Option to use with Find My or as an app-based proximity tracker
USB-C for charging
IPX6 water resistant
Exposed charging port can collect debris
Twice the weight of a 0.88 ounce/25 gram AirTag
Missing the extra two radios found in AirTag
The Pebblebee Clip tracker surpasses Apple in features and competes on price.
Best Prices Today: Pebblebee Clip
Apple is worth trillions, but that doesn’t mean it does everything right. The small company Pebblebee started in 2014 with a Kickstarter project and has produced a range of compact tracking products. The latest, Pebblebee Clip, outperforms Apple’s AirTag tracker in key aspects, save weight.
The Clip works with Apple’s Find My network just like an AirTag, although Pebblebee has put in a bigger battery to power a more powerful Bluetooth transmitter. The battery lasts for six months on a single charge – that’s right, it’s a rechargeable battery, with a built-in USB-C connection and including a short USB-C to Type-A cable. It has an attractive matte black finish on the plastic center and metal frame and key ring, with just a little bit of hollow around the center on either side. The package includes a metal key ring with snap closure.
Curved LED panels on two edges of the Clip reveal the current battery level when you press and hold the logo button for about four seconds – different LED colors indicate the current charge. The power level is also available through the Find My app, as are other trackers; or via the Pebblebee app if you choose that network.
The LEDs also play a role when you activate the device to produce a sound, or when it crosses one of the Apple triggers for potentially unwanted tracking. The Clip flashes as an extra warning of the loud, unique melodic sound it omits. That light can help when you’re trying to find something in the dark, when you’re in a loud environment, or if you’re hard of hearing or deaf.
Choose a network
Pebblebee is unique among the third-party Find My items to date by offering you the choice between linking the Clip or wallet-sized card to Find My (Apple only) or the Pebblebee app (iPhone and Android).
The Find My network relies on hundreds of millions of Apple devices controlled by other people to pick up a Bluetooth broadcast of your item, tag it with the recipient’s known location, and send it securely to to send you back. Find My Items must be associated with an individual iPhone or iPad, but will then be available in all native Find My apps in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS on your iCloud paired devices.
The Pebblebee app, on the other hand, is all about proximity: it pairs with a single iPhone, iPad, or Android device and tracks the Clip’s last known location relative to that device. If background location tracking is turned on, you can set the app to alert you if you’ve left a clip. More actively, the app can determine a Clip’s current whereabouts, or play a sound and flashes, only when the device and Clip are within Bluetooth range of each other. The app also works with the Pebblebee Card, another Find My/Pebblebee device, and other Pebblebee products. (Pebblebee does include a device finder that calls CrowdGPS and provides similar secure retransmission when someone with the Pebblebee app installed passes a device marked as lost in the Pebblebee database.)
You have to fish or cut bait with the Clip: you can put the Clip on the Find My network or pair it with the Pebblebee app – not both. However, it only takes a few seconds to do a factory reset on the Clip (three clicks on the logo button and hold for 10 seconds) to put it back into Find My/Pebblebee pairing mode and then re-pair to its network. your choise.
I mentioned the extra steps involved in linking a non-Apple item to the Find My app. In reality, however, it is a one-time operation per device and Apple has improved the speed of the original operation. It took almost no time to find and pair the Clip. The same goes for using the Clip with the Pebblebee app: pairing and enabling only takes a few seconds. (That app has some overhead the first time you launch it, as you have to grant some iOS permissions to use Bluetooth, continuously track your location, and push notifications to you.)
I also found it a bummer that, other than Apple’s, Find My Items doesn’t have an ultra-wideband (UWB) radio for short-range direction finding and Near Field Communications (NFC) technology for proximity or tap to pair and reveal contact information on each device equipped with NFC. However, it’s never been clear whether Apple won’t allow other companies to include those radios for certified Find My Items, or whether it’s simply unaffordable from a technical and manufacturing standpoint to bundle them together.
Whatever the reason, I rarely use precision finding. I’m more likely to have an AirTag play a sound to find it. In any case, the Clip’s more powerful radio seems to provide better information than an AirTag, making it almost as broadly usable over short distances. Apple does not provide guidelines in its product or support documentation as to the range within which an AirTag will operate solely over Bluetooth; Pebblebee says its tracker has a range of 150 meters.
If you don’t have an NFC transmitter, that means if your device gets lost or you find a Clip, you’ll need to use a different mode in an iOS or iPadOS Find My app to retrieve its contact information. But all non-Apple devices must still comply with Apple’s rules, which warn people if a Find My item is traveling with them and the owner isn’t around, or if it’s between 8 a.m. and midnight. owner is separated hours. Someone who finds a clip can also use the Find My app to identify it, or discover nearby Clip trackers with Apple’s Android app, Tracker Detect, as with other Find My items.
Weigh it against the competition
The clip only has two minor attacks. First, the size and weight. If you’re looking for the smallest and lightest Find My tracker, the AirTag is about 20 percent smaller and less than half the weight when not in a suitcase. It is likely that in some cases you would post an AirTag – see our recent reviews – and if so, the difference can be minimized.
The Clip is 1.57 inches (40 mm) in diameter, with an integral key ring attachment that protrudes in one direction for a total of 1.93 inches (49 mm). That compares to the 1.26-inch (31.9 mm) diameter of the AirTag. The Clip weighs 25 grams compared to the AirTag’s 0.39 grams (11 ounces). Both are water resistant: the AirTag has an IP67 rating (including dust resistance) and the Clip has an IPX7 rating. Both units have been tested to withstand short periods underwater to a height of 3.3 feet (1 m).
That X in IPX7 is the Clip’s other negative feature: it can’t be rated against dust ingress because the USB-C connector doesn’t have a cap to put in when not in use. (The jack must be sealed internally as the Clip is water resistant.) Since you only need to charge a Clip every six months or so, this seems like a mistake. That was highlighted to me recently after one of my teens accidentally grabbed my laptop and left with it in his bag instead of his own. Upon his return, I spent minutes using an iPhone needle and magnifying glass to pluck chunks of tortilla chip from one of the Mac’s USB-C ports.
The increased weight seems to stem from the USB-C connection, the rechargeable battery, circuitry to support charging, the LEDs, and seemingly beyond AirTag Bluetooth range. The company says the battery can last six months between charges.
If you need an AirTag alternative that’s lighter, works with Find My, and has a replaceable battery rather than a rechargeable one, consider the Chipolo ONE Spot unless you absolutely need proximity detection. In that case, an AirTag is the only answer; it also has a replaceable battery.
What it comes down to:
The Pebblebee Clip offers unique features that make it a great first choice when checking your boxes for a rechargeable battery, visual alerts, and an option for the type of tracking you want to use. For those who just want a Find My tracker, compare the features, looks and rugged design of the case to an AirTag or Chipolo ONE Spot – it’s a tough choice between the three.