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

Price when reviewed

Tile Mate and Tile Slim: Performance

For most of your time using the Tile, it will sit dormant: an inanimate piece of plastic quietly winding down its 12+ months of battery life. And then it will die – because you can’t replace the battery yourself.

While it lives and breathes, however, just pop open the app and see all your Tiles and their last known locations. If you still can’t find it, you simply press “Find Tile” and your little plastic pal will play a jaunty and surprisingly loud jingle until you tell it to stop. It’s loud enough to be easily heard, even if it’s hidden underneath a cushion or in the depths of the washing basket.[gallery:8]

If the Tile is out of range, a map shows its location the last time it checked in with your phone, and when. At that point, you can call on the community for help. Mark a Tile as lost, and everyone with the Tile app suddenly becomes your pro-bono private investigator. As soon as someone’s phone detects the missing Tile, you’ll get a notification telling you exactly where to go to continue the search for yourself. Then, as soon as you’re in range, the app will tell you and you can make it sing for your attention.

It’s clever – very clever – but it all depends on how many Tile users there are in your area. Technically, anybody can download the app and do the hunting for you, but I can’t imagine many non-Tile users doing so out of the goodness of their hearts. Nonetheless, the company speaks of more than six million Tile units sold worldwide, so you have a better chance than you might imagine. Should your app help find someone else’s Tile, you’ll also get an anonymous “thank you” in the app, which is a nice touch.[gallery:10]

Finally, you can also use the Tile in reverse. If you can’t find your phone, double-squeeze the Tile logo and your phone will start ringing, even when it’s on silent. That’s no different from using Google’s own device manager to do that on Android, or the Find my iPhone facility with iOS, but it is a touch more convenient in a pinch.

Tile Mate and Tile Slim: Verdict

Earlier in the year, I gave the original Tile four stars and a solid endorsement, calling it “a cheap and cheerful way to give yourself a little extra peace of mind”. That’s still true, but the price increase is a little hard to swallow, especially when you consider that they need replacing every year or so. True, you can replace them through the company’s own reTile programme at a lower cost (up to 50% off, according to the site), but you’re still talking about an expensive annual cost for something you won’t be actively using for the majority of that time. The Tile Slim, especially, I feel is overpriced.[gallery:14]

On the other hand, the thing about Tile is that you won’t miss it until you need it. Peace of mind is worth more to some people than others: if you have valuables you absolutely need to protect, then it’s a relatively inexpensive insurance policy. Personally, I’m glad my keys and wallet are safe for another year, but it’s just a touch harder to recommend than it was seven months ago.

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