TrackR is a company that makes Bluetooth trackers. These small gadgets — also known as key finders — allow users to locate keys, wallets, and other personal items through a connected smartphone app. TrackR bills itself as a lost item finder (or a lost item tracker), so the company aims to cover all its bases.
TrackR sells three different Bluetooth tracker models, all of which work with the free TrackR app for iOS or Android. TrackR offers a Wallet ($30) tracker, which is a slim device that is mainly used for — as you might imagine — finding wallets. But for the purposes of this review, we’re mainly concerned with TrackR’s two more versatile coin-sized trackers, the Bravo ($30) and the Pixel ($25).
Bravo is about the diameter of a half-dollar coin and slightly thicker than that. It features a small opening so users can attach it to a key ring. Most of Bravo is made of anodized aluminum.
The newer Pixel is all plastic, and it’s a bit smaller — about the size of a quarter, though thicker. Pixel attaches to an item with a small ring and a thin string. It hangs off a key ring, rather than fitting on it as Bravo does. Pixel also features an LED light ring which makes it easier to find in the dark.
Other than these physical differences, there are very few differences, performance-wise. Both trackers have the same Bluetooth range. Both use replaceable batteries (though the batteries are different sizes). The newer Pixel, however, features slightly louder device ringer volume, as verified by TrackR’s tech specs page — the smaller plastic tracker gets as loud as 90dB, while Bravo’s peak is 82db.
How It Works
Bluetooth trackers are gradually becoming more popular as a way to keep track of your keys, wallet, and other personal items. But how do they work?
A Bluetooth tracker — or key finder — is essentially a small accessory that attaches to an item of your choice and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The tracker’s phone app tells you where the tracker is — or was last seen. If you’re in Bluetooth range, you can direct the tracker to beep, right from your phone. Lots of trackers, including TrackR, also offer “reverse finding,” as it were — press the tracker itself and your phone will ring. So while your tracker may be a key finder, it will also work as a phone finder.
As useful as all of this is for tracking down missing keys around the house, it may not be as helpful if you leave your tracked item away from home, far out of Bluetooth range. Bluetooth trackers can still help in a few ways in this situation, though. First off, your phone should always be linked to the tracker, so your tracker’s app should be able to tell you the last location it registered for the item. Which is good, but it may not be enough — especially if the item was stolen, or if it’s been moved.
This is where the tracker’s crowd network comes into play. If your TrackR tracker is lost, you can mark it as missing — doing so will put out a signal that allows other TrackR users to find your item. Other users don’t have to actively search for your missing tracker, either. Just as you run the app in the background on your phone, other users are doing the same. Anyone running the TrackR app who comes into range of the tracker will notify you, unbeknownst to them. You’ll then see the tracker’s location on a map.
It’s important to note that while many people refer to Bluetooth trackers as key finders, there are a number of other uses. Outside of your keys or wallet, some users may want to attach a tracker to their pet’s collar, a piece of luggage, a backpack, a bike, or much more. The possibilities are vast, and you can always get multiple trackers.
TrackR offers device separation alerts, as well. These alerts give users the option of immediately ringing their tracker — or phone — when the two become separated, if one or the other gets left behind. Users can also choose to create Wi-Fi Safe Zones, which automatically disable separation alerts if you’re on a trusted Wi-Fi network. So if you’re at home, you can enable safe zones for your own wireless networks — this way, you’re not going to get separation alerts constantly as you walk around your house or apartment.
TrackR’s app UI is barebones, but it gets the job done. (We used the iOS app.) Its default view is a map of where your TrackR is located. Add another tracker and you can swipe back and forth to see their different locations on the map.
There are two menus that can slide out from opposite sides of the screen. The menu on the left allows users to see weekly usage, set up Wi-Fi Safe Zones, and put the trackers into Silent Mode. The other menu gives users a deeper view of each connected tracker. Here, you can switch notification settings off/on, check the battery level in your tracker, toggle separation alerts, and change the tracker ringtone and ring duration. (In a neat touch, TrackR lets you use songs on your phone as a ringtone. This feature was giving us issues in our testing, however.)
