The Fi Smart Dog Collar is a high-tech GPS and activity tracker designed to keep your pup safe and healthy. With location tracking, activity monitoring, and smart home integration, this “Fitbit for dogs” aims to provide next-level pet care.
But does the Fi collar live up to the hype? This in-depth Fi dog collar review will examine all the key features, real-world performance, pros and cons, and alternatives to help you decide if it’s worth the investment.
How the Fi Smart Dog Collar Works
The Fi collar is a smart dog collar that combines GPS, cellular and Bluetooth connectivity to track your dog’s location and activity. Here’s an overview of how it functions:
- The collar pairs with a WiFi/Bluetooth base station placed in your home to create a “safe zone.”
- When your dog exits this zone, the collar switches to cellular and GPS tracking.
- You get real-time location updates and escape alerts on your smartphone via the Fi app.
- The collar also tracks your dog’s steps, sleep, and strain score (activity metric).
- Add multiple family members as “owners” so anyone can take your dog on monitored walks.
- Set custom safe zones like your office, dog park or trailer campsite.
- Activate “Lost Dog Mode” for rapid tracking if your pup slips the leash or wanders off.
- LED lights, waterproofing and chew-proof design provide added protection.
- Access location history, create digital fences, compete on leaderboards and more with the Fi app.
Fi Dog Collar Features and Performance
Accurate Real-Time Tracking
The Fi collar’s tracking capabilities are its main selling point. Using a combination of GPS, cellular networks, Bluetooth and WiFi, the collar provides accurate real-time tracking of your dog’s location.
I tested the tracking extensively by having my husband take our dog on impromptu walks without his phone. Each time, I received a notification within 1-3 minutes that our dog had left the safe zone with the location pinned on a map.
The tracking updates every 5 minutes when in normal mode, and every minute in Lost Dog Mode. While not as instantaneous as a GPS in your phone, it proved reliable in my tests for tracking down an escaped pet in a reasonable timeframe.
Activity and Health Monitoring
In addition to tracking your dog’s location, the Fi collar monitors daily activity and sleep patterns. It counts your dog’s steps and distance traveled, and shows trends over time.
There is also a proprietary “Strain Score” metric that indicates your dog’s activity and rest patterns. You can set a target goal for daily steps based on your dog’s needs and get reminders when activity is lagging.
While step counts aren’t an exact science for dogs, this data can supplement health insights from your vet. I appreciated being able to monitor changes in my senior dog’s activity and sleep that might indicate health issues.
Easy Setup and Controls
It only took about 5 minutes to set up my Fi collar out of the box. You create your account in the app, pair the base station to WiFi, customize your safe zones, sync it to any family member’s phones, and you’re good to go.
The Fi app provides at-a-glance tracking of your dog’s location, activity stats and safety status. Key controls like Lost Dog Mode, LED light and correcting the location are easy to access. I found the interface intuitive overall.
Durable, Waterproof Design
The Fi collar has an attractive yet durable stainless steel and aluminum construction. It’s waterproof rated at IP68, chew-proof and sturdy enough for dogs over 100 lbs.
My energetic pitbull once pulled the collar off getting untangled from a bush, but it survived undamaged. For the most part, it held up well to daily use and remained functional after submersion in water.
For added safety, the collar has LED lights in 9 color options you can activate remotely. This helps illuminate your dog at night if they get lost.
Fi Subscription Plans and Costs
The Fi dog collar requires a paid subscription plan to utilize the GPS and cellular features. Currently, you cannot buy the collar without the subscription.There are a few Fi subscription options available:
- 6 month plan: $102 total ($17/month)
- 1 year plan: $192 total ($16/month)
- 2 year plan: $336 total ($14/month)
Longer plans get you lower effective monthly rates. There is also a 30 day free trial period on new activations.
You also need to pay a one-time $20 activation fee when subscribing. If you cancel and reactivate later, there is a $20 reactivation fee.
Overall, you’re looking at a minimum of $122 for 6 months upfront. Competitor smart collars like Tractive cost about $50-100 for the device plus $5-15 in monthly fees, making Fi one of the pricier options.
However, the Fi subscription bundles in hardware refreshes, so you’ll get the latest collar model when upgrades release without added fees.
Pros and Cons of the Fi Smart Dog Collar
Fi Collar Pros
- Accurate real-time location tracking via GPS and cellular networks
- Useful activity and health metrics including custom step goals
- Durable waterproof design built to withstand active dogs
- Easy pairing with unlimited family member profiles
- Customizable safe zones for home, office, vacation etc.
