Apple and Samsung both offer small Bluetooth tracking devices to help you locate lost items. But how does Apple’s AirTag compare to the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare the AirTag vs SmartTag on features like compatibility, network coverage, price, design, battery life, precision finding and more. By the end, you’ll know which smart tracking device is best for iPhone or Samsung Galaxy users.
Overview of AirTag and SmartTag Features
The s AirTag and the Samsung SmartTag Plus are both small, coin-sized trackers that attach to keys, bags, wallets or other items. If you misplace something, you can use your iPhone or Samsung phone to locate the tags and find lost items.
Here’s a quick rundown of their main features:
- Compatible with iPhone and iPad
- Precision tracking using AR and ultra wideband
- Wide network coverage through Apple’s Find My network
- CR2032 replaceable battery
- IP67 water and dust resistance
- Precision engraved stainless steel design
Samsung Galaxy SmartTag
- Compatible with select Samsung Galaxy smartphones
- AR tracking capability
- Leverages Samsung’s Galaxy Find network
- User replaceable CR2032 battery
- IP53 splash resistance
- Plastic design with keyring hole
Now let’s compare these Bluetooth trackers in more detail across 10 key categories.
Compatibility: Which Phones Work With AirTag and SmartTag?
The first major difference is compatibility. AirTag is designed for the Apple ecosystem, while SmartTag works with newer Samsung Galaxy models.
AirTag requires an iPhone or iPad running iOS 14.5 or later. This includes:
- iPhone SE (2nd generation) or later
- iPhone 6s or later
- iPhone 7 or later
- iPhone 8 or later
- iPhone X or later
It also works with iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, as well as iPod touch (7th generation).
So you need an Apple device to set up and locate an AirTag. But Android phones can still detect an unknown AirTag nearby (more below).
The Galaxy SmartTag and SmartTag+ work with these Samsung Galaxy models:
- Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Galaxy Note 20
- Galaxy Note 10 Plus
- Galaxy Note 10
- Galaxy Fold
- Galaxy Z Fold 2
- Galaxy Flip Z
- Galaxy S23
- Galaxy S22
- Galaxy S21 Ultra
- Galaxy S21 Plus
- Galaxy S21
- Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Galaxy S20 Plus
- Galaxy S20
- Galaxy S10
- Galaxy S10 Plus
- Galaxy S10e
- Galaxy S9
- Galaxy S9 Plus
- Galaxy S8
- Galaxy S8 Plus
- Galaxy S7
- Galaxy S7 Edge
- Galaxy S6
- Galaxy S6 Edge Plus
- Galaxy S6 Edge
So SmartTag only works with select, newer Samsung phones. iPhones and other Android devices won’t support setup or finding the tags.
Winner: AirTag has wider compatibility across Apple’s hundreds of millions of active iPhone and iPad devices. SmartTag only works with newer Galaxy smartphones.
Network Coverage: Apple vs Samsung Galaxy Tracking Networks
Both trackers rely on networks to help locate your tags when they are further away. Apple and Samsung take different approaches here.
AirTag Leverages Apple’s Find My Network
AirTag taps into the Find My network comprised of hundreds of millions of active Apple devices. This gives AirTag a wide network to leverage for finding lost items.
When your AirTag is out of Bluetooth range, nearby Apple devices like iPhones and iPads can detect its location securely and anonymously. No location or user data is transmitted.
This crowd-sourced network allows the AirTag to be tracked even if it’s miles away, like if you left it at a restaurant. The Find My network provides wide coverage to help track it down.
SmartTag Relies on Samsung’s Galaxy Find Network
The Samsung Galaxy SmartTag instead relies on Samsung’s new Galaxy Find network. This uses newer Samsung Galaxy smartphones as a crowd-sourced network to locate tags.
But because iPhones and other Android devices can’t detect it, the SmartTag has a much smaller network. So it may be harder to track down a SmartTag that’s far away.
Right now, Samsung’s network is limited to newer Galaxy devices. So the coverage can’t compare to Apple’s nearly 1 billion active devices.
Winner: AirTag again wins thanks to Apple’s much wider Find My network compared to Samsung’s smaller Galaxy Find network.
Tracking and Finding Capabilities
Both tags use Bluetooth and augmented reality to help pinpoint lost items when they are nearby. But AirTag also includes ultra wideband support for more precise directions.
AirTag Precision Finding Features
AirTag leverages these advanced features to direct you to a lost item:
- Bluetooth tracking shows distance to AirTag when in range
- Precision tracking uses AR to visually guide you to the exact AirTag location once in range
- Ultra wideband support on newer iPhones provides directions and shows distance in feet
So AirTag provides clear visual guidance and foot-level accuracy thanks to ultra wideband and augmented reality capabilities.
SmartTag AR Finder
The Samsung Galaxy SmartTag provides AR tracking to visually guide you to a lost tagged item.
When in Bluetooth range, you can launch the SmartThings Find app and it will use AR to indicate the direction to walk to find your item.
But without ultra wideband support, it can’t provide exact distance or foot-level accuracy. The guidance is more approximate.
