Fi vs Whistle: Which is the Best GPS Dog Tracker in 2024?

January 13, 2024

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Pet trackers have become an incredibly useful tool for responsible pet owners. Being able to monitor your pet’s location and activity can give you peace of mind and help keep them safe.

Two of the most popular and highly-rated options on the market right now are the Fi collar and the Whistle GO Explore. But with so many overlapping features, how do you choose between them?

In this in-depth comparison guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about Fi and Whistle to decide which smart dog collar is right for your needs.

By the end, you’ll understand the key similarities and differences between the Fi tracker and Whistle GO. Let’s dive in!

An Overview of Fi and Whistle Pet Trackers

Both Fi and Whistle are designed first and foremost as GPS pet trackers to monitor your dog or cat’s location. They leverage cellular and satellite networks to provide real-time tracking.

But they also do much more than that, functioning as all-in-one smart collars with activity and health tracking.

Here’s a quick rundown of each device:

Fi Smart Dog Collar

Fi Smart Dog Collar

Fi collar is a popular budget-friendly GPS tracker packed with features (Fi Smart Dog Collar Review):

  • Uses next-gen LTE-M cellular networks for tracking
  • Activity and sleep monitoring
  • Customizable geofences and escape alerts
  • Lost dog mode with GPS tracking
  • Up to 3 month battery life
  • 30 day free trial

The Fi GPS tracker starts at $149 for the device itself. You’ll need to purchase a separate subscription plan.

Whistle GO Explore

Whistle

The Whistle GO provides:

  • AT&T LTE cellular and WiFi tracking
  • Custom safe zones and escape alerts
  • Detailed health and activity monitoring
  • Location sharing and alerts
  • 20 day battery life
  • 90 day money-back guarantee

Pricing starts at $129.95 for the Whistle GO, plus subscription fees.

Now let’s take a deeper look at how they compare across the most important categories pet owners should consider.

GPS Tracking and Location Technology

The #1 priority for most people shopping for a smart collar is accurate, real-time GPS tracking to monitor their pet’s location. This is the core functionality that both Fi and Whistle provide.

But how does their tracking technology and performance stack up?

Tracking Accuracy

Both collars use advanced cellular networks for tracking. But Fi has the edge when it comes to accuracy.

The Fi collar uses the new LTE-M network. This narrowband network is designed specifically for IoT devices. It allows for more precise, reliable tracking compared to standard LTE networks.

In open sky locations, Fi’s tracking is accurate to within around 7 feet of your pet’s actual location. That’s extremely precise tracking capabilities.

Whistle uses AT&T’s LTE network. While the accuracy is very good, it can’t quite match the precision of Fi’s LTE-M technology.

Overall, if pinpoint accuracy is your top priority, Fi is the winner in this category. But both provide excellent real-time monitoring of your pet’s movements.

Tracking Range

When it comes to range, the Fi collar also has a slight advantage.

The LTE-M network used by Fi collars can maintain a connection up to 2.5 miles farther than a standard LTE network like Whistle uses. So you get noticeably better coverage.

That said, both devices offer excellent range throughout most of the United States thanks to using robust cellular networks.

As long as you’re within a coverage area for AT&T’s LTE networks, you’ll be able to track your pet’s location without any issues using either collar. But Fi pulls ahead when you get towards the fringes of reception.

Location Updates and History

Fi and Whistle take slightly different approaches when it comes to the frequency of GPS location updates:

  • The Whistle GO provides a location update every 60 seconds as long as your pet is outside of a designated safe zone. This allows constant monitoring.
  • Fi takes more of an optimized approach to save battery life. It regularly updates with your pet’s general location. But it switches to live tracking mode updating every 2-3 seconds if your pet exits its safe zone.
Whistle Gps Location Tracking
Fi Gps Location Tracking

The Whistle GO also stores your pet’s location history for the past 24 hours. Fi does not provide location history.

So Whistle gives you more constant insights into your pet’s movements and patterns through constant updates. But Fi optimizes battery by only using live tracking when absolutely needed while roaming.

Cellular and Connectivity

As mentioned above, the core GPS tracking technology relies on cellular connections:

  • Fi uses the new LTE-M network for connectivity.
  • Whistle relies on AT&T’s LTE network.

Both networks provide excellent, nationwide coverage. But LTE-M gives Fi the edge for more precise tracking and better range from the cellular network.

The trackers also use Bluetooth and WiFi to supplement tracking when in range of your smartphone or home network. This helps further boost location accuracy when available.

