The Best Bluetooth Tracking Devices

Photo: Tile

Losing track of your stuff can be a real drag. If you misplace your keys, for example, you’re going to have a hard time leaving your house knowing that you can’t lock up or operate your vehicle. And, although you could call a misplaced phone (if you’ve got a friend or a spare one lying around), most people keep their cellular devices on silent. Which makes hunting them down all the more difficult.

Thankfully there are some tech wizards out there who either know your pain or at least understand it enough to do something about it. And that bodes well for anyone with a forgetful streak. Now you can simply pick up a Bluetooth enabled tracker, mate it to your phone and/or other pocketable everyday carry items, and circumvent the pains of searching for misplaced gear.

Bluetooth, Not GPS

To be absolutely clear, these are not GPS locators. Yes, such tech exists, but it is a good deal more expensive and bulky than what we are talking about here. A Bluetooth tracker is generally smaller and more pocket friendly, but does not necessarily give you a pinpoint location. Instead, they operate within a specific range and offer a number of different ways – like alarms and lights – to locate your lost stuff. This misunderstanding of the technology has, unfortunately, led to some mixed reviews as a result. In any case, these are the best Bluetooth trackers available on the market right now.

Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker

Tile has really cornered the market in a major way. In fact nothing else really comes close. The good news is, the quality of the product versus its competitors is not reflected in overall cost. So, not only is this device designed well in functionality, reliability, and looks, but it can be purchased for a reasonable price, as well. And it just doesn’t get better than that.

Functionality: This tiny keychain attachment is kind of like a 2-way call and return. That means you can use your smartphone to find it or you can use it to find your smart phone. And that’s an excellent prospect if you’re not picky about what it is you are misplacing. Simply grab your phone and load up the included app to find your Tile Mate – and whatever it’s attached to – or press the button on your Tile Mate and it will make your phone ring out, even if it’s on silent. It’s as simple as that. The app, by the way, will also allow you to locate your tile device based upon the last place you saw it. Just bring it up, check the map, and get to hunting. Barring that, you can also tap into Tile’s absurdly large 5 million member community and enlist help. It’s kind of like the largest lost-and-found network.

Affordability: $25 is all it will cost you for about a year of worry-free tracking. That’s it. The app is included in the initial cost and that price also enters you into Tile’s extensive community for as long as you’ve got the device. A GPS tracker will cost you more than double that for a halfway decent one and it likely wont last as long or be as pocket-friendly. And all other competitors of any note charge within about $5 of the Tile Mate, so there’s not really a bargain bin option. That is, not one that actually works as effectively and efficiently.

Reliability: Over 5 million purchases is a pretty strong metric when considering the reliability of this product. And those aren’t just first-time buyers. A good chunk of that number is repeat customers. Those numbers aren’t just happenstance; they’re a direct reflection of the quality of this product. Simply put: it works. Sure, it’s not going to pinpoint your gear via a satellite network to a fraction of an inch, but – so long as its not stolen – you’re going to find your stuff if you rely on the Tile Mate.

Drawbacks: Quite literally the only downside to this device is the fact that it doesn’t have a replaceable battery. That means that once it dies, your only recourse is to pick up another one to replace it. The good news: the brand offers a special “community-member price” for your replacement Tile. That’s right, their reTile program will allow you to effectively trade in your non-functioning Tile Mate for a fully-powered one at a discount of up to 50% the MSRP of the original. That means you’ll never have to pay full price after your initial purchase. The only other thing that might seem like a drawback is that the device isn’t entirely wallet-friendly. That issue, however, was circumvented when Tile released their Slim version of their Bluetooth tracking device.

Purchase: $25

Honorable Mentions


Tile Slim Bluetooth Tracker

If it isn’t already abundantly clear, Tile has cornered the market on Bluetooth trackers. This variety is for those of us who want to keep one of their devices in our wallets. You know, just in case. This version of the tracker is about as thick as two (count em, two) credit cards. So even the slimmest minimalist wallet out there has got enough room for this tracking device. Other than that, it works exactly the same way. It comes with the same app; it gives you the same access to the Tile perks and community; it functions as a 2-way finder; and it costs within $5 of its keychain-friendly sibling.

Purchase: $30

Chipolo Bluetooth Tracker

The Tile products are better than the Chipolo in nearly every way. Except for one very big one. The Chipolo has a replaceable battery. And that warrants a spot on this list. Rather than having to purchase a new tag every time yours goes dead, just pop it open and replace the battery. It also comes with one replaceable battery, so you won’t have to buy one yourself until you’ve gone through two. It’s also just 5 millimeters thick, has a silhouette about the same size as a quarter, and has an effective range of about 200 feet as the crow flies.

Purchase: $30