The holiday season is upon us and will carry on seeing the good people of this currently scorched isle enduring airport hell in order to flee to place more far flung.
However, whilst travel broadens the mind, the actual travelling part of travelling can be a Sisyphean ordeal of planes, trains and automobiles, queues, confusion and, of course, ‘other people’. Naturally, then, in the heat of battle to get abroad sometimes things can go astray. Luggage, handbags, wallets, purses, phones and even passports are the most common wotnots to go walkabout.
But what if there was a fool-proof way to protect your possessions from wandering off? Some kind of tech-based ‘tile’ that could utilise Bluetooth to link your smartphone and your other stuff? An invisible tether that would tell you when it was making its way away from you and also help you find it again afterwards? Leading questions, yes, but they’ve done their job and lead us to these brilliant little beauties: Bluetooth trackers.
Working exactly as described above, the most famous of their ilk are Apple’s AirTag and the Tile Pro, both of which I go into in considerable detail about here, but – as ever – other options are available; and often for less of your hard-earned cash.
But are they any good compared to the aforementioned Apple and Tile big guns? Well, let’s go ‘find’ out. I do apologise…
Best for: Bluetooth tracking Apple addicts
While the Chipolo ONE Spot may be a fully features Bluetooth tracker aimed exactly between the eyes of iOS users, I know full well just how brand-loyal many Apple owners can be (some might even stray into the realms of the obsessive – just saying), so for them there exists no other tracker option than the AirTag.
Yes, it’s shiny and good-looking. Yes, it comes with a whole armada of accessories. Yes, it can track things locally over Bluetooth using audio and map directions (or even on screen arrows if in the house) and yes it does also open up the whole Find My community of millions and millions and millions of users to assist you in the search for your stuff, the Apple AirTag looks sharp, works exceptionally well and does all you could ever ask of a tracker… if you’re an Apple user.
Buy now £29.00, Apple
Best for: Overall best Bluetooth tracker
Backing my opinion in my previous Apple AirTag vs Tile Pro article (and repeating myself too), when it comes to powerful Bluetooth tracking that plays nice with both Apple and Android, the Tile Pro edges it every time.
With a stated range of 400ft, if unobscured, you’re not going to struggle to find your Pro-tagged personal property with Bluetooth and, even if you do, the ever-growing Tile Network is out there, somewhere, available to silently search for your stuff for you, reporting back via alerts whenever someone is in range and putting your lost possession literally on the map.
With the loudest speaker of all of the Tile range, using the app to set off an audible cue means you’ll not fail to hear where misplaced items are locally and, of course, that sound search works in reverse should you set your smartphone aside somewhere so safe it’s now vanished.
For features, functions and range, if you want to keep future phone manufacturer options open, the Tile Pro is for you.
Buy now £30.00, Amazon
Best for: All-purpose Bluetooth tracking
A real Jack of All Trades within the Bluetooth tracker domain, Chipolo’s ONE is a plastic disc of tricks that’s good to go on almost anything – keys, bags, your kids’ beloved soft toys, your beloved kids themselves, the ONE and the Chipolo app puts anything misplaced back safely in your hands in next to no time.
Once all paired up, all you have to do to locate your momentarily lost stuff is open the app to see a map of exactly where, say, your tagged keys are, alongside the option to get your ONE to ring with a jaunty tune to help you hear it, plus an option of directions to the exact spot. Or, if your keys are out of Bluetooth range (a reckoned 200ft all Chipolos for audio alerts), you can use the app to track back to where they were last connected. Or yet again, you can use the whole Chipolo Community to help locate your lost keys by automatically (and anonymously) alerting you when they come into range with them.
But why bother with any of that time-consuming stuff, when Out of Range Alerts are free and easy to set up, so that should you stray too far from your ONE tagged effects, you will be immediately notified on your phone before you get too far.
Android- and iOS-compatible, the Chipolo ONE is an essential for travellers, the absent-minded or just those always in a hurry. Available in six vibrant colours at £22 each (or four for £66), it works with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri and – the possible deal clincher for forgetful Millennials – you can use the ONE tag button to reverse find your phone AND trigger your phone’s shutter to take remote selfies.
Buy now £22.00, Amazon
Samsung Galaxy SmartTag
Best for: Smart-seeking Android enthsiasts
One for the Galaxy gang now, if you’re using Android OS 8 or above, then the Samsung SmartTag might well be the ideal Bluetooth tracker for you.
Firstly, available in Black or Oatmeal, after an easy pair up with Samsung SmartThings app, you can track goods over Bluetooth to a reckoned range of 120m (unobstructed) – as per usual, simply tap the button on the app and your SmartTag will sing until you see it.
Naturally, a map will guide you when in range, but should whatever you’ve misplaced have strayed out of the zone, you can either scroll through a history of where the tags been to retrace it or call upon the Galaxy Find Network and use scanned data to find it for you privately.
