Apple AirTags have been in the works for years, but despite reportedly having been “done and ready” for some time, Apple is yet to formally actually acknowledge their existence, let alone provide a release date.
Now it looks like Samsung might beat Apple to the punch with a hardware tracker of its own that may launch alongside the Galaxy S21 phones. 91mobiles has spotted the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag on certification site NCC, and the specs and leaked images show a device that seems to have more than a passing resemblance to the Tile Pro both in terms of form and function.
For those unfamiliar, Tile has carved out a neat little niche for itself with Bluetooth accessories that clip to other devices for tracking them down. If you’re in range, then your phone can trigger a loud digital tune to play, letting you find the missing item. If you’re out of range, you can report the device as lost, at which point the Tile community anonymously begins searching for your property. If someone with the app goes past your missing Tile, their location will be sent to you so that you can pick up the search in person. The company claims that 90% of Tiles marked as lost are eventually found by the community.
While the SmartTag certainly looks similar — right down to the keyring hole in the corner — it’s not yet clear how much of that functionality will be mimicked by either Samsung or Apple’s trackers. But we do know that the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag will use Bluetooth, which is a change from the company’s last product of this nature: 2018’s SmartThings Tracker, which used LTE for hunting.
Apple AirTags, meanwhile, will reportedly use the Ultra Wideband technology which debuted in the iPhone 11 family and is available in the iPhone 12 lineup. UWB is also found in the HomePod mini and Apple Watch Series 6. While this method may have performance advantages, it does mean that AirTags will be exclusively for those products already in the Apple ecosystem, while Bluetooth based trackers are an option for pretty much anyone, thanks to how widely adopted the technology is.
Given the Galaxy SmartTag’s appearance on the NCC certification site, it stands to reason that it’s pretty close to release, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if it emerged alongside the Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphones that are rumored ot launch January 14. If 91mobiles’ sources are correct, you can expect a price of Rs 1,300, which translates to around $18 in the U.S.
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