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Tile Mate (2022) review: Living with longer limits
Tile Mate (2022)
Retail price: $24.99$24.99 at Amazon
What we like
What we don't like
The 2020 edition of the Tile Mate was one of our favorite Bluetooth trackers. It did just about everything well and sat at just the right size. However, it wasn’t without its flaws. Now, Tile is back with a refreshed version of its classic tag for 2022, and it promises a few key fixes. It’s time to see if the original AirTag alternative delivers once again in our Tile Mate (2022) review.
What you need to know about the Tile Mate (2022)
- Tile Mate (1-pack): $24.99 / €24.99 / £19.99
- Tile Mate (2-pack): $47.99 / €47.99 / £37.99
The Tile Mate (2022) is an updated version of Tile’s mainstream accessory used to track your most valuable possessions. It features a slightly larger hole than previous generations, which you can use to attach the Mate to just about anything. Thanks to the corner-mounted hole, I’ve used the Tile Mate to track everything from my backpack to my camera strap.
Tile’s fourth-generation refresh brings the Mate closer to its closest rivals — the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag and the Apple AirTag — though it still has a few advantages. For starters, Tile hasn’t touched the impressive starting price of $25. It remains $5 more affordable than Apple’s and Samsung’s offerings. You can also pair your Tile Mate with either Android or iOS and enjoy the same suite of tracking features.
If you want to enjoy all of Tile’s features, you’ll have to give Tile Premium a try for either $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. It’s your key to helpful reminders like Smart Alerts which trigger automatically when you get too far from your tracker. Tile Premium also adds 30 days of location history and $100 in lost item reimbursements for Mate users. Tile Premium Protect ups the reimbursement to $1,000 for a $99.99 per year cost if you want even more tracking peace of mind.
The Tile Mate hasn’t changed its controls — press once to silence the ring or press twice to ring your phone directly. With that out of the way, let’s get to Tile’s changes.
It should be noted that Tile is set to be acquired by Life360 — a company that has allegedly sold user data while carrying loose privacy rules. The sale is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022. The existing Tile team will remain in place, and Life360 has said it has no plans to sell Tile user data. Nevertheless, it’s something to be aware of before investing in the Tile ecosystem.
There’s no better place to start than with the image above — you can now scan the QR code on the back of a Tile Mate to track down its owner. As long as your personal information is up to date, it should be much easier for someone to return your lost Tile if they find it.
I’m also a big fan of Tile’s new design. The two-tone plastic of the 2020 model is gone, and so are the flat sides, which makes the Tile Mate feel slimmer than ever. Part of the updated design also sees the addition of an IP67 rating. Now you can put your Mate through the wringer and submerge it in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
Maybe even better than the IP rating is the fact that the Mate now comes in a black option. The Tile Mate (2020) easily picked up scuffs and scrapes, and they were impossible to hide on the white plastic. The overall construction is still plastic, of course, but it’s a much-improved design.
An official IP67 rating and a new matte black finish are exactly what the Tile Mate needed.
Tile gave its latest Mate a serious boost in the battery department — you can now keep track of your objects for up to three years at a time with an impressive 250 feet of Bluetooth range.
We’re still very keen on Tile’s operating system flexibility too. I’ve switched between Android and iOS a few times since I started using Tiles, and I’ve never had login troubles. It’s as easy as ever to add new trackers to your account, and Tile has slimmed down the Map tab to focus on your own devices.
We’ve also previously taken issue with Tile’s anti-stalking features because, well… there weren’t any. Now, the company is introducing a feature called Scan and Secure which will allow both Android and Apple users to manually search for unwanted trackers in their vicinity using the Tile app. The feature isn’t the most comprehensive anti-stalking method we’ve seen and it won’t roll out until early 2022, but it’s a good start for Tile.
What’s not so good?
The three-year battery sounds great on the Tile Mate, but it comes with a catch — you can no longer replace your battery. Once you hit your limit, you’ll have to replace your tracker. The plastic itself may wear out by then anyway, but it means that the free battery replacements in Tile Premium are now exclusive to the Tile Pro (2022) in the new Tile line-up.
I can appreciate Tile’s advertised 250-foot range — after all, it’s 50 feet longer than the 2020 version. However, the reality isn’t quite as impressive. The Bluetooth connectivity requires a completely clear area with no interruptions to achieve anything close to that distance. If you’re in a city or a heavily wooded area, you’re probably looking at a range of closer to 50 feet.
The Amazon Sidewalk integration is nice, but still not as far-reaching as Apple's and Samsung's options.
The Tile Mate still requires constant tracking with the help of Amazon Sidewalk. Even with the added benefit of nearby Echo and Ring devices, Tile still doesn’t match the user counts of either Samsung or Apple’s ecosystems. Sidewalk is still limited to US-based users, too, so everyone else is reliant on nearby people to own Tile trackers.
Most of the Tile Mate (2022) changes have to do with the tracker itself, but Tile has made a few changes in the app, too. For starters, you can no longer see how many Tile users there are in your local area. It may be better for privacy, but it’s not encouraging if you should happen to lose one of your trackers. The app also pushes the Tile Premium features to the top of your options, whether you have the service or not.
While not a criticism exactly, it should be noted that the Tile Mate (2022) does not support ultra-wideband technology for precision tracking, instead giving you a general location for the tracker and the item it’s attached to. This is a fair omission given the Tile Mate’s reduced price, but if you want pinpoint tracking you’ll want to wait for the Tile Ultra releasing in 2022, or grab an AirTag.
Tile Mate (2022) review: Should I buy it?
The Tile Mate (2022) is still an excellent choice among affordable Bluetooth trackers. It’s your best bet for both Android and iOS support on a budget, and the Mate still beats the Apple AirTag ($29) and Samsung Galaxy SmartTag ($29) on pricing. That said, if you’re all-in on either operating system, you may find that the first-party trackers pair best with your devices. There’s also the Tile Pro (2022) ($34.99) to consider, which has a removable battery, a louder ringer, and an even more durable build.
You’ll also have to decide whether or not you’re willing to pay for Tile Premium. Sure, it adds a few essential features, but the additional $29.99 per year can add up when the Tile Mate no longer has a replaceable battery. It’s also good that Tile is committing to some anti-stalking features, but they’re not available at the time of writing and not as impressive as Apple’s.
See also: The best AirTag alternatives
All told, the Tile Mate (2022) is excellent value at $25 for anyone who bounces between Android and iOS. The loss of the replaceable battery stings, but most other changes are for the better, and we won’t say no to three years of battery life. Tiles get even more affordable when you buy more than one, so you might be ready to spring for a two-pack or even a four-pack.