Losing things like phones, headphones, and headsets is all too common, so it provides peace of mind when you know you have some means of tracking your belongings. That’s why so many device manufacturers, from phone manufacturers to headphone makers, take advantage of built-in tracking that allows you to find your device using an application. But what about nonelectronic items, or electronics that don’t have built-in tracking? Keys, jackets, and remote controls, for instance. It’s nice to have some means of tracking those items, too.
For a while now, Tile has remained one of the more popular solutions, providing affordable trackers you can place on a variety of different types of products. At its recent Spring Loaded event, however, Apple unveiled its own tracker, known simply as AirTag. Here, we break down the differences between Apple’s forthcoming device and Tile’s slate of tracking products.
Tile offers several different trackers including the Tile Sticker, Tile Slim, Tile Pro, and Tile Mate. The Tile Sticker is a small finder you can stick onto outdoor gear, electronic devices like a remote control, or virtually anything with a hard surface. The Tile Mate and Pro clip onto your item and are ideal for placement on key chains.
The main differences between the Mate and Pro are that the Pro is louder and provides a longer range, while the Mate is thinner. The Tile Slim is meant for narrow spaces, and it works well for items like wallets and laptops. Tile also sells limited-edition Pro and Slim trackers in fun colors and designs.
Apple only offers one type of AirTag, and it’s a small, round device that measures 1.26 inches in diameter and 0.31 inches in thickness. The company offers free customization in the form of engravings and emojis, and also sells separate ring accessories that help you to attach the AirTag to keys, or straps for attaching it to a purse or backpack. These straps come in the form of attractive leather tags, so they won’t look out of place on a suitcase or handbag, though you can expect Apple to charge a premium, as usual. Expect other accessory companies to jump on this trend though, so if Apple’s offerings don’t tickle your fancy, you’re likely to find something more to your liking elsewhere.
Tile is Bluetooth-enabled, and you use the Tile app (available on iOS or Android) to locate your tracker. Tile also works with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri, so you can use voice commands to say things like, “Hey Google, ask Tile to ring my keys.”
Apple’s long-rumored AirTag also uses Bluetooth, and it has an Apple-designed U1 chip for ultrawide and precision finding. AirTags work with the “Find My” feature in Apple mobile devices (iPhone and iPod Touch models with iOS 14.5 or later and iPad models with iPadOS 14.5 or later). AirTags are more limited than Tile in terms of which devices work with them.
Tile offers four main products, and each provides different features. The Tile Sticker and Tile Slim are labeled as waterproof with up to three years of battery life, while the Tile Mate and Tile Pro are labeled as water-resistant with up to one year of battery life and a replaceable battery (a CR1632 battery in the Tile Mate and a CR2032 battery in the Tile Pro). The range varies between 150 feet on the Tile Sticker all the way up to 400 feet on the Tile Pro.
The AirTag has a water-resistance rating of IP67, meaning it can withstand a maximum depth of one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Like the Tile Pro, the AirTag has a CR2032 coin cell battery.
The Tile Sticker sells for $60 for a four-pack on the Tile website, and you can sometimes find a four-pack for closer to $50 at retail stores. The Mate and Pro sell for around $25 and $35, respectively, but you can get a cheaper price when you buy a four-pack. Tile also has a subscription service called “Tile Premium.” For $3 per month or $30 per year, you can get free battery replacements and features like smart alerts and location history.
Each AirTag costs $29, but you can buy a four-pack for $99. You can add a free engraving, but you’ll need to purchase accessories for your AirTags separately. AirTags will be available for purchase starting on April 23.
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