Review: new 2018 Tile Mate, Tile Pro Bluetooth trackers

By Adam Turner, October 2 2018
Review: new 2018 Tile Mate, Tile Pro Bluetooth trackers

With a greater range, louder alarm and longer lifespan, the latest Tile Mate and Tile Pro Bluetooth tracker devices are designed to come to the rescue when you lose something precious.

Small enough to live on your car keys, these 2018 models regularly check in with your Apple or Android smartphone to log their location. Should you misplace your tagged item, you can call up its last known location in the app or via the Tile website.

Of course, this isn't accurate enough to tell you whether those lost keys are sitting on your bedside table or have fallen behind the couch.

Thankfully when you're nearby you can press a button in the app which makes the Tile play a loud tune. The same trick works in reverse – pressing the button on the tracker to make your phone beep when you've misplaced the phone.

In this fourth-gen update Tile has finally added support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple's Siri, so you can ask your favourite smart assistant to help you find that which is lost.

The biggest change is that the 2018 Tile Mate and Tile Pro rely on a replaceable watch battery which you can pick up at the chemist for a few dollars. Until now Tile trackers have featured a non-replaceable battery which is only guaranteed to work for 12 months, after which Tile offers a discount on replacements.

This obviously puts a dent in Tile's business model, but with the release of the new Tile trackers comes the optional Tile Premium service. For $39 per user per year, or $3.99 monthly, Tile sends you new batteries for all your Tiles annually, extends the warranty to three years, provides premium customer service and offers unlimited sharing so family and friends can also track your Tiles.

Tile also sweetens the deal by adding a few premium features to the app. The ability to view each tracker's 30-day location history is handy but the most useful premium feature is Smart Alerts, which lets you know if you've left something important at home.

The geofence stretches out in a 150-metre radius and once you cross the threshold it takes about three minutes for the alert to arrive on your phone, at which point hopefully it's not too late to turn back. The results were a bit hit and miss but, in Tile's defence, when I tested this feature it was still in beta.

Thankfully you can reset the location, such as to your hotel room, so Smart Alerts are also useful when you travel.

The 2018 Tile Mate
The 2018 Tile Mate

It's important to note that Tile trackers don't feature GPS, which limits a Tile's usefulness when it comes to finding items that aren't likely to be where you last saw them, such as your luggage.

Thankfully Tile offers an extra trick which might come to your rescue. Every smartphone in the world running the Tile app keeps any eye out for misplaced items and anonymously reports back their location.

This relies on Tile reaching a 'critical mass' of users, and in Australia that definitely seems to be the case. If you keep a reportedly-lost Tile in your pocket you'll often get notifications from other users when you're passing through the airport, local shopping centre or even a busy park.

At first glance the 2018 Tile Pro looks the same as last year's Sport and Style Pro models. On closer inspection it's a few millimetres wider and thicker, as well as a fraction heavier, but not nearly enough to complain about. If size is a problem, you'll find smaller and lighter trackers in the Tile range, or stick with the  Sport if you value its IP68 waterproofing.

The 2018 Tile Pro
The 2018 Tile Pro

In return for the extra bulk the new Tile Pro extends its Bluetooth range from 60 to 90 metres, which makes it easier to locate when you're playing hide and seek with your keys. It also increases the volume, so it's easier to hear if you're several rooms away.

Like any insurance policy, you're spending money on something in the hope you'll never need to use it, but a Tile tracker only needs to save the day once to make it a smart investment.

The tiny Tile Mate sells for $39.95 and the larger Tile Pro for $59.95, and if you're uncertain if these types of Bluetooth trackers really are for you, the company offers a 30-day refund policy.

Adam Turner

Adam Turner is a seasoned Australian technology journalist and a frequent traveller to the world's biggest tech expos – so you'll pry his noise-cancelling headphones from his cold, dead hands.

28 Aug 2018

Total posts 10

Typical - my 4 pack arrived less than a week ago!

11 Jan 2019

Total posts 1

can the pro alert you from a tile if you leave your phone somewhere?????

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