Activity and Health Tracking Features

In addition to GPS tracking, both Fi and Whistle provide useful activity and health tracking functionality.

This gives pet owners insights into their pet’s exercise, sleep, and daily habits. Let’s overview how the two compare when it comes to their activity monitoring features.

Fi’s Activity Tracking

The Fi collar keeps track of basic activity metrics:

  • Daily steps taken
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Distance traveled
  • Activity levels (active vs inactive)
  • Calories burned

You can view daily, weekly, and monthly activity reports within the Fi app. It gives you a helpful overview of trends and progress over time.

Fi Fitness And Health Tracking

Fi also lets you set daily step goals customized for your dog. You’ll get notifications when your pet reaches the goal so you can reward and motivate them.

For basic fitness tracking, Fi hits all the key marks. It gives you the essential feedback you need to keep your dog active and healthy.

Whistle GO’s Activity Tracking

The Whistle GO Explore matches Fi’s basics like step counting, distance traveled, and calories burned.

But it also goes significantly more in-depth when it comes to activity and health tracking capabilities:

  • Licking detection
  • Scratching monitoring
  • Eating and drinking tracking
  • Resting and active time breakdowns
  • Sleep patterns
  • Customizable activity goals
Whistle Health Monitoring

The Whistle app provides granular reports on all of these daily health and behavior patterns. You can track trends over time as well as dive into a specific day to see how often behaviors like licking and scratching occurred.

For pet owners and vets concerned with changes in health and behavior patterns, this expansive activity tracking is a major benefit of the Whistle GO.

It gives you a detailed window into changes in your pet’s daily routine that might indicate issues to keep an eye on.

Activity Tracking Winner?

When it comes to basic activity metrics like steps and sleep, both trackers are evenly matched.

But Whistle GO pulls way ahead for pet owners who want detailed monitoring and health insights. The expansive activity tracking features blow Fi’s out of the water.

So fitness enthusiasts may lean towards Fi for simple goal setting and progress tracking. But the Whistle GO is the clear winner if you want expansive health behavior monitoring.

Geofencing and Escape Notifications

A major concern for pet owners is their dogs or cats escaping from the yard or house unexpectedly. That’s why both Whistle and Fi offer excellent geofencing capabilities.

Geofences allow you to designate specific safe zones on the map. If your pet leaves the zone, you’ll get immediate notifications so you can take action.

Here’s an overview of how the geofencing features compare:

Fi Geofencing

Fi Geofencing

The Fi app allows you to set up custom safe zones based on GPS coordinates, radial distance, or by drawing a custom polygon on the map.

You can designate as many different zones as you want. So you can set up a perimeter around your house, your work office, a family member’s home, and more.

Once your pet leaves the safe zone, the Fi collar will immediately trigger escape notifications via the mobile app. This includes useful details like which geofence was exited and your pet’s current location.

You can also enable the Lost Dog Mode which activates high-frequency live tracking updates to monitor your pet until they are located.

Fi App Lost Dog Mode

Overall, Fi gives you flexible, customizable geofencing options tailored to your common locations. Combined with the fast escape notifications, it provides great security and peace of mind.

Whistle GO Geofencing

Whistle Go Geofencing

Like Fi, the Whistle GO platform allows you to designate custom safe zones on the map view within the app.

You can make them any shape or size fit around your home, workplace, or anywhere else your pet spends time. Multiple overlapping zones are supported too.

If your pet exits the geofence, Whistle immediately sends push notifications to your phone. You’ll also get emails and text message alerts informing you of the location and escape.

This multi-channel notification system helps ensure you don’t miss any escape alerts. The whole family can get notifications as soon as your pet leaves their safe space.

Overall, the Whistle GO matches Fi when it comes to flexible and customizable geofencing capabilities. The alerts are fast and reliable using both devices.

Geofence Winner?

It’s essentially a tie when it comes to escape notifications and geofencing features. Both platforms provide versatile tools to designate safe zones combined with real-time alerts.

The strength of Whistle’s alerts is the multi-channel notifications via push, text, and email. But Fi’s Lost Dog Mode is a handy addition to speed up finding a lost pet.

Either way, these smart collars have you covered with all the geofencing features you need to keep your pets safe and secure.

Design, Durability, and Sizing

In order for a GPS pet tracker to be effective, the physical device itself needs to be durable and comfortable for long-term wear.

Here are some key considerations when it comes to the design of the Fi and Whistle trackers:

Fi Collar Design

Fi Size And Weight

The Fi GPS tracker is built directly into the collar strap itself. This creates a streamlined, minimalist profile since the tracker integrates directly.