What’s more, throwing in a slick USP, should you be the type that embraces smart tech like some kind of cybernetic bear, the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag can also control a whole heap of IoT (Internet of Things) kit, meaning you can activate things such as smart lighting, music, kettle etc., as you get to your house, so that they’re all on to greet you as you enter. And whichever way you cut it, that is pretty damn cool.
Buy now £29.00, Samsung
Chipolo ONE Spot
Best for: All-purpose Bluetooth tracking specifically for Apple
I’ve no wish to repeat myself and you, frankly, you’ve just read all about the Chipolo ONE, so how does the ONE Spot differ? Well, it doesn’t. It has all of the same features, bells, whistles, maps and sounds of the ONE, however, the ONE Spot has been designed with Apple users solely in mind and, as such, also adds in access to Apple’s Find My network. This means that not only can you use Bluetooth to track your tagged things and expand that search with the help of people in the Chipolo Network, you can also open up the online investigation to, literally, millions of Find My users across the entire globe. So, even if you’ve left something absolutely miles away, your chances of tracking it are exceptional.
Great for Apple users, useless for Android owners, the Chipolo ONE Spot’s speaker can play at up to 120dB, making it easy to hear, is IPX5-rated to keep it safe from water-damage and is not only lighter than the Apple AirTag, but it also comes with a keyring hole, meaning you don’t have to spend any more money on accessories to attach it as you do with the Apple.
Buy now £25.00, Amazon
Best for: Electronic devices
As mentioned in the intro, Tile are probably the most popular name in Bluetooth trackers outside of Apple and its AirTag, but while most trackers attach using keyrings or slot into wallets (more on that below), the Sticker – as the name shamelessly gives away – has been designed to simply stick on, making it ideal for things like remote controls (my son is forever stashing the remote away in the most creative of nooks and crannies), electronic devices other than smartphones, or other essential things, like inside glasses’ cases or on your cat/dog’s collar. It’s also amongst the smallest of the Bluetooth trackers, which makes it nicely inconspicuous on/in such items and never in the way.
Offering a manufacturer reckoned range of up to 250ft, the Sticker is both iOS- and Android-compatible, uses audio to help you find your tagged things around the home, a map for directions to anything lost outside within range and a handy Tile Network wherein you can privately use the devices of all others using Tile trackers to notify you if they pass within range.
Small yet perfectly formed and loud enough to let you find things no matter how capacious your crash-pad, the Tile Sticker is the Bluetooth tracker of choice for the little things in life that matter.
Buy now £25.00, Amazon
Chipolo Card Spot
Best for: Locating lost wallets with iOS
While Chipolo also make a Card for Android users, the Spot is strictly for the Apple owners out there, however, akin to the ONE and the ONE Spot, the only difference in features is that this variation also brings Apple’s Find My app into the location equation.
This means that, yes, you can find your tag over Bluetooth on your phone, find your phone over Bluetooth using the button on the tag, track it to the last place it was seen, set up Out of Range Alerts so it never gets to that, call in the assistance of the Chipolo Community if you forgot to set up those Out of Range Alerts, and take it to the nth degree by summoning the all-seeing-eyes of hundreds of millions of Apple Find My users.
Super-slim too, at 2.4mm, it slips easily into wallets (and, indeed, anything else you want to keep an eye on). The price to pay to avoid the pain of losing your cash and bank cards ever again? Just £30. Worth every penny, I’d say.
Buy now £30.00, Amazon
Sonew Smart Tag
Best for: Budget Bluetooth tracking around the home
Going as cheap and cheerful as we dare now, the Smart Tag from Sonew (who they? I don’t know) comes in three finishes of pink, blue or black and costs just seven quid; which is ridiculous.
However, that’s because budget equals basic, and while the Smart Tap happily pairs up with Apple and Android devices alike, the Bluetooth range is limited to an unobstructed 25m and there is no wider ‘user community’ to fall back on for further help if the tracking map is not cutting it.
But that said, when the Smart Tag exceeds the set Bluetooth range, both your smartphone and the tag will automatically emit alerts simultaneously, which is a handy feature.
Build-quality is not great and the battery cover is extremely fiddly, also there seems to be an issue with the Bluetooth connection holding, however, if you’re simply looking for a Bluetooth tracker to help you find things around the home and not something slightly more important like kids, pets or elderly relatives while out and about, then for £7 it should sort you out.
Buy now £7.00, Amazon
Best for: Fantastically thin Bluetooth tracking
Credit card-sized, the Slim from Tile is for purses, wallets and passports (although that doesn’t mean it relegates itself). Though it does lend itself to these things perfectly, it can also be affixed to the back of tablets if you’re in the habit of carrying one around with you wherever you go. At 2.5mm thick, it’s hardly going to get in the way.
Akin to the Tile Sticker, the Bluetooth range is said to extend to 250ft, which is meaty. There’s also two-way searching via a button that let’s you summon your smartphone with the ringtone of your pre-selected choice, then there’s the secret army of the Tile Network that allows you to track your out-of-range accoutrements in full privacy.
A very handy tool to have tucked away in amongst your most important travel documents and/or money in motion carrying options, the Tile Slim offers complete peace of mind.
Buy now £26.00, Amazon