Bluetooth Trackers vs GPS Trackers: Which Location Device is Right for You?

Bluetooth Trackers vs GPS Trackers

Bluetooth Trackers vs GPS Trackers: Which Location Device is Right for You?

With the rise of technology in our daily lives, it’s no surprise that tracking devices have become increasingly popular. In particular, trackers are designed to help locate lost personal items like keys, wallets, bags, and even pets. There are two main categories of trackers available in the market, Bluetooth trackers and GPS trackers, each with its own unique features and benefits.

Bluetooth trackers are small devices that connect to your phone or other compatible devices using Bluetooth technology, allowing you to track the location of the item the tracker is attached to. On the other hand, GPS trackers use a global positioning system to provide real-time location updates on the item being tracked, regardless of its distance from you. While both trackers are helpful, which is best depends on your specific needs and preferences.

An Introduction to Bluetooth and GPS Tracking

Bluetooth and GPS trackers both utilize wireless technology to locate lost items, but they do so in very different ways.

Bluetooth trackers rely on proximity to a paired smartphone. The tracker emits a Bluetooth signal that can be detected by the phone when they are within range, generally around 30 feet. So, if you lose your keys, use your smartphone app to make the tracker ring or flash an LED light to help you find them.

GPS trackers use global positioning satellites to pinpoint an item’s geographic coordinates anywhere. As long as it has a clear sky view, a GPS tracker can be tracked remotely from anywhere via a smartphone app or web portal.

So, while Bluetooth offers approximate proximity tracking, GPS offers true location tracking worldwide. But which one is right for your needs? Let’s compare their features and ideal use cases in detail.

Critical Differences Between Bluetooth and GPS Trackers

Feature Bluetooth Tracker GPS Tracker
Tracking Range Up to 30 ft via Bluetooth Unlimited via GPS satellite
Locating Precision Approximate proximity Pinpoint coordinates
Ideal for Tracking Small items like keys, wallets, purses More considerable assets like vehicles, equipment
Out-of-Range Tracking Cannot track once out of Bluetooth range Continues transmitting location via cellular
Real-Time Location Only when in Bluetooth range Live location updating remotely
Location History None Detailed logs and analytics
Geo-Fencing Not supported Custom geo-fences can be set
Size Very small and compact Larger but still portable
Cost Affordable, often under $50 More expensive, $100+
Battery Life Six months to 2 years Weeks to months
Outdoor Use Not optimized for extreme temps or weather Rugged and weatherproof
Tech Skill Required Minimal, pairs easily with a smartphone Moderate, takes more skill to manage device and app

Tracking Range

Tracking Range

The most noticeable difference between Bluetooth and GPS trackers is the range at which they can track lost items.

Bluetooth trackers rely on a Bluetooth connection to a paired smartphone, which generally limits their functional range to about 30 feet. They work best for finding lost items around the house or items you’ve last seen in a local area.

GPS trackers use global positioning satellites to determine coordinates. As long as they have a clear view of the sky, they can be tracked remotely from anywhere in the world, making them ideal for tracking items over long distances.

Locating Precision

In addition to overall range, Bluetooth and GPS trackers differ in their precision when helping you locate lost items:

Bluetooth trackers give you an approximate proximity to the item, usually via a distance estimate on a smartphone app map. This can help you narrow down its location to a room or area.

GPS trackers show the item’s precise coordinates on a map, accurate to within several feet. This pinpoint location tracking is perfect for finding something in a large area or tracking an item as it moves.

Types of Items to Track

Due to differences in size and functionality, Bluetooth and GPS trackers are suited for tracking different types of items:

Bluetooth trackers are compact and lightweight, making them ideal for small items like keys, wallets, purses, luggage, cameras, etc. Their short range also works well for household items that tend to get misplaced.

GPS trackers are larger and more suited for valuable assets, equipment, and vehicles. Their unlimited range makes them the choice for trailers, construction gear, boats, fleet vehicles, and items that move over long distances.