Winner: AirTag offers more advanced finding capabilities with ultra wideband, providing the clearest AR visual directions and foot-level precision.
Sound Alerts: How AirTag and SmartTag Help You Find Lost Items
Both AirTag and SmartTag use sound alerts to help locate misplaced items that may be hidden or slipped under furniture. But they work differently.
AirTag Sound Alerts
If an AirTag is separated from its owner and out of Bluetooth range, the AirTag will wait for three days before sounding an alert. This prevents false alerts. But if no one is around to hear it after 3 days, the Apple AirTag will sound on an alert to notify anyone nearby.
You can also manually make your AirTag start chiming loudly by using the Find My app, even if it’s only been separated a short time.
SmartTags Don’t Actively Sound Alerts
Samsung SmartTags don’t play audible alerts to notify people of an unknown SmartTag. Users have to find the tag and scan it to identify it.
But if you lose your tagged item, you can manually ring your SmartTag within the SmartThings Find app to help locate it.
Winner: AirTag offers louder alerts after 3 days to prevent unwanted tracking. SmartTags don’t actively notify unknown people of their presence.
Design: AirTag vs SmartTag Size, Shape and Durability
Let’s compare the physical design and durability of AirTag vs SmartTag.
AirTag Design and Durability
AirTag features a sleek, button-shaped rounded square design:
- Dimensions: 1.26 inches wide x 0.31 inches tall
- Weight: About .39 ounces
- Material: Polished stainless steel
- Finish: Available in silver only
- Durability: Rated IP67 for dust protection and water resistance up to 1 meter deep.
The stainless steel design gives AirTag a premium look and feel. You can also engrave AirTags with custom text or emoji for easy identification. The metal body is also more scratch and damage resistant.
SmartTag Design and Durability
The Galaxy SmartTag has a plastic body with a more basic design:
- Dimensions: 1.47 inches wide and .39 inches thick
- Weight: .50 ounces
- Material: Polycarbonate plastic
- Finish: White body with gray rubberized edges
- Durability: IP53 rated for splash resistance against water
The plastic body feels cheaper in the hand. And it likely won’t hold up as well over time as the stainless steel AirTag.
Winner: AirTag easily wins for its smaller size, sleeker polished metal design, and more durable IP67 dust and water protection.
Battery Life: How Long Do AirTag and SmartTag Last?
A long battery life is crucial for these tracking tags. Here is how the AirTag and SmartTag batteries compare:
AirTag Battery Life
The AirTag uses a standard, user-replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery.
Apple claims AirTag will last over a year on a single battery. Factors like frequent requests to make a sound will impact actual battery life. But in typical usage, AirTag can last well over a year before needing a new CR2032 battery.
When the battery gets low, your iPhone will get a notification to replace it. The AirTag is easy to open to insert a new battery.
SmartTag Battery Life
Like AirTag, the Galaxy SmartTag also uses a CR2032 replaceable coin cell battery.
Samsung estimates the SmartTag will last for up to 7 months before needing a replacement. More frequent alerts could reduce battery life.
When power runs low, you’ll get an alert on your Galaxy smartphone prompting you to replace the battery.
Winner: AirTag battery life is significantly longer, lasting over 12 months compared to the SmartTag’s 7 months. You’ll replace batteries less frequently.
Price: How Much Do AirTags and SmartTags Cost?
Given the premium look and wider compatibility, you may expect AirTag to be pricier than SmartTag. But that’s not the case.
A single AirTag costs $29 if you order from the Amazon or Apple store.
A 4-pack of AirTags costs $99. This brings the per-AirTag price down to $24.75 if you want multiple AirTags.
So Apple AirTag pricing is reasonably affordable, especially if buying a multi-pack.
So the SmartTag costs the same for a single device, but the two-pack is not as affordable per tag.
Winner: AirTag and SmartTag are virtually the same price for one tag. But AirTag offers better value if buying multiple tags.
Setup Process: How to Set Up AirTag vs SmartTag
Both tags are easy to set up with your compatible iPhone or Samsung phone. But AirTag has an edge in simplicity.
Setting Up AirTag
To set up an AirTag with your iPhone:
- Bring the AirTag close to your iPhone.
- Tap “Connect” when the notification appears.
- Follow the setup prompts on your iPhone.
- Name your AirTag and register it to your Apple ID.
That’s it! The AirTag will now appear in your Items tab in the Find My app, ready to track.
Setting Up SmartTag
To set up a SmartTag with your Samsung Galaxy:
- Download the Samsung SmartThings app if you don’t already have it.
- Open the app and sign into your Samsung account.
- Tap Add New Device.
- Choose SmartTag, then follow the on-screen setup instructions.
It takes a few more steps compared to AirTag setup. But it’s still quick and easy overall.
Winner: AirTag setup is marginally faster. Just tap connect when the notification pops up. SmartTag requires downloading the SmartThings app first if you don’t already have it.
Anti-Stalking Protection: How AirTag and SmartTag Prevent Unwanted Tracking
Privacy is a major concern when it comes to item trackers. Apple and Samsung have both implemented features to alert users if an unknown tracker is detected near them.
