After testing more than a dozen Bluetooth-based trackers for weeks at a time — indoors and outdoors — we’re certain that the latest version of Tile Pro is the best key finder for keeping track of easy-to-lose items. And if your tracking needs more specifically include a wallet or purse, the newest Tile Slim is a good option, too.
That's not really a surprise. Tile has established itself as the leading maker of key finders for a reason, and its tracking technology has found its way into other products from headphones to laptops. (The latest version of the HP Elite Dragonfly, for example, features built-in Tile tracking technology to help you pinpoint the location of your laptop, should it ever go missing.)
As for dedicated trackers, though, Tile revamps its key finder lineup every year, and the improvements to the $35 Tile Pro (2020) make a great device even better. The alarm is loudest of any we’ve tested, and the range now reaches 400 feet. The redesigned Tile Slim now slips more easily into wallets and offers a great way to keep tabs on wallets or purses. This year’s Tile Mate — the least expensive tracker in Tile’s lineup — feels like a step back, so we’d suggest finding a low cost alternative.
That provides an opportunity for Chipolo, which recently introduced a new key finder, the Chipolo One. That $25 tracker replaces the Chipolo Plus. We're still evaluating this new tracker, but in our hands-on time with the Chipolo One, we found it has an even louder alarm then before plus some other compelling new features, including outstanding alerts when you leave your keys behind.
More key finders could be on the way, including one notably from Apple. Since last fall, we've heard rumors that Apple was working on a product called Apple Tags that would work with a new U1 Ultra Wideband chip introduced in the iPhone 11 lineup. A new report on Apple's 2020 product launch plans suggest that release is coming soon.
Until it does, though, these are the best key finders and key locators you can buy right now.
1. Tile Pro (2020)
Best key finder overall
Range: 200-plus feet | Battery Type: CR2032 | Size: 1.65 x 1.65 x 0.26 inches | Geofence Feature: Yes (with subscription)
Tile continues to make the best key finders, and the latest Tile Pro ($35) is a perfect illustration of why. Tile increased the range on the Pro — in testing we regularly stood more than 200 feet away from the tracker while keeping a connection between our keys and out phone — and its loud alarm is still audible at a great distance. A replaceable battery was introduced in last year’s model, and makes a welcome return here to this key locator.
The Tile Pro — and any Tile tracker — is especially handy if you have a Nest device at home like a Nest Mini or Nest Hub. Google added Tile support to Google Assistant, so now you can ring your Tile tracker with just your voice.
If you need a key finder with a wide range and reliable performance, this is the one to get, though you can 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.
Read our full Tile Pro (2020) review.
2. Tile Slim
Best tracker for wallets and purses
Range: Up to 190 feet | Battery Type: Non-replaceable | Size: 3.4 x 2.1 x 0.1 inches | Geofence Feature: Yes (with subscription)
Past versions of the Tile Slim were easy to overlook. The design of this tracker aimed at specifically at wallets didn’t really complement the object it was meant to track, and its performance was only so-so. Tile made some notable improvements with the current version of the Slim, though, which is why it makes our best key finder list.
The Tile Slim is the same size as a credit card, so this key locator slips easily into a wallet, purse or billfold. It’s got a loud alarm, making it a snap to find your wallet when it’s misplaced. And the range proved very extensive in our testing, it a little inconsistent at times. Still, with all the positive changes that Tile has made to the Slim, there's now no better device for making sure your wallet or purse is always nearby.
Read our full Tile Slim review.
3. Chipolo Plus
A good Tile alternative
Range: 66 feet | Battery Type: Non-replaceable | Size: 1.5 inches in diameter, 0.2 inches thick | Geofence Feature: No
With the TrackR Pixel making way for the 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.
But that's changing with a new tracker from Chipolo. The Chipolo One features an even louder alarm, a replaceable battery and free out-of-range alerts. (That's an add-on with Tile's trackers as part of the $3-a-month Tile Premium service.) We're still evaluating the Chipolo One, but after some hands-on testing, it looks like a worthy successor to the Chipolo Plus and a good alternative to Tile's key finders, particularly if you don't want to pay $35 for the Tile Pro.
Read our full Chipolo Plus review.
4. Tile Mate (2020)
Tile's least expensive key finder
Range: 80 to 90 feet | Battery Type: CR1632 | Size: 1.4 x 1.4 x 0.24 inches | Geofence Feature: Yes (with subscription)
The Tile Mate used to be a compelling alternative to the Tile Pro, as it allowed you to spend $10 less on your key finder, while making only minimal tradeoffs in range and alarm volume. But the range on the new Tile Pro is so much better while this year’s model of the Tile Mate performed similarly to last year’s version, despite Tile’s promises that range had increased. As a result, we think it’s worth paying the extra $10 for the $35 Tile Pro to get the best key tracker.
This year’s Tile Mate has a replaceable battery, the same as last year’s version. But we had trouble opening the back of the key finder to replace the battery. That’s another reason we have a hard time recommending the Mate these days, which hasn’t seen the same gains as Tile’s other trackers.
Read our full Tile Mate (2020) review.
5. 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
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.
The Orbit has a replaceable battery, but you'll need a separate plastic tool that ships with the key finder to open it and swap out the battery. That's an unnecessarily cumbersome approach when the Tile Pro just lets you slide the device open when it's time to change batteries.
Read our full Orbit Key Finder review.
6. Mynt ES
A nice, cheap tracker
Range: 60 feet | Battery Type: Replaceable | Size: 2 x 1.2 x 0.1 inches | Geofence Feature: Yes
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. When we tested the app, there was a mysterious bitcoin feature that seems superfluous to the task of keeping track of your keys.
Even though the 2020 Tile Mate took a step backward, it's still a better value, and the new Chipolo One seems a better bargain, too. Still, if you want to pay the least amount of money for a key finder, the Mynt ES is up to the task.
Read our full Mynt ES review.
7. Tile Sticker
Versatile tracker needs more polish
Range: Up to 70 feet | Battery Type: Non-replaceable | Size: 1.1 x 0.28 inches | Geofence Feature: Yes (with subscription)
While the Tile Pro and Tile Mate can latch on to keys, collars and anything else with a hook or ring, the Tile Sticker can attach to just about everything.
Tile’s smallest tracker comes with an adhesive back developed by 3M; stick it to any surface, and it should remain in place for three years (which, coincidentally, is how long the non-replaceable battery should last). The idea is that you can use the Tile Sticker to attach and track items like laptops, passports and luggage which might have difficulty staying attached to other trackers.
The Tile Sticker benefits from a compact design, but that comes with a lot of compromises. Its alarm is difficult to hear, and the range isn’t as good as what you get from the Tile Mate or Tile Slim. Also, the device performed erratically in our testing, suggesting that Tile needs to work out some of the kinks before this product is up to the company’s high standards.
Read our full Tile Sticker review.
What the best 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 of Tile Pros for $100 — a $40 discount if you were to buy four of the $35 trackers separately. As part of a holiday deal, Tile includes a free 2nd-Gen Nest Mini when you buy 4- and 8-packs of its trackers.
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 buying tips for key finders
• 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.)