Protecting your family and property is a never-ending task. Keeping your children safe when you’re not around, knowing if they’re in danger is imperative. So is responding to any emergencies that involve your elderly parents, your pets, and knowing what to do if a thief manages to get ahold of your car.
To keep tabs on everything they hold close, many consumers are now purchasing GPS trackers – tiny, easy-to-hide devices that can let you know if your loved ones (family, pets) have gone somewhere dangerous. They can also help you track your luggage, or if you operate a business with several vehicles, to monitor those vehicles.
That’s why we’ve set out to discover which of the currently available trackers are best in class.
- Compact and weatherproof
- Real-time tracking
- Phone calls and video calls
- SOS button
- Android and iOS compatible
Brickhouse Security Spark Nano 7
When we say something or someone is “built like a brick house,” we usually mean they’re sturdy and strong. So, when a company is called Brickhouse Security, you kind of expect it to produce some impressive devices that can withstand a lot.
The manufacturer’s most popular product, at least when it comes to GPS trackers, is the Spark Nano 7. Its name speaks for itself, as this tiny tracker measures just 5.5 x 5 x 4.1 inches. The Spark Nano 7 comes with a magnetic case, which is designed to stick to the underbelly of your vehicle, but can be used as-is, too. You’ll definitely want to put that case to good use, as it’s fully waterproof and resistant to elements, providing supreme protection for the tracker inside. As for the battery, Brickhouse Security declares this device is able to hold the charge for up to 15 days.
Feature-wise, the Spark Nano 7 has a lot to offer. Using either a browser on your computer or a mobile app, you can monitor the tracker in near real-time. The app can notify you if the vehicle has broken a speed limit in the area, but it also allows for setting up geofencing. You’re not restricted to just one fence, which is great, as it can basically map a route you want to geofence around instead of using one big circle.
What pleasantly surprised us was the price of this locator. While it’s not the absolute cheapest option, it’s still very affordable. Bundled with the case, it’s an instant purchase for us. That being said, the subscription can get pricey, especially if you want the tracker to update its location every five seconds. Luckily, Brickhouse Security gives a 30% discount for annual subscriptions, knocking down the price significantly. The company also provides lifetime technical support for every device it sells and, if you’re not fully satisfied with your purchase, you can return it within 30 days for a full refund.
Laxcido 4G SmartWatch
Our children are our biggest treasure and we’d do anything to ensure their safety. That’s why we recommend getting your child a Laxcido SmartWatch. This is a cool-looking kids watch that’ll serve as an addition to their phone and, with an integrated GPS tracker, help you keep your kid safe.
The watch runs on a modified version of Android and comes with a lot of useful features. Since this is a smartwatch, taking phone and video calls was a must, but it also has some smartband features like measuring paces and tracking some basic fitness data. It also takes decent (not great) photos and videos and houses a tiny flashlight. Your kid will also have access to the SOS feature at the press of a button. Best of all, it works globally, but do check with Laxcido on SIM compatibility with this GPS tracker before the purchase.
Note that this watch might not be suitable for really young children. As all menus and apps are text-based, kids who can’t yet read will have a hard time navigating this watch. We also couldn’t get any info on how frequently the GPS data is refreshed. The tracker could’ve also been more precise – the margin of error goes up to 50 feet. As for the build quality, nothing to complain about here. The watch isn’t covered in glass, so there’s no danger of the screen breaking. It’s also water resistant with an IP67 rating.
This is also the priciest locator we’ve looked at today. It regularly goes for more than $130, but the upside is that you won’t need to pay for a GPS tracking service. Just pop in a micro SIM card, and the watch will work completely standalone.
Optimus 2.0 4G LTE
The Optimus 2.0 is a GPS tracker that has been recommended time and time again as an all-around tracker able to withstand even the harshest travel conditions while still sending out precise GPS data.
On the first look, it doesn’t differ much from other GPS trackers we’ve reviewed today. A neutral-looking box with a few indicator lights, one big SOS button, and that’s pretty much it. Of course, the true power lies inside. First of all, you get a SIM card with a data plan with this device. You can either use Optimus’s in-house app or monitor your tracker using Google Maps with live traffic and even street view.
