Released in the middle of 2021 Apple’s Airtags have since received a considerable amount of both positive and negative media coverage ranging from a helpful tool to track down lost items to privacy concerns over it being used in stalking. Some motorcycle owners will certainly be wondering if it could be useful as a dedicated theft prevention tracker. Small and easy to hide at first glance it looks like an effective solution compared to dedicated GPS tracker devices such as Monimoto’s newest GPS tracker Monimoto 7, but is it actually effective at preventing theft?
Let’s take a closer look at how an Airtag compares to Monimoto 7 in the specific usage of motorcycle theft prevention. Keep in mind it’s important to make the distinction that Airtag is not a dedicated GPS tracker, while Monimoto 7 is and this is reflected in their price tags. Airtags are significantly cheaper at $29 whereas Monimoto 7 is priced at $199. These are two completely different categories of device with different hardware and price points.
With that out of the way for this comparison we’ve chosen several categories of importance to judge a device’s effectiveness in theft prevention: Theft Alert Functionality, Operational Coverage, Precision/Speed/Frequency of Tracking, Hideability, Durability and Battery Life.
Theft Alert Functionality, or How does it let me know my motorcycle is being stolen?
In motorcycle theft it’s critical to locate a stolen bike as soon as possible. The longer a vehicle has been stolen the less likely it will be found, and the more time thieves have to find a hidden tracker. That’s why it’s important that anti-theft devices alert their owners as soon as their property is being stolen.
The Short Answer:
Airtag by default doesn’t notify owners at all, except in a user-configured geofence which sends a push notification. Airtag’s tracking info is dependent on the owner activating ‘Lost’ mode. This might be minutes, or even hours after the theft takes place.
Monimoto 7 has a silent alarm which is automatically triggered by unauthorized movement of the device and by default immediately notifies owners with a phone call and push notifications, and also starts tracking and sending locations to the owner.
The Long Answer:
Airtag has very limited alert notification functionality. If an Airtag equipped vehicle is stolen without the owner nearby (a typical theft situation) it will not send a notification it is being moved. The primary tracking feature is designed to be activated once the item has been marked as ‘Lost’ on Apple’s ‘Find My’ network, meaning an owner would first need to discover the Airtag-equipped vehicle has disappeared before getting tracking information. This is a huge problem, because in motorcycle theft prevention and vehicle recovery every minute counts.
Airtag has an option to configure geofenced ’safe’ locations where a separation alert is triggered if it leaves a safe zone – this is the only way to get a notification should an owner’s vehicle be stolen. It’s not very convenient if you need to configure each place a vehicle is parked to get a notification. Owners need to also be constantly on watch for push notifications on a phone in order to receive an alert from stolen Airtags.
Apple themselves marketed Airtags as a way to find lost or misplaced items after users discovered they were misplaced.. On their website you see the phrases “Lose your knack for losing things.”, “Misplacing something like your wallet doesn’t have to be a big deal when it has AirTag attached.”, “When youʼve left something far behind, like at the beach or the gym”. Everything points to an owner losing their items, and not theft of a user’s property. There is not a single phrase containing the words theft prevention, anti-theft or stolen property on Apple’s Airtag page and appropriately so – it was not designed with that purpose in mind.
In contrast a dedicated theft-prevention tracker like Monimoto 7 works very simply without the need for a complicated geofencing configuration – if the vehicle is parked and movement is detected without the owner’s paired keyfob within range the device immediately alarms. The alarm itself is silent, there is no built-in speaker like the Airtag (more on that later) and no flashing lights – the device is designed to remain hidden from would-be thieves. The alarm comes in the form of a phone call to the owner’s phone, something most users are unlikely to miss. These days our phone’s screen space is cluttered with notifications fighting for attention, but phone calls are more direct and likely to at least get a glance, especially if the Monimoto device’s phone number has been saved as a phone contact (standard procedure in setup process).
