I am writing this Jiobit review because as a father of a 5 and a 4-year-old (and a bit of a tech nerd), I have spent hours searching for a tracker that:
- Is compact
- Is affordable upfront and on a monthly basis
- Has an app that actually tells you something useful
- Can stand the rigors of two small kids dragging them around
After some stops and starts, I think I have found what I have been looking for and I will tell you why in this Jiobit review.
So why the Jiobit?
I have owned two other GPS trackers before that I liked, but found them lacking in one (or more) of four of the categories I mentioned above:
- They were somewhat compact, but a little clunky in terms of shape and size
- They were not always affordable especially with a steep monthly cost for one of them
- The apps worked…but were really limited in what they could tell you and just had an overall design that was very lacking in useful tools and information
- Were not waterproof but otherwise could stand up pretty well to the rigors of small kids
So when my oldest son lost his last tracker, I began my search for a replacement. It was a coincidence that when I started my search, a new tracker had just been released called a Jiobit.
Upon reading the description, it seemed to hit it out of the park on all of the items I was looking for in a kids tracker. So in this Jiobit review, I will tell you what I had before, what I had considered while shopping, and then what I love (and maybe do not love) about my newest tracker in this Jiobit review.
- My Trip Through GPS Trackers
- The SpyTec
- The Yepzon
- The Jiobit!
- The Jiobit App
- Can the kids break a Jiobit?
- Is the Jiobit Worth It?
When I decided to write a Jiobit review, I wanted to make sure to say upfront that this is by no means a perfect solution. With any GPS tracker that you use, it’s probably going to involve trade-offs.
In my past search for trackers, there seemed to be a trade-off between function and size. If you wanted a useful tracking function, you needed the tracker to be a certain size.
While that may be fine from a tech standpoint, you still needed to consider where your kid was going to wear the thing! On top of that, the whole point of trackers to me is the worst case-your kid gets lost, or worse is snatched.
In that case, you do not want the tracker found! So therein lay the quandary-small enough to hide well yet still deliver superior function.
So this Jiobit review will touch on what I did not like about the trackers I found in the past and what makes the Jiobit so revolutionary.
My first forays into kids GPS trackers before the Jiobit
So when I first looked for a tracker for my kids, I, of course, started on Google and Amazon. At first, I thought, why not a GPS watch.
My concern with these was if someone did snatch my kids, they would most likely take this off. In addition, it seemed that all of the kid’s GPS watches on the market seemed to be made by small companies or even just some yahoo in his or her workshop!
As such, I worried about quality, support, and more than anything else, if it would work. So many of these watches and all manner of other trackers seemed to require a separate purchase of a sim card.
I don’t know much about sim cards and worse, the ones you needed seemed to be old technology (2g??), and from providers I knew nothing about. Long story short, I did not feel very confident with any of these options.
Ok I found one
The first trackers I purchased were the SpyTec STI_GL300 Mini Portable Real-Time Personal and Vehicle GPS Tracker. I copied and pasted that title right from the Amazon Page.
As you can see, it says, “personal and vehicle GPS tracker.” That did not fill me with confidence, but at the time, it was about the best I could find.
To be clear, I liked these trackers. I had three significant issues with them, however:
- A monthly cost of $45 per unit (for the fastest tracking updates)
- How the heck do I attach them to my kids?
- Clunky app design
Point number 1 was my doing. They have refresh rates of 5, 30, and 60 seconds. I choose 5 seconds for $45 per month. The slower the refresh, the cheaper the plan.
Being a paranoid parent, I choose the quickest (and most expensive) plan. Not sure if that is necessary or not, that is really up to the buyer and how they plan to use the thing.
My feeling was if my kid is lost, I want to find them ASAP without waiting even 60 seconds.
That second problem was the real issue. The only attachments the company provides (for an extra charge) is a waterproof case with magnets (meant to place on the bottom of a vehicle) or a velcro pouch with a belt loop.
Since my kids are not made of metal, option 1 was out. So I tried option 2. I ordered the cases and tried them out. Since they only were meant to be attached by running your belt through them, I was kind of out of luck. My kids do not wear belts that much.
I tried to rig up something else with safety pins, magnets, velcro straps…they were all a:
- Pain in the backside
- Tough to use
So yes this all worked….but not very well.
