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Best and Worst Wireless Key Finders 2019

After testing more than a dozen key finders for weeks at a time — indoors and outdoors — we recommend the Tile Pro and Tile Mate as the best Bluetooth-based gadgets for keeping track of easy-to-lose items. At least, they're our picks for the moment.

That's no knock on the trackers Tile came out with last year, which feature great range, loud alarms and (best of all) replaceable batteries so you no longer have to replace your key finder every year. Rather, we're about to shake up our key finder rankings because Tile revamped its entire product lineup in October, coming out with new versions of the Pro and Mate while also releasing a new Tile Sticker adhesive tracker.

We've spent some time testing the new Tile lineup and have some initial impressions of the new trackers. We'll have a final verdict on the updated Tile Pro, Tile Mate and Tile Slim soon, along with a full review of the Tile Sticker.

MORE: Tile Mate vs Tile Pro vs Tile Slim: Which One Should You Buy?

One of the Tile's most formidable rivals — the compact TrackR's Pixel — remains available (and at a discounted price from most retailers), but its renamed parent company Adero has shifted its focus to a system aimed more toward keeping you organized than helping you find things. For that reason, the best alternative to Tile comes from Chipolo in the form of the $25 Chipolo Plus, thanks to its loud alarm and colorful look. (Earlier this year, Chipolo announced plans for new trackers of its own coming this year, so stay tuned for that release.)

What you need to know about Cyber Monday 2019

Key finders are often discounted for throughout the holiday shopping season because they make great stocking stuffers, and we're scouring the web for key finder sales as part of our Cyber Monday deals hub

Since even the priciest trackers cost between $25 and $35, don't expect huge savings. Rather, the best Black Friday deals for key finders tend to be bundles, where you can buy multiple trackers at a significant discount. For instance, Amazon currently has a deal on the 2018 Tile Pro that bundles four trackers together for $69, a $30 savings. Tile is also offering 40% discounts on last year's Tile trackers as it makes way for the new Tile Pro and Tile Mate.

Best overall key finder

Tile Pro

(Image credit: Tile Pro)

Tile Pro

Best overall key finder

Range: 150 to 160 feet | Battery Type: CR2032 | Size: 1.6 x 1.6 x 0.26 inches | Geofence Feature: Yes (with subscription)

Replaceable battery
Great range
Loud alarm
Two-way find feature locates phone
Doesn’t require Tile Premium subscription to work well
Costs more than Tile Mate
Not as water resistant as previous models
Optional Smart Alerts feature still needs work

Tile continues to make the best key finders, and last year's $35 Tile Pro is a perfect illustration of why. Not only has Tile increased the range and volume on the Pro — in testing we regularly got 150 away from the tracker while keeping a connection between our keys and out phone — but it also addressed one of the biggest complaints about Tile's gadgets: with the Tile Pro, you can finally replace the battery on your own. If you need a key finder with a wide range and reliable performance, this is the one to get, though you can probably skip the $3-a-month Tile Premium service until the still-in-beta Smart Alerts feature more effectively informs you that you've left key items behind.

Be sure to check prices before you buy a Tile Pro (or really, any key tracker). These kinds of gadgets go on sale frequently, and you can often find a Tile Pro for less than its $35 asking price — and sometimes less than what you'd pay for nominally less expensive trackers.

Also be aware that Tile just came out with a new version of the Tile Pro, which we're currently testing. Tile promises expanded range, and we've managed to stay connected to the new Pro from more than 200 feet away. Expect a full review shortly.

Best key finder value

(Image credit: Tile)

Tile Mate

Best key finder value

Range: 80 to 90 feet | Battery Type: CR1632 | Size: 1.37 x 1.37 x 0.24 inches | Geofence Feature: Yes (with subscription)

Attractively priced
Replaceable battery
Decent range
Two-way find feature locates phone
Doesn’t require Tile Premium subscription to work well
Not as water resistant as previous models
Optional Smart Alerts feature still needs work

The Tile Mate doesn't have the range or the volume of the Tile Pro, but for many people, this tracker will be sufficient, especially since it costs $10 less than the Pro. The Mate offers the same reliable performance as the Pro, and it now has a replaceable battery, removing one of the biggest complaints users had about previous generations of Tile trackers. You can add the Tile Premium service if you want — it's $3 a month — but you really don't need it to get the most out of the device. Note that bargain hunters can get the Mynt ES for $10 less than the Tile Mate, though Tile's version is a better value thanks to better design and a superior app.

As with the Tile Pro, there's a new version of the Tile Mate that we're in the middle of testing. Tile says you can expect a slight improvement in range with this model.

A good alternative to Tile

Chipolo Plus

(Image credit: Chipolo)

Chipolo Plus

A good alternative to Tile

Range: 66 feet | Battery Type: Non-replaceable | Size: 1.5 inches in diameter, 0.2 inches thick | Geofence Feature: No

Alarm is good and loud
Decent range
Battery isn't replaceable
Geofence feature only available in beta

Now that the TrackR Pixel has made way for the new Adero organizational smart tags, your best alternative to Tile's key finders is the Chipolo Plus. Until the Tile Pro came along, the Chipolo Plus was one of the loudest trackers we found, and it offers good range and splash resistance. One caveat: you can't replace the battery on the Chipolo Plus. For that, you'll need to use the Chipolo Classic, which isn't as loud as the Plus. A newer version, the spherical Chipolo Dot, will ship this fall and feature a replaceable battery.

