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Best smart trackers in 2024: How to track down lost items with Apple AirTags, Tile and more

The best smart trackers

When you think you've lost something important, everyone usually tells you to look in the "last place that you left it." That means retracing your steps and fretting the entire time. Or it could mean checking the camera feed on one of your indoor home security cameras. It also might mean you scour your entire home in a panic, thinking you'd lost some of the most important things you own? Just wandering around your home (or wherever you are at the time) isn't going to find your missing purse, or even your pet, any faster. It's time to invest in a smart tracker. 

From Apple AirTags to Tile trackers, there are plenty of affordable and convenient ways to track the items that mean the most to you. It doesn't matter if you're an iPhone user or an Android devotee. The best smart trackers are convenient, budget-friendly, and reliable so that you never have to worry where you misplaced something ever again. You can buy trackers that fit inside bags, in your wallet, and even on your keychain. But they all do the same thing: help you find your stuff when you've misplaced it. Since most of them are also super affordable, you can make sure the whole family has one when they need to find their backpack. Or their keys...or even their car, if you put a tracker inside. 

If any of the Tile trackers on our list appeal to you, there's currently a 25% off sale at the online Tile storefront. Select Tile trackers and bundles are now 25% off, so you can save on multiple tracker bundles and try some of the other options if you've yet to put them through their paces. (Apple iPhone owners, meanwhile, can save 20% on an Apple AirTags four pack.)

Read more for our picks on the best smart trackers in 2024.

Best smart trackers in 2024

Opt for the ubiquitous Apple AirTag for its reliability when used as part of the iOS ecosystem, or go for a card-shaped tracker you can slide into your wallet like a credit card so you never have to suffer that heart-stopping moment where you think you've lost something. Find our picks for the best smart trackers in 2023 below. 

Apple AirTag: $24

Apple AirTag

The Apple AirTag is still the gold standard for smart trackers. Its dominance hasn't waned since its launch in 2021. Designed exclusively for Apple users, this compact tracker syncs flawlessly with devices like the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. It may be about the size of a quarter, but that doesn't keep it from being a powerful tracker.

With the U1 ultra wideband chip, the AirTag offers "Precision Finding," making the search for your lost items pinpoint accurate. And with the expansive Find My network, whether it's a wayward wallet or elusive keys, they're within your grasp, even if you're searching for a device that may be turned off. (Sometimes thieves think they're being clever; they're not.)

Plus, there's no constant scramble for a charger. The AirTag's battery life up to a year per tracker. When it's dead, you can just replace the internal CR2032 battery. You'll also get warnings if you happen to walk off without an AirTagged item or if your phone happens to detect an unknown AirTag traveling with you. 

The only real caveat with the AirTag: Only Apple users can use one, so if you're an Android user, you'll have to look for a tracker solution elsewhere. Everyone using iPhones would do well to grab a few of these and drop them in bags and wallets, or attach them to keychains. 

You can get a better price per AirTag if you buy them in a four pack. Normally $100, you can get a four pack of Apple AirTags at Amazon for just $79.

Cube Tracker: $25

Cube Tracker

The Cube Tracker is a surprisingly efficient alternative to mainstream trackers. It comes already latched to a keyring, so it's super simple to attach to whatever you want to keep safe.

Can't find your phone? Use the Cube Tracker to trigger your phone to ring, vibrate, or flash. Secure it to anything you value, and the easy-to-use Cube Tracker App will guide you right to it -- though you'll need to keep in mind that it's a Bluetooth tracker in contrast to AirTags, so it has a bit of a different range and mode of operation. But it's reliable and works well -- and even doubles as a shutter button for your phone's camera.

Here's how it works. It displays the last known location of your item on a map. Press a button and the Cube Tracker chimes, guiding you to your item. And for those days when you're in a rush, the separation alarm is super helpful, altering you if you leave an item behind.

And if the tracker ends up running out of battery, you're still covered. Simply replace the battery yourself. It also comes with an extra battery, so you don't have to buy one right away. 

The Cube Tracker is a compelling alternative for people outside the Apple ecosystem. It's easy to use, multifunctional, and, most importantly, helpful for keeping your belongings at your side where they belong. 

Tile Pro: $23

Tile Pro

The Tile Pro is the best tracker from the popular Tile brand, which you've probably heard of just as much as AirTags. And the "Pro" title isn't just for show -- that becomes obvious when you try one out. It's also pricier than many of the other trackers on the market, but for good reason. 