How AirTag Prevents Unwanted Tracking
If an unknown AirTag unpaired from its user travels with you for an extended time, your iPhone will notify you so you can find and disable it if someone slipped it into your bag.
- Android devices will get a notification if an unknown AirTag is nearby
- iPhones will get notified if an unpaired AirTag travels with you for 3 days
After a certain period, the AirTag will also play a loud sound to reveal itself. These protections prevent unwanted tracking.
How SmartTag Deters Stalking
For Galaxy SmartTag, Samsung uses technology that can:
- Scan for unknown SmartTags around you
- Allow you to launch an “Unknown Tag Search” to detect if any unpaired SmartTags are traveling with you
- Get notified to disable any unknown SmartTags following you
So similar protections exist. But AirTag’s cross-compatibility with Android gives it a slight edge for alerting more people, even non-iPhone owners, to unknown tracking attempts.
Winner: AirTag offers robust anti-stalking alerts both for iPhone and Android users who may unknowingly have an AirTag slipped into their possession.
Which is Better for iPhone Users vs Samsung Users?
Given their platform exclusivity, AirTag is designed for iPhone while SmartTag is made for Samsung Galaxy. But there are some cross-compatibility considerations.
AirTag: The Best Tracker for iPhone Users
AirTag is the obvious choice if you have an iPhone. It provides the full tracking experience including precision finding directions that lead you right to the lost AirTag.
And iPhone owners gain access to Apple’s massive Find My network for locating tags far away. AirTag is fully optimized for the iOS experience.
The only downside is that Android devices can only detect an AirTag, not track or find it. But overall, AirTag is the ideal tracker for Apple device owners.
SmartTag: Better for Samsung Galaxy Users
SmartTag makes the most sense for Galaxy users. You need a newer Samsung phone to be able to track and locate the tags. iPhones and Androids won’t work.
The downside is Samsung’s network has less coverage compared to Apple’s Find My network. But SmartTag is the only option designed specifically for Samsung’s Galaxy ecosystem.
The Winner: AirTag for iPhone owners and SmartTag for Samsung Galaxy device owners.
Key Takeaways: Should You Buy an AirTag or SmartTag?
Here are the key conclusions to help decide if you should buy an AirTag or Samsung Galaxy SmartTag:
- AirTag is the best bet for iPhone users given its wider compatibility, Find My network, and precision finding features specifically designed for Apple devices.
- SmartTag is preferable for Samsung Galaxy owners since it’s built exclusively for their ecosystem. But the network coverage is more limited.
- AirTag has a more premium design and feel with stainless steel versus plastic. It also has slightly better waterproofing.
- Both are affordably priced around $29 for one tracker, but AirTag offers a better value 4-pack option.
- AirTag battery lasts significantly longer at over 1 year versus just 7 months for SmartTag before needing a replacement.
- AirTag has stronger anti-stalking protections thanks to cross-compatibility with Android devices that can detect unknown AirTags nearby.
So in summary, both devices offer convenient tracking capabilities. But overall, AirTag wins out with its wider compatibility, extensive Find My network, longer battery life and anti-stalking protections.
For Apple users who frequently misplace items, AirTag is the ideal tracking tag to quickly locate lost keys, wallets, luggage and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can Samsung SmartTag work with an iPhone?
A: No, the Samsung SmartTag only works with compatible newer Samsung Galaxy smartphones. It does not work with any iPhone models.
Q: Can you use AirTag to track people?
A: No. AirTag is designed to track items only. Apple has robust anti-stalking measures to detect if an unknown AirTag is traveling with someone without consent.
Q: Is AirTag or Tile better?
A: AirTag is the best option if you have an iPhone. It has wider compatibility, a robust Find My network, and more precision finding capabilities. Tile trackers work across platforms, but the network and features aren’t as advanced.
Q: Can AirTag work internationally?
A: Yes. AirTag leverages the Find My network internationally. As long as local iPhones and iPads are available to detect the tag, you can locate it around the world.
Q: Can SmartTag be used outside of South Korea?
A: Currently SmartTag only works in South Korea due to the limitations of Samsung’s local Galaxy Find network. International support may improve over time if Samsung expands availability.
Q: How accurate is AirTag tracking?
A: AirTag tracking is accurate to within a few feet when you are in range and using Precision Finding. The directions lead you right to the AirTag. Accuracy reduces when relying solely on the Find My network.
Q: Can SmartTags connect to WiFi?
A: No. SmartTags currently use Bluetooth Low Energy and ultra-wideband for tracking. They do not connect directly to WiFi networks. The associated Galaxy phone requires WiFi or mobile data.
Q: Can you track an AirTag when phone is dead?
A: No. Your iPhone needs to be powered on to track the location of your AirTag or receive notifications when it is detected away from you. A dead battery prevents tracking until charged.
Q: What uses more battery: AirTag or SmartTag?
A: AirTag uses Bluetooth LE which is designed to be power efficient. In typical usage, it can last over a year per battery. SmartTags last around 7 months on a battery due to the Bluetooth connection. So AirTag is more power efficient.