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Apple AirTag vs Tile (2021): Choosing Bluetooth Tracker Tags

The Bluetooth tracking device space is heating up with the launch of the Apple AirTag. It goes mano a mano with the likes of Tile, which has constantly been one of the strongest players in the game for years now. 

The question then is, can the AirTag keep up with the competition? The short answer is yes, as it has plenty of advantages owing to its U1 ultra wideband (UWB) chip under the hood and robust Find My network. However, it doesn’t exactly blow Tile out of the water across the board. After all, Tile offers more options—namely, the Tile Pro, Tile Mate, Tile Slim, and Tile Sticker—and wins in terms of compatibility.

Apple AirTag vs Tile Comparison Chart

ModelApple AirTagTile ProTile MateTile SlimTile Sticker
 Apple AirTagTile Pro (2020) 1-pack - High Performance Bluetooth Tracker, Keys Finder and Item Locator for Keys,...Tile Mate (2020) 1-pack - Bluetooth Tracker, Keys Finder and Item Locator for Keys, Bags and More;...Tile Slim (2020) 1-pack - Slim & Sleek Bluetooth Tracker, Item Locator and Finder for Wallets,...
PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ConnectivityBluetooth, Ultra WidebandBluetoothBluetoothBluetoothBluetooth
RangeNot stated, but speculated to be 100m122m61m61m46m
RingYesLoudest RingLouder RingLouder RingLoud Ring
BatteryReplaceable CR2032 coin cell (battery life not indicated)Replaceable CR2032, 1 yearReplaceable CR1632, 1 yearBuilt-in, 3 yearsBuilt-in, 3 years
Water ResistanceIP67SplashesSplashes1 meter up to 30 minutes1 meter up to 30 minutes
DimensionsDiameter: 31.9mm
Depth: 8mm
42mm x 42mm x 6.5mm35mm x 35mm x 6.2mm86mm x 54mm x 2.4mmDiameter: 27mm
Depth: 7.3mm
ColorsSilverBlack, White, Ruby Red, Azurite Blue, Rose PinkWhiteBlack, Ruby Red, Azurite Blue, Rose PinkBlack

Performance

The Apple AirTag has a better network than Tile.

Apple AirTag vs Tile Performance
A closer look at the Find My app.

When it comes to connectivity, the Apple AirTag beats Tile since it also uses UWB besides Bluetooth. The company didn’t mention its range, but it’s safe to say it’s about 100m. Meanwhile, the Tile Pro can stay connected up to 122m, the Mate and Slim up to 61m, and the Sticker up to 46m. All work fairly well in this regard, which is expected from tracker tags of this caliber.

As noted, one notable advantage the AirTag has is its Find My network. Apple even made it accessible to third parties, which basically means its infrastructure is bigger than ever. In comparison, Tile’s counterpart doesn’t really compare. For a general idea, there are more than 10 million Tiles in the wild, but even so, its network isn’t as ubiquitous as Apple’s.

This is important because this determines how effective Apple’s Lost Mode and Tile’s Notify When Found are. For the uninitiated, these are two similar features that help you find an item you’ve lost by using other connected devices in their respective networks to pinpoint its location. Essentially, the bigger the network, the better your chances are of finding your things.

Now the AirTag is powered by a replaceable CR2032 coin cell, but Apple also didn’t state how long its life is. However, it might last anywhere between six months and one year, similar to the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus, which also uses UWB and Bluetooth. The Tile Pro also houses a CR2032 battery, and the Mate has a CR1632 cell, both of which are replaceable and rated to go up to one year. On the other hand, the Slim and Sticker have integrated batteries that’s estimated to last up to three years.

Click here to see our comparison between the Apple AirTag and Samsung Galaxy SmartTag.

Build and Options

Tile provides more choices than the Apple AirTag.

Apple AirTag vs Tile Build and Options
Here are the Tile Mate, Slim, and Sticker as part of the Essentials bundle.