It has an IP68 waterproof rating, making it fully waterproof even when submerged.

The collar strap is made of durable nylon fabric. But the real durability comes from the metal reinforcement built into the GPS module. This armored shell protects it from bumps and chewing.

One downside is the tracker is not removable from the collar strap. So you can’t swap it between multiple collars.

When it comes to sizing, the Fi smart collar comes in 4 options:

  • Small – 11.5-13.5″ neck size
  • Medium – 13-16.5″ neck size
  • Large – 16-22.5″ neck size
  • Extra Large – 22-34.5″ neck size

This offers a lot of flexibility to get the right fit for your pet. Measure around their neck to pick the appropriate size.

Whistle GO Explore Design

Whistle Go

The Whistle GO takes a different approach with a removable tracker module. This lets you attach it to any existing 1″ wide collar.

The module itself is lightweight and slim, with a rugged rubberized shell. It attaches securely using Whistle’s TwistLock mechanism.

The Whistle GO has an IP67 waterproof rating, meaning it can be submerged 1 meter deep for 30 minutes.

The biggest advantage of the Whistle GO’s design is you aren’t limited by collar options. You can pick any standard collar and swap the device between them. No need to buy proprietary Whistle collars.

The downside is the removable design is a bit bulkier on the collar compared to Fi’s integrated look.

Winner?

For durability, both are extremely rugged and waterproof. The nod goes slightly to Fi for the fully integrated armored design, but only slightly. Either collar can withstand serious abuse.

When it comes to sizing and fit, the advantage goes to Whistle since you can use any standard 1″ wide collar. Fi forces you to pick between fixed sizing options.

So if finding the perfect size is crucial and you prefer interchangeable collars, Whistle is likely the better pick. But Fi is ahead when it comes to the streamlined, minimalist design.

Battery Life and Charging

You don’t want to be constantly recharging your pet tracker, so extended battery life is important. Here’s how Fi and Whistle compare:

Fi Battery Life

The Fi collar boasts an extremely impressive 3+ month battery life per charge.

This exceptional performance is partially thanks to the power-saving benefits of LTE-M networks. It doesn’t need to connect as frequently as Whistle’s standard LTE.

Real-world usage backs up Fi’s battery claims. You can reasonably expect 2.5-3 months between charges with typical use.

Of course, more active tracking like Lost Dog Mode will decrease this lifespan. But even in full live tracking mode, the battery lasts 48-60 hours usually.

Whistle Battery Life

The Whistle GO Explore has a maximum 20 day battery life according to the company’s estimates.

So out of the box, you can expect to charge it about twice per month with regular use.

In practice, Whistle GO owners report 10-14 days being the typical charge frequency. But that aligns with Whistle’s guidance accounting for activity monitoring and live tracking.

The Whistle GO does offer smart power-saving modes to extend battery when in a safe zone. But Fi still has a sizable advantage when it comes to battery performance.

Charging and Power Management

Both the Fi collar and Whistle GO use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

Each tracker comes with a USB charging cable to refuel from any powered USB port or wall adapter. Recharges take 1-2 hours typically.

The Whistle GO has the added benefit of letting you easily swap out the battery module for a spare. So you can charge one while using another if needed. The Fi collar has an integrated, non-removable battery.

The Fi and Whistle Mobile Apps

The companion iOS and Android apps are crucial for setting up your tracker and taking advantage of the features.

Here’s an overview of what you can do with the Fi and Whistle apps:

Fi App

Fi App

The Fi app (iOS and Android) allows you to:

  • View your pet’s location on the map
  • Track activity metrics and progress
  • Enable Lost Dog Mode to begin live tracking
  • Monitor if your pet has escaped a geofence
  • Review location history
  • Create and manage custom geofences
  • Chat live with Fi support
  • View how your pet is progressing against goals
  • Check collar battery level

It provides a smooth, intuitive experience for the key functionality you need in a smart collar companion app.

The map view makes it simple to check your pet’s most recent coordinates. You can also hit the “Locate” button to activate live tracking mode and get the current location.

Overall, it covers the core essentials without overwhelming users with too many complex features.

Whistle App

Whistle Smartphone App

The Whistle GO app (iOS and Android) enables:

  • Viewing your pet’s location on Google Maps
  • Managing safe zones and geofences
  • Tracking health metrics like licking and scratching
  • Monitoring activity patterns and goals
  • Location sharing with friends and family
  • Reviewing location history and routes
  • Getting push and text alerts
  • Battery management
  • Email and app notifications for key events

The Whistle app provides deeper analytics and customization thanks to the broader range of tracking metrics. The map view leverages Google Maps for familiar navigation.