Most stylish key finder

Orbit key finder

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Orbit Key Finder

Most stylish key finder

Range: 45 feet | Battery Type: Replaceable | Size: 1.33 inches in diameter, 0.35 inches thick | Geofence Feature: Yes

Good digital-leash feature
Two-way find feature is well-implemented
Range is limited
Tracker had trouble reconnecting with phone
Alarm isn't very loud

The Orbit Key Finder is a tracker you'd be proud to attach to your keychain. With its brushed aluminum finish and 12 color options, you're bound to find an Orbit that fits your style. Orbit has handles its digital leash feature — where you receive an alert if you stray too far from your keys — better than many rival key finders.

The problem is once your phone and the Orbit lose their connection, it's very hard to re-establish a link over Bluetooth — or at least it was in our testing. And since the entire purpose of key finders is to help you pinpoint where your valuables are, we have a hard time recommending Orbit, even accounting for its eye-pleasing design.

A nice, cheap tracker

Mynt ES tracker

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Mynt ES

A nice, cheap tracker

Range: 60 feet | Battery Type: Replaceable | Size: 2 x 1.2 x 0.1 inches | Geofence Feature: Yes

Good digital leash feature
Decent range
Solid battery life
Confusing documentation
Battery is hard to replace

In a world where even the best key finders won't cost much more than $25, it's hard to imagine finding a dirt cheap model. But that's what Mynt ES offers. It cost $10 less than the attractively priced Tile Mate when we first reviewed it, and some retailers offer it for even less. You're not sacrificing too much for the lower cost, as the Mynt's range is decent, and it's got a good digital leash feature.

But you will have some frustrations. The documentation for the Mynt companion app is not very clear, and replacing the tracker's battery is more complex than it needs to be. We think the Tile Mate is still a better value, but if you want to pay the least amount of money for a key finder, the Mynt ES is up to the task.

What Key Finders Cost

The average key finder costs between $20 and $30. A few, like the Tile Pro, cost $35, but offer longer range than standard key finders. At $50 at the time we reviewed it, the Pixie Point has been the most expensive key finder we've reviewed, but it relies on augmented reality to help you find your keys. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the $15 Mynt ES is the cheapest key finder we've found.

Note that key finders are often offered at a discount from these prices, especially if you buy multiple trackers. Tile, for example, sells a four-pack oof Tile Mates for $60 — a $40 discount if you were to buy four of the $25 trackers separately.

How We Test and Rate Key Finders

We put every key finder we review through a series of tests. To test the volume of the alarm, we bury the key finder in a clothes hamper filled with laundry and see how far we can walk away before the alarm becomes inaudible. We also check to how long the alarm sounds before shutting off.

To test range, we go to a public park and leave the key finder behind. We check every 10 feet until we lose the signal or can no longer hear the alarm. We also take note of how quickly the key finder re-establishes a connection with our phone once it's back in range. If a key finder promises a digital leash feature, we walk away, taking note of how long before we receive an out-of-range notification on our phone.

With some key finders now offering ranges beyond 100 feet, we also go to a local football field and check ranges on those trackers.

In addition to those tests, we take these factors into consideration when rating key finders.

Design: We consider the size and shape of each proximity sensor. We also look at the ease of inserting a new battery into those devices with replaceable batteries.

App Features: We look at the design of the companion app for each key finder, and consider additional features such as two-way finding capabilities.

Volume: We compare the volume of each key finder's alarm, giving extra consideration to key finders that are louder.

Range: We consider how far away we can get from a key finder before it loses its connection with our phone. We also pay attention to how quickly that connection gets re-established once we're back in range.

Battery Life: We look at how long the batteries powering the devices last, and whether or not you could replace them yourself. Whether or not a key finder features a user-replaceable battery is one way these devices stand out from each other, though Tile is responding to customer demand by adding trackers with replaceable batteries to its product lineup. The Chipolo Plus still lacks a replaceable battery, though, instead offering replacement programs where you can buy a new device at a discounted rate after a year. Other trackers we review let the user swap out the battery after it dies, which is about six months in most cases.

5 Quick Key Finder Buying Tips

• Range: How far away can you be from your keys while still keeping connected to your phone? Always count on the actual range being less than what key finder makers advertise as walls, doors and other structures can interfere with signals.

• Alarm Sound: Check the decibel rating for the key finder. You'll want a good loud signal of at least 80 to 85 decibels so that you can hear your key finder over any ambient noise. In our testing, we've been impressed by the loudness of the Tile Pro as well as the Chipolo Plus.

• Other Features: Consider key finders that have two-way finding features, where you can press a button on the key finder to track down your phone. Some key finders also offer digital leash features, where your phone will get an alert if your keys are ever out of range.

• Battery Life: Look up how long the battery will last on your key finder. If it's a replaceable battery, count on about six months, though the latest Tiles with replaceable batteries promise a year's worth of battery life. Non-replaceable batteries should also last a year and offer a clearly defined replacement program for when your device is running low on juice.

• Tracking Multiple Items: Many of companion apps for the devices we're reviewed here support multiple trackers, so that you can keep tabs on more than just one item. (You can track a purse, too, or a wallet, in addition to your keys.) Some products, like Tile, even let you share your tracker with another user, so that both of you can pinpoint the location of your keys. (Tile Premium gives you the ability to share your Tile tracker with unlimited users.)