Android

Tile vs AirTag: Which tracking platform is right for you?


tile pro black and white next to plant

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Tile and Apple’s AirTag are the most prominent players in the Bluetooth tracker market. These devices can help you locate anything they are attached to, including keys, bags, and I even use them to track my vehicles. We’re here to help if you find yourself trapped in the Tile vs AirTag debate. We’ll go over all the pros, cons, and factors to help you pick the right platform for your needs. Let’s get right to it!

Tile vs Airtage: How tracking devices work

Apple AirTag in backpack

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Tile and AirTag devices work very similarly. These tiny gadgets can be located using Bluetooth Low Energy technology, otherwise known as BLE. Both companies have created networks that can help find their trackers, as opposed to using more resource-intensive technologies like GPS. Instead, any other user can help identify a tracker within close proximity. The range varies, but it’s usually best at around 30-40 feet. If another Tile user gets close to your lost tracker at a coffee shop, it will record its location and anonymously share it with you.

The fact that such close proximities are needed to locate a tracker means this is a better solution for urban or suburban settings. If you drop your tracker in a field or some random forest, the chances of it being located by others are slim to none.

Some more advanced trackers also use UWD, or ultrawideband. This makes it possible for trackers to be more precise. Instead of letting you know a tracker is in a specific room, it can direct you to its exact location; say, over a particular chair.

Both Tile and AirTag devices use a very discrete watch battery. This means you’ll have to replace batteries when they die, but they have an insanely good battery life, as they use very resource-intensive technologies. Battery life is usually about a year for most location trackers, and some can live up to three years.

Tile vs AirTag: Supported devices

Best Smartphones 4 End of Year 2021

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

When it comes to Tile vs Airtag, one of the most significant differences is device support. AirTags only work with Apple devices, limiting its user base significantly. This means that any Android users will have to opt for Tile. Tile works with iOS and Android devices, and it even supports some smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Nest products.

Tile

iOS requirements:

  • iOS 14 or newer.
  • Apple Watch Series 2 or newer.

Android requirements:

  • Android 9.0 or newer.
  • Bluetooth 4.0 or newer.

Digital assistants and smart speakers:

  • Echo/Echo Dot/Alexa.
  • Google Nest/Mini/Google Assistant.
  • Siri.

AirTag

AirTag requirements:

  • Apple ID.
  • iPhone and iPod touch models with iOS 14.5 or later.
  • iPad models with iPadOS 14.5 or later.

Device options

Tile devices

Here’s another segment where Tile will win hands down. Apple only offers one tracking device — the AirTag. It’s small, well-designed, and works great, but you can only buy one type of tracker from Apple so far. Meanwhile, Tile has an ample spectrum of varied devices offering different features and form factors.

Tile’s tracker options include the Tile Mate, Pro, Slim, and sticker. These are all meant to serve different purposes. For example, the slim looks like a credit card and can fit in wallets. Meanwhile, the Mate is a small tracker that will disappear in most keychains. The Pro offers a similar experience to the Mate, but it’s bigger and more advanced. Then there’s the sticker, which you can adhere to things like a remote.

Of course, Apple has a substantial advantage you might want to consider. There are plenty of third-party accessories to go with the AirTag. Because Apple is a renowned brand with a huge following, manufacturers are quick to offer a wide variety of accessories. This means you can easily customize the AirTag experience. You can opt for different keyrings, loops, and many other holders.

Tile vs AirTag network

Apple AirTag with Find My software

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Tile has a large user base, with over 35 million devices sold as of 2021. This means that over 35 million other products can help you locate your Tiles. While this may seem like a huge number, it pales compared to Apple’s Find My network. Apple often claims the Find My network is comprised of “hundreds of millions of Apple devices.” Some reports even claim it is closer to a billion.

This doesn’t surprise us. Apple is one of the most popular tech brands. Just think of how many iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks are out there helping you find your AirTag. A lot of people don’t even know about AirTags and are helping improve the network. Meanwhile, only other Tile users are part of the Tile network.

Related: Apple AirTag review

Range

white tile mate on purse - Tile vs AirTag

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

How far you need to be from a tile to locate it depends on the model. AirTag range is usually about 30-35 feet, but it can vary depending on your environment. It seems Tile might win this round. Their basic models are said to have a range of up to 250ft, which might make up for the smaller network. The Tile Pro has a longer 400ft range, which is rather impressive.

