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10 best key finders to help you track down your stuff

These little Bluetooth gadgets will help reunite you with your things

Alex Lee
Tuesday 09 January 2024 09:00 GMT
<p>They’re both finders and keepers </p>

They’re both finders and keepers

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It feels horrible when it happens, but it’s a fact of life. Humans lose things. Keys, wallets, phones, bags, scarves, pants. You name it, we’ve probably lost it. And that’s both inside the home and outside of it.

Research even suggests that we in the UK spend 110 days of our lives searching desperately for our stray items. To fix this age-old problem, tech firms have been developing Bluetooth item trackers of all shapes and sizes, hoping to help reconnect us with our lost property.

It all arguably started in 2013, with American company Tile. For years, Tile was the only brand in the key finder space, but it’s since been invaded by other third-party competitors like Chipolo and, most recently, Samsung and Apple. While the latter two are still fairly new to the segment, they’ve already begun nudging Tile off its podium.

In October 2021, Tile refreshed its entire range of key finders and announced that it would be launching its own ultra-wideband version to compete with the Apple AirTag. But the company was acquired by family safety platform Life360 soon after, and we haven’t heard a peep about the tracker since, leaving Apple as the market-leader when it comes to finding your stuff with precision.

Whether you’re searching for a key finder with UWB tech or with Bluetooth, we’ve had the chance to test a number of different models, and have rounded up our favourites below.

How we tested

We tested all of these key finders in pretty much the same way. After pairing with our smartphone – either an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE – we purposefully lost them inside the house, and then took them all on a short outdoor adventure into the park, attempting to simulate the real-world fear and despair of losing a precious object. If we were able to easily locate it with just the use of our phone and our ears, it was a win.

We also looked at their overall design, testing their sturdiness, practicality and how simple they were to take on and off our keys. If the tracker had a removable coin cell battery, we assessed how easy it was to remove and replace.

The best key finders for 2024 are:

  • Best overall key finder – Tile pro: £29.99, Tile.com
  • Best key finder for iPhone users – Apple AirTag: £35, Apple.com
  • Best affordable key finder – Eufy SmartTrack link: £19.99, Eufy.com
  • Best Apple AirTag alternative – Chipolo one spot: £29, Chipolo.net
  • Best key finder for Samsung Galaxy users – Samsung Galaxy smarttag+: £39, Samsung.com
  • Best small key finder – Tile mate: £19.99, Tile.com
  • Best subscription-free key finder – Chipolo one: £22, Chipolo.net
  • Best key finder for wallets – Tile slim: £29.99, Tile.com
  • Best stick-on key finder – Tile sticker: £24.99, Tile.com
  • Best pet tracker – Tractive GPS dog 4: £44.99, Tractive.com

Tile pro

tile-pro2.jpg
  • Best: Overall
  • Dimensions: 58mm x 32mm x 7.5mm 
  • Water resistance: IP67 (1m for up to 30 minutes) 
  • Battery: Replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery (one year)
  • System requirements: An Android or iOS device
  • Range: Up to 122m

The Tile pro is the company’s most premium item tracker and is a superb choice if you’re an Android or an iOS user. With the 2022 refresh, it’s only got better. It no longer has that squared-off design, ditching it in favour of a sleeker, car key-like-fob shape. It still features a metal keyring hole, which has been moved to the centre for easier attachment to your keys, so it now lies flush instead of sticking out at an angle. It’s also super simple to set up using the Tile app.

It has the longest range out of all the trackers on this list – able to ping your item up to 122m away, and it also happens to be one of the loudest key finders we’ve tested. We could hear this little guy pinging from the other side of the house. It’s a little heftier than some other key finders, but if that’s because it has to accommodate a louder speaker, we don’t mind too much. It’s also IP67 waterproof, so if you accidentally drop your keys into a pool, your Tile will survive. Sadly, there’s no ultra-wideband tech inside the Tile pro, so you won’t get any precision finding, like with the AirTag or the Samsung Galaxy smarttag+.

Like every other Tile, it works two ways. Lose your keys? Ping it from the app on your phone or ask the Google Assistant. Lose your phone but got your keys? Double press the button on the side of the Tile pro and your phone will start ringing if it’s in range.

If your keys are out of range and lost, simply open the app and set it to notify you when a Tile user comes into contact with your item. The Tile pro also has a QR code stamped onto the back of it, so that if someone finds your Tile, they can just scan the code and bring up your contact details.

Tile has an optional premium subscription for £29.99 a year or £2.99 a month. You get access to smart alerts (so you’re notified if you leave your item behind) and free battery replacements.