The device sends out notifications via text message and email. It has an internal sensor that detects movement and, by default, goes into battery-saving mode if it’s standing still. The app can create geofences, send out notifications for speeding and in case it gets moved, and it also shows current speed, direction, and battery level. You can set update frequency in six steps, with the battery saver updating mode updating only once every 10 minutes.
Price-wise, the Optimus 2.0 sits among our top picks. We’d prefer if any accessories, such as a magnetic case, were included with it, instead of being sold separately. At the time of writing this review, Optimus didn’t offer any bundle deals for its devices and cases, but at least the subscription comes at a fixed price. Another important thing – you’ll want to keep your subscription going if you want lifetime support and warranty for this GPS tracker. Optimus also gives a 30-day money-back guarantee for its devices, so you can test this locator risk-free.
Another company dedicated to creating top-notch trackers and GPS-based devices is Spytec. The manufacturer offers various personal and business solutions, including cute little dog tags with trackers, but its most popular product is called the GL300.
This little tracker can fit in any pocket, it’s very light, and has an SOS button to send a notification in case of an emergency. Due to its incredible durability against bad weather conditions, it has become most popular among delivery and hauling companies. Of course, you can also use it to keep tabs on your car, pets, and even kids.
The GL300 is compatible with all North American SIM cards and some international ones, but you’ll need to check with the manufacturer for the current list of supported mobile carriers in your location. Like similar devices in its price range, the tracking software can update as fast as every five seconds, tracks several devices, and packs some essential geofencing features.
One important thing to remember if you decide to purchase this tracker – Spytec doesn’t include a case with it. Therefore, you can’t just mount it underneath your vehicle if you don’t have any other case on hand. Luckily, when ordering directly from the manufacturer, you can add an M2 case for free to your order, and, on top of that, you’ll get free two-day shipping. You can also upgrade to M4 or M6 cases, which double the capacity of the tracker’s battery.
Spytec also takes good care of its customers. It doesn’t matter if you bought a GPS tracker directly from it or one of its authorized retailers; you’ll always have access to free 24/7 support and a lifetime warranty.
GPS trackers are, by nature, small devices. But, Tracki has gone a step further and recently introduced the smallest tracker we’ve ever seen. It’s so small, in fact, that it weighs just 1.2 ounces and can be easily attached to your pet’s collar.
The Tracki Mini GPS tracker can be used for tracking pretty much anything, but it’s particularly great for tracking personal items and pets, thanks to several clips and lanyards you get in the bundle. You can also give it to your kids. Due to its minuscule dimensions, it can be easily hidden within one’s personal items. It also has a magnetic base, so you won’t need an additional case if you want to place it underneath your car.
The accompanying app comes with several neat features, from geofencing to multiple notifications you can set up. For example, you can set it to trigger when the tracker is moved, or when it passes a certain speed limit. If you don’t need nonstop location tracking, the battery can last you for up to 60 days on one charge. Best of all, you can use the Tracki Mini GPS tracker all around the world, as the included SIM card works internationally and it’s compatible with many mobile carriers in 190 countries.
Depending on where you decide to purchase it, the Tracki Mini GPS tracker can be as cheap as $10 or go for quite a higher price. Our suggestion is to go bargain hunting, check Amazon and similar online stores, and you’ll most likely get free shipping atop of low price. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to dodge additional fees in the form of a monthly subscription. You have to sign up for at least six months to use this device. But, at least you get a full lifetime warranty, meaning Tracki will replace any damaged or stolen product.
How Do Tracking Devices Work?
You might be wondering how such tiny gadgets manage to pinpoint the exact location of a vehicle. That’s thanks to the Global Positioning System, or GPS for short, a technology that has been around for 40 years. Instead of relying on any kind of ground or even aerial communication methods, it instead uses devices orbiting the Earth – the satellites.
