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Bluetooth Trackers Vs GPS Trackers: Which One Is Best?

Marianne   October 11, 2023

Deciding between a GPS tracker and a bluetooth tracker?

As technology advances, the need for tracking our belongings, pets, and even loved ones has significantly grown. Two popular options for location tracking are bluetooth trackers like the Apple AirTag and more advanced GPS trackers. To help you decide which tracking device would best suit your individual circumstances, we will compare the benefits and limitations of both in this blog. Keep on reading to learn more!

Bluetooth Tracking Technology

What Is Bluetooth Tracking?

Apple Airtag bluetooth tracker

Bluetooth trackers are small devices that can be attached to valuable items such as keys, wallets and mobile phones, to prevent them from being lost or stolen. As the name suggests, these compact devices use a Bluetooth connection to track an object and to relay information about its whereabouts.

Bluetooth trackers will typically have a unique signature that can be connected to just one mobile device, to make sure the location of an item is only known to the owner.

What Are The Benefits Of Bluetooth Tracking Devices?

cat wearing an apple airtag

Bluetooth trackers, such as the Apple AirTag or Chipolo, have become hugely popular in recent years, for a number of reasons:

  1. Compact design: Bluetooth trackers like the Apple AirTag are small and lightweight, making them easy to attach to keys, bags, or pet collars without adding much bulk.
  2. Affordability: Bluetooth trackers are generally more affordable than advanced GPS trackers, making them an attractive option for those on a budget.
  3. Community network: Apple AirTag and some other Bluetooth trackers benefit from a community network, allowing other users’ devices to anonymously help in locating your lost item. This can significantly increase the chances of recovering lost belongings.
  4. Discourage unwanted tracking: Many bluetooth trackers on the market have been designed to discourage misuse of the device. For example, if an unknown tracker finds its way into your bag or car, many smartphones will alert you of its presence. Additionally, the tracker will start playing a sound to let you know it’s there.

What Are The Limitations Of Bluetooth Tracking Devices?

When deciding whether to purchase a bluetooth tracking device, it is important to consider the following limitations too:

  1. Limited range: Bluetooth trackers have a relatively short range (typically up to 100 feet). This limitation means that they are most effective for finding items in close proximity.
  2. Dependence on bluetooth: Bluetooth trackers rely on the connection to a smartphone with Bluetooth enabled. If your item is far away, it may be challenging to track.
  3. No real-time tracking: Bluetooth trackers do not offer real-time tracking capabilities. They can only provide the last known location when the Bluetooth connection was active.
  4. Detectable: Most smartphones have features that can detect Bluetooth trackers nearby. Additionally, there are apps that can be specifically used to detect Bluetooth trackers.
  5. Can be disabled: Bluetooth trackers are typically powered by batteries. If the battery is removed or dies, the tracker will be disabled.
  6. Trackable: Most Bluetooth trackers have a unique identifier that can be used to track their location. This means that if the person being followed is aware that they are being tracked, they can report the tracker to law enforcement.

GPS Tracking Devices

micro tracker

What Are GPS Tracking Devices?

GPS trackers are devices that use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine and record the precise location of a person, vehicle, or object in real-time or at specific intervals. The Global Positioning System is a network of satellites that orbit the Earth and transmit signals to GPS receivers. These receivers will then calculate their exact position on the planet.

These trackers come in a variety of forms and can have a number of applications, from GPS People trackers and asset trackers to GPS Enforcer Vehicle Trackers.

So, when might you need a tracking device? At Spy Equipment UK, many of our GPS trackers have been used by parents to track their child’s location, by businesses to track valuable assets, or by law enforcement officials as part of an investigation.

What Are The Benefits Of GPS Trackers?

gps evolution

There are several benefits to GPS tracking devices, for example:

  1. Global coverage: GPS trackers work anywhere with a clear line of sight to the sky, or where it can be reflected from the road, or placed inside an object (including vehicles) that allows GPS waves to penetrate, offering global tracking capabilities. This makes them suitable for tracking items or people in remote locations.
  2. Real-time tracking: GPS trackers provide real-time location updates, allowing you to track the movement of your items or loved ones continuously.
  3. Geofencing: Many advanced GPS trackers offer geofencing features, enabling you to set up virtual boundaries. You will receive alerts when the tracker enters or exits these predefined areas.
  4. Long term deployment: many GPS trackers have an excellent battery life, meaning that some can be deployed for weeks at a time, which is handy when tracking vulnerable people or fleet vehicles for example.
  5. Detectability: Standalone GPS trackers can be more difficult to detect than Bluetooth trackers. This is because they do not emit any radio signals that can be detected by smartphones. They tend to use a burst signal, which means that they can only be detected by a bug detector at the time a burst of data is sent, usually every 15 seconds or more.
  6. Trackability: Most GPS trackers are also more difficult to track than Bluetooth trackers, because they do not have a unique identifier that can be used to track their location.

What Are The Limitations Of GPS Trackers?

  1. More expensive: GPS trackers are comparatively more expensive than bluetooth trackers, but most of the time you’ll be paying for a device with more advanced tracking capabilities. GPS trackers from Spy Equipment UK range between £135 and £300, depending on the type of device you’re after. Often, you will have to pay for tracking subscriptions too with GPS devices, to allow for unlimited access to their linked web-based tracking platforms.
  2. Size: GPS trackers tend to be bulkier and may require larger batteries to provide regular positional tracking over extended periods of time, which can be inconvenient for small items or pets.
  3. Privacy concerns: The constant tracking capability of GPS trackers can raise privacy concerns, especially when used on people. It is important you understand the UK GPS tracking laws before deployment. In most jurisdictions, tracking an individual without their consent is illegal.

GPS Trackers VS Bluetooth Tracking

GPS Tracking Devices From Spy Equipment UK

Choosing between Bluetooth trackers and GPS trackers depends on your specific needs and budget. Bluetooth trackers like the Apple AirTag are ideal for locating items within close range, while GPS trackers offer the advantage of global coverage and real-time tracking. Ultimately, both technologies have their place in the world of tracking, and the choice depends on what best suits your individual circumstances.

If you’d like to learn more about any of our GPS trackers, get in touch with our expert team at Spy Equipment UK today and we’d be happy to advise you further. Contact us today on 024 76 010588 or email us at shop@spyequipment.co.uk.

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