Read the full Tile pro review

  1. £29 from Tile.com
Prices may vary
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Eufy SmartTrack link

eufy smarttrack link.jpg
  • Best: Affordable key finder
  • Dimensions : 37mm x 37mm × 6.5mm
  • Water resistance: Water resistant, no IP rating
  • Battery: Replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery (one year)
  • System requirements: iOS or Android device
  • Range : 80m
  • Take note
    • Water resistance: IP67 (1m for up to 30 minutes)

Although Eufy is best known for its robot vacuum cleaners and home security cameras, the Anker brand has recently launched its own key finder to rival Tile and Chipolo.

The Eufy SmartTrack link is a tiny square-shaped key finder, much like the Tile mate, but it has a grippier design and a keyring hole in the corner for attaching to your keys, as well as a QR code if it’s ever lost. It’s powered by a removable CR2032 coin battery and is rated to last a year before needing to be replaced.

While it’s quick and easy to connect to the Eufy Security app and ping your keys or set up smart alerts whenever you leave your things behind, the big selling point is that it works with Apple’s Find My app, so it can enlist an entire network of iPhones to help you find your things.

But even if you’re not an iPhone user, the link also works with Android devices through the Eufy app, despite the company saying that it is iOS only. That makes it better than the Chipolo one spot (£22, Chipolo.net), which really only works with Apple devices. It’s loud, has a long 80m Bluetooth range, is water resistant and, costing just £19.99, it’s also one of the cheapest key finders on the market.

  1. £19 from Eufy.com
Prices may vary
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Chipolo one spot

chipolo one spot 2.jpg
  • Best: Apple AirTag alternative
  • Dimensions : 37.9mm x 6.4mm
  • Water resistance: IPX5 (splash proof)
  • Battery: Replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery (five months)
  • System requirements: iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS/iPad OS 14.5 or later
  • Range: 60m 

If you want a slightly cheaper version of the AirTag, which does away with most of Apple’s annoyances, then the Chipolo one spot is the key finder for you. What makes it special is that it works with the Apple Find My app.

Like the AirTag, it has access to Apple’s entire ecosystem of devices, so if your lost item comes into contact with an Apple device, you’ll be pinged, making the Chipolo tracker – with its smaller user base – much more useful.

The speaker is also considerably louder than that of its Apple rival, and while the one spot doesn’t have the neat, augmented-reality, precision-finding feature found on the AirTag, it does have a keyring hole, so you don’t have to go out and buy accessories. It works the same way as the AirTag – you can ping it from the Find My app and track it from the map. Sadly, it’s only water resistant, so it’s unlikely to survive a dip in the pool, but it does have the same one-year battery life. Be warned though that the battery is a little harder to take out than the AirTag’s.

It doesn’t look as nice as the AirTag either, but it is more rugged and doesn’t scratch as easily. It’s a superb alternative to the Apple device. One spot won’t work with the Chipolo app, however, so if you’re an Android user or want a key finder that will work with both Apple and Android devices, have a look at the standard Chipolo one tracker below.

Read the full Chipolo one spot review

  1. £29 from Chipolo.net
Prices may vary
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Samsung Galaxy smarttag+

smart tag plus.jpg
  • Best: Key finder for Samsung Galaxy owners
  • Dimensions: 40.9mm x 40.9mm x 9.9mm
  • Water resistance: IP53 (water and dust resistant)
  • Battery: Replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery (five months)
  • System requirements: A Samsung Galaxy phone
  • Range: 32m

Before Apple came out with the AirTag and its cool precision-finding feature, Samsung – in true Samsung style – had already beaten its rival to the punch.

The Galaxy smarttag+ is almost double the size of the AirTag, with a square design that bulges up from the centre. While it doesn’t look as nice as the AirTag, it does have a handy little keyring hole in the corner, so it’s easy to attach to your keys.

It combines the clever augmented-reality environment with Tile’s extremely useful reverse ring button, so if you lose your phone but have your smarttag+, you’ll be able to get your phone to play an alert by pressing a button. The volume of the smarttag+’s speaker can also be adjusted, and you get the choice of 10 different ringtones.

It’s super easy to find your things with the SmartThings app, with the augmented-reality mode taking over when you get close. Like other Bluetooth trackers, it crowdsources its location from other Galaxy devices when out of range. But it also has one killer feature which doesn’t actually have anything to do with finding things – automations. You can run automations, such as kicking your connected coffee machine into gear, by pressing or holding the button on the smarttag+.

