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Tracker in practical test – Many Bluetooth trackers fail quickly when encountering obstacles – Kassenrutsch Espresso

Tracker in practical test – Many Bluetooth trackers fail quickly when encountering obstacles – Kassenrutsch Espresso


“Kassenrutsch” carries out the sample: How well can key finders be located and how reliable can they be?

“If only they could talk!” Many people have probably already said this to themselves when the key ring or backpack can no longer be found. The good news: You can talk, or at least beep, with your tracker or key finder. These are small transmitters that can easily fit on keys and in bags and can be located via an app on your cell phone.

Tested trackers

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Kassenrutsch purchased eleven major detection instruments from specialist retailers and compared them in practice. They can be roughly divided into two groups: on the one hand, Bluetooth trackers like Apple’s Airtag. These work with Bluetooth radio over short distances. On the other hand, there are GPS trackers that determine their location autonomously via satellite radio and then send the data back to the owner via the mobile network. Disadvantages: They are more expensive than Bluetooth devices and incur additional subscription costs (up to eight francs per month).

With Bluetooth technology, it has become easier to penetrate walls and doors

First, Bluetooth devices must be able to be located indoors. Without obstacles, there is no problem even more than 30 meters away. But if walls or doors become obstacles, some devices may quickly malfunction. If there are multiple walls, it means it’s over for everyone, and the Bluetooth connection is very fragile.

Volume testing revealed big differences: The Chippolo, the loudest tracker, emits four times the sound of Gigaset’s Keeper. This makes finding them in jacket pockets much easier.

This is how we tested:

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Kassenrutsch compared eleven trackers in a hands-on test, including eight Bluetooth models and three GPS models.

To do this, the Kassenrutsch editorial team, in collaboration with SRF Digital Editor Reto Widmer, mounted the trackers on a plastic sheet at equal distances. The test scenarios were (with increasing difficulty):

  • Indoors more than 30 meters without obstacles
  • Inside more than 15 m through two doors
  • Inside more than 20 meters through several walls
  • Outdoor, stationary in a crowded environment
  • Outdoors, stationary in a less crowded environment
  • Outdoors, moving in mixed environments (urban, neighborhood, forest)

The digital editor constantly saw on the editing screen how reliable the tracking device locations were. This comparison is a purely practical test, not a laboratory test.

Outdoors and Steady: Community is crucial

Over longer distances, Bluetooth trackers compete with three GPS models. To do this, the former use a trick: they can call strange cell phones in their area and send this location data to the owner. The result in hands-on testing: This works reliably in crowded spaces, but the Bluetooth models are only completely reliable in outdoor areas.

All but one of these community trackers connect to Apple’s Find My app. But Tile, which is the only one that connects to its own app, isn’t far behind either.

GPS trackers, on the other hand, showed their location very accurately. Bluetooth trackers from Gigaset and Tuya were not included in this testing facility because they cannot connect to other people’s cell phones.

Outdoors and on the go: The premier system for GPS trackers.

During our test route by bus and then on foot, it quickly became clear that Bluetooth trackers are practically useless here. Their location can only be determined by chance. This is of no use for tracking. This is where GPS devices come into their own, albeit to varying degrees. The PAJ device copes best with this task, because it often shows its location directly and very accurately. Practical test result: Most trackers are usable, but it really depends on what exactly they are being used for.