While Apple has finally released its smart health connected tag (or tracker), called AirTag, we tested Samsung’s, called SmartTag and sold 34.90 euros (29.90 euros on sale on the manufacturer’s website).
Important note, this version uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), but not ultra wideband (UWB) for very short distance research, like Apple’s AirTag. To take advantage of it, you will have to turn to SmartTag +, the availability of which is not yet known in France.
However, these small boxes (39.1 x 39.1 x 9.9 mm for the SmartTag) all have one thing in common: they are used to easily find the objects to which you have attached them.
A restriction, a disappointment
Let’s start with a very bad surprise: the SmartTag only works on Samsung Galaxy smartphones, with Android 8.0 or higher. This is all the more surprising as the beacon is used with the SmartThings app, also available on other Android smartphones.
But the app is only the top of the iceberg, in this case the user interface, and the operation of the tracker relies on the service. Find My Mobile, from Samsung. Also, software installation is not as easy as we might think.
We launched the SmartThings app, which requires the creation of a Samsung account. After a possible update of the app, we just had to press the central button of the SmartTag for it to be detected.
It is then possible to give it a name, but the operation is not yet complete.
Indeed, it is necessary to update the firmware of the tracker, which fortunately only takes a few minutes. To top it off, the app says it needs to download an add-on. After all these operations, the SmartTag is ready for use and you can assign it an icon corresponding to the category of object, or animal (cat, dog) to which you have attached it.
Now that the installation phase is complete, we can start using the tag. To find your lost object, the SmartThings Find function gives the choice between three solutions: locate it on a map, use the proximity search tool, or more simply make it ring.
For proximity search, a gauge is displayed to indicate whether the signal is stronger or weaker. This principle of hot / cold is not very precise, but allows for example to know in which room the beacon is located. Then, all you have to do is ring it (two ringing intensities are available) to find it … by ear.
In this area, the SmartTag offers the same services as competing trackers such as the Tile Pro. But it is also possible to try to locate the SmartTag when it is out of range, as we will see later in this Review.
No electronic leash
It is just a shame that Samsung did not provide an electronic leash function, which triggers an alarm on the smartphone when the Bluetooth connection is interrupted because the SmartTag is too far away. This function is for example very practical if you leave your health home having forgotten to take an important object with you. As for the range of the beacon, it depends on the obstacles between you and it and the 120 meters announced by Samsung are very optimistic.
A distance of 30 meters seems much more realistic. So, we managed to get out of a building and we continued to detect the tracker on the first floor, then we lost the connection while walking down the street.
We were able to ring the SmartTag with our smartphone, but the reverse is also possible. All you have to do is activate the function and then press the central button on the box.
The SmartTag acts as a remote control
This button can also be used to automate tasks if you have saved other smart health connected objects in the SmartThings app. You can also program the button to automatically send messages to other people, which can be useful if, for example, you have a health problem and you need to promptly notify your loved ones. Two actions can be programmed, depending on whether you press the button once, or for a long time.
In the settings of the SmartThings app, a section caught our attention. It allows you to specify whether you want to activate the offline detection of the smartphone and to encrypt the offline position of a device. Indeed, if your smartphone or your SmartTag are lost, it is possible to find them thanks to other Samsung Galaxy users.
A network of users to find your tracker
In the case of the SmartTag, you will be alerted when the box is within range of another user’s phone and you will be able to see its location on the map in the app. The encryption option makes sure that only you can use the location data. Paranoid people will appreciate this feature.
And if you don’t want to use your smartphone within Samsung’s Galaxy Find network, you can turn off this search feature in Android’s security settings.
Samsung’s SmartTag does its job well and fits quite well into the software environment of Galaxy smartphones. There remains the problem of autonomy. Samsung announces up to 300 days of battery life, but that will depend on its use. The good news is that the beacon uses a common coin cell battery (CR2032) which can be replaced.
Also to discover in video:
Unfortunately, we had a little trouble opening the case with a coin, as recommended by the manufacturer, despite the presence of a notch provided for this purpose. Samsung should have taken the example of Tile, whose trap door system is better designed.