Next came the Yepzon
So then I moved onto the Yepzon. What I loved about these was their small, sleek size. The downside? The only way to attach this is through the loop built into the device.
So that means you need to somehow “tie it” to your child. Not easy. Also, the setup and the app were REALLY tough.
The app seemed to “lose” the devices sometimes and trying to “reacquire” them often involved deleting them and starting over. The problem with that? You could not do it yourself!!
You had to get in touch with customer support (through the app with LONG response times), and they did it. No 1-800 phone number. No instant chat.
When you see how this compares to the app in the Jiobit review I have below, you will see why I quickly abandoned the Yepzon. The cost was on a “pay as you go” plan which is nice since you do get what you pay for.
Now in their defense what is currently on Amazon seems to be a newer version called the Yepzon One. So maybe some of these kinks have been worked out (if only they had customer reviews on Amazon, oh wait……)
Then finally, the Jiobit
So when I first read about the Jiobit, I was really impressed. Do not ask me why, but it just seemed a lot more “reputable.”
On top of that, it offered a TON OF WAYS TO ATTACH THEM!! Hallelujah. So in going back to my original criteria, at the heart of my Jiobit review, here are the reasons I LOVE this tracker:
- Very compact size. About the size of an average car lock “clicker” and comes with a charging cradle so there is no trying to plug tiny charging cables into a very small device
- Cost about $130 upfront (gulp) but only about $13 per month for one and then $4 per month for additional tracking service
- App has its quirks, but all in all is very easy to use
- Stands up to rough use from kids well, but with caveats
So let me go through all of these in more detail.
This thing is tiny! Compared to my first two, it is much smaller in total size and certainly much thinner. Really hard to say anything negative here (until someone comes out with something smaller!)
The cost upfront is about $130. The Yepzon is about $100, and the STI is about $50. So clearly the most expensive of the three. Should I now say you get what you pay for….
Hands down, best app of the three. If you are a regular app user, you know apps that look as if they were designed for your phone and those that look like mobile websites masquerading as apps or worse, just flat out poorly made.
The Jiobit is the former, the Yepzon, and the STI are definitely the latter. How the app works takes some getting used to. I’m not going to go into all of the technical specs of the app. If you are looking for a detailed summary here is a link to the app’s user guide.
For this discussion, I would like to focus on the two primary modes with which you track the Jiobit.
Your Jiobit can communicate with your device that has the app and Bluetooth. You do not need to go through any unique setup of the Jiobit with the Bluetooth of your device, it is all handled through the Jiobit app.
When your Jiobit is in Bluetooth range of your phone, it will show that it is “with you“ via the Bluetooth connection. The location you will see on the app is actually the location of your device.
At first, this may seem a little odd since the point is to see your child’s location; however, since Bluetooth range is relatively limited, I assume the makers of the Jiobit think that if you are in Bluetooth range, your child is pretty close by so the exact location is not that important.
Once the Jiobit is out of Bluetooth range, that’s when either cellular or GPS tracks it. In this mode, you can either let the Jiobit refresh its location on its own, or you can switch to live tracking mode but with exceptions (keep reading).
Live tracking requires more battery usage, but of course, it will give you the exact location of the tracker and even show a history of where it has been. Kind of like a virtual trail of breadcrumbs.
In summary and in detail
So to sum up, the app makes it easy to keep track of your child no matter how far they wander from you. It’s certainly can take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see the app is pretty easy to use.
Some other features include:
- A ringing feature where you can click an icon in the app and then the Jiobit will ring
- The ability to set a virtual fence in Bluetooth mode that alerts you when the tracker has left whatever area you set. The size of this area is basically “really close” to “almost out of Bluetooth range”. Not very precise, but in Bluetooth mode, it does not really need to be. (FYI I never use this function anymore-I got constant “alarms” as my child wandered around).
- The ability to set a “home” location for the Jiobit
- The ability to set your home WiFi to link with the Jiobit
- The ability to set additional care team members. When your child is with them, the app will alert you to that fact
Those last three points are essential, so let me expand on them.
The real difference between being close to you and away from you…
The Jiobit operates under the premise that when any of those three conditions are met, or if you are connected via Bluetooth, the exact location is not that important. Your kids are in a safe and trusted place with safe and trusted people and are close by to either or both.
