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Apple AirTag vs GPS Tracker

Apple AirTag vs GPS Tracker – Which Is Right For You?

One of the most common questions our sales associates get at Tracking System Direct from customers revolves around the differences between our GPS tracking devices and Apple AirTags.Truthfully, it really is a great question! Why? Because most people do not understand the difference of a Bluetooth tracker like the Apple AirTag and a more traditional tracking solution like SpaceHawk. In this article, we will compare an AirTag vs GPS tracker, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of each. By the end, you’ll be equipped to make an informed decision to choose which option is best for your particular situation. The truth is, Apple devices and tracking devices have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, and our aim is to provide you clarity. Let’s dive in!

airtag vs gps tracker

Full disclosure: We specialize in GPS tracking systems, but this article aims to provide a balanced view of both tracking methods. Additionally, during our testing, we compared the Apple AirTag with the SpaceHawk GPS tracker.

Apple AirTag: The Next-Gen Solution for Tracking Personal Belongings

Apple AirTag GIF

Losing personal belongings, from keys to backpacks, can be both frustrating and time-consuming. Recognizing this universal challenge, Apple introduced the AirTag in 2021, providing a solution to help users effortlessly track valuables and reduce the time spent searching for misplaced items.

So, how exactly does this tiny device work? Unlike traditional object locators, AirTags utilize IoT (Internet of Things) technology. They function primarily as a Bluetooth tracker, connecting seamlessly with a vast network of Apple devices around them. When you’re searching for an item tagged with an AirTag, your Apple device will guide you to its exact location using precision finding, leveraging both Bluetooth signal data and augmented reality.

The beauty of AirTags is in their simplicity and the underlying complex technology. By relying on the millions of Apple devices in use worldwide, they have an almost unlimited range. When an AirTag is within Bluetooth range of any Apple device, its location is updated, and you can access this location data in real-time. This vast, interconnected network ensures that even if you leave your tagged item in another city, as long as it’s near an Apple device, you can pinpoint its location.

In essence, AirTags were crafted with the user’s daily life in mind, aiming to solve the age-old problem of finding lost items. Whether it’s keys left at a cafe or luggage at the airport, Apple’s AirTag is there to ensure you’re reunited with your belongings with minimal hassle.

Watch a detailed video review on Apple AirTag by Marques Brownlee here:

Understanding GPS Car Trackers: Evolution, Function, and Impact on Vehicle Security

Truck GPS TrackerLong before the dawn of IoT devices like the Apple AirTag, GPS car trackers emerged on the scene, revolutionizing the way we monitor and secure our vehicles. Created in the early 1990s, these trackers were initially designed for two main purposes: fleet managing and theft prevention.

At its heart, a GPS car tracker is a device that employs GPS signals to determine the exact location of a vehicle, updating that location data at regular intervals. Unlike Bluetooth trackers such as the Apple AirTag, which cater to personal items, GPS car trackers are dedicated tools, offering detailed location history, realtime tracking, and realtime location updates.

So, how does the tech magic happen? Many GPS car trackers utilize SIM cards, enabling them to send location data to a centralized system. This functionality allows users to remotely monitor vehicles, making them invaluable for businesses in fleet tracking and asset tracking. The tracker’s guide user interface, often accessible via a web portal or mobile app, provides an overview of driver behaviour, route histories, and more. This is crucial for businesses aiming to improve fleet efficiency, safety, and customer satisfaction.



GPS Tracker

Size & Design

1.26 x 1.26 x 0.31"

2.25 x 2.25 x 0.8

Primary Use

Personal Items

Vehicle Tracking


Bluetooth & IoT

GPS With SIM Card


Applel Device Network

Global - Depending On SIM





Compact Design, Affordable, Large Network, Great For Lost Keys & Luggage

Precise Vehicle Tracking, Real-Time Alerts, Detailed Route Histories & Reporting, Fleet Management, Secretly Track Car


Limited To Personal Items, Relies on Apple Device Network

Larger Than AirTag, More Expensive, SIM Card Requried

Apple AirTags vs. GPS Trackers: Best Uses for Each Device

When diving into the realm of tracking devices, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, understanding the primary functions and ideal uses for Apple AirTags and GPS trackers can clear the fog. Let’s break it down for you:

Apple AirTags – Best Uses

  • Locating Personal Items: Apple AirTags are designed predominantly to track valuables, from your keys to your backpack.
  • Short-Range Recovery: Their Bluetooth-based tech means location is updated frequently, but within a limited range.
  • Integration with Apple Ecosystem: They shine brightest within the universe of Apple’s IoT devices.
  • User-friendly Experience: With a focus on simplicity, AirTags guide users directly to the object’s location.

GPS Trackers – Best Uses

  • Vehicle Tracking: Their primary design revolves around monitoring vehicles, capturing driver behaviour and routes.
  • Long-Distance Monitoring: Boasting an unlimited range, GPS trackers ensure you stay connected, regardless of distance.
  • Detailed Reporting: These tracking units provide rich data, from location history to real-time updates.
  • Broad Application: While SIM cards power many, their versatility extends to fleet management, asset protection, and more.

Choosing between Apple AirTags and GPS trackers? Consider what you’re aiming to achieve. While AirTags excel in personal item recovery, GPS trackers are your go-to for comprehensive vehicle monitoring.