So, how does it all work? It’s based on something called trilateration. A GPS tracker that you placed in your car communicates with the network of satellites, trying to get a connection to three or more of them. That’s the “tri” in trilateration. Then, the system calculates the distances between the tracker and each of the satellites, which in turn allows it to figure out the coordinates on the world map. The system is so precise it can pinpoint the location of the tracker with an error margin of just 1 foot.
That’s, of course, the most basic and rough explanation of this sophisticated system. Now, for you to track your car, for example, you’d need another device with a compatible app to read that GPS data on. When it comes to GPS trackers we’ll be talking about today, they each offer easy-to-use apps for computers and smartphones. With them, you’ll get a nice, clean overview of the map and an icon showing the tracker’s location.
Another vital thing to remember is the difference between the two types of these trackers. They can be either active or passive. Active GPS trackers send information about their location in (almost) real time, and they’ll be our focus today. On the other hand, passive trackers merely store their route and location history for you to peruse later on, but they’re also more affordable.
Build Quality and Battery Life
A GPS tracker is designed to be a “set it and forget it” kind of device. That also means minimum maintenance and the ability to withstand various weather and travel conditions. For example, trackers for cars should be magnetic and with an additional protective casing, if possible. You don’t want to lose the connection to your device and, in a worst-case scenario, lose track of your vehicle just because it hit a bump on the road.
Another important thing to consider is the battery life of these devices. Since GPS trackers are supposed to be standalone – as in, not requiring an external power source to run – they’re all equipped with rechargeable batteries. How long of a running time you get with a single charge is, therefore, very important.
It’s worth pointing out how the manufacturers present the battery life on their locators. Yes, it says X number of days in standby and/or active use, but that’s not when the tracking is working nonstop. Instead, the most common value is one hour of active tracking per day in one-minute intervals. That’s usually the least power-hungry option for tracking, so reducing the tracking interval down to five seconds will drain the battery much faster. We’ll point out in our reviews how the manufacturers calculated the battery life.
Features and Coverage
Pretty much every GPS locator sold within the United States provides coverage across the whole North American continent. That’s a default and also what we expect when reviewing these devices. Of course, if the device works internationally, that’s a big plus.
We also look for any extra features beyond just pure tracking and reporting. Geofencing is an often-requested feature, and something we look for in our reviews of GPS trackers. This lets you set up a virtual fence and then notifies you if the tracker passes the perimeter.
For car tracking, an important feature to have is speed limit alerts. Since trackers can calculate the traveling speed, it makes sense to have the app notify you if the vehicle is speeding on the road.
Additional features are customizable tracking periods, an SOS button, native mobile apps, and compatibility with voice assistants such as Alexa.
Money has always been an important factor whenever we’re talking about any gadget. While a GPS tracker is an investment of sorts, as it can help you locate your stolen property, it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Our evaluation of the value of these devices is twofold. Obviously, our main focus is the price of the device itself, as that initial purchase highly impacts the perceived value. On top of that, we also examine the pricing of the accompanying service, usually a monthly subscription, so the whole system is actually operative. We look at various plans, if any, as well as possible discounts a customer can get when purchasing multiple trackers.
Warranty and Support
While we’re still on the topic of investment, for many people, these devices aren’t really something they plan on swapping every now and then. When you buy a tracker, you obviously expect to use it for many years to come. That’s why you’ll want a long warranty and, if possible, ongoing support for your device.
What is the best GPS tracker on the market?
There are many great devices for tracking, but our pick has to be Brickhouse Security’s Spark Nano 7. It’s an affordable device with a great set of features, an amazing app, and impressive durability.
Are GPS trackers worth it?
Yes, for a multitude of reasons. They’re discrete, durable, and their batteries can last for several weeks. Unless a thief knows there’s a tracker in the car, you’ll be tracing your lost vehicle in no time.
Which location tracker is the best?
There are many great trackers, but what we recommend are the devices listed in this article. They have the best customer satisfaction scores, and each product has proved to be great at tracking.
What is the longest-range GPS tracker?
Radacat is known as a manufacturer of the longest-range off-the-grid trackers. But, it’s very expensive. For most consumers, any of the devices listed in this article will be an ideal purchase for GPS tracking.