Thus you just get a general idea of where the Jiobit is. The screen will look different between the Bluetooth mode and the other three, but the premise is still the same.
If none of those conditions are met, that is when you can start detailed tracking. So when the Jiobit goes from any of the “trusted” spots (Bluetooth, Home, Home WiFi, or With Care Team) you are alerted of that via the app, and the app switches to the mode where you can track more closely.
Since this last point is important, I will make it twice. When you are in a “trusted” mode, accurate, “live” tracking is not an option in the app.
That option only is available when it is not in one of those places, and you have to make the choice in the app to then turn it on or off. If you leave it off, the Jiobit is still tracked in general, but only every few minutes and only with a general location.
One mode I have recently discovered since writing this is “Power Saving” mode. This is when the Jiobit is “away” from you but is stationary. The unit will enter a very low power use mode called, funnily enough, Power Saving Mode. In this mode, Live Tracking is not available.
I am of two minds about this since if your kid is in a non-trusted place (i.e. is “away” from you) I think that live tracking should always be an option. I guess Jiobit’s point is that if it is away and not moving, it will show you where it is on a map.
Since it is remaining stationary, why eat up the battery when you have a general idea on the map where it is? Once it moves “significantly” (that is Jiobit’s word) the unit will automatically leave Power Save Mode.
Even still, I am not a fan of this and I suggested they change this so you can live track anytime the Jiobit is “away” from you. Just a little update…
As of this writing, you now get Unlimited 5G-compatible IoT cell data included as part of your Jiobit subscription. If you go with a two-year plan you can get a contract for about $ per month.
Can the kids break it?
Well, yes and no. My youngest son still has his Jiobit. My oldest is on his third!! Is that an issue with the Jiobit itself? Not sure.
My oldest is continuously obsessed with grabbing the thing when he is wearing it (probably because I tell him not to!!). My youngest does not, and his is still in one piece.
My oldest’s first Jiobit fell apart when the front cover snapped open. I put it back on, but I think the cover was damaged and it never really stayed in place, and pretty soon, the unit did not operate correctly.
The second one? He just plain lost that one so I can’t say what happened there.
Now to be clear the cover is intended to “snap” off and on. I am not sure why you would need to do that, but I do not want to give the impression that the Jiobit just “broke.”
As I said, the issue with my oldest son was that the first time he snapped it off, I think it did a little damage, and then it would not snap back on properly.
The inside of the cover does contain some parts of the electronics of the Jiobit, so it needs to be in place correctly to operate. Once that was not a possibility, it stopped working correctly.
As a stop-gap solution, I have just “taped” them closed. Not sure if this will help or not. It may be if enough force is applied and the cover cannot snap off, the belt clip may just break. To me, it is better to replace a cheap belt clip than an expensive Jiobit!
A small issue now and definitely a “live and learn” type of thing. If they keep breaking pretty easily, however, well……
So is it worth it?
Well, based on how the app is set up, how many attachment options you have, and given the very small size of the device, for me, the answer is yes. They have made the device and the app pretty darn simple to operate and maintain, and as such, it makes it very easy to use them all the time.
If I leave the house with the kids, I put their Jiobits on. Do you need them everywhere you go? No, probably not, but if you have them and it does not limit what the kids can do, why not use them.
Do your kids wear them everywhere?
No, not really. I tend to have them wear them when we are going somewhere public where I am going to let them do their own thing (a little bit anyway).
So if we are going to a park, or a place like Sea World or Disneyland, yes for sure. If we are going to the Dentist or some other place that is a bit more “controlled” probably not.
Since they are so easy to put on, you can take them anywhere and do it quickly!
Any other benefits?
Well sort of, but it depends on how you like to parent. One of the biggest challenges I find being a parent is learning to let your kids have a little more freedom and responsibility every day.
If you are a parent, you know how tough that is. I feel that with them wearing a Jiobit, I can feel better “letting them off the leash” just a little bit more knowing I can find them if I don’t actually see them.
A Jiobit is by no means a replacement for good, diligent parenting; however, it can give you some peace of mind as you let your kids grow up and gain more trust and responsibility (all while you constantly keep a “virtual” eye on them!!)