The Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus works magic for the forgetful among us by keeping track of where the tag and your belongings end up. Using a combination of Bluetooth and Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technologies, the Tag app can guide you to where the lost item is, display it on your phone’s screen and take advantage of augmented reality – See when you’re just close are enough to touch it.

However, at $40 each, the SmartTag Plus is more expensive than the competition, has a short battery life, and requires a current Samsung phone to take advantage of the UWB effects. Still, SmartTag Plus devices are a great way to track down missing tagged items, whether they’re under a bed, stuck on a couch, or left behind in a restaurant.

Prices and availability of Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+ (Blue) on Amazon for $39.99

Samsung’s SmartTag Plus is available online at various stores for $40 for a tag or two for $65. They come in black and denim blue. Samsung also sells the original SmartTag, which uses Bluetooth technology (but not an ultra-wideband) to locate lost items; These sell for $30 each. You can compare that to the Apple AirTags, which cost $29 each or four for $99. Tile products range from $25 (for the Mate) to $35 (for the Pro).

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus Review

Like the original Galaxy SmartTag, the SmartTag Plus is square with rounded corners but slightly larger at 1.6 x 1.6 x 0.4 inches. The tags are about twice the size of the coin-sized Apple AirTags and much thicker than the Tile Mate tags.

Weighing in at half an ounce, the SmartTag Plus is also heavier than the competition, with the AirTag weighing 0.39 ounces, which is 22% lighter. Still, the SmartTag Plus easily fits in a pocket with a set of keys, but it’s probably too bulky to be stashed in a wallet.

The case of the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus is made of polycarbonate plastic and has a textured surface, but lacks the gloss of the mirror-like surface of the AirTag. The matte surface and muted colors are aesthetically pleasing, albeit a little understated. It’s not a fashion statement like the AirTag, which means you can’t engrave images or initials. However, this matte, textured surface should be more scratch-resistant.

Like its predecessor, the SmartTag Plus has a corner hole for attaching a bunch of keys or an umbrella that is easy to lose. While you may need to bring a ball chain or carabiner to attach the tag to a bag or umbrella, this doesn’t create the accessory ecosystem needed for the AirTag.

The SmartTag Plus has something AirTags don’t have: a button at the top. In this way, the SmartTag Plus can detect a lost phone, activate home automation devices, and even send an emergency SMS.

Like the AirTag, the SmartTag Plus uses a CR2032 battery, but instead of Apple’s claim of one year of use, Samsung says the same battery only lasts five months. That equates to more than twice as many annoying battery changes over its lifetime. As you’ll see, when setting up a SmartTag Plus, the battery was low and I had to replace it to continue configuring the device. The replacement battery cost only a few bucks and took a minute to replace, but it was a hassle that I would rather have avoided.

With an IP53 rating, the Tag is more prone to damage from water or dust than the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 I used, which has an IP68 rating. It should be fine to take the SmartTag Plus out in the rain or to the beach, but it won’t withstand submersion in water. In other words, leave it on land while swimming. The AirTag’s IP67 rating, on the other hand, means it can be submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes.

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus: how it works

The SmartTag Plus joins Apple’s AirTag as the only tracker that uses a combination of Bluetooth and Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technology to discover your tag (and connected equipment). Up close, the tag is located using ultra-accurate UWB transmissions, but as you move further away from the tag, Bluetooth takes over.

Replace the battery of a Smart Tag Plus

The SmartTag Plus is powered by a CR2032 single-use battery, which Samsung claims have a lifespan of 5 months with normal use. That’s less than half the length of Apple’s AirTags, which use the same battery. In other words, plan to spend some time replacing the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus battery. Fortunately, replacing the battery takes less than a minute. Here’s how.

