Tile may dominate the market for Bluetooth-based key finders — the company tells me it enjoys a 90% market share in the U.S. — but it's not about to get complacent about hunting down your lost items. Tile just revamped its entire product lineup, adding a few tweaks to two of the best key finders already available while introducing an entirely new tracking device.
The newcomer is Tile Sticker, a tracker with an adhesive that you use to attach the device to objects like luggage, laptops or anything else you want to keep tabs on. and available in a $40 package that includes two trackers. Meanwhile, the Tile Slim — the credit card-sized tracker that slips inside a wallet — sees some improvements while the keychain-friendly Tile Mate and Tile Pro also get a refresh for 2019.
If you bought a Tile Pro or Tile Mate in the past year, you'll likely want to stick with those models, especially since they were the first Tiles with replaceable batteries. But if you have an older Tile, want a reliable tracker for your wallet or have been holding out on getting a Bluetooth-based key tracker, these update models are worthy additions to Tile's lineup. As for Tile Sticker, I'm not quite sure it's polished enough to tackle the problem Tile's trying to solve.
I've spent a little bit of time with the new Tiles — not enough for a full review, but certainly enough to see what's new and improved with these latest trackers.
Tile Sticker: Meet the new tracker
So when your other key finders are dominating the competition, what do you do for a follow-up act? In the case of Tile, you find a new way to attach one of your trackers to valuable objects people don't want to lose. Just as the Tile Mate and Pro latches onto a keychain and the Tile Slim slips into a wallet, the new Tile Sticker fastens onto whatever it is you want to track — a laptop, a gym bag or a guitar case, just to name three possibilities.
One side of the Tile Sticker features an adhesive developed by 3M, and it's supposed to keep the Sticker attached to the surface of an object for three years. (Conveniently, that's also how long the non-replaceable battery inside the Tile Sticker is supposed to last.) I can't attest to that three-year promise having only had the Sticker for a week, but I've tried my best to knock it off the passport I attached it to, and the Sticker has stayed put.
My biggest objection to the Sticker is an aesthetic one. Anything you attach the Sticker to now looks like it has a black knob sticking out of it. My passport, which used to slip easily into my pocket now has a 1.1 x 0.3-inch bump protruding from the back. I shudder at the idea of voluntarily affixing this coin-shaped bulge to my otherwise sleek MacBook Air. Some users won't have that hang-up with the Tile Sticker, but I certainly do.
There are some other issues I've run into during my brief time with the Sticker. First, it isn't very loud, especially compared to the rest of the Tile lineup. I test key finders by burying them in a pile of laundry. I can hear the new Tile Pro from two rooms away when I sound the alarm, and both the Mate and the Slim are audible from the next room over. I had trouble making out the Sticker's alert from more than 15 feet away when it was underneath a pile of clothes.
Setting up Tile trackers in the mobile app (Android, iOS) is usually a breeze, but the two Stickers I linked to my phone were initially recognized and then listed as out of range, even though they hadn't been moved from next to my iPhone. It was only after I marked them as lost that they came back into contact with my phone. I'm willing to chalk this up to a pre-release glitch, but it's not an issue I ran into with the Pro, Mate or Slim.
Tile Pro, Tile Mate and Tile Slim: What's changed
You'll find the fewest changes in the Tile Pro and Tile Mate over previous models. The Pro's look is a little different, with Tile describing it as more stylized, though I kind of preferred the textured pattern on last year's edition.
What everyone will like about the new Pro is its wider range — Tile says your phone can stay connected to the Pro over Bluetooth up to 400 feet in ideal circumstances. The Mate's range is improved too, up to 200 feet, though really the main reason to opt for the Mate over the Pro is its lower $25 price tag. (The Tile Pro runs you $35, though the longer range and louder alarm are worth it, if you ask me.)
Tile Slim ($30) got the biggest overhaul of Tile's existing products, and that's a good thing, too. The old Slim used to be a square, while the new version is a more credit card-like 3.4 x 2.1 x 0.1-inch size. That makes it easier to slip the Slim right into one of the credit card slots on your wallet. The alarm that sounds when you're trying to find your wallet is louder, too, and the new Slim boasts double the range of previous models as it can stay connected up to 200 feet.
Because the Slim is so thin, it can't follow the lead of the Tile Pro and Tile Mate by switching to a replaceable battery. Tile says the battery on the Slim should hold out for three years, so at least, it'll be a while before you need to pick up a new wallet tracker.
I've found the Slim pretty easy to ignore in the past, especially when the Pro and Mate packed superior features. But the slick black design of the revamped Slim and its extended range make it a much more compelling option, particularly if you're interested in keeping track of your wallet and not your keys.
Performance: How Tile's trackers measure up
Every Tile tracker, from the Sticker to the Pro, has a button on it. Press it twice, and your phone will start playing a jaunty tune, even if you've got the device in silent mode. This is a very helpful two-way find feature if you're the sort of person who occasionally forgets where they left their phone, which I'll assume is every one of you.
But the reason you get a key finder is to find your keys (or your wallet or whatever it is you've stuck a Tile Sticker on). Do the new Tiles live up to the performance of the company's past trackers.
In the case of the Tile Pro and Tile Slim, that's a resounding yes. I've yet to test the outer limits of the promised 400-foot range for the Tile Pro, but I did leave my keys behind in a noisy public park, and I was still able to stay connected to a Tile Pro 200 feet away. I imagine I'm more likely to be unable to hear the Pro's alarm (because of the distance) than I am to drop the connection between my phone and the Tile Pro.
Similarly, the Tile Slim also delivered a nice range. The connection began to drop around 190 feet, which is the outer limits of the 200-foot range Tile promises for its wallet tracker. I was still able to hear the alarm from that distance, too, but only faintly over the ambient noise of the park.
The Tile Mate doesn't have quite the range of the Tile Pro (hence, the lower price tag). But in my testing, my Mate routinely dropped its connection to my iPhone between 80 and 90 feet. That's short of the promised range for the Tile Mate, but more significantly, it's not all that different from the results I got with last year's model, despite Tile's promises of improved range. At least, the Tile Mate re-established a connection with my phone within about 65 feet, and its alarm can still be heard from a distance.
So far, I've been less impressed by the Tile Sticker's range. It has the shortest promised range of any Tile device, at 150 feet, but the reality is much less than that. My Sticker strained to remain connected after 70 feet. I've seen worse range and I could still hear the Sticker's alarm, though it gets hard to hear beyond 50 feet. The bigger problem is that the Sticker has a harder time re-establishing a connection with my phone than the other Tile trackers did. Sometimes, the tracker and phone reconnected at around 55 feet; other times, I wasn't able to establish a connection with the Sticker until I was practically standing on top of it.
I plan to spend some more time with each of Tile's new trackers to see if these initial results reflect a consistent experience. But it's clear that the Tile Pro remains the best key finder, thanks to its improved range. The Tile Slim has also seen dramatic improvements, and if you're specifically looking for a tracker to keep tabs on you wallet, the new design makes it an outstanding choice.
The Tile Mate remains a good choice for bargain hunters, thanks to its lower price tag, though I hope to see better results in subsequent testing. The jury is still out on the Tile Sticker, a new addition to the Tile lineup that needs to do a bit more to justify its existence.