Tile Mate and Tile Slim review: Bluetooth lost and found tags just got lighter

Price when reviewed

My return to using the Tile sums up its utility brilliantly. Back in February, I spent some time with the original, but after the review was done, it was left in a drawer. This wasn’t because it wasn’t useful – the whole point is that you keep it on your key ring and forget it – but because a bug at the time meant it didn’t work with my old phone when I upgraded to Android Marshmallow.

Fast-forward to today, and I’m reinstalling the app and pairing the new Tile Mate and Tile Slim with my phone. Upon opening my account, I see a Tile simply named Test Tile, which I assume is a tutorial to show you the ropes. I press “Lost Tile” and a friendly message pops up telling me that everyone with the Tile app is now silently hunting it down, and I’ll get an alert when it’s found.

An hour after I get home, an alert appears on my screen: “Your Tile has been found!” – presumably by my own phone spotting it when I walked through the door. I look at the screen and realise that Test Tile wasn’t a tutorial: it was my original Tile. I tap the icon and press “Find”. Sure enough, a cheery electronic jingle leads me to the drawer where Test Tile has lived silently for the past seven months. And it’s working.[gallery:1]

That, in a nutshell, is why Tile is potentially worth its weight in gold. If you routinely lose stuff, it offers an easy way to locate it. Still confused? Read on.

Tile Mate and Tile Slim: Design

So, what is Tile? In case you hadn’t gathered already, it’s a small piece of plastic with a Bluetooth sensor inside it that you can pair with your phone. Because it constantly chats with your handset, you’ll always know where your Tile is, and by association what it is attached to. Your keys, your wallet, your laptop, whatever. There’s no GPS sensor; instead, each Tile relies on your phone’s geodata to supply that function.

The Tile Mate is a direct successor to last year’s Tile, and it refines the design rather nicely. It’s around 25% smaller and lighter than the original model, and generally looks smarter: the Tile logo is now in a silver circle on the front, and the device comes as two pieces of slightly different white plastic moulded together for a nice two-tone effect. There is one slight drawback: the white plastic takes on scuffs and dirt very easily, and was looking very mucky after only a day of use. A new pair of jeans may be to blame, but examining last year’s model suggests you should expect scuffs to appear in routine use.[gallery:9]

The silver button makes it far easier to see where to press to wake up the tile, which is handy from a design point of view, but the main point is that the device was never a fashion statement: it was a little block for your key ring, designed to be heard and not seen. These design improvements are, ultimately, nice but not essential.

The price has gone up a little, though. It now retails at £23 rather than the £20 the older model went for. I put that down to the pound being in the toilet, rather than any obvious technological advancement, although once again you have the opportunity to buy multipacks of four for £65. A decent saving if you have lots of friends interested, or are terminally butter-fingered.[gallery:5]

The Tile Slim is a different proposition. If the Tile Mate is predominantly designed as a key ring, the Tile Slim is designed to be kept in wallets, or stuck to laptops in such a way that you’ll forget it’s there. As such, it looks like someone took a rolling pin to the Tile Mate: it gains width and height, but it’s much, much slimmer. Thinner than three credit cards by my unscientific measurements. In other words, all but the most stuffed of wallets should have room for it.

It’s not really clear why, but the Tile Slim costs 33% more than the Tile Mate, retailing for £30, although again you can buy in bulk to save, with a four-pack coming in at £100.

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