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Hands-on review: Tile Mate and Tile Pro Bluetooth trackers
Tue, 27th Nov 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Losing your phone and keys is a thing of the past thanks to the folks at Tile.

One phrase that fills me with dread is when my wife says,”Have you seen my keys?”. What follows is usually a frantic joint effort checking pockets, down the sides of the sofa and in toy boxes (we have a two-year-old). We've never had keys lost for good (touch wood), but it's come close.

The Tile Mate and Tile Pro are Bluetooth-enabled tags with an alarm that can be triggered by an Android/Apple app. The devices work in reverse as well, with a double-tap of the tracker being able to get your lost phone to ring, even when it is on silent.

The Tile Pro features a robust metallic bezel with a hole for attaching to your keyring. In the centre, on the front of the device is a discreet round button. The button needs a good push to work and isn't going to set off any bells and whistles in your pocket by mistake. The Bluetooth range is 90m, which should be more than enough. You call pick a Tile Pro up for around NZ$60.

The NZ$45 Tile Mate is the budget entry. It's all plastic build may not stand up to more rigorous pocket-jostling, but still great value for money. Apart from the plastic, it works identically to its more expensive brethren, save for a reduced Bluetooth range of 45m.

Setting the trackers up is easy. Just download the app to your Android or Apple phone and select add a new device. The Tile app works with other products like Bose Soundsport headphones. Your phone will direct the nearby Tile tracker and that's that, you are all sorted.

To find your Tile tracker, just select it on your app and press find. If it is in range your Tile tracker will ring. There are a number of ringtones to choose from. Of course, you can also rename your Tile tracker to better reflect the object it's attached to, i.e. keys.

The light weight of the Tile Pro and it's 90m range makes it ideal for affixing to a drone. Anyone that's tried searching for a drone in long grass will know what I mean. The Tile's ringtone along with your drone app's last record GPS location should allow you to find your drone even if it was an extended mission that went awry.

The app also has a map giving you a reasonable approximation of where the tracker is. I wouldn't go a far as to say I'd rely on it as the Tile has no GPS, but at least you know that the device is in the general area.

In saying that, though, a rather unique feature of the Tile is the Community Find ability. Your Tile app is not just looking for your Tile, it's looking for everyone's and updating the location on the owners' accounts. With enough tile users in your area, and the community data, your Tile app could, in theory, triangulate the location of your Tile tracker fairly accurately- which is interesting.

What I don't like about the Tiles are the features that are locked behind the Tile Premium subscription. For around NZ$5 a month you alerted if you leave home without your tracked object, free battery replacement, 30-day location history, unlimited sharing of your Tile, 3-years extended warranty and access to premium support.

Given the low cost of the Tile devices, most of the premium features would be wasted on me. The alert if I left home without by keys could be useful, but I'm not going to get far in my car without my keys. The 30-day location recording is a little creepy but might be handy to see what exactly you cat gets up to. The free battery replacement is interesting, as my phone has warned me that the app is continuously monitoring my Tile.

Similarly, the Tile will be sending out a continuous Bluetooth signal. I've been running the Tile for a week without issue, but I can't be sure how long those batteries are going to last.

The Tile Mat and Tile Pro are excellent devices and can save you a lot of time searching for stuff as well as offering piece of mind. There's no need to spend time searching through your bag to “make sure” that you've got your keys when the press of a button will confirm it for you. And, of course, the number of objects that you can used the trackers with is endless. You never need to lose any of your personal items again.

The premium subscription may be a bit questionable, but the cost of the devices represents very, very good value.