Tile vs AirTag water resistance

iPhone 12 Pro back of phone against water 3

David Imel / Android Authority

Both trackers are meant to be carried around, and sometimes even dropped or lost. This means they have to be able to survive a good level of torture, and they are made to. Apple’s Airtag and all current Tile models are IP67-rated. This means they are dust-tight and can survive submerging under 3.3ft of water for 30 minutes.

I have one in a motorcycle, hidden in a location where I’m sure it gets pretty wet and dirty. I have encountered no problems with my trackers, so I can attest that these are pretty durable.

Related: The best waterproof phones around

How good are the apps?

An iPhone 11 rests on a white fabric surface displaying the Find My app. - Tile vs AirTag

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Apple is known for its simple, efficient software, and the Find My app is no exception. Using the general tabs, you can easily navigate between tracked people, devices, and items. Then you can quickly locate and control them using an intuitive interface. You can also access Find My from any browser, just in case you’ve lost your smartphone.

While not bad, the Tile app is a bit more confusing and convoluted. There are many more options, and they can be multiple taps away. We’ve also encountered some issues in our reviews. One of them is that tiles can’t be removed after you activate them, which can be annoying if it breaks or you no longer need it.

Location precision

tile pro black on backpack - Tile vs AirTag

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Apple AirTag uses ultrawideband technology, which helps you locate more than the general area where the tracker is. In fact, you can locate your tracker using your device, where you can see an arrow pointing directly towards it.

So far, now Tile device uses ultrawideband tracking. The company announced the Tile Ultra in 2021, and a 2022 launch was expected, but we haven’t heard anything about it launching so far.

Also read: What you should do when your phone is lost

Pricing

Money Stock Photo 1

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

In the Tile vs AirTag debate, pricing is relative to your expectations. An AirTag has a $29 MSRP. Meanwhile, the Tile Mate is the cheapest at $24.99. The Tile Sticker goes for $29.99. Tile’s Pro and Slim models both go for $34.99.

As you can see, the average difference in pricing is minimal, so money shouldn’t be a significant factor when picking between Tile vs AirTag. That said, we believe Apple has a slight edge regarding value. The AirTag comes with ultrawideband and a much better network. These two factors can make it a better device, even when compared to the most expensive Tile devices.

Another important factor to consider is that the AirTag has no monthly costs. It’s free to use after purchasing it. You can use Tiles for free, but only for finding the tracker with your phone, or your phone with your tracker. Premium features will cost you a monthly fee. Tile has two paid plans: Tile Premium and Premium Protect.

Tile’s Premium and Premium Protect plans offer smart alerts, free battery replacements, unlimited sharing, 30-day location history, a worry-free warranty, and “premium customer care.” Additionally, the Premium offers up to $100 in item reimbursement, if it can’t be located. The Premium Protect provides $1,000 coverage.

The Tile Premium plan costs $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year. The Premium Protect plan can be had for $99.99 a year. This means that using Tile can cost significantly more if you factor in a paid plan. That said, some of the added features sound very enticing. Especially the lost item reimbursement.


Tile vs AirTag privacy

Tile Mate Tracker 6 - Tile vs AirTag

Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Apparently, some people took these awesome trackers and used them for stalking people. Complaints about jealous partners and thieves tracking locations became an issue, and everyone had to devise a way to keep people safe from anonymous stalkers.

Tile released its Scan and Secure feature. You can use it by downloading the Tile app. You won’t need to sign in or create an account. Simply open the app, and you’ll see a Scan feature in the top-right corner. Go into it and then select Scan and Secure. Just follow instructions, and you’ll know if an unknown Tile is following you when driving or walking.

More: The best privacy apps you can download

In the case of AirTags, Apple will automatically tell you if an unknown AirTag is following you around, given you’re using an iOS device. If you have an Android phone, you can download Tracker Detect and use it to find out if someone is tracking your location using an AirTag.

Tile vs AirTag: Which is best?

Apple Airtag with iphone iPad - Tile vs AirTag

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

As it usually goes with these comparisons, the answer is relative to your needs and wants. Those using Android will have no option but to go with Tile, which offers great trackers. In addition, Tile offers different form factors that can prove to be more convenient depending on what you want to track. Additionally, their range is significantly better.

If you don’t care for the different designs and have an iPhone, you should definitely consider going with AirTag for your tracking needs. They work seamlessly with iOS, you won’t need any third-party apps, and Apple offers a significantly better network. Unlike most other Apple products, AirTags are pretty competitive in pricing, and some might argue they offer better value than Tile’s alternatives.



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