Best key finder: track down your misplaced keys, purse, curious dog and more with these clever devices

The best key finders to save you time and energy searching for your belongings

Included in this guide:

best key finder: Tile Pro
(Image credit: Tile)

Are you spending more time overturning your cushions looking for your keys, rather than styling them to suit your interior? Investing in the best key finder will stop your scatterbrain from messing with your scatter-cushion scheme.

Also known as a location tracker, these clever smart gadgets are designed to keep you in control of all of your stuff and make life easier. 

The latest smart location trackers work by attaching to an item you want to keep close to hand - such as your keys, purse, backpack or even your child’s favourite toy - and links to a dedicated app on your smartphone or tablet so that you can remotely locate your items whenever you lose them – provided they are in Bluetooth range. 

If you’ve lost your item a little further afield, you can use an app to try and track it down. You can discover the items last recorded location on a map and - in some instances - receive real-time notifications when it has been automatically and anonymously logged by another person’s phone.

This means you can run down there and try and retrieve it as soon as possible. Sounds clever, right? It is. Just imagine the time you could save – and marbles you can hold onto – with a device like this doing the searching for you. 

The best key finders in 2021

Tile Pro key finder

(Image credit: Tile)

1. Tile Pro

Best key finder overall

Specifications
Tracking tech: Bluetooth up to 400ft
Size: 4.2 x 4.2 x 65cm
Durability: Water resistant
Battery life: 1-Year Replaceable CR2032
Reasons to buy
+Two-way finding feature to locate your smartphone+Loud beeper+Good Bluetooth range+Compatible with voice-enabled assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant
Reasons to avoid
-You have to rely on the Tile community to find belongings that are out of range-No strap

Compatible with iOS, Windows and Android platforms, the Tile Pro can be attached to a range of items including your keys and bags. The design is a step up from Tile’s popular Mate design and has the ability to track your device via a community of 26 million+ users on the compatible Tile app.

How it performs

This small, square-shaped device feels as light as a biscuit so it’s easy to carry. It isn’t as tiny as the circular Apple AirTag and it doesn’t have a strap included in the box, but the hole on the top left hand corner means you can easily attach it to your existing key ring, bag buckle or dog’s collar.

We found set up straightforward and after downloading the dedicated Tile app and getting past the security settings, we paired with the Pro within a minute. We also found the beep it emits noticeably louder and longer than the other key finders we’d tried. We were keen to try the two-way finder feature so, with our smartphone on silent, we double tapped the Tile.

It instantly played a rather loud tune from our smartphone on repeat until we had found it, which was both satisfying and reassuring.

Good to know

The Pro is the most advanced of all the Tile products, which also includes the Tile Mate, but - at 200ft - has half the Bluetooth range. The Pro also has the loudest beep compared to other trackers in the Tile family. These include the Tile Slim – ideal for wallets – and the Tile Sticker version – which comes in useful when attaching to electronic devices such as your TV remote or tablet.

Livingetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Apple Airtag key finder

(Image credit: Apple)

2. Apple Airtag

Best key finder for iOS users

Specifications
Tracking tech: Bluetooth and UWB-technology
Size: 3.2 x 0.8cm
Durability: Waterproof up to a metre for 30 minutes
Battery life: 1-Year Replaceable CR2032
Reasons to buy
+Large community of Apple iPhone users +Emits a tasteful, yet powerful tracking alarm+Uses Bluetooth and special UWB technology for accurate sourcing+Compatible with iPhone or iPad running iOS 14.5 or later
Reasons to avoid
-Strap holder increases the price  -Not Android compatible  -You can’t ping your phone using the AirTag

A slick and stylish device, the AirTag will emit a gentle beep when you press ‘Find’ on the Find My app, so you can follow the sound and trace your item. You can also use Siri to find your items and follow the sound until your search is over.

How it performs

The device uses both Bluetooth and a special ultra-wideband technology so tracing is very accurate – you can actually find your item on a map within 10cm. There are also real-time directions on the app to let you know if your connection is poor or if you need to move to get a little closer to your belongings.

Good to know

The best thing about the AirTag is that iPhone and iPad users can automatically help you find your items – even if they aren’t using the Find My app. If your keys are missing and out of your range for example, the AirTag will be picked up by the nearest iPhone user and the information relayed to the app. If you place your AirTag in Lost mode, you’ll receive a notification when it has been tracked by another Apple user. 

You can also choose if you want to be contacted should someone find your missing belongings by providing your contact number. All they need to do is tap the AirTag with their iPhone or NFC-capable device and they’ll be directed to a website that displays your phone number and a message.  

