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GPS unit vs. Apple Airtag: What's the Best Way to Track Valuables?

GPS unit vs. Apple Airtag: What's the Best Way to Track Valuables?

It might only cost a fraction of the new iPhone 14, but Airtags generate incredible sales for Apple, with the company shifting 55 million of these accessories from April 2021–December 2022. Sales of standalone GPS trackers have also skyrocketed, with the GPS tracking device market projected to reach nearly $5 billion by 2028. 

But which of these technologies is best for tracking your valuables?

It's a difficult question to answer because Airtags and standalone GPS units work in different ways. In this guide, learn the differences between a GPS unit vs. Apple Airtag and how LandAirSea (LAS) tracking devices can identify missing items and improve theft recovery. 

GPS Unit vs. Apple Airtag: What Is a GPS Unit?  

A GPS unit is a device that receives information from GNSS satellites. Here's the science: As of 2023, 31 satellites send signals to GPS units via a process called triangulation, which identifies and calculates the precise location of the unit on earth. Say you own an expensive car or have a fleet of vehicles in your business. Placing a GPS unit in a vehicle can help you track it at all times, no matter where it is in the world, thanks to GNSS satellites. 

There are various types of standalone GPS units. Some of the most popular are GPS-enabled trackers like those manufactured by LAS — small devices you can attach to items like cars, work equipment, inventory, artwork, and other valuables. If someone moves one of these items from their original location, GPS trackers send you a real-time notification so you can take quick action. 

Here's an example:

  • You place the LandAirSea 54, one of LAS' most popular GPS devices, under a seat in your car.
  • You create a geofence — a virtual boundary around a real-world location — for your garage.
  • You receive a notification every time your car leaves its geofence (your garage).
  • If you are not in your car when you receive the notification, that means someone might have stolen your vehicle.
  • Now you can track your car as it moves from one location to another and send GPS data to the police, if necessary, who might recover the vehicle.

GPS Unit vs. Apple Airtag: What Are Apple Airtags?

Apple Airtags are small discs with location-tracking capabilities that attach to your belongings with an adhesive. You can attach one to your wallet, keys, phone, or another item. If you can't find an item, just log into Apple's Find My app and track its location. 

  • Say you attach an Apple Airtag to your wallet.
  • If your wallet goes missing, you can log into the Find My app and see where it is on a map.
  • If you still can't find your wallet, your Airtag will play a sound to help you locate it.
  • Your Airtag won't store your location data and history, so you can stay anonymous.

It's important to note that Apple Airtags don't use GPS to locate items. Instead, Apple's Find My Network relies on Bluetooth signals to detect and identify your belongings. That can cause a couple of problems:

  1. Bluetooth devices like Airtags have a short detection range of 30–40 meters on average. That means your device with the Find My app needs to be pretty close to your Airtag for you to find it.
  2. If your Airtag is outside this 30–40-meter range, other Bluetooth-enabled iPhones will try to locate it. However, your item might have gone missing in an area where nobody has an iPhone or, if they do, don't have Bluetooth switched on. 

GPS covers much longer distances than Bluetooth, making it a more powerful location-tracking technology. 

AirTags are compatible with all iPhones (and iPads) that have iOS 14.5 or a later version installed. 

GPS Unit vs. Apple Airtag: What Are the Differences? 

There are a few things to consider when choosing between a GPS unit vs. an Apple Airtag. As mentioned above, the main difference between these technologies is that Airtags rely on other people's Bluetooth-enabled iPhones in the Find My network to discover your items if your Airtag is outside the range of your iPhone. That's the only way Apple can identify the location of missing or stolen possessions in most cases. 

While Airtags are useful in heavily populated areas (with lots of iPhones), they can struggle to find your items if they end up in rural locations. On the other hand, GPS units use satellites to pinpoint belongings, which makes it easier to find items in any location

Say you want to track your car and prevent it from being stolen. You could easily attach a GPS unit under the seat or elsewhere in the vehicle, create a geofence, and receive notifications on your smartphone if the car leaves that vicinity. Even if someone drives your vehicle to a rural area, you can identify it on a map. It's that simple. 

Now say you place an Airtag in your car. If someone steals it and drives it to a different location, another iPhone user would have to come within 30–40 meters of the vehicle and have their Bluetooth switched on before you could locate it on the My Find app. 

Another difference between GPS devices and Airtags is that GPS devices like those made by LAS come with cables or magnets that you attach to possessions. While Airtags have a chain you can connect to keys, you have to purchase an adhesive to track other items. 

What Are the Similarities Between GPS Units and Airtags?

Apple Airtags retail for a similar price as LAS GPS units, though you'll need to pay extra for any silicone or other adhesives when attaching Airtags to certain items. (Cables and magnets are provided with LAS devices.) 

Airtags and most GPS trackers are also a similar size, although Airtags are slightly smaller. That makes it easy to attach these technologies to various belongings and improve location intelligence. 

When To Use a GPS Unit vs. Apple Airtag

Here are some use cases that will help you decide whether to purchase a GPS unit or Apple Airtag:

GPS Units

  • Best for protecting vehicles and other expensive valuables.
  • Perfect if you don't want to rely on other peoples' iPhones to detect your valuables.
  • Great for identifying assets in rural locations that Bluetooth can't reach.
  • Also great for things other than asset protection, such as tracking driver performance in your business and monitoring employees.


  • Best for everyday life, helping you find basic items like keys, wallets, and pocketbooks.
  • Perfect if you don't want to purchase batteries for a GPS device. (However, the LandAirSea Sync connects directly to your vehicle's OBD II port, removing the need for batteries.)
  • Great if you already own a compatible iPhone and plan on staying with Apple. Airtags don't work with Android devices.

Why Choose a LAS GPS Tracker? 

If you decide to purchase a GPS tracker, consider a device made by LAS. Here are some of the reasons to invest in these units:

  • Protect personal and business assets more effectively
  • Improve inventory management by tracking equipment and products
  • Get historical data about valuables
  • Share location data with friends, family, co-workers, and customers

Here are some LAS devices that track personal and business items:

  • LandAirSea 54: This waterproof and dustproof device comes with ShareSpot technology, which makes it easier than ever to find lost and missing valuables. Other features include geofence alerts, helping you locate assets quickly on your smartphone. Attach this device to an item with the provided magnets or cables.
  • LandAirSea Overdrive: The LandAirSea 54 has a battery that lasts up to 12 months, but the Overdrive provides up to four years' worth of juice. Attach this device to an item with its super-strength internal magnet. 
  • LandAirSea SYNC connects to your vehicle's OBD II port, saving you money on batteries. It also offers geofence and speed alerts. 

Want to learn more about the differences between a GPS unit and Apple Airtag? Contact LAS for more information.

LAS has created GPS surveillance products since 1994 and works with industries such as the military, law enforcement, border control, and local government. 

Here are some of the other benefits of LAS products:

  • Quick activation and installation
  • Online tutorials and guides
  • No activation fees or additional costs
  • Superior customer service
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing on select models
  • Devices are up to 80% cheaper than similar products out there

GPS Unit vs. Apple Airtag: Final Word

When it comes to a GPS unit vs. Apple Airtag, both technologies can improve location intelligence. However, there are some major differences you need to know. While GPS units use satellites to locate missing and stolen items in any location, Airtags rely on other people's Bluetooth-enabled iPhones. You also need to purchase an adhesive to attach an Airtag to most items. 

Contact to learn more about GPS trackers or GPS products from LAS now! 

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