It is highly likely that when you hear people talk about tracking keys or backpacks your mind instantly thinks of Tile. This is because Tile has been working on its trackers since 2012 and saw huge success when launching its crowdfunding campaign with pre-orders from over 50,000 backers by mid-2013. If you own a Tile tracker, you likely know that it has distance restrictions due the range of Bluetooth. In most cases this is fine when trying to find something nearby, but there would be a lot more use cases if the range could be extended. And that is exactly what Samsung has set out to do with its new SmartThings Tracker.
Samsung has chosen to pack LTE-M into its new SmartThings Tracker, providing consumers with a way to keep tabs on pets, backpacks, and more, even when they are outside of the range of Bluetooth.
Implementing cellular data is something that Tile has probably considered doing, but it easy to imagine that charging, battery life, and the need for higher pricing have kept them from producing a risky product like this.
Samsung on the other hand, has pockets deep enough to try and see if this product can find a customer-base large enough to support it. Pair that with Samsung’s ever-growing SmartThings ecosystem and it seems clear that it certainly should be the company to try and make a product like this.
“When it comes to connected living, we want to give people more meaningful experiences that apply to their everyday life,” said SK Kim, Senior Director, IoT Product Marketing at Samsung Electronics America. “By combining the coverage of nationwide carrier networks with the expansiveness of the SmartThings ecosystem, we’re helping families keep track of what matters most to them while also continuing to make it easy to control and manage their smart home, all in one device.”
Since this device is meant to work with SmartThings, it creates the potential for location-based smart home actions like changing the temperature on an ecobee thermostat, turning on/off Philips Hue lights, and unlocking/locking your Yale Assure smart lock.
Considering that the device packs LTE-M technology, you are likely wondering if you have to pay your cell carrier monthly for it, and unfortunately the answer is yes. To make this fact a bit easier to come to grips with, Samsung has partnered with AT&T to offer the first 12-months free of charge. After that, AT&T will charge $5 per month for each tracker on your account.
As you likely expected, the LTE-M packed SmartThings Tracker can not compete with Tile’s battery life. Instead of offering 1-year, the company states that users can expect one week on a single charge. Not wonderful, but still not bad considering that you can track it anywhere AT&T has coverage.
The Samsung SmartThings Tracker will be available beginning September 14, 2018 and will cost $99. Although the tracker is already listed on Amazon, the release date is incorrectly showing September 30, 2018 at the time of this post. Bearing this in mind, it is probably best to order directly from Samsung if you want to get one of these as soon as possible.