After much speculation, the Apple finally launched on Tuesday (20) the AirTags, its electronic tags that connect to the Find My network and allow track objects from day to day like bags, backpacks, keys and more.

But this time, the apple company didn't come out ahead. Samsung recently announced the second generation of their electronic tags, the Galaxy SmartTag +. And on paper, the technology and features of the accessory are very similar to that found at the launch of Apple.

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If you keep forgetting where you kept things, you probably want to know: what are the differences and advantages of one over the other? That's what we're going to tell in this article.

Basic technology from AirTag and Galaxy SmartTag +

Both AirTags and Galaxy SmartTag + use the same basic technology: a radio Bluetooth and a chip “Ultra-Wideband“. Both take advantage of location networks built by their respective manufacturers.

In the case of Apple the network is “Find My”, which is already used to find iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Macbooks. In the case of Samsung, the feature is SmartThings Find, which works with other branded devices.

In both products the concept is simple: a device that is part of the network, such as an iPhone or Galaxy smartphone, is constantly “listening” to the signal from other members around it, emitted via Bluetooth. It is as if he greets, and is greeted, by other devices through which he passes during the day.

When a tag is lost, a server sends a warning to all members of the network in the region where it was last seen. If one of them approaches the label, it notifies the server: "I found the label X in the coordinates Y and Z". The server, in turn, forwards the message to the label owner.

iPhone warning that an AirTag was found. Image: Apple
iPhone warning that an AirTag was found. Image: Apple

When it approaches it, the “Ultra-Wideband” chip comes into play: with the distance and direction information obtained by it, a smartphone can show an arrow or map on the screen indicating exactly the way to the lost label.

It is this chip that allows a jump in the level of precision, from "your bag is at home" to "your bag is in the bedroom, under the bed". To assist in locating, both tags are capable of making a sound to attract attention.

Samsung Smartphone showing the location of a SmartTag +. Image: Samsung
Samsung Smartphone showing the location of a SmartTag +. Image: Samsung

But it is worth remembering that to use this form of location more accurate your smartphone also needs to have a UWB chip. On the iPhone it is called U1 and is available on iPhone 11, 11 Pro e11 Pro Max, in addition to the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max and 12 mini. As for Samsung products, it is limited to devices such as the line Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy z fold 2.

Compatibility

This is probably the point that will decide a purchase: AirTags only work with Apple devices, and can only be activated using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 14.5, or newer. Likewise, Galaxy SmartTag + requires a Galaxy family device running Android 8.0 or later.

That is, you cannot use an AirTag with a Samsung smartphone, or a Galaxy SmartTag + with a Motorola cell phone. In the case of AirTags, it is possible to use an Android smartphone to read via NFC information from a tag that you eventually find on the street, but the location feature is not available.

Design and accessories

AirTags have the typical Apple design: they are discs 32 mm in diameter and 6 mm thick, made of plastic with a metallic cover with the company logo. The Galaxy SmartTag + are plastic “squares” with rounded corners, 39 mm on the side and 10 mm thick.

Front and back of an AirTag. Image: Apple
Front and back of an AirTag. Image: Apple

At this point, the Galaxy SmartTag + has an advantage: a hole for you to pass a metal ring (like a key ring) and hang them on whatever you want. AirTags don't have anything like that, and to hang them you need to buy an accessory. 

Galaxy SmartTag +. Image: Samsung
Galaxy SmartTag +. Image: Samsung

Obviously, Apple has several models for sale. The cheapest, made of polyurethane, costs the same as an AirTag ($ 29). Leather versions cost $ 35 to $ 39. But there is a special model, produced by the luxury brand Hermés, which costs an astonishing $ 349. Enough to buy a dozen AirTags.

Accessories for AirTags. Prices can range from $ 29 to $ 349. Image: Apple
Accessories for AirTags. Prices can range from $ 29 to $ 349. Image: Apple

Another advantage of Galaxy SmartTag +: a button that can be programmed to cause another device connected to the SmartThings network to perform an action when pressed. You can program it, for example, to turn on the lights in the room or to open and close the garage door, if they are compatible.

Durability of labels

Apple claims that AirTags are IP67 certified for water and dust resistance. This means complete resistance to the entry of dust, and to the entry of water in the case of submersion to a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. 

Galaxy SmartTag + are less resistant. The IP53 certification does not guarantee that dust will not enter the device, but if it does, it should not be in sufficient quantity to impair its operation.

As for water, the resistance is what is called a "spray": water falling at an angle of up to 60º vertically should not cause damage, which should protect it from light rain. But survival under submergence is not guaranteed.

An important point: both labels use removable batteries: they are standard “button cells” CR2032, very easy to find. 

AirTag and Galaxy SmartTag + pricing

Finally, the price: in the USA AirTag costs US $ 29 each, or US $ 99 in a four-unit package. In Brazil the price is much higher: R $ 369 for a label, or R $ 1.249 for a kit with four units.

The Galaxy SmartTag + cost more, $ 39,90 each in the US. Here in Brazil we have only the previous model, the Galaxy SmartTag (without the +), which does not have the UWB chip to increase the accuracy of the location. Each costs R $ 199.