The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Can Samsung’s Galaxy smart tag plus key tracker rival Apple and Tile?

The device has its flaws but there are some stand-out features worth considering

Alistair Charlton
Monday 09 May 2022 12:34
<p>We hunted the tracker down in our own home and left it in the car to test its ability to be found by other Galaxy users</p>

We hunted the tracker down in our own home and left it in the car to test its ability to be found by other Galaxy users

You probably know the score by now. Key finders and Bluetooth trackers – like this Samsung, as well as the Apple AirTag and those from Chipolo and Tile – connect to your smartphone and hook onto keys, bags and other possessions.

Then, if you lose them, you can use a smartphone app to track them down. As with most of its rivals, the Samsung Galaxy smart tag plus can play a loud jingle to help you find it locally or, if further afield, the app will show on a map where it was last connected to your phone via Bluetooth.

Like the Apple AirTag (and unlike the cheaper Galaxy smart tag), the smart tag plus features Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology. This produces more precise locational data and combines with an augmented reality feature in the Samsung SmartThings app that uses your phone’s camera to hunt down the missing smart tag.

It also has a hook for attaching to keys, and a button. The latter is an impressive addition as when pressed it can be configured in the SmartThings to take control of your smart lighting. That means no more fumblin in the dark, simply give the Galaxy tag a squeeze and your Philips hue lights will illuminate.

Before we get into our full review, we should address a major limiting factor here. Just as how the AirTag only works with iPhones, the Galaxy smart tag plus only works with Samsung phones. Additionally, the smart tag plus reviewed here only works with Samsung phones that have UWB technology. This includes the Galaxy S21 plus, S22 plus and S22 ultra, as well as the Note 20 ultra and Galaxy Z fold 2 and fold 3.

Read more:

How we tested

Like our other key finder reviews, we tested the Galaxy smart tag plus by connecting it to a smartphone and hooking it onto our keys. We then configured the tag to work with our Philips hue smart lighting system via the SmartThings app, and carried it with us every day.

We sounded the integrated speaker to hunt down the tag while at home, then left the tag in our car, parked a few streets away from home (and, crucially, without our phone connected) to test out the tag’s ability to be found by anonymously connecting to other Samsung Galaxy devices passing by. Here’s our verdict.

Samsung Galaxy smart tag plus

Buy now £19.50, Samsung.com

Rating: 8/10

The Samsung Galaxy smart tag plus has a regular retail price of £39. This is fairly steep for a Bluetooth key finder, especially when you consider that the Apple AirTag is priced at £29, and the Tile mate, which is usually £20, is often discounted to £15. That said, at the time of writing we spotted the Galaxy smart tag plus was on offer for half it’s usual price. But even with it’s currently more appealing price tag, is it worth buying? We found out...

Design

The smart tag plus looks very similar to other key trackers on the market, like the Tile mate and Chipolo one spot. As such, it’s a black plastic rectangle with rounded corners and a hole for hooking onto your keys or bag. Like some Tile trackers, there’s also a button on the front for ringing your phone or controlling smart home devices via the company’s SmartThings home automation app.

At 40.9mm x 40.9mm x 9.9mm, the Samsung tag is slightly larger than most of its rivals. In fact, the Samsung is about the same size as an AirTag when the it’s inside a case. The extra bulk shouldn’t be a problem for many buyers, and because there’s an integrated keyring hole there’s no need to buy a case or holder, as is needed with Apple’s device.

The coin-style CR2032 battery of the Samsung tag is estimated to last for just five months of typical use (compared to a year for the AirTag). But it can at least be replaced when it expires, unlike that of the Tile mate, which is ready for the recycling bin once its, admittedly impressive. three-year lifespan runs out.

Read more: Chipolo’s one spot is a smart key tracker that works with Apple’s Find My app

Samsung’s tag has an IP53 water resistance rating. This is slightly behind that of its rivals, but means it’ll still survive being in the rain; just don’t take it swimming.

How does it work?

Like other trackers, the Samsung connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which maintains a constant connection between the two while using very little battery life. Using the SmartThings app, you can assign a name and icon to the tag, such as “keys” and a picture of a bunch of keys. This is just like how other trackers from Tile, Chipolo and Apple work.

Using that Bluetooth connection, the tag’s location is shown on a map in the Samsung SmartThings app. From here, you can have the tag play a loud tune to help you find it, or rely on fellow Samsung Galaxy users if it’s lost further afield. This network of Samsung users isn’t as large as Apple’s Find My family of iPhone owners, but Samsung said in 2021 that more than 700 million “helper devices” are connected globally.

Like other key trackers and their own user networks, the SmartThings app will show your lost tag’s location when it comes within Bluetooth range of someone else’s Samsung Galaxy phone. How well this works will depend on the population density of the local area, and also how common Galaxy smartphones are in that country. The tag was quickly located on a busy London street, but we suspect the experience will be less impressive in more remote parts of the country.

Read more: We pitted the Tile mate against the Tile pro to see which Bluetooth key finder is right for you

It also has Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology, which the regular smart tag misses out on. When the tag is close to a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone, the handset more precisely shows where it is, using arrows and a distance estimate. Furthermore, an element of augmented reality can be implemented, where the phone’s rear camera is used to show exactly where the smart tag plus is.

How good is it?

To enable every feature of the smart tag plus, it all takes a bit of setting up. You’ll need the Samsung SmartThings app if you don’t have it already (plus a Samsung account, of course). Then, for the UWB-enabled, precision-finding feature you’re prompted to download the Samsung Find My Mobile app, then AR Core, which first requires an update to Google Play services for AR. It’s all a bit convoluted, but eventually, you’ll have it working and, yes, locating a lost set of keys attached to the Galaxy smart tag plus is easy.

That said, on the augmented reality and UWB features, Samsung admits it’s still a work-in-progress, saying: “We’re still working on making this feature the best that it can be. It may not work perfectly in all circumstances.”

We found the phone would get confused in cluttered locations, like a small bedroom, but otherwise worked well. However, we’re not sure if it’s entirely helpful, as the Galaxy smart tag plus can be made to ring quite loud. Once you’re close enough to use the AR function, you’re probably also close enough to clearly hear the tag and find it by sound alone. On volume, we found we could hear the tag from a room away with the door closed, putting it broadly in line with other such Bluetooth trackers and key finders.

The verdict: Samsung Galaxy smart tag plus

Samsung’s flagship Bluetooth tag is much like many others. It is a similar size and shape to rivals from Apple, Tile and Chipolo, while offering a similar set of features. Finding a lost smart tag is quick and easy, provided you’re in an area with a lot of fellow Samsung Galaxy users, should you need their help. Being able to control smart home devices, like lighting, with the tag’s button is a really neat touch that is convenient and works well.

We would argue that the UWB tech of the smart tag plus isn’t worth the premium over the regular smart tag. The feature works, but doesn’t feel as seamless as Apple’s equivalent on the AirTag. We were also disappointed by Samsung’s five-month estimate for battery life, but at least it’s easy to replace, unlike the non-replaceable battery of the Tile mate.

Overall, this is a Bluetooth tracker and key finder that works well, and is ideally suited to Samsung Galaxy users who are already invested into the company’s SmartThings ecosystem.

Voucher codes

For the latest discount codes on Apple and other tech offers, try the links below:

Listen to your favourite tunes on the go with the best budget headphones for under £70

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in