Extra savvy users configure their Monimoto device’s number as an emergency contact able to get a loud call through even if the phone is set to Do Not Disturb or Silent mode (see: https://support.monimoto.com/hc/en-us#article-4413844511895). An App notification in the middle of the night at 4:30 a.m is unlikely to awaken anybody compared to a phone call. With that said the device also sends App push notifications immediately after an alarm call has been made – starting tracking and sending locations within five minutes of the alarm being triggered.
Operational Coverage and Precision/Speed/Frequency of Tracking or Where is the tracker able to work and how accurate, fast, and frequent are its given locations?
Naturally these answers will be the most important aspects of any Anti-Theft Tracking device and primary means of determining their effectiveness
The Short Answer:
Airtag works wherever there are Apple devices with locational data, if there are no Apple devices – then no data.
Locational accuracy is based on proximity and connection to nearby Apple devices, approximately 25m / 82ft effective bluetooth range – in practice users have found accuracy very dependent on clear line of sight from Airtag to Apple devices, better in densely populated areas and worse anywhere else, but if it is able to connect to a nearby Apple device – gives close enough accuracy that one can go in person with an iPhone to try and locate the Airtag. However its effectiveness at tracing a moving vehicle like a motorcycle is inconsistent. Airtag seems to need more than just a pass by in order to connect and send a location, and the speed/frequency of locations is essentially random and based on density of Apple devices nearby.
Monimoto 7 works anywhere it can receive partnered 4G LTE-M / GSM cellular network coverage and see GPS satellites. With a built-in GPS/GSM module, eSim card, and accelerometer it is a dedicated GPS tracker. Locational accuracy is based on visibility of GPS satellites to the device, the more satellites seen the more accurate the locations, the less satellites the less accurate. In practice users have found locational accuracy can vary. Often it’s pinpoint accurate, but with interference (metal/walls/buildings) the location could vary by 200 meters. If no satellites are visible it can use cellular tower triangulation as a backup to give an approximate location but this area can vary considerably in size. It takes less than five minutes for the device to send the first location, and the default setting sends another every five minutes. Users can change the settings to increase the frequency to one to two minute intervals.
The Long Answer:
Operational Coverage/Where does it Work?
Airtag relies on the bluetooth connections of Apple devices such as iPhones/iPads/Macs around the world to locate itself. It does not carry its own GPS module and uses the location data of nearby Apple devices in order to give its location. While Apple’s network of 1.6 billion devices is extensive and global, especially in densely populated urban areas, it’s challenging if your Airtag is taken where there are few people around such as a factory/warehouse district or remote area.
In contrast, Monimoto 7 has the ability to connect anywhere its Sim card has 4G LTE-M or GSM cellular coverage and GPS satellites are visible. The Monimoto device is not dependent on the presence of other devices in order to find a location, its built-in GPS module searches for satellites to give its location the same way any smartphone does, and the GSM module is capable of utilizing cellular towers to triangulate an approximate position in a pinch when GPS satellites are not visible. This means Monimoto 7 will get locations and service in a significantly larger area of coverage compared to Airtags reliant on piggybacking off nearby Apple devices.
Even if you took every Apple device in the world and created a map of all possible coverage of these devices using a loose 25m / 82ft radius of effective bluetooth range, it would still be miniscule compared to the total amount of coverage a Monimoto 7 device receives utilizing cellular networks around the world in multiple countries and with multiple cellular providers in each country (see full list here: https://support.monimoto.com/hc/en-us#article-1500012693121). It is simply a completely different level of scale.
Precision/Speed/Frequency of Tracking or How accurate, fast, and frequent are the locations from the device
Airtag’s locational accuracy significantly depends on the amount of interference between it and nearby Apple devices. Metal/doors/walls and buildings can all interfere with bluetooth and GPS signals to varying degrees. It is important to note if the connected Apple device does not have an accurate GPS location due to interference, the Airtag’s given location will naturally also not be accurate (See: Apple AirTag: 9 Range and Accuracy Tests from Tech & Travel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maufWhpXi8k).
