Purse. Keys. Wallet. Phone. Sanity. There’s a lot to keep track of in our hectic modern lives. Save yourself a little madness and outsource finding things to technology with the help of Bluetooth trackers.
TL;DR – We highly recommend you run out and buy yourself a Tile Sport or Tile Style. You’ll thank us later. Both are waterproof, have excellent tracking range, are really loud, and really the only difference between the two is one is a bit fancier looking while the other trades that style for a more rugged design.
Still with us? All the trackers on this list use Bluetooth 4.0 technology and can be attached to keys, put in wallets, and really placed anywhere your imagination takes you. While the Tile Pro Series (Sport/Style) is without a doubt the best choice for most users, there are a few other options out there that are worthy of your consideration.
Keep reading to learn more about why we recommend the Tile Pro, and what other bluetooth trackers are worth checking out.
Research – before we even began testing our bluetooth trackers we spent hours upon hours checking out industry reviews, actual customer reviews, and generally just keeping our ears to the ground. From there, we weaned down our choices and looked for bluetooth trackers that truly stood out as more than just “me too” devices. Well over a dozen models were considered in our process of elimination.
Two heads were better than one – On the remote end, Andrew Grush got his hands on around a dozen popular bluetooth trackers. He then got to know them better from both a technical and practical use perspective. From there, he tested them in a few real world scenarios, taking them to the store, ‘losing them at home’, seeing how far they could go before losing range, etc, over a period of 72 hours. After he was confident on his selection, the best of the best were sent over to Evan get a second perspective.
Best Overall – Tile Sport/Style
The Tile Style and Sport are functionality the same device, with the only real difference being the aesthetics. At the beginning of this guide we told you that you could probably just skip this whole post, run out to buy a Tile, and call it a day. But what is it that makes the Tile Pro Series so good?
For most users, the Tile Pro Series is the absolute best choice. Period.
Double the range of the competition. In our tests the Tile Pro Series (Style/Sport) had a Bluetooth range of around 170 feet, just a little short of the advertised 200 feet. That means you can actually find your Tile even if you are a pretty fair distance away from it. That’s better than all the other bluetooth trackers we tested.
A large community of users. If you lose your device and are out of range, you can mark it as lost within the app. Doing so triggers the “Community Find” feature. If another person with the Tile app happens to pass by your device you will get an instant alert telling you the location where it was spotted. This is all done in the background, without the person whose phone ‘spotted’ it even being aware of where your stuff is or that they helped you. Tile isn’t the only bluetooth tracker that offers a community feature, but it’s larger audience means it’s probably the most effective at the job.
It’s louder than most. We tested the Tile Pro Series side-by-side with the TrackR models, as well as the older Tile Mate. The Pro series was noticeably louder. Combined with a longer tracking distance, this is a pretty obvious win for Tile and means it should be easier to find than the competition.
A waterproof design. While a number of bluetooth trackers have splash proof designs, the Tile Pro series can be submerged in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes. While you probably won’t be intentionally submerse your Tile, at least it’s good to know it will survive in such an event.
There’s no way to replace the battery. The Tile Sport and Style are advertised to last for a year. I can tell you from my own experience with the older Tile Mate, this holds pretty close to true. After your time is up? Your Tile is useless. Your only course of action is to buy a replacement. The ReTile program does offer a small discount, with the Sport/Style replacements set at $25 — a $10 discount. Meanwhile a CR1620 battery (found in the TrackR) lasts around a year as well but only costs around $2-$3 to replace.
Fail rate. Several colleagues, friends, and family that have Tiles have reported that sometimes the Tile will die LONG before the one year mark. In fact 1 of the 4 in my Tile Mate pack suffered such a fate, and DGiT’s David had similar issues. Evan also had a problem with one of the Tile Pro devices we ordered. While you can easily get these replaced under warranty, it’s an inconvenience to say the least. And being honest? It’s probably a faulty battery causing the problem. If only the battery were removable… but I digress.
No geofencing support. What is geofencing? In short, if you walk away from your Tile, it won’t say a peep. Not a dealbreaker, but something to be aware of. Note – Tile technically can geofence and may eventually for all, but for now its an invite-only beta affair.
Unpairing just isn’t a thing. There is no easy way to unpair and put away a bluetooth tracker. There is a way to reassign it to another phone/app pairing, but even that isn’t the most straightforward of processes.
What else you need to know about the Tile Pro series:
- Don’t want to use your phone to call your Tile? You can also use Google Home and Amazon Echo devices!
- In addition to using the app to find your stuff, the Tile has a button on it that lets you ping your phone as well. This is great if you happen to misplace your phone but know exactly where one of your Tiles are.
- The app experience is super intuitive and easy to learn, certainly more so than the Pixie and many of its competitors.
- The Tile Sport is about 1.6 inches across and .2-inches thick, while the Style is about .1-inch shorter and .1-inch thinner. Both are a bit bigger than the TrackR but honestly feel a bit more premium and refined in the hand.