AirTag Pros & Cons



  • Seamless pairing with iPhone.

  • User-friendly "Find My" app interface.

  • Anti-stalking measures with sound alerts.

  • Uses crowd-sourced network of Apple devices.

  • Reduced effectiveness in low Apple user areas.

  • Not ideal for tracking vehicles or commercial equipment.

  • Primarily designed for personal items only.

In comparing Apple AirTags to GPS trackers, it’s crucial to consider their distinct features and limitations. AirTags excel in the Apple ecosystem, effortlessly pairing with your iPhone and integrating with other Apple devices like iPad and Mac. The “Find My” app simplifies tracking, offering a user-friendly interface. Notably, Apple prioritizes your privacy; AirTags don’t reveal their location to Apple, and they emit sounds to prevent unwanted tracking. Additionally, their strength lies in a crowd-sourced network where nearby Apple devices can anonymously and securely report the location of a lost AirTag.

However, AirTags are not without drawbacks. Their effectiveness reduces in areas with fewer Apple users, like remote or less tech-savvy regions. Also, they’re primarily suited for personal items. For specialized tracking needs, such as vehicles or commercial equipment, AirTags might not be the ideal choice. This comparison highlights the unique aspects and potential limitations of using AirTags in contrast to GPS trackers.

GPS Tracker Pros & Cons



  • Effective everywhere, including remote areas.

  • Real-time GPS tracking and alert features.

  • Panic SOS button safety features.

  • Faster updates on locations.

  • Monthly subscription fee required.

  • More expensive upfront cost vs AirTag bluetooth trackers.

Continuing our comparison between Apple AirTags and GPS trackers, let’s now look at the pros and cons of GPS trackers. The main standout feature of GPS trackers is their global coverage. Yes, GPS devices have SIM cards so as long as you are in cell coverage the tracker device can transmit locational data. Moreover, many GPS trackers offer real-time tracking. This continuous pinpoint GPS data is something Apple AirTag does not offer, and is crucial in vehicle fleet management for businesses.

Another advantage with tracking devices is their versatility. GPS trackers range from small, portable devices ideal for personal items to full blown fleet tracking solutions that can monitor vehicle idling, diagnostics and more. This versatility caters to a wide array of tracking needs. However, GPS trackers have their drawbacks. For example, real time GPS trackers require a monthly subscription plan unlike AirTags. Why? Because they need to transmit GPS data via cellular networks in order for you to access locational information.

Bottom Line

When it comes to tracking objects, there are various trackers on the market, each with distinct features. Apple AirTags shine for personal item recovery within the vast Apple ecosystem. They offer a user-friendly experience, leveraging Bluetooth for location tracking. However, when considering portable GPS trackers, they stand out for comprehensive vehicle monitoring and long-distance location tracking. Unlike the AirTag, a GPS device provides detailed reporting, making them invaluable for businesses. When choosing between the two, assess your primary need: personal item recovery vs. broader tracking needs. Both Apple AirTags and GPS devices offer benefits, but their applications differ. Know your priorities, and you’ll find the best tracking solution for your needs.

Track Husband's Car With Apple AirTag
Can I Use AirTag To Track My Husband

Apple Air Tag vs. GPS Tracker – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I track my husband with an AirTag without him knowing?

No, and here’s why: Apple AirTags prioritize user privacy. If your husband has his phone’s Bluetooth or car’s Bluetooth turned on, it will detect an unknown AirTag traveling with him and send a notification. In contrast, hidden GPS trackers don’t rely on Bluetooth. They can be discreetly attached to a vehicle using a magnetic mount, making them harder to detect and offering a stealthier tracking solution. In the GIF below, you can see how easy it is for anyone to detect a AirTag hidden on their vehicle.

Detect Apple AirTag

Can Apple AirTag be used as a GPS tracker?

No, not exactly. While the Apple AirTag is a device designed to help users locate personal items such as your keys or wallet, it’s fundamentally different from traditional GPS tracking devices. Apple AirTags rely on Bluetooth signals from nearby Apple devices to transmit their location. On the other hand, GPS trackers use satellite signals to provide a more precise and continuous location update. So, while both can guide users to an object’s location, their methods and accuracy differ significantly.

Can I track my AirTag from another state?

Yes, you can. The magic of Apple AirTags is their ability to tap into the vast network of Apple devices. If your AirTag is near any Apple device (like an iPhone), its location will be updated and sent to you. But remember, the accuracy and timeliness depend on the presence of these devices. In contrast, GPS tracking units don’t need such proximity and offer real-time location based on GPS signals.

What is the key difference between a tracker and an AirTag?

The primary difference is the technology used. Apple AirTags rely on Bluetooth signals from nearby Apple devices to report their location, making them more suited for finding lost personal items in closer proximity. GPS trackers, however, use satellite signals, providing a broader and more accurate tracking solution, especially useful for fleet managing, asset tracking, and realtime tracking across vast distances.

Do GPS tracking devices offer more features than AirTags?

Yes, they often do. While Apple AirTags are designed primarily for locating lost items via Bluetooth signal, GPS tracking devices are built for a wider array of applications. They can provide location history, driver behavior analytics, fleet tracking functionalities, and more. This makes GPS tracking devices versatile tools, especially for businesses looking to remotely monitor assets or fleets.

Ryan Horban
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