The AirTag is the latest in Bluetooth tracking from Apple. Designed for people who are always losing things like their keys or wallet, AirTags have been hailed as affordable way to keep track of what’s most important to you.
But are AirTags a reliable, cheaper alternative to GPS trackers for dogs and cats?
There’s nothing worse than losing your pet, so can attaching an AirTag to their collar give owners reliable peace of mind that they’ll always be able to find their pet when they go missing?
Can you really trust a Bluetooth tracker designed to keep track of your keys to also help you find your pet in an emergency?
We decided to find out by putting our GPS Pawfit 2 Tracker and the Apple AirTag head to head.
But first, let’s find out more about the Apple AirTag and what makes it different from a GPS tracker like Pawfit.
What is the Apple AirTag?
The Apple AirTag is small, metal disk with built-in Bluetooth, a tiny speaker, replaceable battery and Apple’s U1 chip. The AirTag can be placed in your wallet or attached to your keys, and it’s location is shown via the Find My app on the iPhone.
The Apple AirTag has some attractive selling points:
- It’s small and lightweight
- No subscription fee required
- Low cost
- Long battery life that can last up to a year
How does the Apple AirTag work?
AirTags work by sending out a Bluetooth signal that gets picked up by other people’s iOS devices when they are within range of your AirTag. The other iOS device will then send that information to you in a secure, anonymous and encrypted process.
This means that AirTags can only work when there is an iOS device nearby. This isn’t a problem if your cat or dog goes missing in a busy area with lots of iPhone devices but if they go missing in a remote area with few people around, your chance of finding them is very unlikely.
This is because Bluetooth trackers are only able to track an item when it’s close to your phone – usually within 30-40 meters, meaning if your dog runs off and leaves the Bluetooth range, you will not be able to locate them. Similarly, if the AirTag fell of your pet’s collar in a remote area, you would struggle to find it again.
How does a GPS tracker work?
A GPS pet tracker like Pawfit 2 accurately tracks your pet’s location in real-time wherever they are in the world. It then sends that information via the mobile network and clearly displays the information on a map in a mobile app. This means you’ll always be able to locate your pet so long as there is mobile coverage.
Pawfit 2 is therefore a great choice for people who live or go for walks in remote areas and want a reliable and accurate tracker for their pets.
What are the differences between GPS Trackers and AirTags?
Apple has made it clear that the AirTag “is an accessory that helps keep track of and find items such as a handbag, keys, or backpack,” with one Apple VP stating that the company “designed the AirTag to track items, not people or pets”.
GPs trackers like Pawfit however have been specifically designed for tracking cats and dogs and showing you their exact location wherever they are in the world.
The Apple AirTag starts from £29 with no additional subscription fees however you do need to purchase a special holder to be able to attach it to the likes of your pet’s collar.
Pawfit 2 costs £54.99 plus a small monthly subscription fee. The reason Pawfit 2 requires a subscription fee is to cover the cost of the data used by the sim card within the tracker to send location data to the Pawfit mobile app via the mobile network.
One big difference between the Apple AirTag and GPS trackers is the size.
Our Pawfit 2 tracker is 50.0mm x 34.9mm x 14.7mm and weighs just 30g. It’s designed to be waterproof, durable and ready for all your pet’s adventures.
The AirTag on the other hand is 32mm x 32mm x 6mm, meaning it’s so small it’d be very easy for your pet to accidentally swallow it.
The AirTag is designed for tracking inanimate objects, so compared to a GPS tracker for pets, its features are very limited.
AirTag features include:
- Built in speaker to allow for sound tracking
- Water resistant with a rating of IP67
- Long lasting battery life and replaceable battery
- iOS compatible only
- Lost mode allows other iPhone and Android users to access your contact information if they find your lost item
In comparison, Pawfit comes with a whole range of features designed to make tracking your pet and keeping them safe easier. These include:
- Unlimited range – track your pet wherever they are in the world
- Live location tracking – updates your pet’s location every 5 seconds so you can find them fast
- Safety Fences – create up to 10 virtual fences and receive a mobile notification when your pet leaves or enters a fenced area
- Pawfit Voices – record up to 6 voice commands that play out of Pawfit’s built in speaker at the touch of a button
- Live location sharing with family and friends
- Activity tracking – set personalised fitness goals and monitor your pet’s daily/weekly/monthly performance
- 100% waterproof with a rating of
- Light and sound tracking
- Temperature alerts
- Removal alerts
- iOS and Android compatible
Putting their tracking capabilities to the test
To truly see if the Apple AirTag is a reliable alternative to a GPS tracker like Pawfit, we put them head-to-head by attaching each device to Pawfit Pal Bailey’s harness whilst he went on his walkies with pawrent Sam.
Which device tracked best? Hit play to find out!
As you can see from our testing, whilst the AirTag was able to accurately show Bailey’s location whilst he was next to us, as soon as he had “ran off” and was outside the Bluetooth range, the Find My app was unable to accurately show the AirTag’s location. Not ideal in an emergency situation when your pet is actually lost and you need to find them fast!
In comparison, Pawfit 2 accurately tracked Bailey’s location throughout his entire journey and even showed the route he was taking. In a real-life emergency situation, this would make it so much easier to track him down quickly and safely.