Weirdly, while it uses the same coin cell battery as the Tile pro and Apple AirTag, Samsung says that the battery will only last five months. It also doesn’t have the same level of waterproofing as its two biggest rivals.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy smart tag+ review

  1. £39 from Samsung.com
Prices may vary
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Tile mate

tile mate 2022
  • Best: Small key finder
  • Dimensions : 7.8mm x 37.8mm x 7.1mm
  • Water resistance: IP67 (1m for up to 30 minutes)
  • Battery: Up to three-year battery life (non-replaceable)
  • System requirements: Android or iOS device
  • Range: 76m

The Tile mate is the company’s most popular key finder, and that’s really because it’s the most affordable one out of the four options. The latest refresh of the device doesn’t change or add too many extras, but it’s still one of the best key finders on the market.

It bears that same squared-off design as all the previous models, with the handy keyring hole in the corner, although it’s slightly thicker. And, of course, it has a QR code imprinted onto the back, so people can scan it and help get it back to you if they stumble upon your item – a worthy compromise for the lack of NFC integration. On the other side of the key finder, you’ll find that nifty reverse finding button, which allows you to ring your phone if you can’t find it in your house – a feature that works wonderfully.

The range of the mate has also been improved. You can detect it up to 76m away from the tracker – that’s 15m more than the previous version. While the speaker still isn’t as loud as the pro, it was louder than the AirTag and Galaxy smarttag+, so it’s enough for us to be able to hear it from the other side of a room. If you just want a basic key finder that won’t break the bank, this is the tracker for you. Sadly, the current-generation mate no longer has a removable battery, so you’ll have to replace the whole thing after three years, but it does features an IP67 waterproof rating.

Read the full Tile mate review

  1. £19 from Tile.com
Prices may vary
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Apple AirTag

airtag 4.jpg
  • Best: Key finder for iPhone users
  • Dimensions : 31.9mm x 31.9mm x 8mm 
  • Water resistance: IP67 (1m for up to 30 minutes)
  • Battery: Replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery (one year)
  • System requirements: iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS/iPad OS 14.5 or later 
  • Range: Unknown

The AirTag is a quintessentially Apple product. It’s a tiny 32mm badge-sized stainless steel disc that sits inside a white case. On the top is an Apple logo, and you can personalise the rear with an emoji or your initials. It’s nice and small and pretty unobtrusive when attached to your things, although the metal does scratch pretty easily.

Annoyingly, there’s no keyring hole on the AirTag, so you do have to shell out for an AirTag accessory, which can bump up the price considerably. But as an item tracker, it really shines when it comes to physically locating your stuff thanks to its use of ultra-wideband technology (UWB).

UWB is more precise than Bluetooth, so you get extremely accurate turn-by-turn directions to your device, which takes place in an augmented reality environment. It doesn’t have the loudest of speakers, and we were slightly frustrated that it only chirps three times before we had to ping it again, but the UWB augmented-reality experience does help in that regard.

When your item is lost and out of range, other nearby Apple devices will begin pinging it, giving you constant updates on its location. It’s one huge advantage has over its competitors, considering the sheer number of Apple devices there are in the world. There’s also a nifty NFC feature, so if a good Samaritan comes across your lost item and taps their phone against your AirTag, they will be able to see your contact details.

With iOS 15, AirTags now have “left-behind” alerts, so you can receive notifications if you leave the pub while your keys are still on the table.

Read the full Apple AirTag review

  1. £35 from Apple.com
Prices may vary
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Tile slim

tile slim.jpg
  • Best: Key finder for wallets
  • Dimensions : 85.5mm x 54mm x 2.5mm
  • Water resistance: IP67 (1m for up to 30 minutes)
  • Battery: Up to three years (non-replaceable)
  • System requirements: Android or iOS device
  • Range: 72m

The Tile slim is the ideal item tracker for wallets, luggage tags and notebooks. It’s about the same size as a credit card but made out of tough plastic and double the thickness, making it perfect for any narrow spaces. Just like the Tile mate, it has a Bluetooth range of 72m, and it sounds even louder than the older model, so we were able to hear it when our wallet was buried in a pile of cushions. There is also a reverse finding button, so you can ping your phone if you lose it somewhere in the house.

Just like the Tile mate and Tile pro, the Tile slim has a QR code embedded into its surface, so if any kind soul stumbles upon your wallet, a scan of the code will bring up your contact details if it’s been put into lost mode. Of course, if no one actually finds it, Tile’s network will be put to work, and you’ll get alerted whenever the location updates. It also now has an IP67 rating, so it can survive some time in water. The battery isn’t replaceable, so once the slim dies – you’ll get a notification when it’s nearing the end of its life – you’ll have to buy a new one, but it’s rated to last a good three years.

