In between announcing new Galaxy Buds Pro earphones and its new range of Galaxy S21 smartphones, Samsung unveiled SmartTags, compact tracking devices of the sort pioneered by companies like Tile and Chipolo. Samsung's SmartTag uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), costs $29.99 (or less per unit in multipacks), and will be available on January 29.
Two versions — Samsung's offering a Bluetooth only version of the SmartTag, and then another, pricer version ($39.99 each) called the SmartTag+ that includes ultra wideband (UWB) and which Samsung says will be "available later this year." Both tags include a coin-sized battery and the ability to make them ring, but the UWB on the SmartTag+ will mean better range and greater accuracy, and will be better able to leverage the community of Samsung Galaxy users to help ping devices you've misplaced.
Users will track things via Samsung's SmartThings Find app, and like Tile, they'll be able to choose to help other users find their items. If they do so, when they pass near an item their phone will record its unique device identifier and notify the tag's owner.
Spare a thought for Tile — Until now, Tile has been the leader in the smart tracker sector, but with Samsung's SmartTags and Apple's forthcoming AirTags, Tile's market share looks set to inevitably be eroded. Tile knows this, and is already embroiled in legal tussles with Apple over claims the Cupertino-based maker of the iPhone has historically hampered Tile's functionality on its devices in anticipation of launching a competitor.
That said, Samsung SmartTags only work with Samsung devices, not with any Android devices like Bluetooth earbuds or other accessories. Apple's AirTags, similarly, will only worth with other devices in Apple's ecosystem. That leaves room for Tile to own the cross-platform market segment. Plus, Tile has an existing user base that may yet prove loyal... but with the U.S.'s two biggest phone makers entering the market, it's going to have to work hard to ensure loyalists stay that way.