Competition in the personal tracker space continues to heat up with T-Mobile unveiling the SyncUp Tracker — and it's aiming to take on Apple AirTag.
While the $30 AirTag uses Bluetooth to help locate lost goods, T-Mobile claims that the power of its LTE and GPS network means that a SyncUp Tracker "can be found virtually anywhere." But T-Mobile's option does come at a monthly cost of $5 per tracker.
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“SyncUp Tracker brings peace of mind to customer’s most prized possessions and valuables, which is why we’re putting the power of our network behind it,” said Matt Staneff, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile in a press release (opens in new tab).
The major advantage T-Mobile has over Apple is the carrier's LTE network. While Apple uses Bluetooth and the Ultra Widband sensors in recent iPhones in a novel way, allowing nearby iPhones to ping off an AirTag's Bluetooth signal to help find lost goods, it doesn't mean much if the lost item is far from where you happen to be.
For example, placing an AirTag in your car will mean very little if thieves drive off into the woods to strip it for parts.
But the SyncUp Tracker can ping T-Mobile's nationwide LTE and GPS network, giving alerts even if it's hundreds of miles away. T-Mobile went out of its way to mention that its tracker is limited to a specific range; SyncUp also doesn't need to be in proximity to a smartphone to work.
Other SyncUp features include the ability to set up virtual boundaries, meaning users can get notifications when a tracker leaves a specified range. There's a built-in speaker, like with AirTag, that can ring when nearby. T-Mobile's tracker also has a light sensor to detect if it's being moved from inside a locker or backpack, as well as IP67 dust and water resistance. And lastly, it has a rechargeable 900 mAh battery that can last up to seven days, depending on usage. Bluetooth keyfinders like the AirTag typically use replaceable batteries that last about a year.
That's why the SyncUp Tracker, despite its versatility, could run into an issue. Instead of only having to worry about replacing the battery once in a year, you'll need to recharge the SyncUp weekly. Otherwise, it's essentially dead weight.
T-Mobile customers can begin buying SyncUp Trackers at store locations on May 7. It will run for $60 — that's $31 more than AirTag — which you can pay off in $2.50/month installments over 24 months. SyncUp Tracker will also require a monthly data charge of $5 a month with AutoPay.