  • Start by prying open the case with a dime or flat head screwdriver.
  • Then take out the old battery. It may take a pencil tip to pry it out.
  • Then insert the new battery into the slot with the “+” side up. When the electrical connection is made, the tag will play a tune.
  • Finally, press the housing of the SmartTag Plus between your fingers to close the housing. All done.
  • A major update to the Samsung SmartThings Find interface is superimposing the live output of your phone’s video camera over the bearing interface. This can make it easier to find the tag. Each phone can keep up to 200 SmartTags, which seems excessive. iPhones are limited to tracking 16 AirTags.

Just as AirTags require an iPhone 12 to use UWB technology, the SmartTag Plus’ UWB technology requires a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, Note 20 Ultra, or S21+. Otherwise, the phone will rely solely on the tag’s Bluetooth signal to determine its location. Future Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets will likely have UWB tracking. AirTags, on the other hand, can also work with a MacBook, but only in Bluetooth mode. Neither Apple nor Samsung can touch the multitude of consumer devices with built-in tile modules like the HP Elite Dragonfly and SkullCandy earbuds, making them nearly impossible to lose.

Although the SmartTag Plus transmits over the public airwaves, the data is encrypted in the same way as the AirTag. This can prevent a hacker from using another phone to track you and your day. The tag’s encryption key is regularly shuffled to avoid opening a security hole in the tag and your phone. What is missing is compatibility between Apple AirTag and Samsung Galaxy SmartTag devices. You cannot track an AirTag with a Galaxy phone or vice versa.

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus Setup

Starting a new day next to my Galaxy Note 20 Ultra phone, I scrolled to the Search section of the SmartThings app. After pressing the button on the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus, the tag made a vibrating sound and the “Found New Device” window opened.

I tapped “Add Now” and agreed to the Samsung software license followed by a tap on “Start”. The phone is connected to the SmartTag Plus and registered to my Samsung account. I finished by attaching it to my keychain and labeling it “key”.

Then the Tag wanted to update its firmware, but the battery was low. Fortunately, I had a new CR2032 cell and swapped it out quickly (see “Replacing the SmartTag Plus Battery”). I later set up a second label for my suitcase (known as a “bag”) that I left in Manhattan. I ran into no problems.

When you’re done, Find’s map shows the location of the day. From start to finish, including the unexpected battery change, it took 10 minutes on both days.

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus Performance

I spent two weeks using a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra phone and the SmartTags+ to play lost and found items with items tagged. After hiding one in a dark place in my house, yard or car, I went looking for it. There was no need to simulate the loss of things as the SmartTag Plus ecosystem helped to get my lost keys back twice from a parallel universe. The tags were reliable and reduced the level of frustration in my life.

As with the original SmartTag, the SmartTag Plus also has an exceptional range. In my 100-year-old home, it stayed in contact with my Note 20 Ultra phone for 105 feet, five feet shorter than the original SmartTag’s 110-foot range but more than three times the AirTag’s 29-foot range. This means that the SmartTag Plus can find a tag almost anywhere in my house. The shorter range of the AirTag means I had to know which part of the house to start my search in.

Whenever the phone and tag are in range, I let the tag play its annoying tune to find it and my belongings. In addition to two volume settings, SmartTag Plus has a choice of 10 melodies that match the early ringtones. AirTags does not have any of these options.

Find Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus nearby

Like the Tile Mate and Apple AirTag, the SmartTag Plus has short and long-range modes that activate automatically. The UWB-based “Find Near” mode took over at about 6 meters in the day, although Samsung engineers say it works up to 15 meters depending on obstacles such as walls. In addition, the tag relied on Bluetooth positioning. It uses the green horseshoe display from the original SmartTag, which filled clockwise as I got hotter, showing the distance at the top. I could have started the annoying music of the day anytime to find it.

When I moved the phone, it responded with helpful location cues like “signal gets stronger”. When the UWB technology was replaced by Bluetooth, I tried turning left or right to calibrate the sensors to get a bead on the tag.

