’ll also need that app to manage your Tile Premium subscription. Luckily, each Bluetooth tracker purchased includes a free year of the service, which is a must if you need conveniences like smart alerts. The Tile app also gives you a quick count of nearby users, which should offer some peace of mind if you have to hunt for your keys.
Tile kept its classic plastic design, and swapping out the battery is as easy as ever. You should be able to manage about a year of juice from each CR1632 cell, though it may drain faster if you lose your keys too often. A single Tile Mate undercuts the AirTag and Galaxy SmartTag at just $24.99, or you can bundle two together for $47.99.
- Support for both Android and iOS
- Perfect size and shape for a keyring
- Tile app is simple to navigate
- Tile Premium subscription required for smart alerts
- Plastic construction picks up marks easily
- You can’t deactivate a Tile
Check out our full review to learn more about the Tile Mate.
Chipolo One: The best free features on any operating system
The last Bluetooth tracker on our list may not have as much name recognition, but the Chipolo One is an excellent option for just about everyone. It offers the best blend of free features, and it doesn’t matter whether you carry an iPhone in your pocket or a OnePlus 9. Chipolo’s One is easily the most colorful tracker you can find, thanks to red, green, blue, and yellow shades. If you want a more covert tracker, black and white options are available, too.
As for free features, you’ll never pay a dime for smart alerts with a Chipolo One. Once you set up your tracker in the companion app, the alerts kick on right away. If you leave your tracker behind, your smartphone will be sure to let you know in a hurry. When you head back to grab your tracker, you’ll have to listen for one of seven ringtones — half of which involve Christmas carols.
Although the Chipolo app is excellent on the whole, the always-on notification is unnecessary. Chipolo likes to point out that the notification is so that the app can continue to run in the background, but it’s sure to hinder shoppers who love clean lock screens. You’ll want to be wary of the Chipolo One’s advertised 200-foot range, but it’s plenty strong enough to work well throughout your home.
- Bright, easy to spot
- Free features that cost extra from competitors
- Loud ring for the price
- Difficult to change the battery
- Plastic construction picks up scratches
- Always-on notification
Check out our full review to learn more about the Chipolo One.