- Rapid “Lost Dog Mode” tracking if your dog escapes
- Long battery life up to 3 months on a single charge
- Hardware updates included in subscription fee
- Requires pricy subscription for full functionality ($122 minimum for 6 months)
- Some lag in escape alerts compared to real time (1-3 minutes)
- Large dogs can potentially remove collar
- App is functional but lacks polish and customization
- No Apple Watch app for glanceable tracking info
- Rural areas may have connectivity gaps in cell coverage
While the Fi collar has some drawbacks, I found the pros of accurate location tracking and activity insights outweighed any negatives for keeping my dog safe. The convenience of collar hardware upgrades included in the subscription fee also adds value.
Fi Dog Collar Alternatives
Popular alternatives to the Fi dog collar include:
- Whistle GO Explore: $129.95 device + $9.95/month, top-rated tracking and fitness features, Apple Watch support.
- Tractive GPS Dog Collar: $99.99 (LTE version) + $4.99-$9.99/month, budget-friendly, smaller/lighter tracker.
- Link AKC Smart Collar: $99.95 + $6.95-$9.95/month, solid real-time tracking, wellness insights.
- Invoxia Pet Tracker: $149 device + $12.95/month, combines GPS, cellular, Bluetooth and WiFi tracking.
- Pawtrack: $28.99 (Bluetooth) $58.99 (cellular) + optional $4.99-$9.99/month, affordable, easy-to-use app.
While more budget-friendly options exist, the Fi collar’s reliability and subscription-included hardware upgrades make it a worthwhile long-term investment if keeping your dog safe is the priority.
Is the Fi Dog Collar Worth It?
For pets that are flight risks or have training and boundaries issues, the Fi Smart Dog Collar provides invaluable peace of mind. Having real-time tracking and location history delivers next-level protection compared to a standard collar.
The activity monitoring also provides helpful supplemental insights on your dog’s health and fitness. While expensive upfront, the included hardware upgrades help offset the subscription cost long term.
Ultimately, the Fi collar best suits dog owners highly concerned with escape prevention and who want maximum tracking capability when escapes happen. For lower-maintenance pets who stay nearby, a lower-cost smart collar could likely suffice.
While not for everyone, the Fi collar succeeds in its core mission. For owners who need hardcore tracking capability, the one-of-a-kind protection Fi provides makes the investment worthwhile.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Fi Dog Collar
How accurate is the Fi collar’s tracking?
The Fi collar combines GPS, cellular networks, Bluetooth and WiFi to achieve tracking accuracy within 5-10 feet in most cases. This level of precision is superior to many competitors.
Does the collar work for cats or small dogs?
Unfortunately no – the Fi collar is currently only designed and sized for dogs. The smallestcollar fits necks 9.5 inches and up.
Can the collar detect if my dog is injured or ill?
No, the Fi collar does not monitor vital signs or health data beyond activity, sleep and location patterns. You would need a smart vest like the Voyce for health insights.
Is the Fi waterproof?
Yes, the Fi collar has a high waterproof rating of IP68 making it fully submersible and able to withstand high pressure spray.
How long does the battery last?
Fi’s battery lasts 1-3 months on average depending on use. Lost Dog Mode drains it quicker while always being home extends battery life.
Do I need a subscription?
Yes, a paid cellular plan subscription is required to access the Fi collar’s GPS tracking, mobile connectivity and other smart features.
What if my dog loses the collar?
The Fi collar has a sturdy, chew-proof design, but dogs can still manage to remove it at times. Thankfully, you can track a lost Fi collar using the same GPS technology.
Can I add multiple dogs on one Fi account?
Yes, the Fi subscription and app support adding unlimited dogs to a single account for multi-pet homes.
Is there a discount for purchasing multiple Fi collars?
Fi doesn’t currently offer volume discounts directly, but you can save on extra collars by purchasing through retailers like Chewy.com that provide discounts.
What is the return policy if I’m unsatisfied?
Fi offers returns within 30 days of purchase when you buy from their website. You must contact support to process the return and get a prepaid shipping label.
Does the Fi collar work outside the US?
The Fi collar works in over 150 countries worldwide. However, cellular coverage may be limited in rural areas internationally.
Fi Dog Collar Review: Final Thoughts
The Fi Smart Dog Collar stands out for providing accurate real-time location tracking for maximum pet safety along with useful wellness insights. While pricier than some competitors, its reliable performance, durable construction and long term value help justify costs.
If you have an escape artist dog or live in a high-risk area like near busy roads, the Fi collar provides next-level protection and peace of mind that other options can’t match. For dog owners who make safety the top priority, the advantages and capabilities of the Fi system make it a worthwhile investment.