A look at the map showed us that nearly 7,800 TrackR devices were close to our location in New York City. It’s a good, strong number that gives you a better chance of having another TrackR user locate your missing tracker, but it doesn’t stack up to the network of competitor Tile, which showed us more than 24,000 people from the same location.
We also had a few problems reconnecting to the app at times. While our experiences with the Tile app were painless, firing up the TrackR app wasn’t quite the same. Sometimes the app wouldn’t be able to locate the trackers right away, and we also got a few strange notifications about connecting our TrackRs to Bluetooth when they were already connected. None of these quibbles were major, but they do give us pause when it comes to longterm use, months down the road. These annoyances could turn into something more.
Bluetooth Range And Battery Life
Bluetooth range (the distance from which your phone will be able to connect with the tracker via Bluetooth) is said to be 100 feet on both the Bravo and the Pixel. This didn’t seem to be a problem in wide open areas, but we found the TrackR units struggled more than expected with walls, severely limiting the range. The Bravo also seemed worse than the Pixel, in our experience.
TrackR estimates that its battery on both Bravo or Pixel can last for a year. Not only that, but both trackers use swappable coin cell batteries that can be easily found in stores or online. So, when your battery runs out, you can just pop in a new one and keep going. This gives Bravo and Pixel a big advantage over other Bluetooth trackers without replaceable batteries.
Additionally, a battery life monitor on the TrackR app will keep you posted on how close a battery is to the end of its life. So you shouldn’t be caught by surprise if your TrackR stops working for battery reasons.
When comparing the Bravo and Pixel directly, the Pixel seems like the better choice on a number of levels. It’s $5 cheaper, it’s newer, its Bluetooth range is a bit better, it has a smaller footprint, and it’s easier to put on a key ring. As noted earlier, it also has a louder peak volume level.
However, the Bravo looks nicer and has a better build quality, considering it’s mostly anodized aluminum. It’s a bit tricky to slide onto a key ring, but once it’s there, it’s not going anywhere. You might prefer its solid feel (and more stylish design) to the swinging plastic Pixel.
While TrackR’s device separation alerts are a handy optional feature that isn’t featured on all Bluetooth trackers, we found them rather hard to appreciate — when turned on, both of our TrackRs would sometimes alert us when we hadn’t even moved. It’s potentially a great feature, but we don’t know if it can be fully trusted to work properly at all times.
Both Bravo and Pixel are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa devices — you can ask Alexa to have the trackers find your phone. We didn’t test this feature. (We also don’t think it’s important enough to consider above all the other factors.)
Because of their removable batteries, neither Bravo nor Pixel are waterproof. However, TrackR offers a waterproof case for Bravo. There’s no such case for Pixel yet.
Who It Might Be Good For
- Users who want a Bluetooth tracker with a replaceable battery.
- Users who want device separation alerts.
- Users seeking an aluminum tracker (Bravo).
- Users who want LED lights on their tracker for locating items in the dark (Pixel).
Who It Might Not Be Good For
- Users who want a top-notch app.
- Users seeking a tracker with great Bluetooth range.
- Users who want a tracker free of connection issues.
TrackR Bravo and Pixel are decent options, but they do lag behind Tile’s trackers in a number of key areas, including Bluetooth range, alert volume, crowd finding network size, and its app. However, if you know want a tracker with a replaceable battery — and thus, a longer overall lifespan — TrackR’s tiny tracking gadgets are definitely worth a look.
You can buy TrackR’s Bravo and Pixel on TrackR’s website, as a single tracker or in packs. You can also find TrackR’s products online, and in a number of retail locations.
Editor’s Note: Some sections of this review explaining Bluetooth trackers were borrowed from other reviews on this site.