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How we test Bluetooth trackers

We assess performance and ease of use to find the best tracker that can help you locate your wayward items.

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CHOICE staff
CHOICE staff

If you tend to misplace things like your keys, wallet or headphones, a Bluetooth tracker may be the answer to your problems. It's a small device that you can attach to just about anything which then syncs to an app via Bluetooth. If you can't find something, all you need to do is get the app and ping the Bluetooth tracker, which will tell you where it is.

We explain how our experts test Bluetooth trackers to find the best models on the market.

How we choose what we test

Our priority is to test what you'll see in shops or prominently advertised in media, on TV or online. We also test new products released by big-name brands. That means that sometimes we might not cover a product that has only sold a few units in Australia or needs to be imported. However, we may also include a parallel import product if it's readily available online because this is the sort of product you can easily get and may also need to know about.

We check current market figures to see what's selling well and we'll also include models that you've requested – if a lot of members want it, we're going to test it.

How we test Bluetooth trackers

This test was undertaken at the tester's home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Range

Range tests are conducted indoors and outdoors.

For the indoor test, an individual tracker is placed at the front of a double brick house where our tester connects it to the app on a smartphone. Then, they slowly move away from the tracker until the signal is lost.

Next, the phone is slowly moved back towards the tracker until the connection is re-established and then they attempt to ring the tracker to confirm. If the tracker doesn't ring, then the phone is moved slightly closer and another attempt is made. This is repeated until the tracker rings.

The same test is conducted on a sporting field outdoors with no obstructions. Testing is paused if anyone walks in the line of sight between the phone and tracker. An assistant stands near the tracker to make sure it isn't stolen or moved.

The measured range of each test is recorded and scored relative to the best performer in the test. These results are combined into a single range score.

Speaker volume

Speaker loudness is measured in decibels at a distance of one metre from the tracker, and the duration is recorded in seconds. Though tested and published in our table, this doesn't contribute to the overall score.

Ease of use

We assess the steps required to set up the tracker, install the app and then register the tracker. This includes the clarity of the instruction manual and whether the user interface is intuitive. We also test and score how easy it is to use the app when tracking an item. Tracker versatility, which refers to the various ways it can be attached to items, is assessed as well.

Battery safety

Though the ACCC has a button battery safety standard, it's currently not mandatory. Our testers used the standard to draft their own method but products are not tested to any specific standard and the scores do not currently contribute to the overall score.

General data

We gather claims provided by the manufacturer such as battery life, IP rating, and tracking features in the app.

CHOICE Expert Rating

The expert rating is made up of:

  • Range score (50%)
  • Ease of use score (50%)

We often give a recommendation for models that score 70% or more overall but because of CHOICE's position on button battery safety we will not be recommending any of these products, regardless of the other results.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE