It’s No Longer Goodbye Forever If Your Luggage Is Lost or Stolen

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When Apple Inc. premiered its iPhone in 2007, it wasn’t inventing the cellular phone or even the smartphone. But the company revolutionized communication with a product that’s since been improved by leaps and bounds. Likewise, with its AirTag location tracker (starting at $29), the $2 trillion tech giant hasn’t created a category; it’s rethought an existing item to outpace its competitors in convenience and attractiveness. Nestled into an Hermès leather key ring ($349) or luggage tag ($449, as shown), the circular metal disk becomes a stylish bangle that’s startlingly useful in its simplicity and ability to reconnect lost or stolen objects, such as a suitcase, a golf bag, or even a car.

THE COMPETITION

• The Tile locator (starting at $25) was the early front-runner in the tracking game. The small square sends signals via Bluetooth to a network of fellow users when lost. Unlike AirTags, Tiles come with a hole or adhesive to make it easier to affix to a ring, phone, or bag.

• Bluetooth works only within short distances, so the Americaloc GL300 GPS Tracker MXW leverages GPS to be globally findable. Some may balk at the $110 price and $25 monthly fee.

• Like the Tile, the Cube Shadow relies on its patrons to help expand the range of Bluetooth—though it’s a smaller community. Slim enough for a wallet, it has a battery that can be recharged instead of replaced.

THE CASE

The vast global power of almost 1 billion iPhone owners is the AirTag’s secret weapon: It relays its location by sending anonymized Bluetooth signals to nearby Apple devices that have enabled the Find My network. This is a huge improvement over rivals such as Tile. If you have an iPhone 11 or 12, the AirTag can use the phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope to share its precise whereabouts when it’s in your home or immediately nearby—helpful when it’s on a ring of keys. Engraving the AirTag with initials or an emoji is free, as is the ability to command Siri to make a sound while you’re searching (though the Tile’s sound is louder). Setup is a snap for a first-time user, and the lithium battery is easy to replace. In our tests, the device proved findable in cluttered apartments and on international vacations, down to the inch. Buy a pack of four and attach them to your treasures—then wait to see what advancements come in the next few years. From $29; call 800 441-4488 for purchasing information about the Hermès luggage tag

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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