Review: Fi Smart Collar uses GPS and LTE to track your dog’s location on your iPhone

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My inside dog became a part-time outside dog earlier this year when we completed our backyard fence. Apollo was over-the-moon happy to expand his playground, but as a dog owner I had mixed feelings. What if my dog dug a hole under the fence or one of the kids left the gate open and he escaped?

I’ve been testing the Fi smart dog collar for the last few months to help ease that anxiety. Fi is like an Apple Watch for dogs with features like location sharing, alerts for unexpected location changes, and even step tracking.

Fi relies on GPS and LTE-M to make sure your dog is safe, and the experience is managed from iPhone or Android. Here’s how Fi works.

What’s Fi?

Fi is very similar to Apple’s Find My feature for sharing location with family and friends — only you don’t need to buy your dog an iPhone. The smart dog collar includes a rechargeable tracker that’s sleek and unobtrusive. Seriously, Apollo couldn’t stand that red bandanna after his grooming appointment, but he’s been wearing a Fi collar for months without complaining.

Just like with Find My, you can remotely check your dog’s location on your smartphone. This is terrific for making sure your pet is where they should be while you’re at work or out of town.

You can receive alerts if your dog escapes from home or makes a break for it during a walk. Fi considers that dogs do leave home for walks too. You won’t be notified that your dog escaped home if they’re walking with someone designated as an owner. They just need the Fi app.

Fortunately, Apollo hasn’t actually escaped since becoming a part-time outside dog. We did manually test what happens when a pet leaves a designated area or goes on a walk with someone who isn’t authorized to take your dog, however.

Fi can notify an owner about an event using an SMS text message, a push notification from the app, or both. Response times for alerts and accuracy of location data are reliable enough that I feel confident Fi would be a lifesaver if Apollo actually did escape.

If your dog is missing, you can put Fi into lost mode. This updates the collar location every two minutes and turns the built-in LED light red for improved visibility. (You can optionally run the LED in any color during night walks.)

What to know

  • Fi is also a step tracker for dogs — daily step goal streaks, rankings within breeds, and more
  • The smart collar uses the low power LTE-M cellular network for long distant communication to transfer GPS data
  • Battery life will vary from a few days (if your dog is lost) to a few months (if your dog is always around Wi-Fi) which outperforms competing tracking collars
  • Tracking your dog at home works for free on Wi-Fi; tracking your dog if they leave your home wifi with GPS + LTE service needs a service plan:
    • $99 for one year of service
    • $186 for two years of service
    • $248 for three years of service

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Fi is also incredibly durable. Apollo’s collar has endured the elements after months of daily use.

Availability

Fi Collar is available from tryfi.com in four sizes (11.5-inch to 34.5-inch necks) and four colors (yellow/gray/blue/pink) for $149. You can swap out color styles or choose a new martingale band ($29) for dogs prone to escaping standard collars. Fi also sells additional Fi Bases ($39) that are used for charging and expanding wireless connectivity to Fi around the house.

Highly recommended if you’re like me and want to know that your dog hasn’t escaped — and more importantly — where they went if they did get lost.

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