Best Bluetooth Tracker of 2020
The Innway Tag is a marvelous all-around tracker. Right off the bat, we liked the setup of this model — it has a QR code on the box which automatically opens the app download link when scanned. Pairing the tag with a smartphone was a breeze. After setup, we found the Innway app to be remarkably straightforward and easy to use with a simple and intuitive user interface. 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. During our range testing, we were able to activate the alarm tone on this tracker from an impressive 395 feet.
Although we didn't find much to complain about with this product, the Innway Tag did fall short in some areas. The alarm tones that the device emits are quite faint. If you've misplaced the item you're searching for under blankets, beneath couch cushions, or between car seats, you'll need to listen very carefully to locate your misplaced possessions. Innway also doesn't currently offer a computer app, so the only way to find their trackers is with a smartphone.
If range, loudness, and customization are priorities 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 multiple times while you search for your items. We like that the Nutale Nut3 has 10 different phone tones to choose from as well.
We did find it a bit disappointing that the Nut3 lacks a waterproof rating. 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 likelihood 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 smartphone app works seamlessly with the tracker. A great feature is the "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. The Cube app works great with Alexa. If you have an Alexa enabled device, you can simply ask it to ring your wallet, keys, phone, or any item you've tagged with a Cube tracker. 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. From two feet away it was measured to have a volume of 79.3 decibels, so hearing the alerts won't be an issue with this model. The Shadow also has an IP67 waterproof rating and is recharged using its included magnetic charging cable.
The Shadow did fall short for us with the tracker's range — we were only able to activate the alert tone from a distance of 72 feet. We also found this device to have somewhat of an awkward shape. It's slim enough to fit in a wallet, but it doesn't have the same dimensions of a credit card like other card-style trackers do, so it may be a bit bulky for this application. It also 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 has a waterproof rating of IP67, 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.
We aren't particularly fond of the alert volume on this model. Using a sound pressure level meter from a distance of 2 feet away from the tracker with the alarm enabled, we were only able to get a maximum reading of 61.5 decibels. If you'd like to heavily rely on sound to find your items, we suggest choosing a model that emits a louder alert.
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. Even with 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. 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 Tile claims that the Sticker is waterproof, although there are no official ratings listed on their website or packaging.
The main flaw we found with the Tile Sticker is that you cannot replace the battery. Although the battery lasts for three years, once it's dead, that's it. Tile does, however, offer a subscription service that allows customers to send their trackers in to have batteries replaced. We find this to be inconvenient compared to rechargeable models or trackers that have replaceable batteries. On the subject of subscriptions — some 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. But, once you get a Tile subscription, they're one of the best all-around brands.
The Kimfly is a great Bluetooth tracker budget buy. 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's well in the mix. 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, when being compared to more of its high-tech adversaries, the Kimfly has many shortcomings. The app for this model doesn't support connecting more than one tracker to each phone. So even though the package comes with two trackers, you aren't able to use them both with the same device. This still might be ideal for couples, businesses, or families where each member wants their own tracker for their own phone. The app for the Kimfly is weak when compared to the others, and it lacks a community search platform. This tracker only has one tone setting and is not waterproof.
The Tile Slim is our recommendation if you're in the market for a thin, credit card shaped tracker for use in a wallet, purse, or passport pouch. There's a variety of 9 individual alerts on this model that can be set to either a high or low volume. The loudest volume during our tests reached 74.5 decibels, — much louder than the other credit card-style trackers. The Slim is waterproof, so you'll be able to find your lost possessions even with 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 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 you have to send it in to have it serviced or you'll be in the market for a new tracker. Users of the Tile are required to pay a monthly fee to unlock features for their products that other tracker brands offer for free, but one benefit of paying for the premium upgrade is that subscription includes free battery changes. This model is also thicker than the other card-style Bluetooth trackers that we have tested.
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. This model is one of the few Tile trackers that comes with a rechargeable battery. One of our favorite features of the Tile trackers is that it works with Siri shortcuts, making it incredibly easy to activate the audible tone on the device.
It was somewhat disappointing to discover that the Mate only has one option for tones on the device and companion smartphone. Many trackers offer several tones for both. The alert on this model only managed 60.2 decibels on our sound pressure level meter from a distance of 2 feet. You would have to have some pretty sharp ears if you are going to hear this model from any significant distance. The Tile Mate is IP55 water-resistant, which, compared to other models is a lower level of ingress protection (dust and water resistance). We were also disappointed to learn that there is a monthly fee to use several of the premium features of this device.
In regards to card-style trackers, the SafeDome 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. With a measured volume of only 52.5 decibels, the alert emitted from this device is practically useless. It also only has one tone option, which is rather 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 only 60 feet.
Why You Should Trust Us
At GearLab, we purchase everything we test at full price from the same retailers as our readers. 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 functionality of the apps themselves differ between manufacturers. 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 a bonus, the Cube user interface works seamlessly with Alexa. Some apps such as the Kimfly's are 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 is limited to smartphones and 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 them effortlessly connects several devices to one account, and the user can easily view their trackers from a computer.
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 can 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 that disables 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 could be an excellent option for you.
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 a certain degree of waterproofing, but the Cube Shadow as well as the Innway Card and Innway Tag, are all rated to IP67 waterproof. This means 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 variety 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 head back to the tracker marketplace for a new device.
To measure range, we connected each tracker to a smartphone and systematically moved it farther and farther away, alerting the device until it 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. 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 respectable measured distance of 402 feet and 395 feet. The card and sticker-style ranges are dramatically shorter than the tags. The Tile Slim showed a decent range of 92 feet and its little cousin the Tile Sticker disconnected a bit closer at 86 feet. We were not impressed with the range of the Cube Shadow during our 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. If you're not able to hear the device, it may ultimately add up to less time hunting for it.
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 was at the top of the list, measuring the loudest noise level of 79.3 decibels. This device also has three different tone options on the device itself as well as a list of 15 different tones for the phone alert. The Nutale Nut3 is not too far behind the Shadow at 78.6 decibels, but it only has one device tone and 10 phone tones. However, a feature we appreciated from the Nut3 is that it allows for the user to select a tone duration customized 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 include 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. Whether you're looking for a card, a tag, or a sticker style Bluetooth tracker, this review should point you in the right direction so that you can purchase the perfect product for your specific application. We hope that the research and footwork we've compiled in our comprehensive review will bring you to your perfect tracker.
— Ross Patton