This rugged tracker can easily fit into most spaces or hang from a keyring, but either way, it's built to last. The protective metal framing means it's going to hang in there for the foreseeable future.

While most of its functionality is managed via app, it has a button that lets you quickly locate lost items, which is super useful if you're in a hurry and you just want to see where your things are -- because they're not lost, after all. The gadget has a loud, clear speaker as well, so you can hear the tone ring out when you need to locate your lost item.

There are also plenty of other ways to use the Tile, from location histories to alerts that prompt you when you may have left an item behind.

If you need a tracker that puts in work, every day, with an easy-to-use app and rugged exterior, the Tile Pro was made for you. It's best served as an item finder for those serial key misplacers, and even younger kids who need something a bit larger to hold in their hands, because everyone loses something now and then.  

Right now, you can get a great deal on Tile trackers at the official Tile storefront, with up to 25% off select trackers. You can get a four pack of black Tile Pro trackers for 20% off their normal price. It's now $80, or 20% off the pack's normal going rate of $100. 

Chipolo Card: $30

Chipolo Card

Not all trackers are slim enough to fit in your wallet. But the Chipolo Card slides right into a purse, or affixes to a flat surface. This card-shaped smart tracker reliably tracks items without the user need a keychain, loop or other accessories. 

It has a connection that extends up to 200 feet, and it boasts IPX5 water-resistance. But one of this tracker's greatest features is its proactive approach to keeping your stuff safe. Let's say you leave your wallet behind somewhere. Chipolo Card promptly sends a notification to your phone. Super simple, super easy. 

On the off chance you're beyond the immediate Bluetooth range, the Chipolo app lets users to pinpoint their item's last known location on a map. If that's not enough, the Chipolo community can also help track things down, similar to the AirTags' functionality. 

The Chipolo Card also has a suite of additional features. Users can share access with loved ones, ensuring everyone stays in the loop. Voice commands have been seamlessly integrated with the likes of Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Siri, too. It also doubles as a remote selfie button.

Unfortunately, it does use a non-replaceable battery, so you'll have to get a new card once a year is up. But for that year, you'll get great service out of your Chipolo Card, and it's a fantastic alternative to the big names on the market. 

Tile Slim: $25 

Tile Slim

The Tile Slim fits right in your wallet, much like the Chipolo Card. Its form factor is just like your everyday credit card.

This tracker's two-way finding feature can be a day-saver. If you're having a crisis about where your wallet might be, a quick double-tap on the tracker's logo, subtly located at the bottom left, will have your phone ringing out, even if it's on silent. The tracker connects to your phone via Bluetooth, signaling its presence with an audible alarm, so you can just give a listen when you're looking for something. 

Thanks to its IP67 rating, the occasional splash won't hurt it, so if you happen to drop your wallet in a puddle or something, your tracker won't be ruined. 

Perfect for safeguarding wallets or documenting travels, this tracker is a blend of elegant design and practical utility. And people might think you have a really cool-looking black business card in your wallet, too. 

For those wondering about battery life, Tile Slim boasts an enduring three-year lifespan. But do note: Due to its ultra-slim design, when the time eventually comes, you'll need to switch out the entire device, not just the battery. 

The official Tile storefront has a 2-pack of Tile Slim trackers for 25% off their normal price of $70. You can get the duo for just $52 right now. 

How do I choose which tracker is right for me?

Choosing between an AirTag and a Tile isn't about which one is better. It's about which one is better for you. Both have strengths and weaknesses that align with different needs.

If you live and breathe Apple, AirTag is an obvious choice. It effortlessly integrates with iPhones and other Apple devices, letting you track items using the Find My network. The precision finding feature is super accurate thanks to its ultra wideband technology. But you'll pay extra for accessories to attach it to stuff, and battery replacements add up over time.

Tile is more flexible for Android and multi-device users. The app and network play nice with different ecosystems. Tile comes in various shapes to attach to different items without extras. Some even have user-replaceable batteries that can save money long-term. But the tracking may not be as precise as with Apple AirTags, especially without ultra wideband.

Privacy-wise, both aim to alert users about unwanted tracking. But effectiveness varies, so check if the approach matches your expectations.

Cost includes the upfront price plus ongoing expenses like accessories, batteries and subscription services. Tile has extra features like Smart Alerts for subscribers.

Here's the bottom line - think about what matters most. Do you need seamless Apple integration and ultra-precise tracking? AirTag has you covered. Want flexibility across ecosystems and devices? Tile offers versatility. Just make sure whichever tracker you choose feels like a natural fit for your routine. The right pick will bring convenience and peace of mind.

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