Samsung’s first item tracker, the Galaxy SmartTag, was released in January 2021. Then, a subsequent upgrade, the Galaxy SmartTag+ dropped in April 2021.
Now, after a little less than three years, Samsung’s SmartTag 2 has hit the market with a new intuitive design.
Similar to Apple’s AirTag, the Galaxy SmartTag 2 is also ecosystem-locked, which means it only works with Galaxy devices and Samsung’s SmartThings. Fret not though, if someone with a non-galaxy Android device or iOS device finds your lost item with the SmartTag 2 attached to it, they’ll still be able to read it and help get the item back to you. To pair or use the tag to track your items, however, you’ll need to be a Galaxy user with a device running Android 9 or above.
The best thing about the new SmartTag 2, and what makes it easier to use when compared to its Apple counterpart, is its design.
The pill-shaped tag, which looks more like a cigar cutter than an item tracker, has a big punch hole that makes it easy to attach it to a range of objects, like keychains and bag loops. In comparison, the AirTag is just a circular disc that can’t be attached to an object without purchasing a separate loop.
Additionally, the SmartTag 2 features a built-in button that can be customized to perform several tasks, including controlling smart home devices, running routines, changing smart home security modes, locating your phone and more, offering a lot more functionality and ease of use. However, it’s also worth noting that the AirTag is a first-generation product, while the SmartTag 2 is a third-gen product (if you count the SmartTag+), and it is likely that the next-gen AirTag, which is expected to come out sometime in or after 2025, could feature a similar design revamp.
The refreshed item tracker features a higher IP67 dust and water resistance rating, compared to its predecessor’s IP53 rating. IP53 essential means that the device is water resistant, but it’s best if it’s not submerged. IP67 allows the device to be submerged in up to 1 meter of freshwater for up to 30 minutes without causing damage.
Similar to the AirTag, the Galaxy SmartTag 2 also uses a regular cr2032 battery, with a battery life of up to 700 days in power-saving mode and 500 days in normal mode. This is more than Apple’s claimed one-year battery life, though it remains to be seen if Samsung’s claims are accurate.
However, cr2032 batteries aren’t expensive and are very easy to purchase, and replacing them is simple with both the AirTag and the SmartTag 2, so even if the battery life is lesser than what Samsung claims, it wouldn’t make or break the tracker.
For tracking, the SmartTag 2 uses both Bluetooth and Ultra-wideband technology (UWB).
The Galaxy device I’m using the SmartTag 2 with is the S23 FE. Unfortunately, the fan edition doesn’t support UWB, so I wasn’t able to test it out. With UWB, you’re guided general location of the tracker, and once you’re close enough, it pinpoints the location with a compass view.
The map, directly within the SmartThings app, shows you the last known location of the tag, and once you’re close, you can ring the tracker to locate it audibly.
Several times over the last week, I asked my housemates to hide the tracker somewhere, and even without UWB support, I was easily able to locate the tracker with the audio cues.
The SmartTag 2 also has a pet walking mode that logs walks with your dog (or any other pet that you can walk for that matter), effectively turning it into a kind of doggy fitness tracker.
The SmartTag2 uses Samsung’s SmartThings Find network, which utilizes Samsung devices to locate the tracker. Apple’s AirTag, on the other hand, uses Apple’s ‘Find My’ network and Apple devices to do the same.
According to Statcounter, as of October, Apple dominates the Canadian smartphone market, with a 60.66 percent market share, while Samsung comes in a distant second, accounting for 24.92 percent of Canadian smartphones. The SmartThings Find network is smaller and less widespread than Apple’s Find My network, and depends on the availability of other Samsung devices in your area to work as a crowd-sourced network.
This might result in tracking that’s not as reliable as other platforms, like Tile’s crowd-sourced network, for example.
A new feature that the SmartTag 2 boasts is a lost mode. In case you lose your tracker, or the item it is attached to, you can turn on lost mode via the Find app on your Galaxy smartphone. This allows you to add your email address, phone number and a message to the tag. If and when someone finds the tag, they can scan it with any NFC-enabled device, even iOS, and they’ll be able to see your message and contact information. Additionally, whenever the feature is enabled and someone finds your tag, you’ll get a notification on your device.
Lastly, if the person who found your tracker has nefarious intentions and doesn’t not want to return the tracker, you can rest assured that it will be as good as a brick for them. With the lost mode on, the tracker goes into a pairing lock mode, and can not be paired to a different device.
Here’s what it looks like when someone NFC scans your lost SmartTag 2:
Lastly, this isn’t necessarily a big deal, but the AirTag can be personalized with free engraving of up to four characters, including emojis, when purchased from Apple. The SmartTag 2, however, does not have any customization options. On the other hand, the SmartTag 2 comes in two colours: Black and White, while the AirTag is only available in White.
The SmartTag 2 is a step in the right direction for Samsung. It offers more features and functionality than its predecessors, and has a longer battery life than even the AirTag. The refreshed hole punch design makes it easy to attach to items, without having to buy a loop separately, and the built-in button can serve as an on/off switch for your smart home accessories.
However, it is not compatible with other Android or iOS devices, so you need to have a Samsung Galaxy device to use it. It also depends on the availability of other Samsung devices in your area to work as a crowd-sourced network, which may not be as reliable as other platforms.
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