GPS vs Bluetooth Tracker: Which One is Best for Your Dog?

GPS vs Bluetooth Tracker: Which One is Best for Your Dog?

Last Updated on December, 2022

Want to get a smart tracking device but can’t choose between GPS and Bluetooth?

This article will cover all you need to know about these two technologies used in tracking and navigation. And help you choose between the two. 

Read on to explore how Bluetooth and GPS trackers can benefit you and best suit your needs, especially if you want to choose a reliable tracker for your pet friend. 

Quick Summary

A smart tracker is a device used to track the location or movement of a person or object, which can be either an electrical or mechanical device.

GPS trackers use GPS technology to locate the position of your pet wherever they may be on Earth, and they do not require a base station.

Bluetooth trackers use Bluetooth low-energy technology to pair up with your mobile device and they are designed to track objects, not pets.

What is a Smart Tracker?

A smart tracker is a small gadget that is used to track the location or movement of a person or object. It is either an electrical or mechanical device. You can connect it to an app that is downloadable on your smartphone. 

It will help you locate the object or person to which the device is attached. If you misplace any personal belongings, want to locate your child’s whereabouts, or even find your missing furry friend, you can check the app on your smartphone for the device’s location.

Smart Tracker

When the tracker is active, it communicates with the app on your smartphone regularly, updating the movement and location periodically. This communication can either happen directly between the tracker and the app. Or it can occur via an intermediary.

What is a GPS Tracker?

A GPS tracker uses GPS technology which is short for global positioning system. It can locate the position wherever your pet may be on Earth. 

The library of congress says, “GPS is the only system that can show you your exact position on Earth at any time, in any weather, no matter where you are!”

Did you know? GPS was developed by the US military and was made available in 1996 when a network of military satellites was open for public use.

GPS data can answer the following questions simultaneously;

a human holding tractive gps tracker
  1. “Where am I?”
  2. “Where am I going?”
  3. “Where are you?”
  4. “What’s the best way to get there?”
  5. “When will I get there?”

How Do GPS Trackers Work?

The GPS technology comes together with the help of three components to form the system; the space section, the control section, and the receiver/ user component. 

The space section includes around 31 GPS satellites in orbit above the Earth. The control section works as the ground station to ensure the proper functioning of the satellites.

There are five ground stations located around the world. And the user component receives and processes the signals from the satellites.

a dog wearing gps trackers

A GPS tracker is a receiver that can detect a GPS signal. The GPS tracker is enabled using at least four GPS satellite signals to determine its location and time. The GPS signal contains information that the GPS tracker uses to compute the most accurate location.

With the help of four satellite signals, the GPS tracker will compute its own three-dimensional position. It determines the latitude, longitude, altitude, and time.

Pros and Cons of GPS Trackers

Pros

It provides worldwide coverage with GPS technology, so you can use it anywhere you want
Unlimited range and works over long distances- lets you locate your pet no matter how far it is
Extremely easy to navigate. Gives direction on every turn to reach the destination
Extremely advanced- real-time location tracking
Works in different weather conditions
No base station is required

Cons

Signal interference may occur when indoors or during extremely bad weather conditions. Signals cannot penetrate solid walls and structures. Line of sight is required for communication.
Signal accuracy can vary in the presence of tall surrounding buildings.
Rely on mobile signals. So continuous use causes the battery to drain fast. So recharging or replacing the battery may be required quite frequently

What is a Bluetooth Tracker?

Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology, in short, is referred to as Bluetooth. 

Bluetooth trackers are small devices that use Bluetooth to pair up with your mobile device. Or other devices that are Bluetooth enabled. Bluetooth allows short-range wireless connection for data transmission between electronic devices, which has the Bluetooth feature.

Fun fact: Bluetooth is named after a Danish/Norway Viking King called Harold “Blåtand” Gormsson, who loved blueberries. The word Bluetooth was anglicized from (bla) “blue” + (tand) “tooth.”

a human holding Bluetooth Tracker

How Do Bluetooth Trackers Work?

Bluetooth devices use low-power radio waves on a frequency band of 2.4000 GHz to 2.483.5 GHz to communicate.

Bluetooth technology creates a wireless networking system called the personal area network (PAN) or piconet. Bluetooth devices can join the piconet and share information. 

When the Bluetooth tracker is activated, it finds items with a Bluetooth tag within the Bluetooth range. Best works to track objects like a tv remote, lost keys, and other personal belongings.

a dog wearing Bluetooth Tracker

Note– Bluetooth tracking only works when the objects with the Bluetooth tags are within reach of your mobile device. Usually ranges from 10- 60 meters based on the product.

Pros and Cons of Bluetooth Trackers

Pros

Long battery life (months to years)
It can mostly attach to any surface or collar
Very exact localization within the given range
Lower purchase cost
Lightweight and small in size

Cons

Limited Bluetooth range ( from 10- 60 meters)
Designed to track objects, not pets
Requires Bluetooth feature on your mobile device
Limited features for pet owners
If your pet happens to be out of the Bluetooth range, the device may end up using another mobile device with active Bluetooth available within the range.

GPS vs Bluetooth Tracking

Comparing the main features of the two trackers will help you determine which works best for you.

Operation

The key difference between Bluetooth tracking and GPS tracking starts with how they operate. 

GPS trackers depend on the satellites in orbit around the Earth. These satellites constantly transmit broadcast signals. The GPS tracker detects these signals and calculates the exact location of the tracking device on Earth. 

Bluetooth trackers operate using Bluetooth low-energy technology. When connected to a mobile phone, they can find Bluetooth-tagged items in the signal range, usually ranging up to 60 meters.

