Nintendo Direct E3 2021 Beats Studio Buds review Windows 10 support ends in 2025 All the E3 2021 trailers Chrissy Teigen apologizes Pre-Prime Day deals
CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

SmartTags: 8 must-know tips for using Samsung's answer to AirTag and Tile

Samsung SmartTag and SmartTag Plus are the Android equivalent of Apple's AirTag.

Listen
- 05:16
velveteen-rabbit-2

The SmartTag is small enough it won't get in the way. 

Samsung

Tiny gadgets that help you track down lost items are all the rage this year. In addition to Samsung announcing SmartTag and SmartTag Plus trackers in January. Apple recently announced and released its own Tile-like device, the AirTag. Both devices are similar in that they rely on Bluetooth to help you keep tabs on your keys, a backpack, luggage or even a pet. But there's more to it than that. 

There are several things to know about Samsung's SmartTag. For a start, SmartTags connect to SmartThings Find, a service that's already built directly into Samsung Galaxy phones -- SmartThings is Samsung's app and hub for compatible smart home devices. Additionally, not all SmartTags are created equal. There are actually two different models. The standard SmartTag launched earlier this year, while the SmartTag Plus was only recently made available to purchase. Don't worry, I'll explain everything below. 

Here's everything we know about Samsung's SmartTag so far (and, admittedly, what we don't), from the price and way it works, to how to figure out which SmartTag to buy.

Now playing: Watch this: We unbox and go hands-on with the Galaxy S21 and S21...
9:10


How much do SmartTags cost? 

The SmartTag is $30 for one, $50 for two and $85 for a four-pack. The UWB version is $40 for one and $65 for a two-pack (however, I cannot find the two-pack available for purchase anywhere).

For comparison, a Tile Pro is $35 and an Apple AirTag is $30

Samsung SmartTag: What is it?

Samsung's SmartTag is a small, battery-powered device that you can attach to things like a wallet, backpack or even your pet. Each SmartTag is powered by the very common and affordable CR2032 battery and is user-replaceable. 

Once it's set up and linked to your Samsung account, the tag can be found using the SmartThings Find app on your phone 

007-samsung-galaxy-smarttag

SmartTag's are small enough to fit in your keyring. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

How do you use a SmartTag to find a lost item?

After you realize you've lost an item, open the SmartThings app on your smartphone. Next, tap the Menu button, then All Devices. Select the SmartTag or SmartTag Plus you're looking for, followed by View Map. A map will open, showing you the current location of your tag. 

If you're close to the lost item, you use the gauge on the screen to show how far away the item is. The fuller the gauge gets, the closer you are. To help you find the tag, you can make it play a sound.

If the tag isn't close to you, don't worry, it can still be found. Other Samsung devices near the tag will anonymously locate it for you, and then let you know where it is, all without the owner of the device doing a thing. It's done in the background and is encrypted to ensure privacy. 

velveteen-rabbit-06129

SmartThings Find is the app you'll use to track down list items.

James Martin/CNET

Why are there two different types of SmartTags?

In a classic Samsung move, there are two different types of SmartTags. The standard SmartTag uses Bluetooth Low Energy as its connection standard. The other version, called SmartTag Plus, uses Bluetooth Low Energy along with ultrawideband connectivity. Not all Samsung phones are equipped with the necessary hardware to connect to UWB devices, which is potentially one reason for Samsung is offering two different tags. Currently, only the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the Galaxy S21 Plus and S21 Ultra support UWB. 

velveteen-rabbit-06140

Samsung's Galaxy S21 is a good-looking phone, right? 

James Martin/CNET

What's the difference between the two SmartTags?

Using the SmartThings Find app to locate tags that are equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy, you won't be able to see a tag's exact location, but an estimate of how far away or close it is. It's the same kind of tech that's used to stream music from your phone to your wireless earbuds or allow your phone to act as a key with a smart lock. 

With ultrawideband, your phone and the tag are able to talk to each other and estimate a more precise location, within a few inches. Using a series of short pulses, a UWB device can communicate measuring how long it takes for one of the pulses to be received and answered by another UWB device. In short, UWB is far more precise than BLE. 

We have a far more detailed explanation here of what exactly UWB is, how it works and other ways it can be used. 

smarttags.png

All the color options for your Bluetooth Samsung SmartTag.

Samsung/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

When can I buy both versions?

Right now. Samsung launched the standard SmartTag first, and you can currently find them in all the normal places you'd find electronics, such as Amazon. The UWB version SmartTag Plus launched at the end of April and are available directly from Samsung

uwb.png

Samsung revealed two new SmartTags and their pricing.

Samsung/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Will both tags work with every Galaxy phone?

No. You can use the base SmartTag with any Galaxy phone, but only the Galaxy S21 Plus, S21 Ultra and last year's Note 20 Ultra support the UWB technology found in the SmartTag Plus.

velveteen-rabbit-06154

It's too bad you can't use a SmartTag to track down the new S Pen for the S21 Ultra. 

James Martin/CNET

What else should I know?

The extra features of UWB mean that you can use a dedicated augmented reality mode in the SmartThings Find app that will help you pinpoint a tag's location in the real world, instead of using a gauge that fills in as you get closer to it. 

Using AR, you'll be able to hold up your phone and view exactly where the tag is, using a combination of your phone's camera and a graphic in the app to see the world around you. 

Battery life is expected to last months, but that can be shortened if you use the AR feature often with the Plus model, or leave a Tag alone for an extended amount of time.  

Curious how SmartTags compare to Apple's AirTags and Tile? We were, too. If you're considering getting the Galaxy S21, we have some thoughts about the different models