Apple AirTag vs TrackR Pixel: Which should you buy?

AirTag Keychain
AirTag Keychain (Image credit: Joe Keller / iMore)

Despite some key differences that make the tracking experience with one significantly better than the other, picking a winner ultimately boils down to your mobile phone. If you have an iPhone, the seamless integration that you get with the AirTag through the Find My app and its expansive tracking network make it a no-brainer. If you have an Android phone or are considering switching in the future, then the TrackR Pixel is the one for you as the AirTag is exclusive to Apple devices.

Apple AirTag vs. TrackR Pixel: The breakdown

Airtag Battery Open Hero

Airtag Battery Open Hero (Image credit: Joe Keller / iMore)

At the core, the AirTag and the TrackR Pixel perform the same primary task — helping you to locate essential items by attaching to them directly. However, design, app experiences, and connectivity choices mean they go about it in different ways. Other factors, like your phone, will also change the experience that you have, so it's important to consider everything when choosing a tracker. Here's the full-spec breakdown.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple AirTagTrackR Pixel
Price$29 each, $99 for 4-pack$15 each, $50 for 5-pack
FinishesWhiteBlue, red, white, black, gray
PersonalizationFree engravingNone
Size31.9 mm diameter26.2 mm diameter
Weight11 grams4 grams
Included Key loopNoYes
Integrated speakerYesYes, 90dB
Locator lightNoYes
Water and dust resistanceIP67None
ConnectivityU1, Bluetooth LE, NFCBluetooth LE
AppFind MyTrackR
Supported devicesiOS onlyiOS and Android
Precision FindingiPhone 11 and 12 onlyNo
BatteryUser-replaceable CR2032User-replaceable CR2016
Expected battery lifeOne yearOne year
Battery warningYesYes
Phone locator modeNoYes

As you can see, there are quite a few differences between the two trackers, so let's get the similarities out of the way first. Both trackers are remarkably compact — around the size of a quarter each, and both are lightweight, so they can tag along with your items without being cumbersome.

Both trackers also run on a user-replaceable coin-size battery for up to a year and will warn you when it is time to swap them out. Finally, they feature app notifications, run on iOS, and do not require a subscription — unlike competitors from popular brands like Tile. That is about it for similarities, so let's move on to key differences, starting with the design.

Apple AirTag vs. TrackR Pixel: Design differences

TrackR Pixel attached to various devices

TrackR Pixel attached to various devices (Image credit: TrackR)

Right off the bat, you will notice that the TrackR Pixel is available in a variety of fun colors versus the plain white, one-size-fits-all approach that Apple chose for the AirTag. To make up for the lack of color, Apple offers free engraving if you purchase your AirTag online so you can customize your tracker. Still, you are limited to a small number of characters and available emojis.

The TrackR Pixel also features a louder speaker and an integrated locator light. The speaker inside the tracker can hit an impressive 90dB maximum, easily besting the AirTag's speaker, which is a little too much on the soft side. The onboard light on the TrackR Pixel goes along with helping with tracking down your items, too, as it is easy to see from a distance.

It may not seem like much, but the most notable physical difference between the two is the inclusion of an integrated key loop on the TrackR Pixel. By having a loop built-in, you don't need to shell out for an additional accessory as you do with the AirTag, keeping your initial cost down and the overall physical size smaller and lighter.

Apple Airtag Accessories

Apple Airtag Accessories (Image credit: Apple)

However, with Apple being Apple, the AirTag is already home to a large ecosystem of accessories from various vendors. The best AirTag accessories include cases, straps, clips, keychains, mounts, and even dog collars — all available just a few weeks after its release, so we are just scratching the surface of accessory possibilities.

Having to purchase an accessory adds up, so you may end up spending more on a case or key ring than you would on the tracker. For example, Apple's AirTag Leather Key Ring will set you back $35, and when combined with the $29 AirTag price, you can score a five-pack of TrackR Pixels — which include the key loop.

Apple AirTag vs. TrackR Pixel: Tracking functionality

AirTag Setup

AirTag Setup (Image credit: Joe Keller / iMore)

Moving on from the stuff you can see, what truly sets both trackers apart is the stuff that lurks underneath the hood. Apple's AirTag sports IP67 weather and dust resistance, so it will hold up better over time if you plan to track items outside of your home. The AirTag also features three forms of wireless connectivity: Bluetooth LE, NFC, and ultra-wideband powered by the U1 chip.

While the Bluetooth range in the AirTag is double that of the TrackR Pixel at 200-feet, the U1 chip inside is what makes Apple's tracker genuinely magical.

While the Bluetooth range in the AirTag is double that of the TrackR Pixel at 200-feet, the U1 chip inside is what makes Apple's tracker genuinely magical. If you have an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12, ultra-wideband technology enables Precision Finding, which, as the name suggests, offers greater accuracy making locating your items more accessible.

With Precision Finding, your iPhone will guide you to your items with onscreen cues that point you in the right direction. The iPhone will also display your approximate distance from the AirTag, and haptic feedback nudges you with increased frequency as you draw closer.

TrackR Pixel app displayed on an iPhone

TrackR Pixel app displayed on an iPhone (Image credit: TrackR)

Of course, Precision Finding requires you to be near your item to begin with, but the AirTag also has another trick up its sleeve — a massive tracking network that works silently in the background. If you were to lose your item while out and about, your AirTag's location will automatically update in the Find My app if an iOS device comes within Bluetooth range.

With around one billion active iOS devices worldwide and tracking capabilities enabled by default in the latest versions of iOS, chances are you will always be able to track your items down regardless of where you left them. This is in stark contrast to the TrackR Pixel's Crowd Track network, where owners will need to have the TrackR app installed and running in the background at all times.

With that said, the TrackR Pixel, unlike the AirTag, also works with Android devices. Being available on Android increases its Crowd Track network size — and the possibility of locating your item, thanks to Google's mobile market share. More importantly, it means that you will be able to track your items without buying a new tracker if you decide to switch phones in the future.

Apple AirTag vs. TrackR Pixel: Which should you buy?

AirTag battery cover

AirTag battery cover (Image credit: Joe Keller / iMore)

If you are all-in on the Apple ecosystem, don't mind the extra costs, and don't plan to change things up anytime soon, then the AirTag is the clear choice. While the TrackR Pixel is cheaper and features plenty of extras over the AirTag, Apple's Find My integration and tracking powered by a billion iOS devices worldwide matter the most when it comes to locating your lost items.

However, if you prefer Android and want to share your items with others, the TrackR Pixel is a worthy alternative. Bluetooth range with the Pixel is more than enough for tracking down your items within your home, and the surprisingly loud onboard speaker and integrated light mean you won't have to stare at your phone's screen during your hunt.

Christopher Close

Christopher spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit and the Home app. Whether it is installing smart light switches, testing the latest door locks, or automating his households daily routines, Christopher has done it all.