To distinguish the best Bluetooth trackers of 2020 we began by researching dozens of models before ordering the best nine for a head-to-head, hands-on comparison. We measured the range, size, and weight of each model as well as the noise levels each device was able to produce at their loudest settings. We carefully considered the difficulty to set up the trackers and install their corresponding apps, then we went through each model's settings and capabilities to determine which ones are the best for which applications and uses.
The Best Bluetooth Trackers of 2020
The Innway Tag is a marvelous all-around tracker. Right off the bat, we liked the setup for this model — it has a QR code on the box which automatically opens the app download link when scanned, and pairing the tag with a smartphone was a breeze. After setup, we found the Innway app to be especially straightforward and easy to use with a simple and intuitive user interface. During our range testing, we were able to activate the alarm tone on this tracker from an impressive 395 feet. One of our favorite elements of the Innway Tag is that it has an IP67 waterproof rating, meaning that it can withstand complete submersion in up to a meter of water for an hour.
Although we didn't find much to complain about with this product, the Innway Tag does have a few shortcomings. First of all, the alarm tones that the device emits are rather quiet. If the item you're searching for is under blankets, beneath couch cushions, or between car seats, you're going to have to listen very carefully to locate your misplaced possessions. Innway also does not have a computer app as of yet, so the only way to find their trackers is with a smartphone.
If range, loudness, and customization are high on your list of important factors when considering a tracker, the Nutale Nut3 is a great choice. We were able to connect a smartphone to this tracker from a whopping 402 feet. The tremendous range coupled with a 78.5-decibel alert volume means you'll be locating your missing items in no time. We love the variety of settings programmed into the Nut3. The alert on the device as well as the phone alert can be set to play for a duration of 5 seconds so that you aren't annoying coworkers or housemates, but can also be set up to 60 seconds so that you don't have to keep sounding the alert while you search for your items. We like that the Nutale Nut3 has the option to select from 10 different phone tones as well.
We are a bit disappointed that the Nut3 is lacking a waterproof rating as much of the competition has added this element to ensure your items can be tracked in any weather, rain or shine. Many Bluetooth trackers have a "community search" — a platform in which the other users of the same trackers will automatically update the location of your items if they come within range. Nutale does have a community search feature, but there aren't nearly as many users as several other tracker brand communities so the chances of this being a viable method of item location is greatly reduced.
Dimensions: 47 x 47 x 2.2 mm | Weight: 9.76 grams
If having a cutting-edge app to accompany your Bluetooth tracker is a priority for you, then check out the Cube Shadow. The Cube app works seamlessly with the tracker itself and a smartphone, plus it has a great "crowd find" community that will alert the user of a lost tracker location if another Cube user happens to come within range of the device. This manufacturer takes the app side of trackers a step further than most-- Cube also has a free application for computers that allows you to see your trackers as well as your phone on an interactive map, and activate alerts for either of them. The Cube app works well with Alexa — if you have an Alexa enabled device you can simply ask it to ring you wallet, keys, phone, or any item you've tagged with a Cube tracker. With a measured volume of 79.3 decibels from two feet away, hearing the alerts from this model won't be a problem. The Shadow also has an IP67 waterproof rating and is recharged using its included magnetic charging cable.
An area of performance where the Shadow fell short in our assessment was the tracker's range — we were only able to activate the alert tone from a distance of 72 feet. We found this device to be a bit of an awkward shape. It's slim enough to fit in a wallet but it doesn't adhere to the credit card dimensions that other card-style trackers do so it may be a bit unwieldy for this application. It does not include a way to secure it to a keyring, so you'll have to use one of the included stickers to attach it to an object with a loop or lanyard if it's to be used for this purpose.
In the realm of credit card-shaped Bluetooth trackers, the Innway Card is king. This model offers the same simple setup as its cousin, the Innway Tag. We were able to stay connected to this device for a measured distance of 125 feet which is much further than the other card trackers in our review. As with the other Innway trackers, the Card is waterproof rated to IP67 standards meaning that it can be submerged in up to a meter of water for an hour before sustaining any damage. This model is also rechargeable, and it's so thin that you'll barely notice it in your wallet or purse.
One trait we weren't particularly fond of with this model is the alert volume emitted by the device. We were only able to get a maximum reading of 61.5 decibels using a sound pressure level meter from a distance of 2 feet away from the tracker with the alarm enabled. If you'd like to heavily rely on sound to find your items, it might make sense to go with a louder model.
The Tile Sticker is tiny — with a disk shape and a diameter roughly the size of a quarter, it's ideal for sticking to just about any loss-prone belonging you can think of. Despite this model's miniature size, it produces quite a bit of noise with a measured sound pressure level of 72.8 decibels from 2 feet away. The Tile claims that the Sticker is waterproof, although there are no official ratings listed on their website or packaging. A perk of choosing a Tile brand tracker is the huge network of people using the community platform. When an item is lost, Tile will update you with a location if any other members of the platform come within range of your tracker without notifying them. The Tile app also works with Siri shortcuts, so you'll be able to ring your lost items without ever lifting a finger.