Another concern is how an Airtag would perform in situations where it is being moved at high speeds and quickly changing its location (typical of a motorcycle theft). Here the evidence is not good, Airtags are heavily dependent on clear line of sight to Apple devices, and from testing it seems to perform better at giving locations once it stops moving (See: Putting AirTags to the test as a Motorcycle theft recovery system | SquidTips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqrSQ_wdfAs).
This seems to suggest it needs more time than a quick pass in a motorcycle to connect to a nearby Apple device. Some testers have found it able to give decent and regular locational results while others have gotten none. This variation and inconsistency would not likely encourage the local authorities to move quickly to recover a stolen vehicle.
Monimoto 7’s locational accuracy is dependent on clear visibility of GPS satellites. In practice the accuracy of locations can be anywhere from pinpoint accurate to 200 meters away, it depends on the number of GPS satellites it’s able to clearly connect with and the amount of interference present. If no GPS satellites are visible due to interference of metal/walls/buildings but cellular signals are available, the device then uses cellular tower triangulation to give an approximation of the stolen motorcycle’s location, typically a circular area with a radius anywhere from 500m-1km not particularly useful, but better than nothing if GPS isn’t available for whatever reason and could help Police in keeping an eye out for a vehicle in a certain area. (See: Monimoto 7 review | Self-monitored tracker tested https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/reviews/products/security/trackers/monimoto-7-tracker)
Monimoto 7 is also unaffected by movement speed, even if a stolen motorcycle is speeding on a highway/motorway it still manages to get locations and send them via cell network to its owner. First location comes within about 5 minutes of an alarm being triggered and by default it pings a location about once every 5 minutes, with an option to increase this frequency to one location every 1 to 2 minutes. In practice the frequency of locations sent is not strictly every 5 minutes – it can vary from one location every 2 minutes to even one location every 10 minutes on default settings. This variance can be attributed to the availability of GPS satellites visible at a given moment and the time needed to fix the device’s position. The fewer GPS satellites are visible the more time it takes to get a location fix, the more GPS satellites are visible the less time it takes to get a location fix. (See: Do You Know Where Your Bike Is? The Monimoto 7 GPS Tracker Does https://www.thedrive.com/gear/43161/motorcycle-gps-tracker-monimoto-review)
If an Airtag equipped vehicle is stolen and stored in a warehouse district, or remote area where no Apple devices are present it will be unable to share a location. A Monimoto 7 would be sending locations the entire route a thief takes a stolen vehicle to a hiding location, wherever there is partnered cellular coverage and wherever GPS satellites can reach the device.
Hideability or How concealable is it from would be thieves?
The Short Answer:
Airtag is extremely small and easy to conceal but Apple’s Anti-Stalking functionality somewhat defeats this hideability by making it easy for thieves to find out whether an Airtag has been hidden. A thief can proactively use ‘Find My’ or ‘Tracker Detect’ Apple Apps on iOS and Android to detect the presence of an Airtag. The Airtag will send a push notification to nearby iPhone/iPads/iPods if an unknown Airtag is present within 8-24 hours. And if that doesn’t get the thief’s attention then the Airtag’s speaker will start playing a chime after it has been lost for a set amount of time (currently 3 days, Apple determined setting).
Monimoto 7 on the other hand, despite being a larger device with more hardware, is still small enough to easily conceal and set up on a motorcycle. It also has no features which would give its presence away to would-be thieves. It has no speaker so is completely silent, and gives no flashing lights in an alarm, there is no functionality that would alert a thief’s phone if it is present. A smart thief could still use a signal scanner to try detecting the presence of Monimoto, but this is not the same as the way Airtag itself gives the tools allowing it to be detected.
The Long Answer:
In this category Airtag at first glance wins the hideability challenge, it is extremely small compared to the larger Monimoto 7 device and could easily be attached somewhere inconspicuous to would-be thieves.
AirTag’s dimensions are:
3.2cm / 1.26 inches in diameter, Height 8mm / 0.31 inches, Weight 11 grams / 0.39 ounces.
