At its September 10 hardware event, Apple was rumored to launch its own Bluetooth tracker. The rumor instantly brought one company back into the day-to-day conversation – Tile. This little known US-based consumer electronics company has been making Bluetooth trackers for some time now. While such devices have existed in the past, Tile works in the most friction-free way possible. The premise of Tile’s Bluetooth tracker is to ensure that you don’t forget important things such as keys or wallet behind.
Before we get into the review of Tile Mate, I want to highlight my day. As soon as I step out for work, my Dad asks a few questions. They are –
1. Do you have your phone?
2. Did you take your wallet?
3. Do you have the keys?
4. Hope you did not forget your ID card?
These questions help me ensure that I am carrying the essentials. However, if my Dad fails to ask those questions then there is a smarter way to be reminded to take these things along. That solution is trackers like Mate from Tile. The company sells a wide range of models but in India, only the Mate is available for now. It is priced at Rs 2,499 for a unit while a pack of four is available for Rs 7,999. So, the question here is can Tile help you not forget things ever again. I put the Tile Mate in my wallet and keys to find out just how effective it is in real life.
Tile Mate: Design and Features
Tile is a company that makes reliable and durable Bluetooth trackers. While the company is popular in the US, it is entering India for the first time. In India, it is starting with the sales of Tile Mate, it’s the newest tracker that now offers replaceable battery. The older Mate had a sealed-in battery, making the product unusable once the battery depleted. The new device also boosts the Bluetooth range and audio quality. The Tile Mate is a puck-shaped device that measures 34.79 x 34.79 x 6.09 mm in dimensions. It is so compact and tiny that it can easily fit inside the little pocket of your jeans.
The biggest difference between the current model and previous Tile is the user-replaceable battery. The tracker runs on a CR1632 battery, which the company claims will last for a year. On the back, there is a portion that is clearly marked as an enclosure for battery. Press down with your thumb and slide open to access or change the battery. This is much easier than some trackers in the market, which require a separate tool to change the battery. Tile has managed to squeeze a replaceable battery by making it larger than its predecessor. Since I didn’t use the previous generation Tile Mate, I have no issues with this design.
The Tile Mate comes only in White color, which is a bummer considering the Pro comes in black as well. The White variant is prone to stain and can get yellowish rather soon. It is IPX5 rated for water resistance, meaning it can withstand a spray of water. At the front, there is a silver Tile button, which acts as the only way to ring your devices. It is reminiscent of Motorola dimple and I liked it.
Tile Mate: How to pair with a smartphone
As mentioned before, Tile is a Bluetooth tracker that relies on Bluetooth Low Energy to emit the signal. The same connectivity option can also be used to pair the tracker with your smart devices. In order to pair, simply download the Tile App from Google Play Store or the App Store. Now, create or login with an ID and pair Tile Mate with the app. As soon as you pair the tracker, it will start emitting silent wireless beacon to let the app know about its vicinity. The Tile Mate works within the range of 150 feet and in my test, I found it to work well within the specified range.
Tile says the Mate is louder than its predecessor. I could not test that claim but I did find it loud enough to find inside my house. I placed the Tile Mate inside my pocket and rang it through my phone, it was audible. However, it became difficult to hear when I placed it inside my wallet. As part of my test, I left Mate in my desk and checked how far the alarm can work. It was audible even when I moved away from my desk. However, when I moved to the other side of the room, the alarm was not distinct. The Pro model, according to Tile, is even louder and will be apt if you are looking for a louder tracker. The Mate has a reliable connection within 100 feet and I was not able to test it for the claimed range of 150 feet.
Tile Mate also supports two-way finding feature, which I found to be really useful. While you can find things connected to the tracker via your smartphone, the reverse is also possible. By pressing the Tile logo on the tracker twice, you can send a beacon signal to ring your smartphone. It also supports integration with digital assistants and on iOS, you can set up Siri Shortcuts to quickly find your keys or wallet. It also supports integration with gadgets from brands like Bose, Skullcandy, Sennheiser and others.
What is Tile Premium
If you are someone who tends to forget things then trackers like Tile are a no-brainer. However, if you want to unlock more from your Tile tracker then you will need a Premium subscription. It offers smart alerts in beta, which notifies when you leave home without essentials like keys or wallet. I observed that this alert did not kick in immediately. It alerted me after a couple of minutes. It could be based on awareness of Bluetooth connection where alerts appear as soon as the connection gets disrupted. There is a reason this feature is still in beta and I expect Tile to iron out these issues soon.
Tile Premium also comes with free shipment of new batteries every year. With Premium, you can see a map of the locations of your stuff for the last 30 days. This is one feature that could give pause to both consumers as well privacy experts. I found the mapping data to be accurate to an alarming extent. There is also an extended warranty, unlimited sharing with friends and customer care service. It costs Rs 220 per month and there is no compelling reason to get Tile Premium.
Tile Mate: Should you buy?
There are few gadgets whose importance you cannot understand within a day or two. Tile is one such device. Till the time I got to use it, I didn’t know that I needed to get a Bluetooth tracker. To ignore the tracker would be a stupidity considering the proliferation of smart devices in the segment. Tile Mate seems like a solid purchase but I would recommend getting a pack of four that can be connected across devices. I would also recommend trying Tile Premium for a month for free before committing to a monthly subscription.