Samsung Galaxy SmartTag​

How Samsung SmartTag compares to Tile and Apple AirTag

Tile's Bluetooth-powered possession-trackers are about to get some serious competition and it's not only Apple.

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Over a year ago, Samsung announced the new Galaxy SmartTag. They were the latest company to take on Tile with a Bluetooth tracker device of its own.

Tile has led the tracker market for a while now, stretching ahead of rivals like Chipolo and Orbit who also sell devices that attach to possessions like keys or bags, then connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth and the owner locates the item if it is lost.

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Apple AirTag, a rumor that came to life over the past year is another new Tile rival. However, Samsung beat the iPhone maker to market last year with the SmartTag – and has given Tile its stiffest competition to date.

We took a look at all of these Bluetooth trackers and found some key differences between the Samsung, Apple AirTags, and Tile devices. What follows is a quick look at how the three systems work, and what makes them unique.

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag

Samsung GalaxySmartTagThe Samsung SmartTag is priced from $30Samsung

Announced at its Unpacked launch event on January 14, the Galaxy SmartTag is Samsung's answer to Tile. The SmartTag works with Samsung's SmartThings smart home platform and a new function called SmartThings Find.

The SmartTag is small enough to attach to your keyring or bag, and with a bit of cord or a cable tie could be attached to all manner of possessions. It's also small enough to be slipped into the inside pocket of a coat or purse, or attached to a pet collar.

The tracker works much like Tile's system, whereby the SmartTag connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), with the SmartThings app showing when the tag is within Bluetooth range, and approximately how far away it is, based on signal strength. If it is out of range, the app shows the location of when the SmartTag was last connected to your phone by Bluetooth.

There is a speaker inside the SmartTag, which can be activated by the app to help you locate it when it is within range. The tag has a button that calls your phone when pressed, helping you locate that too.

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The button can also be configured to control SmartThings devices. For example, it can be pressed to activate a compatible air conditioning unit, or smart a Samsung robotic vacuum cleaner.

Like Tile, Galaxy SmartTag users will automatically form an anonymous network, where tags declared lost can be spotted by other nearby tags. Once your lost tag is spotted by another, you will be notified of its location.

Samsung says there will be two versions of the SmartTag, one with Bluetooth Low Energy and one with BLE and the more accurate Ultra Wideband (UWB). The former is priced at $30 and will ship from January 29, while the latter, called the SmartTag Plus, is $40 and doesn't yet have a release date.

This all sounds good, but there are some drawbacks. SmartTags only work with Samsung smartphones, leaving iPhone users and owners of all other Android phones in the dark (whereas Tile works with all phones). Also, the UWB version will only work with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and S21 Ultra, as the standard S2 does not have UWB connectivity.

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Tile Mate trackerTile is expected to add UWB technology to its trackersGearBrain

Tile devices work almost exactly like the SmartTag, although their button cannot be used to activate smart home devices.

A key benefit of Tile's system is how it already has a claimed 26 million users, each contributing to a global network of Tiles all looking out for each other. If one is declared lost by its owner, there is a good chance (certainly in busier towns and cities) of another Tile user passing by within Bluetooth range, and therefore alerting the owner to its location.

Samsung is giving away a free SmartTag with Galaxy S21 pre-orders as a way to quickly eat into Tile's lead, but it will take some time to scale up to a network of equal size.

Also to Tile's credit is the variety of devices it sells, from the regular Nate and Pro to the credit card-sized Slim and the Sticker with its adhesive back. Tile's compatibility with all smartphones is also a key factor compared to the Samsung-only SmartTag and Apple's AirTag which is an iOS exclusive.

It is also claimed Tile is preparing to launch a new model with UWB technology, which will also use a new augmented reality feature in the Tile app to help find lost items. As well as the S21 Plus and S21 Ultra, UWB technology is found on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.

Apple AirTag

Apple StoreApple AirTag trackers are now available for iPhone users only iStock

Rumored since the launch of the iPhone 11 back in 2019, and spotted several times in beta versions of Apple's own software, AirTags are here.

Apple AirTags use the Find My app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and work in a similar way to Samsung SmartTag and Tile. They are also expected to feature UWB, which is fitted to the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13, and make use of augmented reality technology to help reveal their location.

A small coin-shaped device, Apple AirTag attaches to possessions either on its own or using one of the many Apple AirTag accessories like keychains and loops. And for the fashion-conscious Apple AirTag owners, you can get an AirTag holder for your Hermes luggage. Apple has a special partnership with luxury luggage manufacturers. There are three handmade leather pieces for you to choose from (a luggage tag, bag charm, and key ring ) with an exclusive AirTag Hermès etched with the iconic Clou de Selle signature that starts at $299 each.

If you just want the simple one-pack of Apple AirTags, it will only cost $29 while a 4 pack lists for $119.99 but you can pick them up for $99 at Best Buy, Amazon, and the Apple Store.

Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility find engine to find other smart trackers or smart devices that are compatible with Samsung SmartThings-enabled devices.

How to Ask Questions on The GearBrain, the Compatibility Find Engine for Smart

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