Airtag’s size means the availability of its hiding locations is only limited by the creativity of its owner, it can potentially fit in many hiding locations on a bike and this is a big plus especially when real estate on motorcycles can be extremely limited depending on the vehicle.
Monimoto 7’s dimensions are:
Height 9.5 cm / 3.74 inches, Width 6 cm / 2.36 inches, Depth 2 cm / 0.78 inches, Weight 95 grams / 3.35 ounces
Monimoto 7’s size and functionality means it needs more experimentation to hide the tracker and make sure it’s able to get GPS satellite signals. This is the standard price to pay for having a dedicated GPS tracker, it is simply going to be a bigger device with all its built-in hardware than a small bluetooth dependent Airtag.
Okay but once an Airtag or Monimoto 7 is hidden, how well does it stay hidden? We’ve already mentioned that Monimoto 7 is a completely silent device which gives no noise or flashing lights when an alarm has been triggered on it – standard behavior for a tracker wanting to remain hidden.
Apple’s Airtag on the other hand has a built-in speaker that can actually alert a thief of its presence! If a hidden Airtag put into Lost Mode is not found after a while, it will start playing a chime to alert anyone nearby that it has been lost. This could alert a thief they are being tracked. Not only that but if a thief has an iPhone/iPod/iPad then a hidden Airtag will automatically alert them (via push notification) to the fact there is an Airtag present between 8 and 24 hours once an unknown airtag has been detected traveling with them.
“AirTag is designed to discourage unwanted tracking. If someone else’s AirTag finds its way into your stuff, your iPhone will notice it’s traveling with you and send you an alert. After a while, if you still haven’t found it, the AirTag will start playing a sound to let you know it’s there.” – https://www.apple.com/airtag/
If a thief is tech-savvy enough (as they usually are in today’s world) they can proactively utilize the ‘Find My’ App on Apple devices, or the Apple App ‘Tracker Detect’ on Android devices to search for a hidden Airtag – further reducing its effectiveness in preventing theft. And before you ask, the answer is no Monimoto 7 does not show up on Tracker Detect or Find My as it is not an Apple device. These Anti-Stalking features were developed in response to public backlash on Airtag’s potential use by stalkers (see: How Apple AirTags are becoming Dangerous https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoH1DKidj8g), and while effective at their job are problematic in a theft prevention scenario.
Tracker Detect on Googleplay:
“Tracker Detect looks for item trackers that are separated from their owner and that are compatible with Apple’s Find My network. These item trackers include AirTag and compatible devices from other companies. If you think someone is using AirTag or another device to track your location, you can scan to try to find it.” https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.apple.trackerdetect&hl=en_US&gl=US
These Anti-Stalking features unintentionally make an Airtag ‘Pro-Theft’ or you could say ‘Anti-Tracking’. Not particularly helpful if your motorcycle has been stolen and you want to prevent the thief from knowing you’ve got an Airtag hidden on it.
In addition “If someone finds a lost AirTag, they can tap it using their iPhone or any NFC-capable device and be taken to a website that will display a contact phone number or email for the owner if they have provided one.” – https://appleinsider.com/inside/airtags
This means if a thief finds your Airtag and sees you’ve left contact information/phone number with it – they could even use that information to try scamming you into paying ransom for your bike.
If found by a thief any tracker such as an Airtag or Monimoto 7 would quickly be disabled either from disassembly or damage so for our purposes durability refers to a tracker’s ability to survive the elements while it remains hidden, and not how well it performs if it’s being smashed by a hammer.
Airtag is Rated IP67 (maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes)
Operating temperatures: −20°C to 60°C (−4° to 140° F).
Monimoto 7 is Rated IP65 (protection against low-pressure water jets, such as a faucet)
Operating temperatures: -15°C to 60°C (-4°F to 140°F).
