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Tech Review: Tile Bluetooth tracker

This handy device helps you keep track of your stuff, effortlessly

I have always wanted to review Tile Bluetooth trackers, so I finally took the plunge and got my hands on some Tile Pro and Slim bluetooth trackers. 

Tile bluetooth trackers are normally on the pricey side, going for around $30 a pop for the Pro model and $20 for the standard Mate tracker. For those of you who don’t know how Bluetooth trackers work, Tile trackers attach onto things like bags or keys, and as long as they are in range of your phone’s Bluetooth signal, you can call your tracker and it will play a digital chime or song. The idea is that the sound will be loud enough for you to locate your missing object.

The Tile Pro models are square-shaped Bluetooth trackers that attach to keys, and the Tile slim is a credit card sized tracker designed to fit into your wallet. Tile also provides an app that allows you to activate and signal your tracker. 

Tile Pro and app in San Francisco

So did the Tile Bluetooth trackers work as advertised? Not exactly. On paper, the trackers have a 400 foot range, but I was lucky to get 50 feet of range due to walls and doors severely cutting down the Tile’s effective operating range. In fact, I even had a Tile Pro in another room of my apartment behind a door and I failed to signal the tracker despite being at most 30 feet away. I also found that I could literally be in the same room as my Tile, and around a quarter of the time the Tile app would still tell me that no Tiles were in range.

I was certainly let down by the Tile’s performance, however, I am not sure if this was due to my phone rather than the Tiles themselves. I tried the Tile app on a friend’s iPhone 8 and had much better luck, so experiences may vary.

That being said, there are still some significant positives associated with owning Tile products. People generally use Tiles to find stuff, but you can also do the reverse and find your phone with a Tile tracker.

We’ve all been there: you’re rushing to get out the door and all of sudden you can’t find your phone, so you frantically search every nook and cranny until you’re late for your class or an appointment. With the Tile system you’re able to double tap your tracker’s function button, and as long as your phone is in range it will emit a loud noise, even if it’s been set to silent. This feature has been super helpful as I can now use the tracker on my keychain to ring my phone whenever I’ve misplaced it.

Tile also has a “notify when found” system that allows other Tile users to anonymously report the location of your Tile if it falls into the range of their Tile. I wasn’t able to test this out since I didn’t want to leave my belongings on an Edmonton bus for a few days, so I can’t confirm if it works as advertised. 

Waterproof Tile tracker on scooter

Tile also offers a premium subscription service for $2.99 that gives you unlimited free battery replacements, smart alerts for when you’ve left a Tile behind, and the ability to register a single Tile to multiple users. I personally didn’t find the subscription service that appealing, and I am a little disappointed that Tile decided to charge for these features rather than include them as standard features. 

Tile gives you the ability to find your lost items if they’re nearby and ring your phone, however it does have some flaws when it comes to operating distances and being hampered by doors and walls. It also has a failure rate of around 25 per cent, which is arguably very high. If you constantly forget stuff or you have a family member who does, the Tile might be worth it for you, but if that has never been an issue, you should probably pass on this one.

Alexander Cheung

Alex is a writer and photographer with the Gateway. He is a senior contributor and specializes in tech and travel.

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