The main flaw we found with the Tile Sticker is that the permanently installed battery only lasts about a year. Although Tile does offer a subscription service that allows customers to send their trackers in to have batteries replaced, we find this to be quite a pain compared to models that have replaceable batteries or are simply rechargeable. On the subject of subscriptions — many of the Tile capabilities require the user to pay a monthly fee to enable any locked features. If you're going to purchase trackers from this brand, you should include paying for their services in your budget.
For those that are shopping for a Bluetooth tracker on a budget, the Kimfly package might be the way to go — it includes two Kimfly tags for less than the price of one of many competitors products. We measured the range on this model to be a commendable 312 ft and although it isn't the loudest tracker around, it sure isn't the quietest. If all you're looking for is a basic tracker without any bells and whistles, we recommend saving the extra few bucks and purchasing the Kimfly.
That said, the Kimfly has many shortcomings when set head-to-head against some of its more high-tech adversaries. The app for this model doesn't support connecting more than one tracker to each phone, so although the package comes with two trackers, you aren't able to use them both with the same device. The Kimfly app is weak when compared to the others, and it lacks a community search platform. This tracker only has one tone setting, one for the phone, and is not waterproof.
If you're in the market for a thin, credit card shaped tracker for use in a wallet, purse, or passport pouch we recommend the Tile Slim. The variety of 9 individual alerts on this model can be set to either a high or low volume setting, the loudest of which reached 74.5 decibels during our tests which is much louder than the other credit card-style trackers. The Slim is waterproof, so you'll be able to find your lost possessions despite adverse weather conditions. Tile boasts the largest network of community users in the world, meaning that your lost items are much more likely to be inadvertently found in the background of someone using the platform than many other tracker brands. This device also plays nice with Siri — you can set a shortcut to have your iOS devices trigger the alarm on the tracker.
Tile claims that the battery on the Slim will last for three years, but once it runs out of juice be prepared to send it in to have it serviced or you'll be in the market for a new tracker. Sadly, Tile requires the user to pay a monthly fee to unlock features for their products that other tracker brands offer for free. This model is also a bit thicker than the other card-style Bluetooth trackers that we've gotten our hands on.
The Tile Mate is a standard Bluetooth tracker. We were able to keep this model connected to a smartphone up to a distance of 379 feet, which is much further than other card-style and sticker-style trackers during our assessment. Although it may seem like a given to have a replaceable or rechargeable battery with these devices, most Tile brand models do not possess this trait — the Mate, however, does. We like that Tile trackers work with Siri shortcuts. This feature makes it incredibly easy to activate the audible tone on the device.
We were a bit disappointed to discover that the Mate only has one option for tones on the device or on the phone, as many trackers have several tones for both. The alert on this model only showed 60.2 decibels on our sound pressure level meter from a distance of 2 feet meaning you had better have some pretty sharp ears if you are going to hear this model from any significant distance. The Tile Mate is IP55 level water-resistant. This may sound fancy, but several other models have been given a much higher rating of water protection. We were also displeased to discover that you'll be paying a monthly fee to use several of the features that this tracker is capable of.
As far as card-style trackers go, the SafeDome brings up the back of the pack. It has some neat features like its variety of tone settings for phone alerts, and we especially like the innovative wireless charging pad.
Regrettably, we found quite a few flaws with this model. First of all, with a measured volume of only 52.5 decibels, the alert emitted from this device is borderline useless. It also only has one tone option on the device — a tone which we found to be faint and generic. When we broke out the measuring wheel to see how far the SafeDome could stay connected to a smartphone, it lost the signal at a mere 60 feet.
Why You Should Trust Us
What sets GearLab apart from other product review websites is that we purchase everything we test at full price from the same retailers as our readers in order to eliminate any bias. In fact, we never accept freebies, demo models, or prototypes from manufacturers — our goal is to determine which products are simply the best, regardless of the price or name brand associated with them.
Spearheading our Bluetooth tracker review is Ross Patton. With more than a decade of product testing experience under his belt as well as a formal education in environmental science, Ross is no stranger to comprehensive experiments and tests. He has been an advocate and user of Bluetooth devices since the days of the old-school Motorola Razr flip phones and original iOS — the first platform to allow for head-to-head fighter jet dogfighting simulators without an internet connection.
Analysis and Test Results
We divided our overall performance assessment into four individual metrics — Ease of use, noise, range, and dimensions.
Ease of Use
The first thing we looked at was how easy or difficult each model is to operate. Ease of use encompasses several aspects regarding features that enhance the usability of each tracker such as how difficult the devices are to set up, how seamlessly each model integrates with its app, and what types of various modes and settings each model offers.
Right out of the box we saw some stark differences with the setup process between the trackers. Some models such as the Cube Shadow, Innway Tag, and Innway Card have a QR code on the packaging that can be scanned to link your phone directly to the corresponding app download. Other manufacturers include a link in the instruction booklet that is manually entered to direct the user to the download link. In our review, the Nutale Nut3, Tile, and Kimfly devices use this approach.