Best value – TrackR Pixel and Bravo
We considered placing the TrackR Pixel and Bravo as two separate entries on this list due to the fact that, unlike the Tile Pro Series, these two models came out at different times. The Pixel is actually the newer of the two. That said, despite the Pixel being newer, the two devices are functionality (nearly) identical with aesthetics being the biggest differentiation.
The Pixel is smaller, has slightly improved range, and is slightly louder. It also has LED lights for finding it in the dark. In these ways it took a step forward, but it’s all-plastic design might be considered a backward move from the Bravo. For most, we’d say to get the Pixel even if the improvements aren’t very noticeable in real life use. Still, if you like the Bravo’s design better, it’s worth picking up even if it is no longer the newest.
If you're keen on replaceable batteries, TrackR is the best choice around. It's the best long-term value too.
Replaceable battery. Honestly this is the key reason you’d want to consider the TrackR series over the Tile. Consider this, both TrackR models cost around $25 and their replacement batteries are $1-$2 on average. After 3 years of ownership you would have spent under $30. Meanwhile, the Tile costs $35 with replacements costing you $25, meaning over three years you’d spend $85… that’s a pretty noticeable difference.
GeoFencing support! While it’s possible Tile may eventually offer this is a standard feature, right now that’s not the case. Both TrackR models will alert you if you start walking away from your items. This feature is turned off by default but can be set pretty easily through the app.
Pretty awful range. Both the Bravo and Pixel are advertised around 100+ feet, neither made it that far despite several tests. I found that the Bravo tended to range around 45 to 60 feet on average, while the Pixel got around 55 to 65 feet.
Not as loud as the Tile Pro series. While they aren’t ‘soft’, they aren’t loud either. The Pixel is noticeably louder than the Bravo (though not by much), yet is still softer than the Tile Pro series and is similar to the older Pixel mate in that regard.
What else you need to know about the TrackR Bravo and Pixel:
- While the app is somewhat similar to Tile’s, both Evan and I felt that the Tile app was more polished and easier to learn. That’s not to say that TrackR’s app is bad, and for many it will just come down to personal preference.
- The TrackR models both support Amazon Echo but not Google Home. Just something to keep in mind.
- The Pixel is about 1-inch in diameter and about .22-inches thick. Meanwhile the Bravo is slightly bigger at 1.2-inches across and .2-inches thick.
- Both models have replaceable batteries but the Bravo uses a CR1620, while the Pixel uses a CR2016.
- The Pixel and Bravo have a community find feature, but with a smaller community it likely won’t do the job quite as well as the Tile.
- The TrackR has a hot & cold feature, which will help you get closer to your lost item if you can’t hear it.
Most innovative – Pixie Point
While the Tile and TrackR options are certainly the most practical, if you want something that stands out as unique — consider the Pixie Point. To be honest, we’d recommend going with the other two when it comes to real world use but due to the shear innovation at hand here, we couldn’t help but name the Pixie one of the best options on the market. The dozens of other bluetooth trackers out there feel like “Me Too” copies of the TrackR or Tile, but the Pixie is one of the few that stands out on its own.
If you're looking for something different, you've found it with the Pixie Point!
It shows you directly where your stuff is. The Pixie uses two points that communicate directly with one another to find each other using Bluetooth technology. Instead of simply buzzing you, it creates a GPS-like interface that points you in the direction of your item and tells you exactly how far it is from you. Then using AR it shows where the item is with a blue animation on-screen they call “Pixie Dust”.
It’s waterproof. The Pixie can be placed in three feet of water thanks to its IP67 rating.
Potentially safer. Pixie’s tech isn’t just cool, it could be safer too. Pixie doesn’t alert the public to the fact you are looking for a misplaced item, potentially making your devices less of a target for thieves than a TrackR or Tile that’s buzzing out a ringtone just saying to thieves “take me, take me!”.
It only works with iOS. Support for Android is coming in 2018, but for now you need either an iPhone or iPad to make the magic happen.
Must be attached to your phone. You have to actually attach one of the Points to your phone or phone case. This stands out, and not necessarily in a good way. We realize that this is required for the GPS-like technology behind it, but here’s to hoping that later generations of the Pixie are smaller.
The treasure hunting method takes longer. It might be safer (subjective), but it does seem to take much longer as well. If you’re in a hurry to find your stuff, this method isn’t the best.
What else you need to know about the Pixie:
- The battery lasts a year and isn’t replaceable, meaning you’ll have to run out and buy new Points.
- The Pixie has a range similar to the TrackR series, at about 60 feet.
- Because of the way that the tech works, there’s no smart speaker support of any kind.
- The guitar pick-style points are bigger in size than the competition.
- The app setup process isn’t hard, but it does take a bit of time.
Bluetooth trackers – Honorable mentions
Our goal with this list was to keep things simple and only provide choices that truly stand out as different. That’s not to say there aren’t other bluetooth trackers out there that are worthy of your money, just that the three above make more sense when weighing in pricing and special features. Here’s two others that we felt were worthy of an honorable mention:
So that’s it for our best Bluetooth trackers guide. Have any other models you think are worthy of an honorable mention or further exploration by our team? Let us know in the comments.