Tile Mate, Slim and Sticker review: A few revamped products and a brand new one

Posted: 13 November 2019 4:29 am
News

Close up of a Tile sticker on a scooter

Tile still offers the best range of Bluetooth trackers available, with several products to help you find your most valuable items.

Quick verdict:

The upgraded Slim and Pro are stronger than ever, but the brand new Sticker tracker doesn't quite live up to the hype. With an easy to use app and the Tile community, you can find just about anything that goes missing – as long as you live in an area with a substantial enough network of Tile users.

Price:

Model Price (SRP)
Sticker $49.99 for a 2-pack, $79.99 for a 4-pack
Slim $39.99
Mate $34.99

The good

  • Affordable
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Updated Tile Slim shape is easy to store in your wallet
  • Slim and Mate have decent volume and Bluetooth range
  • Slim and Sticker are waterproof
  • Tile community can help you find items you've lost outside your home

The bad

  • Only useful if you lose your stuff regularly
  • Speakers can be tough to hear, especially for the Sticker
  • Sticker has the most inconsistent performance
  • Tile Mate hasn't been upgraded much
  • Tile community only works if you live in an area with a lot of Tile users

Tile is well-known for its range of small, affordable Bluetooth trackers that can help you find misplaced items from your wallet to your pet. The California-based company has upgraded three of its products, the Mate, Slim and Pro, and added an entirely new tracker to the line-up: the Sticker.

Sticker

  • Smallest Tile tracker
  • Quietest volume
  • Sticks to items for up to three years
  • Waterproof

The Sticker is Tile's newest and smallest tracker at 27mm across and 7.3mm thick. It's waterproof and includes an adhesive that allows you to attach it to almost anything, though it seems to be most effective on metal and plastic. Tile advertises the Sticker on remote controls, cameras, laptops, outdoor equipment, skateboards, bicycles, glasses cases and even pet collars.

Tile partnered with 3M to design the adhesive that ensures the Sticker will stay put for three years or more. While we won't be able to test the accuracy of this claim for another three years, the Stickers do seem well and truly stuck in place wherever you put them.

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If you want to remove the Sticker, apparently you just pull it really hard. I didn't test this because I'd rather see if the adhesive holds out for a few years. While you can't reuse the adhesive, you can buy replacement adhesive for a small cost.

A three-year battery life means the Sticker should last as long as the adhesive, but the battery isn't replaceable. Once the three years is up, you'll have to buy a new tracker. However, the company offers discounted replacement products for customers with battery-dead Tiles.

As the smallest Tile tracker, it's also the quietest. It's noticeably quieter than other Tile products. Unless it was out in the open, for example, on a countertop, I could only hear it while I was in the same room.

The Sticker also has the smallest range at only 45 metres.

Another downside to the Sticker is that it's not actually small enough to ignore. If you put it on your laptop or camera, it definitely affects the aesthetics. For this reason, I couldn't bring myself to put it on my Macbook, even though it's probably the thing I would least want to lose.

I struggled to choose something valuable enough to put a Sticker on that wouldn't be ruined by a protruding bump. In addition to the aesthetic sacrifice, it also makes it harder to slide a laptop, camera, tablet or another device into a case.

While the Sticker is technically the cheapest Tile, it only comes in packs of two or four. At $49.99 RRP AUD for a 2-pack, it's a higher upfront cost than a single Mate or Slim.

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Slim

  • New credit card shape
  • Fits perfectly in a wallet or luggage tag
  • 3-year battery life
  • Waterproof

The Slim has been completely redesigned for Tile's new product launch. While the older version was square, the new one is in the shape of a credit card. It has a slightly thicker profile – about as thick as two cards – but is still slimmer than the previous Slim.

Picture not described

The Slim is designed to fit in a wallet, luggage tag, ID badge or anywhere you could fit a credit card. You won't even notice it's there until you need it, which is exactly how a Tile should work.

It has an extended 60-metre range and a louder ringer that's almost twice as loud as the previous version. Like the Sticker, it has a three-year battery life. The battery isn't replaceable, but the whole Slim can be replaced at a discounted price when the battery dies. Also, like the Sticker, the Slim is Waterproof.

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Mate

  • Replaceable one-year battery
  • Extended 60-metre range
  • Only water-resistant, not waterproof

The Tile Mate is similar to the Tile Pro, which we were not able to test for this review. It has a hole so you can slip it onto a keyring and attach it to keys, backpacks, water bottles and other items. However, getting it onto a keyring is a bit fiddly and requires some trial and error.

Close up of a Tile Mate attached to a travel bag

The Mate is the same size and shape as the previous model, but it has been upgraded. Like the Slim, the new Mate has an extended range of 60 metres.

