Apple may well be credited with pushing Bluetooth key trackers into the spotlight. But companies like Tile had been in the business for almost a decade before the iPhone-making behemoth turned up with its AirTag (£29, Apple.com).
In that time, Tile has grown its product offering from one to four trackers, now comprising the pro, mate, slim and sticker. We have recently reviewed both the 2022 versions of the Tile mate (£14.99, Amazon.co.uk) and Tile pro (£24.99, Tile.com), and here we’ll be seeing how the mate stacks up against the AirTag.
Both broadly do the same thing, connecting to your smartphone over Bluetooth then sharing its location to an app. When that Bluetooth connection is lost, the app shows where this happened in a bid to help you relocate the missing tracker – and crucially, whatever it is attached to, like a bag or a bunch of keys.
They are physically quite similar too, with the Tile mate and Apple AirTag being roughly the same size and shape, but with a couple of key differences that we think fall in the Tile’s favour.
And then there’s the big one. Apple AirTags only work with the company’s own Find My system, which is exclusive to the iPhone and iPad. Meanwhile, Tile takes a platform-agnostic approach, with its trackers working with iPhones and Android smartphones alike. This alone makes the Tile mate accessible for millions more consumers the world over.
How we tested
Short of genuinely losing our keys, we tested every feature of both the Tile mate and Apple AirTag. This meant pairing them to our phone, attaching them to our keys, bags and other possessions, and testing out how their various tracking systems work. We simulated losing our keys at home, and also further afield by leaving them in a car parked a few streets away, while our phone remained at home.
That way, the Tile and Find My networks – where the device’s location is sent to the owner when a fellow user walks within Bluetooth range of the lost tracker – were properly tested. We can also confirm that, while they scratch easily, both survived living on our keys for a week, and both also live up to the water resistant claims.
Want to find out which is best at reuniting you with your lost keys? Check out our comparison below.
Buy now £29.99, Apple.com
- Rating: 8/10
- Size: H 31.9mm x W 31.9mm x D8mm
- Weight: 11g
- Water resistance: IP67 (maximum depth of one metre up to 30 minutes)
- Battery: Replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery (one year)
- Range: Unknown
- Features: Bluetooth for proximity finding, Apple U1 chip for ultra-wideband precision finding, accelerometer, NFC tap for lost mode, built-in speaker
The subject of leaks and rumours for years – not least when it cropped up in Apple’s own iPhone software before it was officially announced – the AirTag finally broke cover in the spring of 2021. And, this being Apple, it packed a key feature that separated it from all other Bluetooth key finders at the time.
As well as Bluetooth, Apple fitted the AirTag with a technology called Ultra-Wideband (UWB), which enables more precise close-range location tracking. …….