Tile Mate & Tile Slim review

The Tile Mate is the third-generation in the Tile tracker series. Like the original it's waterproof and is designed to hang on a bunch of keys and help you track them down when you lose them. See also: Trackr Bravo review

It's 25 percent smaller than the original (and second-gen) Tile. When you put them side by side the difference is only a couple of millimetres - it's thinner too - but they make all the difference. It's no bigger than some keyring fobs and smaller than most car keys at 34 x 34 x 4.7mm. You can read our second-gen Tile review here.

Tile has also launched a new version, Tile Slim. This doesn't have the hole for a keyring and is larger at 54 x 54mm, but it's considerably thinner at 2.4mm, the same as two credit cards.

Tile Mate & Tile Slim review: Price

A single Tile Mate costs £24 (or $25) from Tile's website, and it will last a year. The battery is not replaceable because all Tiles are sealed to make them waterproof. When it comes to replacing it, the 'reTile' program is available via the free Tile app. Currently you'll pay £14 to replace a Tile Mate, which seems like good value until you find out that delivery is £7.

You're not limited to buying one when you reTile, though: a four-pack costs £55.

The Tile Slim is more expensive at £30 ($30) from Tile's website. Again you'll make a slight saving in a year's time as the reTile price is £21, or £84 for four (the only saving is that you only pay one delivery charge if you order four).

Tile Mate Tile Slim review - iOS app

When your new Tile arrives, you can replace it through the app, but it's not immediately obvious how to do so. On iOS you have to swipe the outgoing Tile left, tap the three dots and then choose Replace Tile. This will copy the name and photo (if you took one) of your old one and copy it to the new one. 

There's also a transfer option, but this forces you to email Tile's customer support to unlink the Tile from your account so you can sell it / give it to someone else to use.

Tile Mate & Tile Slim review: Features and design

Unlike some other Bluetooth trackers (and there are many), Tiles only come in white plastic. There are no options to print your own photo on a tracker, nor get a black one. We'd like to see some colour options in future.

Both new Tiles have a silver button with the logo on it. Press it and the Tile will automatically activate in the app, so long as Bluetooth is turned on on your phone. The app is available for iOS and Android.

Once set up, you can use the 'Find' button in the app to make the Tile play a loud tune to help you track down your lost keys, wallet, TV remote or even cuddly toy (this has saved parents literally hours of searching at bedtimes).

At almost 90dB, the Tile Mate is one of the loudest (along with the second-gen Tile) that we've tested. Also, the tune it plays makes it easier to figure out which direction to go to find it. The Tile Slim is a little quieter, but still enough in a quiet home or office.

As soon as there's a lot of background noise, you'll struggle to hear the tune, so turn off the TV and tell the kids to be quiet before you start. If you've lost your keys outdoors, it's very difficult if there's a lot of traffic noise, so it could be worth waiting until night time or a break in traffic.

Bear in mind that you can only use the Find button when you're within Bluetooth range of the Tile. It's not GPS, so you can't pinpoint its location on a map when it is truly lost.

However, the Tile app can use crowd-sourcing to help here. Anyone running the Tile app in the background (which as a Tile user, you should) will pick up the location of any Tiles in Bluetooth range, even if they're not yours. This all happens anonymously.

If you've marked an item as lost in the app and another user goes near enough to your Tile, its location will be sent to your phone. This obviously works only if there are other Tile users in your area, and you're more likely to track something down if you lose it in a public place in a busy town or city.

Tile Mate Tile Slim review - iOS app

Also, if you run the app in the background, it will monitor the location of your Tiles all the time and show a 'last seen' position on a map, which will provide a guide on where to start looking.

It's not obvious, but you can tap on the icon of a Tile (above the Find button) to get a signal strength meter. This is helpful when your Tile is in range but you can't hear the tune. Fewer green bars means you're far away, and these will increase as you get nearer.

Unlike some other trackers, there are no separation alerts which would tell you when your phone is too far from a Tile. This could tell you that you've left the house without your wallet, or warn you that someone has walked off with your laptop in a coffee shop. However, on the Trackr Bravo, we found these alerts were unreliable.

Tile Mate: Specs

  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 1 year battery life
  • IP5 water resistant
  • Requires compatible iOS or Android device with Bluetooth 4
  • 34 x 34 x 4.7mm
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 1 year battery life
  • IP5 water resistant
  • Requires compatible iOS or Android device with Bluetooth 4
  • 34 x 34 x 4.7mm

OUR VERDICT

Tile is the best Bluetooth tracker we've tried. The battery may not be replaceable, but we've found that (in the second-gen Tile) it more than lives up to the one-year claim. We've no reason to suspect the Tile Mate and Slim won't be just as long-lasting. Plus, it has always been reliable and allowed us to quickly find lost things around the house. And that's exactly what you need in a Bluetooth tracker, which is why we can recommend the Tile Mate and Slim without hesitation.