Technology

Samsung’s $30 Galaxy SmartTag tracker works like Tile’s but only with Galaxy phones

Samsung has two tracking devices coming out in 2021. The Galaxy SmartTag is a BLE fob launching on January 29 for $29.99. The Galaxy SmartTag+ adds Ultra-Wideband support, with availability coming later this year at $39.99. The one caveat would be that SmartTags will only work with Samsung Galaxy devices.
Samsung threw its hat in the ring on Thursday to challenge Tile with its object tracking solution, the Galaxy SmartTag. The fob easily attaches to a set of keys or stashes away in a backpack pocket to help users locate their belongings if they lose track of them.

Galaxy SmartTags launch on January 29 alongside the Galaxy S21 flagship phones. Pre-orders started today. Samsung is giving away one SmartTag to anyone who orders any model of Galaxy S21 by January 28. Individually the trackers sell for $30 each.

As far as innovations, Galaxy SmarTags are not all that different from Tile’s trackers. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to pair with your phone. Samsung’s SmartThings app allows users to see the last known general location of their fob. As they get closer, a gauge will show the BLE signal strength to narrow down the search. If all else fails, users can command the Galaxy SmartTag to ping audibly.

It does have some differences from Tile and other trackers. For one, it seems Samsung only has one design. It looks a bit like a chubby black Tile with a hole in one corner to attach a keyring. Conversely, Tile has trackers of various sizes, colors, and with or without holes.

Another difference, and arguably a more significant one, is that Galaxy SmartTags will only work with Samsung Galaxy phones. Even though the SmartThings app will run on any Android Phone, it will not detect your SmartTag on non-Samsung devices. In that respect, it is hard to see Galaxy SmartTags being a direct competitor to Tile, which is platform agnostic.

Trackers have evolved over the years, and next-gen Tiles and Apple’s upcoming AirTags will move to Ultra-Wideband (UWB) tracking. The advantage of UWB is that a tracker can use the signals of other UWB devices around them to narrow down its location more precisely. Samsung says its SmartTag will not support UWB. However, it mentioned it would release another version (SmartTag+) later this year for $40.