Tracking When Out of Range

If your tracked item goes out of range or you lose the Bluetooth connection, the difference in functionality becomes very apparent:

Bluetooth trackers cannot track an item if the Bluetooth connection is broken. So, if you leave your keys in a store and drive away, the tracker won’t locate them once you’re out of range.

GPS trackers continue transmitting location data over the cellular network when beyond Bluetooth range. This allows for live location tracking regardless of your proximity to the item.

Real-Time Location Tracking

Bluetooth and GPS trackers also differ in their ability to see an item’s location in real-time:

Bluetooth trackers only update their location when the item is within proximity and connected to your phone. You won’t get updates in real-time if the item goes missing beyond the Bluetooth range.

GPS trackers provide live location tracking as the item moves. The smartphone app allows you to monitor movement and current location from anywhere.

Location History and Geofencing

When it comes to location history and geo-fencing, GPS trackers shine:

Bluetooth trackers don’t store location history and don’t offer geo-fencing options. Once lost and out of Bluetooth range, previous locations and movement cannot be viewed.

GPS trackers log comprehensive location histories, movement activity, and analytics. You can also set up geofences and alerts if items enter or leave designated areas.

Main Advantages of Bluetooth Trackers

Now that we’ve covered the key differences let’s summarize the main advantages of Bluetooth trackers:

  • Compact size – Small and lightweight to attach to keys, wallets, purses, cameras, etc.
  • Inexpensive price – Bluetooth trackers are very affordable, often under $50.
  • Simple setup – They pair quickly and easily with smartphones via Bluetooth.
  • Familiar technology – Most people use Bluetooth from headsets and wireless speakers.
  • Long battery life – Bluetooth trackers can last six months to 2 years before replacing batteries.
  • Suitable for close range – Perfect for finding frequently misplaced items around the home.

Main Advantages of GPS Trackers

GPS trackers also have some significant benefits that make them ideal in certain situations:

  • Unlimited range – Track items remotely from anywhere in the world.
  • Precise locations – View exact real-time location rather than just approximate proximity.
  • Live tracking – Monitor movement and see the current location updated in real time.
  • Location history – Lookup previous tracking data, movement activity, and analytics.
  • Geo-fencing – Get alerts when items enter or leave a designated geographic area.
  • Rugged and weatherproof – Built to handle the outdoors, harsh conditions, and extreme temperatures.
  • Long battery life – Lasts weeks or months on battery power.
  • Asset management -Ideal for valuable equipment, vehicles, and trailers that move over distance.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tracker

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tracker

When deciding between a Bluetooth or GPS tracker, keep these key factors in mind:

What are you tracking? Look at the size and value of the item. Bluetooth works well for small goods like keys or wallets. GPS is better for assets like vehicles and equipment.

What range do you need? Bluetooth covers you at home or locally. GPS has an unlimited range to track remotely or across distances.

How precise must the location be? Bluetooth gives proximity, and GPS offers accurate pinpointed coordinates.

Does size matter? Bluetooth trackers are tiny. GPS trackers are more significant but still compact.

What’s your budget? Bluetooth is more affordable. GPS costs more but offers premium features.

How tech-savvy are you? Bluetooth pairs easily with your phone. GPS may require a bit more skill to manage the device and app.

Will it be outdoors? Rain and extreme temperatures can affect Bluetooth, but GPS is built to handle tough environments.

Is there any required geo-fencing? Bluetooth doesn’t offer it. GPS allows custom geofences.

Bluetooth and GPS Trackers in Action

To help illustrate the difference in actual world use, let’s compare how Bluetooth and GPS trackers would handle some common lost item scenarios:

Scenario 1: Lost Keys

Your keys have gone missing somewhere in the house. A Bluetooth tracker attached to your keys makes them easy to find. You can use your smartphone’s location feature to determine approximate proximity as you search room-to-room. The Bluetooth signal cuts out at about 30 feet, so you know the keys are likely nearby. A GPS tracker would provide overkill for this confined indoor search.