As with all Tile products, if you subscribe to Tile Premium for £29.99 a year or £2.99 a month, you’ll also get smart alerts, which ping you if you leave home, or anywhere else, without your wallet.

  1. £29 from Tile.com
Prices may vary
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Tile sticker

tile sticker.jpg
  • Best: Stick-on item tracker
  • Dimensions : 27mm x 7.8mm
  • Water resistance: IP67 (1m for up to 30 minutes)
  • Battery: Up to three years (non-replaceable)
  • System requirements: Android or iOS device
  • Range: Up to 76m

Ever lose your TV remote down the side of the sofa, then find yourself spending precious minutes with your hand down each crevice, only to realise it was underneath the dining table all along? Then the Tile sticker is the item tracker for you.

It’s an itty bitty tracker that just attaches to the surface of any object with its adhesive backing. It’s particularly good for items without holes – so TV remotes, laptops and bikes are ideal candidates. The adhesive is super easy to apply to your things as well, only taking a few hours before it felt secure enough for us to fiddle with.

Being so small, you might not expect the range to extend very far, but Tile has managed to bump it up to 76m – putting it in line with the Tile mate and Tile slim. There’s no QR code on the Tile sticker – it’s really just too dainty for one, but it’s IP67 waterproof, so it will survive a dip in the pool.

It works like any other Tile product, meaning that, yes, despite its size, there’s still a reverse finding button on the side for you to ring your phone if you’ve somehow got your TV remote but have lost your phone. It’s one of our absolute favourite item trackers, simply because of its clever design.

  1. £24 from Tile.com
Prices may vary
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Tractive GPS dog 4

tractive gps dog 4.jpg
  • Best: Pet tracker
  • Dimensions : 71mm x 28mm x 17mm
  • Water resistance: IPX7 (1m for up to 30 minutes)
  • Battery: Up to seven days with power-saving zone activated
  • System requirements: Android or iOS device
  • Range: Unlimited

Escape artist owners: if you frequently find yourself chasing after a dog who has broken out of the garden or ran out of the park, then you’ll want to get yourself a pet tracker, and our top pick is Tractive’s GPS tracker for dogs.

It’s a robust box-like device that attaches easily to a dog collar and comes in snow, coffee and midnight blue colourways. It feels sturdy enough to withstand any unexpected zoomies or moments of escape, and is packed with a bunch of features to boot. As well as giving you your doggo’s real-time GPS location, you’re also able to set up a virtual fence, so you’ll be notified the second your pooch leaves your garden.

We were also big fans of the activity monitoring feature, which gave us recommended hours to walk our dog and provided stats on active minutes, resting minutes and calories burned – a useful feature for any animal on a vet-approved diet, although we wish it also provided data on how many kilometres our dog had walked. All this is topped off with some really neat social features, which had us walking our hound, trying to get to the top of the exercise leaderboard and beat out Trixie. It also lasts a pretty long time, and charged itself up to full in less than a couple of hours.

The only real downside is the price. Because the tracker uses GPS to locate your pooch, it needs a cellular connection to find them, so you’re essentially paying for a SIM card on top of the price of the tracker itself. This is fairly normal for any GPS tracker, but it does add an ongoing subscription fee that might put off cash-strapped pet owners. There are two tiers – a basic subscription can costs as little as £3.75 per month, while a premium subscription, which includes worldwide data coverage, the ability to share your pet’s data with family and friends, access to location history and data export, costs £4.17 per month.

Late last year, Tractive also released a new GPS tracker for cats, with all the same features as well as a more feline-friendly design that attaches to almost any collar. It, too, costs £44.99 and comes with an adjustable collar (Tractive.com).

  1. £44 from Tractive.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Best key finder

If you’ve got an Android phone, then the Tile pro is the obvious choice. If the Tile ultra is ever released, things might change, but for now, with the Tile pro’s impressive Bluetooth range, its sleek design and reverse finding features, it’s a big recommend from us.

If you’re an iOS user, the key finder of choice is an absolute no-brainer: the Apple AirTag is the superior product. We adore the precision-finding augmented reality feature, and the fact that it can tap into all the iOS devices in the world to help you find your stuff is a real bonus.

That said, for some people, the lack of a keyring hole can be a bit of a dealbreaker. If that’s the case, we’d suggest the Eufy SmartTrack link or the Chipolo one spot, which can both tap into the Apple Find My ecosystem.

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