Tile, the company best known for its lineup of key- and bag-tracking Bluetooth fobs, has ambitions to track more of your belongings. The company’s new credit card-sized Tile Slim is designed to track your wallet, while the small, puck-shaped Tile Sticker is meant to be stuck onto laptops, TV remotes, skateboards, and bicycles. Tile is also updating its Mate and Pro key trackers with new models which offer improved range.
The $29.99 Tile Slim, in particular, is a great simple addition to the Tile lineup. I haven’t been able to compare it to the previous square-shaped Slim, but the new model is exactly the right size to slot into my wallet. It’s about as thick as three credit cards, but I basically forgot I was carrying it around with me by the end of the week. It’s a little quieter than the standard Tile Mate key fob, but it was loud enough that I could still hear it ringing at the bottom of a packed bag (although, granted, this may have been a struggle in a louder room).
When Tile first told me about the Tile Sticker (which is available in a two-pack for $39.99), I was initially most excited to try attaching it to my bicycle, since theft rates in my neighborhood are notoriously high. The process didn’t quite go as I’d expected, however, as the Sticker had a hard time adhering to the curved underside of my saddle (where one of Tile’s promotional images had suggested I mount it). These failed attempts left the adhesive strip dried out, so instead I used my own tape to fix it in place. This DIY solution survived a couple of cycle rides, but it never felt completely secure, and I was a little worried the Tile Sticker was going to drop off. At least if it did, then I’d be able to find it again using the app.
The Tile Sticker worked much better when attaching it to my work laptop, and remained in place even as I chucked it into my backpack over the course of several days. It even put up a decent fight when I physically tried to pry it off. Impressively, when its adhesive finally did give way to my efforts to remove it, there wasn’t any sign on the laptop’s surface that something had been so firmly attached. If I’d wanted to attach the sticker to another device, Tile tells me it’s planning on selling replacement adhesive strips via its website.
I like the idea of a tracker that’s designed to attach to anything, but you have to have reasonable expectations of what the Tile Sticker can attach to. Although it’s small, it’s still a good quarter inch thick, and you might have to be prepared to get creative to get it to attach to your more oddly sized possessions. The loudness of its speaker seemed about the same as the Tile Slim.
Unlike the Tile Mate and Tile Pro, the Tile Slim and Tile Sticker both use irremovable batteries, meaning when these run out of power the devices essentially become useless. The three years of battery life Tile promises seems like good value considering their relatively affordable prices, but it makes me feel uncomfortable knowing that the company is selling devices that are destined for a landfill after that. Tile’s reasoning for using irreplaceable batteries is that it helped them keep both devices small, and allowed them to be made IPX7 water resistant, meaning they can survive being fully submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. The company also told me that all of its Tile products are 99.9 percent recyclable via e-waste recycling facilities.
Tile has also updated its Mate and Pro key fob trackers. Although the design of the $34.99 Pro has changed slightly (it’s got a new matte finish), the big improvement here is its range, which has increased from 300 to 400 feet. Similarly, the range of the budget $24.99 Mate tracker has increased from 150 to 200 feet. That’s compared to the 200-foot range you’ll get out of the Slim, and the 150 feet from the Sticker.
Outside of their various unique features, all four of the new devices offer the standard suite of Tile features. They each have a button which is used for both pairing and for ringing your phone when you’ve lost that device instead, and they all support Tile’s “Community Find” feature, which tracks them across a larger area by having other Tile users’ phones report tracker locations when they come within Bluetooth range. You can also use Tile’s premium subscription service with the trackers to get features like smart alerts, and to be able to tie more user accounts to a single tracker.
These new devices are an important launch for Tile, as rumors continue to swirl about Apple’s upcoming entry into the segment. The company is reportedly planning its own Tile-like service called Tags, which is expected to consist of circular discs that you can use to track your keys, luggage, and other everyday items. When I asked Tile about Apple’s rumored plans, it said it was optimistic about the increased interest in location tracking devices that Apple’s entry is likely to cause. Fitbit is still here despite the launch of the Apple Watch, it said, and it expects the same to be true of Tile in the future.
Tile’s new lineup of trackers is available starting today. The $39.99 Tile Sticker pack contains two of the trackers, and there’s also a four-pack available for $59.99. There are also various multipacks available which include combinations of the four trackers, all of which can be found on the Tile website.