Scenario 2: Lost Dog

Your dog manages to slip through a fence at the park and makes a run for it! Because you attached a GPS tracker to her collar, you can see her location updating in real-time on your smartphone app map as she wanders through the neighborhood. A simple Bluetooth tracker would quickly lose connection once she darted away, leaving you blind to her location.

Scenario 3: Stolen Bicycle

After locking your bike on a crowded street, you find it was stolen. Fortunately, the GPS tracker hidden on the frame continues to relay the bike’s coordinates. You provide the location data to the police, who can recover your bicycle across town. A Bluetooth tracker would have only shown the bike’s last location before going out of range.

Scenario 4: Teen Driver Safety

As the parent of a new teen driver, you hide a battery-powered GPS tracker in the car to monitor your son’s driving habits when he borrows the vehicle. The tracker allows you to view the car’s current and historical location, and your teen’s driving speed and path and alerts you if he drives beyond set geographic boundaries. This kind of monitoring and geo-fencing isn’t possible with a basic Bluetooth tracker.

Bottom Line

Bluetooth Trackers vs GPS Trackers

When it comes to choosing between Bluetooth and GPS trackers, it mainly comes down to tracking range and intended use case.

Bluetooth trackers are affordable options best suited for monitoring small items around the home or office. Their short Bluetooth tether and approximate proximity tracking provide assurance that your keys, bag, or other assets are likely nearby.

GPS trackers offer premium tracking at a higher price. Their extended range capabilities and pinpoint precision make them ideal for valuable assets, equipment, vehicles, and anything else that moves freely over a distance. Real-time location updates, history logins, and custom geo-fences provide monitoring and security beyond basic Bluetooth trackers.

Determining your budget, required features, and primary tracking needs will help you decide which technology works best for you. Bluetooth trackers are fine for many every day lost item scenarios. But when long-range precise tracking is a must, GPS trackers shine.


Bluetooth and GPS tracking devices have merits for tracking valuable personal items and assets. Bluetooth trackers offer short-range proximity tracking that is affordable and easy to use. GPS trackers provide premium long-range location tracking with pinpoint accuracy and real-time monitoring.

Ultimately, choosing the right option involves assessing your budget, intended use case, required features, and the expected tracking environment. For many daily lost item scenarios, Bluetooth trackers get the job done. But a feature-packed GPS tracker is likely the optimal choice when unmanned assets need reliable monitoring beyond the line of sight.

By understanding the critical differences in range, accuracy, size, and functionality, you can determine which location-tracking technology best suits your needs. With their continuing advancement and proliferation, tiny wireless trackers will provide added security and peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Bluetooth tracker work without your phone?

No, Bluetooth trackers rely on a connection to a smartphone via Bluetooth to function. They cannot independently pinpoint the location or track items. Your phone must be within Bluetooth range, usually about 30 feet.

Do Bluetooth trackers use GPS or cellular signals?

Bluetooth trackers only use Bluetooth, not GPS or cellular signals. They connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone, which determines approximate proximity using its own GPS. However, the tracker does not directly utilize GPS or cell networks.

How far can a GPS tracker locate items?

GPS trackers can potentially track items anywhere by tapping into global positioning satellites. If the tracker unit has a clear sky view, it can provide location data remotely over cellular networks. The tracking range is unlimited as long as the device has battery power.

Can GPS trackers work indoors or underground?

GPS trackers need a clear sky view to connect with positioning satellites. So they do not work well indoors, underground, or in dense cover like rainforests. However, they can sometimes utilize cell tower triangulation to provide approximate indoor locations.

How accurate is the location from a GPS tracker?

The latest GPS trackers pinpoint locations below 10-30 feet. Accuracy can fluctuate slightly depending on connection strength, obstructions, weather conditions, and other environmental factors. But modern GPS tracking allows you to precisely zero in on an item’s location.

What happens if a Bluetooth or GPS tracker’s battery dies?

A dead battery means it can no longer be tracked with either tracker. Bluetooth trackers will need the battery replaced to reconnect and find items. GPS units will stop transmitting location data until the battery is swapped out. So, regular battery checks and replacements are essential.