Both devices have Splash, Water, and Dust Resistance though the Airtag has a slightly better liquid ingress rating with IP67 over Monimoto 7’s IP65. This means both devices will survive the splashing of riding in a rainstorm and the vibration of being secured on a motorcycle. The small Airtag is much more likely to accidentally be dropped in a puddle/sink/toilet, while a larger Monimoto 7 device once installed on a motorcycle would probably never be completely submerged in water. A thief is not likely to put a stolen vehicle into a river/lake/swimming pool and ruin what they’ve just stolen. Comparable performance against the elements with a slight edge given to Airtag.
(See: The Mysteries of IP65, IP66, and IP67 Rated Enclosures Explained
How long can the tracker last on a single set of batteries before needing replacement?
Airtag uses a single CR2032 lithium 3V coin battery which depending on usage can last upto a year.
Monimoto 7 uses two AA Lithium batteries also rated to last upto a year depending on usage.
Here both devices have a similar performance, battery life depends on the amount of activity triggered on the devices (number of locations being sent), and both can remain safely hidden for upto a year.
Though Apple’s Airtags present an affordable tracking solution, they simply do not perform as well as a dedicated GPS tracker like Monimoto 7 does in preventing motorcycle theft. Airtags were not designed to be Anti-Theft devices, were marketed more as a way to find your lost or misplaced items and do not notify at all in case your motorcycle is being stolen. Monimoto 7 does notify you immediately with a phone call and is able to track itself without relying on piggybacking off partner devices location data. The coverage of Monimoto 7 is on a completely different scale and significantly larger than even the bluetooth range of all Apple devices on the planet, there is no comparison here – Monimoto 7 is simply better at locating itself and working in more places. If Apple did actually set out to make a dedicated Anti-Theft device we suspect it would be significantly more effective.
With that said, in the game of motorcycle theft prevention nothing is 100% secure even with disc locks, chains, steering locks, immobilizers, and trackers, so while the relatively inexpensive and easy to hide Airtag is a welcome supplement to motorcycle’s security, it cannot replace a dedicated GPS tracking device like Monimoto 7 or the accompanying multiple layers of theft-prevention normally recommended to protect a motorcycle.
Theft Alert Functionality or – How does it let me know my motorcycle is being Stolen?
Phone call to owner’s phone, and push notifications as soon as movement without paired keyfob is detected.
No notification to the owner by default in case an Airtag is being moved. There are custom configured geofence locations which can give push notifications.
Operational Coverage – Where is the tracker able to work?
Monimoto 7 works wherever there is partnered 4G LTE-M or GSM cellular coverage.
Airtag works wherever there are nearby Apple devices with GPS, if no nearby Apple device then no location.
Precision/Speed/Frequency of Tracking – How accurate, fast, and frequent are its given locations?
Dedicated GPS tracker with the ability to locate itself using GPS satellites, additional backup of cell tower triangulation. Accuracy pinpoint to 200m variation depending on GPS satellite visibility. First location within 5 minutes of triggered alarm, with locations every 5 minutes by default – increasable to every 1-2 minutes.
Unable to locate by itself – uses partner Apple device’s location data. Accuracy depends on the partnered Apple device’s locational accuracy. Frequency of locations depends on number of nearby Apple devices, and if Airtag can get a connection with them – inconsistent when there is movement (like on a motorcycle).
Hideability – How easy is the device to conceal and how well does it stay hidden?
Harder to conceal because of size due to built-in GPS/GSM, eSim hardware. Still small when all things are considered. Once hidden does not give any indication it is there – silent and no lights during an alarm.
Very easy to conceal due to small size but Anti-Stalking features: push notifications/chime – detection functions through ‘Find My’ and ‘Tracker Detect’ make it easy for thieves to detect them.
Durability – How well is it protected from the elements?
IP65 protected from dust and against low-pressure water jets such as water splashes/rain/faucets. Operating Temperatures: -15°C to 60°C (-4°F to 140°F).
IP67 protected from dust and submersible in water (1 meter up to 30 minutes) Operating Temperatures: −20°C to 60°C (−4° to 140° F).
Battery Life – How long can it last on a single set of batteries?
2 x AA Lithium batteries lasting upto one year.
1 x CR2032 coin cell battery lasting upto one year.