The quality and operation of the apps themselves largely differ between manufacturers. Some apps such as the Kimfly's are decidedly basic with minimal functionality — the app included with this device shows a bare-bones map and only supports connection for one device at a time. The Nutale easily connects several devices at a time, but along with the Kimfly does not offer a platform for finding your devices with a desktop or laptop computer. We found the Innway and Tile apps to be very similar. Each of these apps effortlessly connect several devices to one account, and the user can easily view their trackers from a computer. Our favorite app is the Cube which offers all of the aforementioned features, but also allows you to ring your phone as well as your trackers from a desktop or laptop computer. As an added bonus, the Cube user interface works seamlessly with Alexa.
Many of these devices double as a shutter button for your smartphone camera so you can snap the perfect photo or start and stop video without being near your phone. The models in our review that include this feature are the Cube Shadow, Kimfly, and both Innway models.
Bluetooth trackers have a large variety of settings and capabilities. All of the products in our review have the ability to alert the user when they have stepped out of the tracker's range — a feature that is ideal for those that are constantly walking out the front door without their keys, wallet, or other belongings. The Tile trackers, however, require a subscription and subsequent monthly fee to access the disconnect alerts. The Nutale Nut3 and Cube models have an interim silent mode which disable all alarms and alerts during a certain period, at a certain location, or both.
Some models work well with intelligent assistants such as Siri and Alexa. If this is a feature you're interested in we suggest you look at the Tile and Cube products.
For many people the size, shape, and weight of a tracker are critical details. For this reason we carefully weighed each tracker with a laboratory grade scale and measured each one with a digital caliper.
As far as card-style trackers go, the Innway Card is the closest to the size of an actual credit card. If you're looking for a compact tag-style tracker the Nutale Nut3 is the way to go.
The Tile Sticker is tiny — this device is perfect for keeping track of smaller objects or for hiding on larger belongings such as a bicycle or a snowboard for security purposes.
Many of these devices claim to have certain degree of waterproofing, but the Cube Shadow as well as the Innway Card and Innway Tag are all rated to IP67 waterproof — meaning they can be fully submerged in water for an hour at a depth of up to one meter before sustaining any damage.
These devices have a large array of battery types. Some trackers, such as the Kimfly, Nutale Nut3, and Innway Tag have replaceable batteries. The Innway Card and the Cube Shadow both have rechargeable batteries — the Innway Card charging cable attaches to the tracker with a spring-loaded clip while the Shadow uses magnets to connect its cable. The Tile Slim and Tile Tag are not rechargeable, nor do they have replaceable batteries, so when they die you'll have to send them back to Tile to be serviced or you're out of luck.
To measure range we connected each tracker to a smartphone and slowly backed away repeatedly alerting the device until we could no longer transmit a signal. During this process we also enabled the disconnect notice on tracker apps when applicable — in every instance the disconnect notice alerted within a foot or two of when the smartphone lost the ability to transmit to the tracker. From this point, we then measured the distance back to the tracker with a measuring wheel.
The Nutale Nut3 and Innway Tag both displayed extraordinary range with a measured distance of 402 feet and 395 feet, respectively. The card and sticker-style ranges are dramatically smaller than the tags. The Tile Slim showed a decent range of 92 feet and its little cousin the Tile Sticker disconnected a bit short at 86 feet. The Cube Shadow was less than impressive during this assessment with a measured range of only 72 feet.
Depending on the situation, a tracker with a smaller range may be a better choice because it will pinpoint a smaller search area on the map.
Finally, we looked at the volumes and sounds emitted by the trackers. For this portion of our review we employed a sound pressure level meter to measure the decibels produced by each model. The Cube Shadow topped the list at the loudest with a measured noise level of 79.3 decibels. This device also has 3 different tone options on the device itself as well as a list of 15 different tones for the phone alert. The Nutale Nut3 is close behind the Shadow at 78.6 decibels, but it only has 1 device tone and 10 phone tones. However, the Nut3 does allow for the user to select a tone duration of anywhere between 5 and 60 seconds in increments of 5 seconds.
The Tile Slim and Tile Sticker both produce decibel levels in the low 70s and have limited tone options, but we love that they have different volume settings on the tracker alerts. The Innway Tag is rather quiet with a measured sound level of 61.8 decibels, but we like that it has three device tones as well as the option to select between three different phone tones. The Kimfly finished a little bit behind the pack in this assessment — it emits an ok noise level of 62.9 decibels but it only has one tone setting for the device and the smartphone it's connected to.
Selecting a Bluetooth tracker can be a daunting and baffling process. It is our hope that after reading our comprehensive review that we've removed the confusion for you by doing the research and footwork ourselves. Whether you're looking for a card, a tag, or a sticker Bluetooth tracker this review should point you in the right direction so that you can purchase the perfect product for your specific application.
— Ross Patton