Apple AirTag — The new best luggage tracker?

Bluetooth tracker luggage tags are an accessory that’s highly recommended — we’ve written a complete overview to bluetooth tags — alongside their GPS tracker tag equivalent.

Cheap, largely subscription-free and lightweight, these little devices are a great smart luggage accessory, and replicate luggage tracking features found on the most high-end smart bags.

Until now, the tag I use — and our top recommendation — was the Tile Pro 2020. It has a great blend of features that make it the best product in the Tile range for tracking luggage.

Fast-forward to April 2021, and Apple have just upped the game by introduced their tracker tile, the Apple AirTag.

Here we will have a look at the features, and why it’s likely to be the best bluetooth luggage tag you can buy.

3 Reasons you should use Apple’s AirTag for luggage tracking

There’s a lot of competition in the smart luggage accessories market. There are multiple Bluetooth trackers, with differing price points and options. So, why pick Apple’s tracker over the rest?

1. Lost mode

apple airtag uses crowd locating for long distance luggage tracking

Unlike GPS tags which broadcast their location, Bluetooth luggage tags rely on a network of users to identify lost items over large distances.

For use as a luggage tracker — where your lost suitcase is on another continent, not in the garage — this long-distance tracking feature is key.

Unlike other trackers, which rely on their vast network of users to crowd locate lost luggage, the AirTag uses apples entire ecosystem. As a result, if you place your AirTag in lost mode anyone with an apple product can contribute to finding your lost bags.

This is massive. The larger the network of finders wandering in proximity to your luggage, the more chance there is of finding it swiftly:

  • In 2020, it was reported there were 900 million iPhones in use.
  • Tile’s network of trackers is the current most popular, however they have only sold 26 million units ever.
  • So with a significantly lower active user base, you are arguably far more likely to have a lost AirTag discovered than a Tile Tracker

In addition to the likelihood of your luggage being located swiftly, lost mode also mimics a feature found on QR code luggage tags. When someone finds your AirTag they can tap it with their phone, bringing up a secure webpage with your contact details:

If a lost AirTag is found by someone, they can tap it using their iPhone or any NFC-capable device and be taken to a website that will display a contact phone number for the owner, if they have provided one.

Apple
apple airtag precision finding luggage is a more accurate location finding not found on tile pro

Precision finding

Precision finding is a game changer.

While precision finding is only available to users with iPhone 11 era phones and newer, the feature offers seamless integration with your phone and far more advanced nearby locating than anything currently on the market:

  • Unlike traditional Bluetooth trackers, the AirTag has 3 separate antennas embedded — Bluetooth, NFC and U1.
  • It uses this U1 technology, known as ultra-wide, for extremely accurate close in tracking.
  • Coupled with a specific U1 chip in the latest iPhones, it means that you get a 3D compass style, pinpoint direction finding.
  • Your lost items are found via an exact location in time and space, rather than the hotter and colder bluetooth tracker approach.

When used with luggage, the precision finding feature puts even the most advanced smart luggage to shame. With quicker and more accurate detection if you become separated from your luggage, if someone walks off with your bag at the airport.

Many people buy smart luggage accessories — rather than investing in dedicated all-in-one smart luggage like Plevo — because they can use the accessory devices separately when they aren’t travelling.

When you are using this Bluetooth tag as an everyday item finder around the house, for keys, wallets and important items, the directional finding of Apple’s AirTag is currently unmatched.

3. All-in-one

One thing Apple does exceptionally well — integrating their products within the system. Not only does the AirTag play nicely with lots of Apple devices, from watches to iPhones, via the find my accessories feature this seamless integration makes it effortless to use.

apple airtag simple bluetooth pairing similar to airpods

No separate apps are required, and the AirTag has one tap set up — similar to Apple AirPods.

Tile has even asked the US government to look into Apple’s AirTag release, as the seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem is likely to significantly eat into their rumoured 90% market share!

The device itself has a sleek design, made from polished stainless steel. The water resistance coupled with the AirTag’s tiny size means they are well-suited to everything from keychains to suitcases.


What is the range of Apple AirTags?

Apple AirTags have a Bluetooth range of up to 100 m, according to US testing documentsApple don’t release explicit figures. This puts them in a similar ballpark to the Tile Pro, which uses the same size battery and Bluetooth low-energy technology.


AirTag vs Tile Pro for luggage tracking

  1. Specifications
  2. Size
  3. Features
  4. Cost

Looking at our previous best Bluetooth tag for luggage tracking — the Tile Pro 2020 — Apple’s AirTag looks like a serious competitor. Here are 4 reasons it comes out on top:

away tile slim luggage tag with bluetooth tracker
Tile Pro luggage tag

Versus

apple airtag suitcase tracker vs tile pro
Apple AirTag luggage tag

01. Similar specifications

The AirTags tick all the boxes that makes the Tile Pro great:

  • Replaceable battery
  • 1 year lifespan per battery
  • Water resistant
  • Top-of-the-line 100 m Bluetooth range

02. Smaller size

Despite packing in two extra antennas and using the same battery as the Tile Pro, Apple have managed to make their device slightly smaller. The AirTags are 31.9 mm by 31.9 mm, in comparison to the Tile Pro’s 42 mm by 42 mm.

In addition, the AirTags weigh 11 grams in comparison to the Tile Pro’s 12 grams.

In reality, both these devices are tiny and if you are primarily using them as luggage trackers the size and weight differences is negligible. However, if you are planning on buying a multipack and using them for tracking keys and wallets the almost 25% reduction in size of the AirTag is likely to be a big advantage.

03. Additional features

However, the AirTags also pair this with a few Apple only features to further improve the user experience:

  1. Full integration with voice via Siri, enabling directions to your device to be spoken for visually impaired users.
  2. Apple’s continued tough stance on user privacy — no location data or location history is stored within the device, and communications are end-to-end encrypted. Even Apple don’t know where you are or what device tracked your luggage!
  3. Enhanced finding features via the U1 chip and associated antenna, and the ability to use NFC to bring up lost luggage contact information

04. Cheaper price

Prices for the Tile Pro and AirTags are virtually identical at £29.99 and £29 respectively.

Additional paid features of the Tile Pro such as location history and smart alerts if you leave something behind are free with the AirTags.

There are cheaper tags on the market — that do an excellent job — however for the price point Apple have pitched these at, the specifications are excellent.


Summary

Tile offer a great range of products, and for those that aren’t firmly embedded in the Apple ecosystem, the Tile Pro is arguably still the number one choice for luggage tracking.

However, the AirTags come with a wealth of features, a few helpful additional extras, and they are packaged in a smaller, slightly lighter form.

As a result, if you’re already an iPhone user, and you are in the market for a new bluetooth tracker for your luggage in 2021 — the AirTag’s will be the best you can buy.

I‘ve placed my order, and am excited to give them a test!