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+ key finder

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+

Best key finder for Samsung Galaxy phones

Specifications
Tracking tech: Bluetooth to 120 metres without obstruction/Find with AR/UWB technology
Size: 4 x 4 x 0.9cm
Durability: Water resistant
Battery life: CR2032 replaceable every 165 days
Reasons to buy
+Compatible with Galaxy Smartphones with Android 8.0 or higher+Comes with a key hole 
Reasons to avoid
-Limited to Samsung Galaxy smartphones with Android 8.0 or higher-Quite large so not ideal for slim wallets

At £39 a pop, Samsung’s latest version of a Bluetooth tracker is slightly more expensive than its competitors. It is also one of the largest. Soberly styled with a smooth black finish and keyhole on board, it feels like an obvious choice to opt for if you’re already a Samsung Galaxy smartphone user.  

How it performs

You’ll need to download the SmartThings app when using this device, and use the Galaxy Find Network to trace your belongings, which you can also use to find your Samsung Galaxy Watch, Buds and Tablet too. Like the majority of Bluetooth trackers we’ve included here, set up and pairing with the app was painless.

As well as Bluetooth and UWB, the SmartTag+ uses AR technology to help you visually guide you to your lost item using your smartphone camera. Once you’re near your lost item you can call the tracker with a loud ring.

If you report an item missing in the app, any nearby Galaxy device that has opted in to help other users will anonymously alert the SmartThings server and send you a message.  

Good to know

If you lose an item out of your range, you can rely on the community of SmartThings Find network to track it down. It also features two-way tracking and with a quick tap of the SmartTag+, it will ring your phone – even when it’s on silent. 

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Vodafone Curve key finder

(Image credit: Vodafone)

4. Vodafone Curve

Best key finder for tracking range

Specifications
Tracking tech: GPS, Wi-Fi and Vodafone mobile network
Size: 2.4 x 1.6cm
Durability: Waterproof
Battery life: Uses a USB charging cable for up to 7 days of battery life
Reasons to buy
+Compatible with Android and Apple users  +Relies on its own network to track items+Real-time tracking mode is great for dogs+You can tap the Curve to locate your phone
Reasons to avoid
-Extra cost of the Vodafone SIM card  -Bulky, thick design compare with the rest-It will need regular charging as you would a mobile phone

You can track almost anything with the Vodafone Curve, which is slightly different to your standard key finder as it not only uses Bluetooth, but GPS, Wi-Fi and the Vodafone mobile network to track your stuff.

Its USP is the fact that you don’t have to rely on a community of tracker users to digitally pick up your lost items when you lose them on the go. But while you don’t need to own a Vodafone phone to use it, you do need to get access to the Vodafone mobile network, and you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription for the built-in SIM card. 

How it performs

There are four tracking modes to choose from on the app.  Once connected you can choose from Power Saving Mode, which gives you a longer battery life but has a longer time of up to two hours before it updates. There’s also Everyday mode, which updates every 30 minutes, and Performance Mode, which updates every five. We found the Realtime Tracking Mode particularly useful when tracking a dog on a walk, as you could see clearly on the map where it was headed to next.  

Good to know

You can add up to nine guests who can track the same item using the app and you can also set alerts on the app for when the Curve leaves or enters a specific zone. All nine guests won’t be able to track at the same time, however, but whoever is nearest to the item will be able to digitally pick up info on it. 

Livingetc rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Chipolo One Spot key finder

(Image credit: Chipolo)

5. Chipolo One Spot

Best key finder for a shrill sounding alert

Specifications
Tracking tech: Bluetooth to 200ft range to play sound
Size: 3.8 x 0.6cm
Durability: Water resistant
Battery life: 1-Year Replaceable CR2032
Reasons to buy
+Compatible with Find My network and app+Sharp and effective alert
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t give you you the same Finding features as an AirTag-Water resistant not waterproof

The Chipolo One Spot works exclusively with Apple’s Find My network and app, so you can track it similarly to how you would an AirTag. While it is marginally more expensive than the AirTag, it offers similar features and has a slightly larger and thinner body. 

How it performs

We found it easy to pair with the My Find app, simply by launching the app and searching for devices. We gave the Chipolo a squeeze and it instantly paired with the app and let us rename the item, just as you would an AirTag. At 120db, the sound it emits when you try to find it within range using the app is slightly squeakier than the more sophisticated alert the AirTag gives you, but it’s loud and does the trick.

While it will pinpoint your item on a map, the Chipolo Spot doesn’t spoon feed you directions like the AirTag does when you go to Find your device. Overall, we feel the Chipolo makes a nice addition to an existing Apple set up. We were able to run AirTag on a set of back door keys, and a use the slimmer Chipolo Spot on a set of front door keys, and access both their whereabouts from the same app. 