The location service allows you to find the ‘last place present’ in case of signal disconnection to your mobile phone.

Connection Range

The GPS tracker acts as an independent tool. The constant connection to the article in track gives you real-time tracking and location data. And allows an unlimited range for GPS tracking.

Bluetooth tracking, on the other hand, provides a more stable connection but has a very limited range. 

Bluetooth trackers cannot function independently. They rely on the Bluetooth signal strength between the Bluetooth tag and your mobile phone. They need to be connected to a partner device. So the tracking is limited to the signal range.

a dog running on the ground

Price

The prices of tracking devices depend on the brand and model. 

In general, GPS trackers are more expensive than Bluetooth trackers. Usually $50 upwards.

GPS tracking requires an ongoing cellular plan to operate, which comes as an added fee in addition to the initial cost. This fee varies based on the subscription plan you choose.

Most Bluetooth trackers do not require any ongoing fee and are relatively cheaper. Usually costs between $10- $50.  

Some brands may charge additional monthly fees for extra features. So be sure to check before the purchase.

Checkout this article if you want the BEST GPS tracker with any monthly subscription.

Battery Life and Consumption

Constant connection causes GPS tracking devices to consume substantial battery power. But most models include a rechargeable battery that usually lasts 3- 7 days.

A Bluetooth tracker uses less energy, so very little power is needed. They utilize replaceable coin batteries that can last up to from 1.5- 2 years.

Geofencing

GPS trackers allow you to create geofences of your choosing in multiple areas. You will be notified via the app on your phone if the tracker enters or exits this geofence boundary. It makes it an ideal solution for tracking your pets or kids. 

Since Bluetooth trackers have a very limited range and use less energy, the geofence created will be weak. And more importantly, it will be restricted to a very small area.

Sound Alerts and Emergency Features 

Bluetooth finders have sound alerts to notify you if the connection to the Bluetooth tracker is lost and help you find the item that is lost. You can also use this feature of the Bluetooth trackers in case you lose your phone in the surrounding area. It will give you the precise location of your phone.

GPS trackers usually do not have any automatic sound alert feature. But they are customizable based on your needs. For example, you can customize a modern GPS tracker to notify you if your pet happens to stumble away from its designated boundaries.

Sound Alert in a tracker

GPS trackers come with an SOS button as an emergency feature. This feature will alert your loved ones with your updated location if you need immediate help.

The Latest Bluetooth tracking devices also use this feature to reach out for help. This works as a loud alarm so that the people around can come for your assistance.

Community Help

Bluetooth tracking tags allow community search. If your Bluetooth finder gets disconnected, you can ask other users to help you track whatever you misplaced. 

Due to constant connection in an unlimited range, GPS trackers do not offer community search. More like community help is not required.

Size

Bluetooth trackers are mostly compact that can easily fit into your pocket. The idea behind the design is for the tracker to blend in with your personal items without adding any extra bulk. The technology inside the tracker relies on your phone hardware and Bluetooth signal, so the rule of ‘less is more followed to ensure long battery life.

GPS tracking devices require more space to accommodate the tech and recharging options. More options mean a bigger size. The smallest size compares to a modern car key but is a little on the heavier side.

a human holding Bluetooth tracker

Which Tracking Device is Best for Your Fur Friend?

a human touching a dog

When using a Bluetooth tracker, if your pet leaves the Bluetooth range, you won’t be able to keep track of your pet outside this range. Also, remember Bluetooth trackers offer a limited range which means a restricted ground area for your pets to roam around. 

Looking at an instance your pet dog or cat might have escaped the Bluetooth range; the Bluetooth tracker comes in handy only if it satisfies the following requirements;

  1. It can connect to a phone in the surrounding
  2. The phone should have the same app that you have
  3. And the phone should have the location and Bluetooth options turned on

Given that these requirements are met, you gain the location data of your pet with the help of community search.

Which means you have to rely on random strangers. And really, what are the chances of these three conditions being met simultaneously?

a human using mobile phone

In other words, a Bluetooth tracker is NOT an ideal option to keep track of your pet because of its limited use. Best not to play Marco Polo with your escaped pet, Right?

GPS devices can provide global coverage over an unlimited range meaning plenty of ground area for your pet to roam.

It does not rely on community help due to the continuous connection that will give you the most accurate location of your pet, even if it stumbles beyond the set boundaries. No matter how far your pet is, you can find them.

So yeah! A GPS device is what you need if you are looking to keep track of your pet. Given the geofencing and customizing capabilities, I’d say it’s a perfect solution. 

Besides, most latest trackers come in the form of a perfect combination of GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi technologies to offer you the best of what’s out there. 

Final Verdict: GPS vs Bluetooth Tracker

GPS vs Bluetooth

The bottom line, all technologies come with their pros and cons. Despite several key differences, they each have their own best use. They can appeal to different people in many ways based on what it is used for.

But keeping track of your pet is best done using a GPS tracker due to the freedom and safety it provides your pet. Check out our best GPS tracker article to guide your next purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Battery life of an average pet GPS tracker will last up to 7 days before needing a recharge.

A GPS pet tracker is important to keep you updated of your pet’s location at all times. It also doubles as a fitness tracker so that you know your dog is getting all the much needed exercise.

GPS trackers are completely safe for your dogs. These devices use waves from the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum meaning the signal strength is extremely low. So it does not harm your dog in any sense. 

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Author
Stefano Giachetti
Stefano Giachetti is always excited to share his knowledge and love of animals with you through our blog, IPetGuides. And he has always loved animals and has been blessed to have many pets throughout his life. Currently has a Pomeranian Dog Breed.

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