Since Tile last updated its line of key, wallet and purse finders, there's been a lot of upheaval in the tracking business. Both Apple and Samsung have since produced trackers of their own, catering to the vast number of smartphone owners toting around either an iPhone or a flagship Galaxy device. And yet despite the presence of these two heavy hitters, Tile has remained at the top of of our best key finder rankings, thanks to its mix of value and features, plus the fact that Tiles work with both iOS and Android phones.
With the latest overhaul to its product lineup, Tile hopes to stay ahead of its competition. The 2021 lineup of Tiles introduces a new unified look across the lineup, with improvements to both range and alert volume. And the four trackers debuting today (October 12) won't be Tile's last word on the subject. A fifth Tile key finder is set to debut next year that will offer Ultra Wideband connectivity for more precise location data, matching a feature found in Apple AirTag and the Samsung SmartTag Plus.
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I've been spending some time with the new Tiles, and while I still need to do some additional testing before I can reveal a final rating for all four key finders, I can share some initial impressions. More importantly, I can tell you what's new with each model and all the Tile Pro vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Slim vs. Tile Tracker differences.
Tile Pro vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Slim vs. Tile Sticker specs
|Header Cell - Column 0
|Up to 400 feet
|Up to 250 feet
|Up to 250 feet
|Up to 250 feet
|2.3 x 1.3 x 0.3 inches
|1.5 x 1.5 x 0.3 inchs
|3.4 x 2.1 x 0.1 inches
|1.1 x 0.3 inches
|Replaceable CR2032/1 year
Tile Pro vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Slim vs. Tile Sticker prices
The Tile Pro (2021) remains Tile's premium tracker, with the best feature set of any Tile key finder (as we'll see momentarily). As a result, it continues to command one of the highest prices — $35.
That's also what you'll pay now for the Tile Slim (2021), Tile's credit card-sized tracker meant to slip into a wallet or billfold. The new $35 price is a $5 hike over what the old Tile Slim debuted at two years ago.
Prices are unchanged on the new versions of the Tile Mate ($25) and Tile Sticker. The former remains a cheaper version of the Tile Pro, with less range and an alarm that's not as loud as the more expensive model. The Tile Sticker (2021) is Tile's second stab at a small coin-sized tracker with an adhesive back, meant to stick onto things that don't offer a handy loop like a keychain. Tile envisions the Sticker attached to everything from laptops to luggage and passports.
Tile Pro vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Slim vs. Tile Sticker design, size and colors
If you're familiar with Tile's lineup of trackers, you'll notice something different about the 2021 product lineup. Whereas the old tile Pro, Tile Mate, Tile Slim and Tile Sticker each had their distinctive looks, the new versions have a unified design. That means Tile logos prominently displayed on each tracker; on every device but the Tile Sticker (2021), the logo doubles as a button you can press twice to find the location of your phone.
The changes don't stop there. The Tile Pro (2021) gets rid of its square design to look more like a key fob, with a rectangular look. The Tile Mate (2021) is the same square shape as before, only a fraction thicker. The Tile Sticker's a little thicker, too.
You can opt for black or white versions of the Pro and Mate. The Tile Slim and Tile Tracker only come in black. That's not much choice when compared to a rival like the Chipolo One, but I can confirm that the black models I'm testing look slick enough, even if Tile has sacrificed some of the flourishes that went into the old Tile Pro design.
Tile Pro vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Slim vs. Tile Sticker range, alarms and features
No matter which Tile you get, the new version works as past models have. The tracker connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and you use a companion app (Android, iOS) to tap the misplaced item and sound an alarm. As noted above, each Tile has a two-way tracking feature that lets you press a button twice to make your phone ring. AirTag lacks that feature, and it's a way the assorted Tile trackers continue to stand out.
Where the different Tiles stand out from one another is their promised range and the loudness of their alarm. The Tile Pro (2021) should remain the champ here, with Tile promising a range of up to 400 feet and the loudest alarm of any Tile key finder. In addition to the new design, IP67 water resistance means the Tile Pro can be submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes without damage.
The Tile Mate's range expands to 250 feet from 200 feet in the previous version. The alarm isn't as loud as the one on the Tile pro, but if it's anything like previous Mate models, you should still be able to hear it easily enough.