Also, unlike the Slim and Sticker, it has a replaceable battery. The battery should last around one year and is a typical watch battery, so you can buy a replacement anywhere, not just from Tile.

The Mate is water-resistant but not fully waterproof like the Slim and Mate.

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Performance

  • The Sticker has the least reliable performance
  • The Slim and Mate have solid ranges
  • App is easy to set up and use
  • Tile network is dependent on the number of Tile users in the area

Tile products use Bluetooth technology, similar to how Bluetooth headphones work, to connect the trackers to your mobile phone or another smart device.

I tested the ranges of the Mate, Slim and Sticker on the street in front of my apartment and found that they generally held up to their promised ranges – as long as no cars or people got in the way.

Close up of a Tile Mate tracker attached to a backpack

The Sticker has the most mixed performance and dropped the connection more than the others. I also had to be right next to it to reconnect.

For the Slim and the Mate, I felt they were more limited by the volume of the speakers than the Bluetooth range. Unless either Tile was out in the open, I couldn't hear it ring at the maximum range.

App performance

Each Tile product works using the Tile app. Getting set up is simple and involves downloading the Tile app and connecting each of your Tiles. The app guides you through the connection process and allows you to select where the Tile will live, for example, "house keys" or "wallet"– or give the Tile a custom name.

Once you're set-up, all you need to do when you misplace an item is open the app, click on the connected Tile and set off the alarm. To use Tile, you'll need to keep your phone's Bluetooth turned on. If your phone isn't in reach, you can also activate your Tiles through an Alexa or Google Assistant enabled device.

Close up of a man putting a Tile Slim in his coat pocket

The app also shows an approximate location for each tracker. This is helpful if you're not close enough to hear the ringer but want to make sure you're generally looking in the right place, for example, to check if you left your camera at home or the office.

The app can't tell you the direction of the tracker, but it does let you know if you're getting closer. Hopefully, you'll eventually get close enough that you hear the alarm. However, if the Tile is in a bag or under something, it can be challenging to hear it.

If you have one of your Tiles but can't find your phone, you can activate the ringer on your phone by pushing the button on your Tile twice. This helpful feature works even if your phone is on silent.

If your Tile isn't in range, you get to use a unique feature of the app, the Tile community network. This feature will show you the most recent known location of that Tile, which might trigger your memory as to where it is.

Close up of a Tile Mate

If that doesn't help, you can activate the Tile network of millions of Tile users. Once you mark your device as "lost" in the app, other Tile users phone's can detect your Tile when it's within range of them. You'll automatically receive a notification if this happens. This helps you narrow down the location enough to either jog your memory or get close enough to hear the ringer.

The Tile network is effective if you live in an area with a large community of Tile users, but if you live more remotely, it won't be of any help.

Tile also offers a Premium subscription with additional features including an alert you if you leave a Tile behind and a 30-day location history for each Tile. Premium users can also receive free replacement batteries for the Mate and Pro and you can share your Tiles with an unlimited amount of people.

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Should you buy them?

  • Slim is the most improved tracker
  • Sticker is not as effective as promised
  • If you frequently lose your stuff, the cost is worth it
  • Tile community is only helpful if you live near a lot of Tile users

If you frequently misplace things, the low cost of the Tile products makes them extremely appealing. They aren't perfect, but they work well enough to help you find most misplaced items, provided you thought to put a Tile on those items in the first place.

If you're in the market for a new Tile, the right option for you depends on how you'll use it and whether or not you live in an area with a large number of Tile users.

A Tile Mate sitting on a table while a group of people toast with drinks

The Slim has the most overall improvement and is the strongest at what it's meant to do. It fits perfectly into your wallet so you can just set it and forget it until you need to activate it.

Tile Mate is dependable, but doesn't offer enough of an improvement from the previous model to suggest upgrading if your old one still works.

The Sticker is promising, and while I wanted to like it, it had the weakest performance. The limited range, low volume and protruding shape aren't effective enough for what it needs to do.

Each Tile product is available either individually, or in the case of the Sticker, in a two-pack or four-pack.

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Specifications

Sticker Slim Mate
Dimensions 27mm x 7.3mm 86mm x 54mm x 2.4mm 35mm x 35mm x 6.2mm
Range 45 metres 60 metres 60 metres
Battery 3-year non-replaceable battery 3-year non-replaceable battery 1-year replaceable CR1632 battery
Waterproofing Waterproof Waterproof Water-resistant
Colour Black Black White
Price (SRP) $49.99 for a 2-pack, $79.99 for a 4-pack $39.99 $34.99
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