You have more options for fine-tuning features like battery modes compared to the streamlined Fi experience. But the app can feel crowded as a result.

The mobile apps cater to the strengths of each device. Fi focuses on location tracking essentials. Whistle provides more advanced customization and insights.

App Winner?

For most pet owners, Fi’s app is likely the winner. The simplified design makes it fast and easy to use. You can instantly see your pet’s location and track them if needed.

Power users who want expansive data analytics and customization will prefer Whistle’s much deeper app. But the average pet owner will find Fi’s app less overwhelming.

Cost Comparison of Fi vs Whistle

Let’s break down what you can expect to pay when it comes to buying the tracker plus ongoing subscriptions:

Fi CollarWhistle GO Explore
Device Price$149$129
Monthly Subscription$9.95$12.95
Yearly Subscription$99$99
2-Year Subscriptionn/a$159
Check Price at TryFi.comCheck Price at Amazon

Upfront Device Cost – Fi is slightly pricier at $149 compared to $129 for the Whistle.

Monthly Subscription – Whistle is $3/month pricier for month-to-month.

Yearly Subscription – Essentially identical at $99 per year for both. This is the best value.

2-Year Subscription – Only Whistle offers this longer subscription at $159 total for 2 years.

The Bottom Line – The upfront cost is very similar between the two. Whistle offers a lower monthly price if you commit to 1-2 years upfront. But expect to pay around $100/year for full functionality either way.

Over a 2 year period, the Fi collar will cost approximately $298 total. The Whistle GO adds up to $278 for the same timeframe.

Fi vs Whistle: Pros and Cons

To summarize the key strengths and weaknesses of the Fi and Whistle trackers:

Fi Collar Pros

  • Excellent 3 month battery life
  • Streamlined, durable collar design
  • Accurate LTE-M tracking technology
  • Easy to use mobile app
  • Flexible sizing options
  • Geofencing and Lost Dog Mode

Fi Collar Cons

  • Limited compared to Whistle for health insights
  • Requires proprietary collar strap
  • Monthly plans more expensive than Whistle

Whistle GO Pros

  • Fully customizable and removable design
  • Expansive health and activity tracking
  • Multi-channel escape notifications
  • Deep analytics and customization
  • Cheaper long-term for subscriptions

Whistle GO Cons

  • Shorter battery life at 2 weeks max compared to the Tractive GPS tracker
  • App can feel overwhelming

Both deliver core location tracking essentials. Fi has better battery and tracking precision. Whistle dominates for health monitoring and customization.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will these trackers work for cats?

Both Fi and Whistle are primarily focused on dogs, but can work for cats too. Whistle is a better fit for cats since you can attach the removable tracker to a standard cat collar.

Do they work for small dogs and large dogs?

The adjustable and removable Whistle design fits any size neck. Fi’s proprietary strap only comes in specific sizing options, so measure carefully.

What networks do they use for tracking?

Fi uses LTE-M while Whistle uses AT&T’s standard LTE network. Both provide nationwide coverage.

Can I create multiple safe zones?

Yes, you can create as many custom geofenced safe zones as needed on both platforms. For example, designate zones for home, office, your parent’s house, etc.

How accurate is the health and activity tracking?

Both are relatively accurate for metrics like steps and distance thanks to built-in accelerometers. Whistle’s more advanced health tracking relies on algorithms to estimate behaviors like eating, scratching, etc. Take those analyses as general trends rather than precise tracking like you’ll find with the FitBark.

The Verdict: Which is the Right GPS Tracker for You?

At the end of the day, Fi and Whistle both provide excellent tracking combined with activity monitoring. They have slightly different strengths and weaknesses.

For most pet owners, the simpler Fi smart collar is likely the best pick. The battery life is outstanding. Location tracking is precise and fast with LTE-M networks. The app cleanly provides the core essentials you need.

If you want basic activity tracking, the affordable FitBark 2 provides sufficient fitness metrics without the expensive subscription fees.

If you want expansive health insights and customization, choose the Whistle GO Explore. The detailed activity tracking and multi-channel notifications make it the top choice for data-driven pet owners concerned with changes in behavior patterns and health. But the shorter battery life is a tradeoff.

Hopefully this detailed comparison gives you clarity on which device pairs best with your priorities as a pet owner! Let us know if you have any other questions.