Good to know

The Chipolo One Spot comes in an ‘almost black’ finish and has a keyring hole on its body, which means you won’t need to fork out for a separate strap to attach it to your keys, as you would the AirTag.  

Livingetc rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

best key finder products lined up for comparison

(Image credit: Emily Peck)

What items can I track?

As well as your keys, these nifty little devices can be attached to an array of items such as your purse, remote control or sunglasses box. The majority of designs we’ve found are discreet and light enough to attach to almost anything, so there’s no need to limit them to just keys. Tile also does a sticker version that is ideal for smaller items – even your favourite blusher compact, for example. It also sells a ‘slim’ design that can easily slide into your wallet without the need for a strap. 

It’s not just personal items that you can tag either - some location trackers can be used to monitor adventurous pets such as dogs on walkies, which adds an extra layer of security to an existing set up. It’s worth bearing in mind however, that some manufacturers advise against using them for this purpose as they are not a substitute for dedicated pet GPS trackers or a microchip. Pets also tend to chew on things, which can also be a cause for concern if they’re wearing the device around their neck.

What should I know about security?

If someone slips a rogue location tracker in your bag, there’s little way for you to know unless it beeps or you find it. Some brands such as Apple, however, will send you an alert when they detect a suspicious AirTag near you so you can report and deactivate it. You can also opt in or out of sharing your phone number with a user that finds your lost AirTag, depending on whether you want to be contacted by them to collect your stuff.

What tracking range do I need?

The majority of key finders we’ve featured here use Bluetooth technology. You can use the app to emit a beep on the device when it’s in range so you can find your items. But there are exceptions to aid the process of finding – Apple AirTag also uses UWB technology to narrow down the location search, for example, while Vodaphone uses Wi-Fi, GPS and the Vodafone mobile network.

best key finder: Chipolo One Spot

(Image credit: Chipolo)

How loud are the alarm alerts?

Gone are the days of having to whistle for your missing items - if your lost item is in Bluetooth range, you can use the app to call it so it’s easier to find. Bear in mind that some pack more of a punch than others in terms of noise, so look for details on sound decibel levels before you buy.

What if I lose my phone? 

Some key finders such as the Tile versions come with a two-way finding feature. Provided you’re in range, you can locate your phone by pressing the button on the key finder and your phone will ring – even if it’s on silent! 

What are the design options?

Many of the latest trackers have been created with style in mind – with compact bodies that won’t weigh you down. Some designs such as the AirTag are waterproof and can be put in water up to a metre deep for half an hour, while others are simply water resistant to withstand a little rain.  

You can find colourful and limited-edition designs and accessories, however. Tile has a range of Spring Custom designs that feature boats, flowers and geometric patterns, while Apple sells a specially created Hermes strap, for example.

What about extra costs?

Key trackers cost from £15 and while some designs come with a strap, others don’t and you’ll need to fork out the extra to attach them to your stuff. The AirTag strap will cost from an extra £29 for a key ring holder, up to an eye-watering £399 for the AirTag Hermes Luggage Tag

Also consider in-app purchases – Tile offers an upgrade that gives you smart alerts to tell you when something has been left behind, but this will cost an extra £2.99 a month. If you’re opting for a tracker such as the Vodafone Curve, you’ll also have to consider the cost of the monthly subscription for the built-in SIM card. 

best key finder: Vodafone Curve

(Image credit: Vodafone)

What is the best key finder?

You may have already heard Tile’s popular Bluetooth trackers, which have been around for over eight years and continue to be popular mainly due to their price and convenient designs. But it’s also worth considering recent launches from three big-name tech players  - Apple, Vodafone and Samsung – who all have offerings in different shapes, sizes and tech specs. The majority of key finders are reasonably priced and you can buy one from around £15 and up.  

In our round up of best location trackers for 2021, we’ve highlighted the Apple AirTag as the best design for iOS users due to its easy pairing, simple to use app and clever finding network. It also comes with a strap designed by Hermes, which we found irresistible in itself. In our review, we’ve also highlighted the Tile Pro as our favourite overall key finder due to its reliability, simple design and versatile functionality. 

With such an ample selection of key finder designs to choose from however, it can be tricky to know which one to buy. That’s why we’ve done the legwork for you - playing hide and seek with our belongings - to suss out the pros and cons of each design so you can shop for the best key tracker. 

Emily Peck

One of the UK's most respected tech and smart homes writers, Emily Peck also covers everything from interiors style to decorating trends. She is a contributor to Wired UK, and has also had a column in House Beautiful. She has written for publications such as Grand Designs, Stylist, Shortlist, Woman&Home, BBC, Ideal Home and House & Garden. She was once the Features Editor of Ideal Home.