Nothing's really changed with the Tile Slim in terms of range — it still should be able to track missing wallets at up to 250 feet. But the alarm is louder on the 2021 version.
The Tile Sticker has the most room for improvement, as I found the 2020 version's range to be limited and its alarm hard to hear. The 2021 edition addresses both complaints, Tile says, with the tracker able to maintain a connection with your phone at up to 250 feet. The alarm is louder, too, and you get IP67 water resistance with the Sticker this time around.
All four trackers now have QR codes on the back, an addition that's part of Tile's new Lost and Found feature. If someone comes across your lost tile, they can scan the QR code, and it will give them the contact info you've provided to Tile. That should make it easier to return your lost item.
Privacy fans will like the new Scan and Secure capability added to the Tile app, which can help you identify any nearby Tile devices. The idea is that this can help you avoid being victimized by unwanted tracking, with someone slipping one of the finders on to you without your knowledge. That feature's coming in early 2022, though.
Tile Pro vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Slim vs. Tile Sticker batteries
The Tile Pro and Tile Mate both featured replaceable batteries, but that's changing with the 2021 models. While the Tile Pro (2021) continues to offer a battery you can swap out — Tile claims the CR2032 battery inside the Pro will last about a year — the Tile Mate has gone back to a non-replaceable battery. You should be able to get three years of use out of the Tile Mate (2021).
The switch back to a non-replaceable battery for the Tile Mate improves water resistance to IP67; the previous Mate could only resist splashes. Tile also says Mate customers tend to prefer a set-it-and-forget-it device. It also helps that the battery was very hard to swap out on the 2020 model, so this eliminates one of the biggest knocks against the Tile Mate.
Still, the lack of a replaceable battery was a common complaint about early Tile key finders, so expect that criticism to resurface in regard to the 2021 edition of the Tile Mate. This device should last multiple years, though, as opposed to earlier Tiles that only offered a year of battery life, so that complaint is mitigated somewhat. Also, Tile's app can point you toward e-waste recycling sites when it's time to replace Tiles with a non-replaceable battery.
Speaking of which, the Tile Slim (2021) and Tile Sticker (2021) also feature non-replaceable batteries. In the case of those two devices, that's because their form factor doesn't making swapping out batteries very practical. Like the Tile Mate (2021), the new Slim and Sticker should last about three years before you have to replace them.
Tile Premium subscription: What you get
Tile Premium continues to be an optional service for each Tile. Costing $2.99 a month, Tile Premium logs your location history, lets you share trackers with an unlimited number of people and gives you free battery replacement. You can also get a Smart Alert feature that notifies you when you've left the house without a critical item like your wallet, keys or backpack.
I've found Smart Alerts to be hit-and-miss when I've tested it in the past, so I'm eager to see if it's improved. I've never really found Tile Premium to be a must-have part of the Tile experience, though the company responds that I'm in the clear minority here.
Tile Ultra: What to expect
The Tile Pro, Tile Mate, Tile Slim and Tile Sticker are all arriving now, but one of the more exciting Tiles won't be here until early next year. The Tile Ultra also uses Bluetooth to connect your phone to a device tracker, but it adds Ultra Wideband to the mix. As featured on Apple's AirTag, that can enable more precise finding. In the case of the Tile Ultra, that will incorporate augmented reality to lead you in the right direction toward your missing keys or valuables.
The Tile Ultra will have the same shape as the Tile Pro (2021) but will take on a fancier design that includes a stainless steel key holder. Tile hasn't yet announced a price for this key finder.
Tile Pro vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Slim vs. Tile Sticker: Outlook
Given Tile's track record, you'd have to be pretty confident that the latest editions of its key finders will be worthy successors to the current product line. Still, we'll be confirming that with our own tests to see what kind of range Tile's 2021 lineup offers and — just as important — how quickly you can re-establish a connection when you're back in range.
We can offer more concrete buying advice once those tests are concluded, but for now, we'd say that the Tile Pro and Tile Mate are best for keyrings and purses, while the Tile Slim is perfectly shaped to slip inside a wallet. The Tile Sticker is for tracking the sorts of things that don't offer an easy way of attaching a Bluetooth beacon.
We plan on posting our full reviews of each new Tile key tracker shortly.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.