It’s a terrible feeling when you’ve lost something, or misplaced and can’t find it. Tile’s trackers are made for mitigating such scenarios, but if you want full access, you’ll need to subscribe to Tile Premium.
If you’re not all that familiar with Tile, here are the basics: they are small battery-powered tracking devices you attach to valuables so you can then locate them in case they’ve been misplaced, lost or stolen. They’re Bluetooth-enabled, meaning you have to be in range to track them, but if you spend a little extra, you can also be alerted when you leave something behind.
In 2019, Tile released a new batch of trackers, led by the new Tile Mate and Tile Pro. These were the first in the company’s lineup to have replaceable batteries, and they are integral to this subscription service. Previously, you would’ve had to buy new units outright to replace them, since the batteries inside were inaccessible. Follow along and I’ll get to how all this works.
Premium pretty much applies to any Tile tracker, but it’s best with the ones that came to market from 2018 onward (when Tile introduced Premium). One of the reasons is because replacement batteries are part of the subscription. Tile sends you brand new batteries when you’re running low.
Note that the company won’t send replacement units for Tiles that don’t have replacement batteries, like the Slim and Sticker. Once those die, you will have to get new ones yourself. This includes the newest products the company released in 2020, which are limited edition style variants of the Pro and Slim, including a “Maple Leaf” one made for Canada. You’ll get a new battery for the Pro, in that case, but not the Slim.
There’s no real limit in how many trackers fall under one account. And that includes devices that have Tile tracking built-in. There aren’t many, save for select headphones from Skullcandy and Sennheiser, a few headsets from Plantronics, HP’s latest Elite Dragonfly laptop, Fossil Wallet and a few other vendors.
HP says it will commit to further models having Tile trackers built-in. But a deal Tile struck with Intel may lead to far greater integration with all other Windows PC manufacturers, too. Whatever happens, all of those would-be products fall under the Premium umbrella.
The Tile app on iOS and Android is your main conduit to accessing the trackers. However, you can also log in through a web browser to use the same features.
You will need to set up a Tile account, which is free, or you can use your Facebook login info to sign up. I would advise against doing the latter, as it gives Facebook access to data related to your Tile usage. Not to mention that it’s a potential security threat, given the big hack that exposed 50 million users in 2018. You can just use an email address and make up a password. The free trial lasts for 30 days, though you’re not immediately on the hook once it’s over. You can choose to back out if you don’t want to subscribe.
If you do plan to go ahead, you can pay either $34.99 for the full year or $3.49/month. I mentioned that free battery replacements are part of the deal, and that applies to any Tile Pro and Mate units you have with removable batteries. As long as you keep being a member, those batteries will keep coming every year.
The most pertinent feature is probably Smart Alerts. Basically, the Tile app sounds an alarm with a notification when you’ve left without a Tile or Tile-enabled product. Let’s say you had a Slim inside your wallet, and you left it at home. Your phone would eventually tell you once you started getting out of range. Same thing would apply to a set of keys with a Mate attached to them. In the same vein, if you left a Pro or Mate in your car, and you parked it nearby, a thief driving off could also alert you because it’s out of range.
Unlimited Sharing, as it implies, lets you share a Tile with any family member or friend. It’s great for couples tracking things like keys, but can apply to various items. They don’t have to be members, either, as they’re only helping to find and ring it in their own Tile app.
You also get 30 days of location history to view anytime. This is neat for keeping track of movement, in case something’s been lost or stolen, but I can see how some might abuse it by tracking loved ones, too.
Tile extends the warranty for members to three years, covering you in case the trackers die for any reason. The company has yet to make one that’s waterproof or water-resistant, so water damage is the one asterisk you’ll need to consider.
The thing about products like Tile is that they’re doing their job when you don’t misplace or lose things. While it’s great to use a tracker in reverse to find your phone when you’re not sure if it’s stuck in the couch or under a table somewhere, a feature like that doesn’t require extra payment.
What the subscription gets you is some additional peace of mind before accidentally leaving something behind. It’s not always a slam dunk, though. Bluetooth range on the Pro maxes out at 400 feet. Anything beyond that needs the help of others using the Tile app. The crowdsourced methodology has had its fair share of success in the markets Tile operates in, but remember that this isn’t the same as GPS.
Personally, I like it for essentials, like my keys, wallet, laptop and car, and I haven’t been disappointed yet. Mind you, I rarely ever forget things like that, but there have been two occasions where Tile helped.
Tile’s trackers work just fine as standalone units. Much of Premium’s focus is on the software support behind them. You still get access to the crowdsourced search on the app’s map, and can always buy new batteries yourself, if you think it’s a better deal that way. It really just depends on how much you feel you may need the extras you pay for here.