About one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization. Grabbing your phone and calling for help isn't always an option when you're in danger, but what if you could send out a distress signal from a discreet device attached to your person? That's the premise behind the $129 Flare smart safety bracelet. It looks like any other bracelet, but connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, letting you trigger a fake call, message your emergency contacts, or send your whereabouts to 911 dispatchers with the push of a hidden button. You never need to charge it, and the battery should last one to two years depending on your usage. The Flare has some shortcomings; most notably, the bracelet needs to be within Bluetooth range of your phone—about 30 to 50 feet away—to work. And as of this writing, it's only compatible with iPhones, but the company plans to expand availability to Android in the near future. Despite these limitations, the Flare is a powerful safety tool that can offer peace of mind—and possibly even save your life.You Can Trust Our ReviewsSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (Read our editorial mission.)
Safety Meets Style
When you think of safety jewelry, medical alert devices probably come to mind, which aren't exactly stylish. Available in three nickel-free styles and a range of attractive finishes and metal colors, the Flare is smart jewelry you'll actually be excited to wear and show off.
You can choose between cuffs made of beads, metal, or vegan leather, all of which are priced the same at $129. Flare only ships within the US at this time, and charges a $5 flat rate for shipping wherever you are.
The metal cuff style is adjustable and fits wrists up to 6 inches in circumference. The beaded style features a stretchy elastic cord, and comes in XS/S (for wrists smaller than 6 inches) and M/L (for wrists larger than 6 inches). The leather style has an adjustable watch-like band with 9 holes to accommodate wrists measuring 5 to 8 inches in circumference.
The cuff is made of brass plated in 12K gold, rose gold, or sterling silver, and features a protective coating to prevent tarnish. The beaded and leather styles both feature a metal bar made of sterling silver, imitation gold-plated brass, or hematite (the Slate color option), with a geometric pattern and an anti-tarnish coating.
For this review, Flare sent me the gold cuff bracelet. It's a little too fancy for everyday wear (given that I live in yoga clothes most of the time), but perfect for nights out. The braided and leather styles can be dressed up or down.
The gold cuff has gotten a bit scratched up in the two months since I first started wearing it, but you can't really tell unless you look closely. That's probably my fault; several times, I kept the bracelet in my purse knocking around unprotected. It comes with an adorable tin carrying case, which I plan to start using more often to prevent further scratching.
Flare bracelets are water resistant, making them safe from splashes or rain, but you shouldn't wear them in the shower or while swimming.
On the inside of each Flare bracelet is a small black module with a hidden safety button that lets you create a diversion or call for help without having to touch your phone. The battery never needs to be charged, and should last at least one year, depending on your usage. Flare automatically tracks your battery and will notify you via email and text when it's running low. At that time, you'll have the option to purchase a replacement, in the same or different style, for $89.
How Flare Works
The hidden button on the Flare can do three things: ring your phone, text an alert to your emergency contacts, and message 911 first responders with your GPS location.
"Flare will help in pretty much any situation that feels uncomfortable when you want to be in control or need backup," the company says. "That includes new places and situations, when you’re walking alone at night, or if a date goes too far, or your Uber driver gets awkward, or when you’ve had too much to drink, or a random person hits on you, or a stranger sits next to you on an empty bus... you get the picture."
The bracelet doesn't have its own cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity, so it must be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth to work. In addition, your phone needs to have Wi-Fi or cellular service.
Because it relies on Bluetooth, the bracelet works best when it's within around 10 feet of your phone or less. In other words, if your phone is in your purse on the other side of the car or room, it should fine. Beyond around 50 feet, the Bluetooth connection will drop, rendering the bracelet useless.
Setting up the Flare is simple; its user-friendly companion app walks you through the entire process of creating an account, connecting the bracelet to your phone, assigning emergency contacts, and testing it out so you can learn how to use it and verify it works.
To start, download the Get Flare app in the Apple App Store, and accept the Bluetooth request. Next, enter your full name, email address, and phone number to create an account, then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup process. Note that you must grant the Get Flare app permission to "Always" access your location. That way, it can send your whereabouts to your emergency contacts and/or 911 when you activate the bracelet, even if the app isn't open.
To connect the bracelet with your phone for the first time, repeatedly press the safety button until the app asks you to enter the last three digits of the serial number printed on the inside of the bracelet. In testing, I had no problem connecting my bracelet with the Get Flare app.
Next, the app takes you through a quick tutorial on how to use the bracelet. During the onboarding process, it presents you with examples of scenarios when you might want to use it, and keeps you engaged with beautiful, colorful artwork.
Sending Out a Flare
To trigger a fake call to your phone, simply press and release the safety button once. You can use this feature to create a distraction to get out of a sketchy situation. The call will always come from the same number; you can add it to your contacts and save it as any name you choose.
When you pick up the call, you'll hear a recording of your choice. The Get Flare app offers a number of different fake phone call themes to choose from, including: you forgot to be somewhere; a friend left their wallet in your room; a friend got dumped; your girlfriend or boyfriend is checking in; you're late for a meeting; a pet emergency; a problem in the apartment; or your roommate needs help.
The app also lets you designate a Crew of up to five friends and/or family members who you can contact from the bracelet. When you add someone to your Crew, Flare will text them to let them know. To text your Crew for help, hold the safety button for three seconds. Doing so will send them a message with your GPS location.
When your message successfully goes through to your Crew, you'll get a push notification on your phone. By default, the notification says "You sent a message to your crew," but you can customize it to say anything you want, like "Paper due tonight," so it's stealthy. Any text responses from your Crew will appear in the Get Flare app, so they don't buzz your phone.
If you have the 911 feature enabled, Flare will notify emergency dispatchers, in addition to your Crew, when you press and hold the safety button for three seconds. At that point, the dispatcher will be able to view your live location. Within one minute of your button hold for help, the dispatcher will text and call you to confirm your safety. You can message and/or talk to the dispatcher until help arrives. If you accidentally triggered the 911 feature, just let the dispatcher know. If you don't respond, the dispatcher will send emergency responders to your location.
One of the things I love about Flare is that its companion app encourages you to test the bracelet, including the 911 feature, so you're familiar with how to use it should you ever need to in real life. Flare uses a third party called Noonlight for the 911 feature, so it says you don't have to worry about taking up emergency service resources when testing the bracelet.
Thankfully, I've never had to send a Flare in real life, but it has worked perfectly in testing. When I press the safety button, it rings my phone within seconds. The fake call recordings seem real, and include pauses so you have time to respond.
When I hold the safety button, it reliably alerts my Crew and Noonlight. The folks at Noonlight quickly check in via text and phone call, and are friendly to talk to.
Needless to say, I'm a big fan of the Flare. Its gorgeous design is what first attracted me, but its user-friendly companion app made me like it even more. And the peace of mind it offers is priceless. If you online date, have a toxic ex, or just want to feel safer when Ubering or walking outside alone, the Flare stands out among smart safety jewelry for its discreet, stylish looks and intuitive app. Most importantly, it's easy to use and works as advertised, letting you trigger a fake phone call, text your emergency contacts, or share your location with 911 first responders with the press of a button. It only works with Apple's iOS platform at the moment, but if you're an iPhone user, the Flare is a worthwhile, and potentially life-saving, investment.4.0See It$129.00 at FlareMSRP $129.00View More
The Flare is an intuitive and attractive smart safety bracelet with a hidden button that can trigger a fake phone call, text your friends and family for help, or send your GPS location to 911 in the event of an emergency.
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