Tile announced a refresh to their line of products, bringing some slight design changes and better functionality to the Tile Mate, Tile Pro, and Tile Slim. Each of these is made for different use cases, with differeing shapes and ways to stick them to your stuff.
We got a chance to play with the entire family to see if they’re worth picking up. If you’re the kind of person that frequently misplaces things, you’re going to want to check this review out.
The Tile Mate is pretty much the standard Tile. It’s got the classic square tracker shape, and it’s small enough that you can reasonably put it on almost anything. Throw it in a bag, attach it to your dog’s collar, loop it into your key ring, you name it. It also only comes in a bright white, which is easy to see, so that might be a perk in some situations. Easy to find your keys if there’s something bright and noticeable on it, you know?
It’s the cheapest of the family, although that does mean it feels kind of cheap, too. Tile uses pretty plain plastic here, and I don’t think it would break after carrying it around in a bag, I’m not sure how many big falls it could survive without breaking apart.
On the back you’ll see small speaker cutouts, plus the compartment for replacing the battery when it dies. It’s expected to last about a year, but CR1632 batteries are super cheap and easy to find, so it’s not the end of the world when it goes out.
Tile also promised faster Bluetooth pairing and finding with the refreshed line of trackers this year, and I definitely found that to be true with the Tile Mate. My phone could almost immediately connect with this thing to set it off, and the 200 foot range seems mostly accurate, give or take a few feet if some walls get in the way. I do wish the speaker was a little bit louder, but I feel bad actually knocking any points off for that considering how little room there is to be bigger components in something this size.
If you’re just looking for something to keep up with your casual items, like your keys, the Tile Mate makes a lot of sense, especially at its cheaper price point. What you do also probably affects what you should buy, and considering the Tile Mate has a shorter Bluetooth range than the Pro, it’s also better suited for someone that wouldn’t potentially lose their in Atlanta’s airport or something. But for most people, this one’s the way to go.
The Tile Pro is extremely similar to the Tile Mate, but like with most “pro” branded gadgets, it’s just a better version. It’s taller and wider, which might be a con for some people, but it’s also thinner. It feels a little lighter, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate, and could definitely just be because of the different weight distribution from the bigger dimensions.
Like the Tile Mate, it also has a keyring loop and removable battery compartment. You’re not getting better battery life out of this one, at least not by a noticeable amount. It’s still just rated for a year, and you’ll have to swap out for a CR2032 when it runs out.
Here’s where the Tile Pro wins, though; you’re getting double the range to find your lost items, and the speaker is louder.
Instead of a 200 foot range, the Tile Pro can find things up to 400 feet away, which should cover over the length of an American football field. I don’t think you could reasonably expect much better from a device of this size, and that’s plenty for most use cases. Anything further away than that and you’re going to rely on Tile’s community find feature, which we’ll talk about in a bit.
The speaker is also noticeably louder, which I think is another big plus. It’s easy to muffle these things when thrown in a bag, so having some extra volume makes them stand out more, which I appreciate.
The Tile Pro is $10 than the Tile Mate, so you’re shelling out $35 for a single one. For many people, I think that’s going to be a waste of $10, but if you like the sleeker design and you think you need the extra range, it’s still a pretty affordable finder. I think CR2032 batteries are also a little more common, so it gets a point there, too.
The Tile Slim is probably my favorite of the newly announced Tile trackers, but also the one I had the most issues with. The refreshed design makes it about as thick as two credit cards, so while you could definitely put this in a bag or something, it’s clearly something designed to sit in a wallet or behind your phone case. I also think the rounded Tile button looks like a coin on a credit card, so come on. Of course I put this in my wallet.
It fits really well, it didn’t add any bulk, and the ringer is, well, loud enough. Could be better, but I get it, it’s going to be stuck in a leather wallet and that’s going to make it hard to be noticed. That’s where the closeby finding feature should come in.
Problem with this one is that it seems like it really struggled to connect. While the other Tiles would connect almost immediately, the Slim seemed to hide way more often. I could grab my wallet and put it literally a foot away from my phone, and the two just would not see it each other. A couple Tile app updates later and this seems to have resolved itself (mostly), but those first few days were frustrating. It’s especially scary considering my wallet is probably my most valuable thing to lose.
Now that it seems to connect more regularly, I do like the Tile Slim a lot again. It can fit in situations where the other Tiles can’t (good luck cramming a Tile Pro in your wallet without hurting your butt all day) and seems like a really well-designed specific accessory. The battery life lasts for three years, which is great, but it’s not replaceable, which is eh. It’s only $30, so you’re realistically paying $10 a year for the ability to keep up with your wallet or phone, and I don’t think that’s a bad proposition.
Setting up any of these Tiles is incredibly easy with their well-designed app, and it also lets you double everything as a phone finder. You can double click any active Tile button to ring your phone, so if you have a Tile Slim in your wallet but you lost your phone, you can reverse find your smartphone. It’s pretty cool.
Tile also has their nifty community find feature that creates a giant network of Tiles in your area. If you lose your wallet in a shopping mall, and other people around that area have Tiles, you’ll be able to see your wallet on a map. My city has over 500 active Tiles in it, so that’s a pretty decently sized network to find things. Bigger cities will obviously have more, but if you’re in a small town this feature is considerably less useful. It is all privatized too, so don’t worry; I can’t see where Tile owners are or anything, even when I’m looking for my devices.
One thing that’s probably going to irk a lot of people is the constant reminder of Tile’s premium subscription in the app, though. There are several features that are locked behind the $3/mo paywall, including location history for your devices, smart alerts for leaving your stuff at home, free battery replacements, and the ability to share your Tile locations with as many of your contacts as you want. The Smart Alerts are cool, because your phone will notify you if you try to leave the house without your wallet, for example, and location history is kind of neat if you habitually misplace things and need to track it down based on where you went one day. But the Tiles work really well as a free service, so I’m not sure that another subscription is worth enough with these things. Maybe if you lose things all the time and don’t mind giving up a coffee every month.
With a rumored Apple competitor on the horizon, I think Tile has set itself up to be pretty competitive. This refresh is aggressively priced, works well, and they’re riding some pretty serious brand recognition.