This is just the beginning, as the app can integrate videos using augmented reality technology. After tapping the app’s “Search with camera” button, the camera view of the search area was covered with a handy arrowhead pointing to the day. The phone also provided haptic impulses that intensified the closer I got to the day, although it’s not as accurate as of the AirTag’s right and left impulses.

When I was a few feet away, the app continued with an augmented reality show. Green dots swirled across the screen to celebrate the label was within reach. It’s a nice display of the technology and a treat but tends to have a noticeable surplus.

The Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus has a few more tricks up its sleeve that AirTag devices can’t touch. Press the button on the SmartTag Plus twice and the phone it is connected to will play a melody. That came in handy when my phone fell under the car seat without my knowledge during a road trip. After panicking, I ping it from my SmartTag Plus key fob so that the phone would be easy to find.

Samsung’s tags can send a pre-made SMS alert from your phone, making it a distress signal for the disabled or the elderly. It can also turn on or off home automation devices such as light bulbs and sockets.

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus offline search

As with Apple and Tile technology, crowdsourcing takes over the moment your phone is out of Bluetooth range. It works with anyone who has a current Samsung Galaxy phone who has signed up and agreed to find others’ tags. As with AirTags, you’re out of luck if there aren’t answering machines around.

I started by enabling offline search on the phone’s Biometrics & Security screen. There is also a way to do this through the SmartThings Find interface. This way, when a stranger’s phone encounters the tag’s signal, its location is securely sent to Samsung’s servers without them ever knowing about it. The data is then forwarded to my phone where it appears on the Search card with the message “Detected by a nearby Galaxy device”.

To try it out, I “accidentally” left my tagged keys on a bench at a local train station and watched from a distance. Within three minutes, the tag was registered on the SmartThings Find card as “Detected by a nearby Galaxy device”. I zoomed in on the exact position and called up the tag. If I was further away I could have used Google Maps to navigate there.

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus Security

With tag tracking, a lot of data flies back and forth. Fortunately, Samsung has built-in security from the start. Not only do the tags encrypt the location data so that no one can access the SmartTag Plus’ data stream, but the app randomly releases the ID and encryption keys every 15 minutes for an extra level of security.

On the other hand, if a stalker drops a SmartTag Plus in your pocket or car, they might be able to see where you are and where you’ve been. The recently added section of the “Find Unknown Tags” section of the SmartThings app allowed me to search the section for tags that are not registered with me. This effectively creates a creep shield.

It took a while for the app to search for strange tags and find none at home. Later, while I was out, he found one nearby, although he hadn’t sneaked in my car to track me down. The software is still in beta and is included in the SmartThings interface.

Unfortunately, the SmartTag Plus can no longer overwrite owner information (if entered) using a phone’s Near Field Communications (NFC) capabilities, and it does not require the tag to periodically reconnect to the host phone. AirTags do both security-related tasks.

Conclusion

Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag Plus is a huge step forward from the original SmartTag tracking devices. It includes ultra-wideband communications to locate the tag and display it on a phone’s map. Perfect for keys, flash drives, or luggage, the SmartTag Plus attaches directly to a key ring or object, eliminating the need to buy expensive accessories. The SmartTag Plus offers more customization options, the ability to ping your phone if it’s lost, and integrates video while searching. It also rewards you with special augmented reality effects when you find your tag.

As good as the SmartTag Plus is, it’s not only bigger and heavier than Apple’s AirTag or Tile’s Mate. And the IP53 durability rating of the SmartTag Plus lags behind that of the AirTag. Then there’s the battery, which Samsung says should last five months compared to Apple’s estimate of 1 year for the AirTag’s battery. After all, UWB technology only works with newer Samsung phones: the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Note 20 Ultra, or S21+ models. Older models can only use Bluetooth location. At $40 each, the SmartTag Plus costs $10 more than an AirTag, but it’s worth it if you have a current Samsung Galaxy phone and you’re the forgetful type. The SmartTag Plus assured me that I could quickly get my hands on any marked item.

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