Boasting an IP67 water resistance, the Apple AirTag can survive up to 30 minutes in water at a depth of 30 meters. The same goes for the Tile Slim and Sticker, but unfortunately, the Pro and Mate can only withstand splashes or the occasional accidental spills. At the very least, they’re generally more durable and don’t get scuffed and scratched as easily as AirTags.

In the same vein, Tiles come in a wide variety of form factors and sizes for different purposes. For instance, the Slim is made for wallets, sporting a thickness and shape as two typical credit cards stacked on top of each other. If you try the same thing with an AirTag, you’ll have to make do with a bulge in your wallet.

Speaking of options, Tiles have more color options. For one thing, the Pro is available in Black, White, Ruby Red, Azurite Blue, and Rose Pink. You only get one color option for the AirTag, and it’s silver. But in its defense, you can get a free engraving of your initials, emojis, or both. Not only is that a nifty way to personalize it, but it also helps tell your tag apart from others.

By design, the Pro and Mate are easier to attach to various objects because of their key ring holes, while with the AirTag, you’ll need to purchase a separate accessory if you want to hook it on bags and keys. That could get expensive real quick, and that’s not even taking the Hermès accessories into account.

Features

The Apple AirTag is packed with more features than Tiles.

Apple AirTag vs Tile Features
The Precision Finding feature (left) and safety features (right) of the Apple Air Tag.

One of Tile’s best features is you can ring your smartphone by pressing on the Tile button twice, even if your device is in silent mode. Needless to say, that can really come in handy. However, the Apple AirTag outshines Tiles in more ways than one in this department. For starters, it has Discovery. If you lose a tag and any good samaritan who owns a smartphone with NFC—be it an Android or iPhone—finds it, they can tap on it to find out how to contact you and return it, assuming you left your phone number, that is.

Then there’s the AirTag’s safety feature. If a tag is away from a paired device for three days, the tag will ring. That way, it can be easily found and dealt with accordingly. By the same token, an iPhone can detect and notify you if there’s an unknown tag with you after three days. These are measures made to protect users from being stalked or other nefarious purposes. In contrast, Tile doesn’t have an equivalent.

But what makes the AirTag stand out is Precision Finding, which uses its UWB capability to find a tag’s exact location. On your iPhone, you’ll see how far your tag is from you, and you’ll also get visual cues that’ll point you to the right direction. However, you’ll need at least an iPhone 11 or 12 to use this.

For the record, you can also have the AirTag and Tiles make a sound via the app, which is pretty much a standard for most high-quality Bluetooth tracker tags nowadays.

Compatibility

Tiles have better compatibility than Apple AirTags.

Apple AirTag vs Tile Compatibility
Compatibility-wise, the Apple AirTag (left) doesn’t hold a candle to Tiles like the Pro (right).

There’s no getting around it. Apple AirTags only with iPhones and iPod touches running at least iOS 14.5 and iPads running iPadOS 14.5 or later. In other words, it won’t connect to your Android device.

This is where Tile comes out on top, as its tracker tags play nicely not only with Android but also iOS and even Windows. In addition, they also have Google Assistant and Siri support. It goes without saying that the AirTag only has support for Siri.

See how Tile compares to Pebblebee, another Bluetooth tracking device with Android and iOS support.

Verdict

Apple AirTags are for iPhone users, while Tiles are for everyone.

For iPhone users, the choice is obvious since you’ll get more out of the Apple AirTag than with a Tile. You’ll get things like Lost Mode, Discovery, Precision Finding, and a load of safety features, not to mention that you’ll get to take advantage of the robust Find My network. 

But if you’re an Android user or maybe even an Android and iOS user, then Tiles are worth considering. They’re compatible with both of the major mobile platforms and come in different shapes and sizes, such as the square Tile Pro and Tile Mate, as well as the card-shaped Tile Slim and button-sized Tile Sticker. On top of that, they aren’t lacking in features either.

FAQs

📌 Is the Apple AirTag worth it?

Yes, the Apple AirTag is a tracking device that uses Bluetooth 5.0 Low Energy and Ultra Wideband. It has plenty of features to help you find lost items, such as Discovery, Lost Mode, and Precision Finding.

📌 Is the Apple AirTag compatible with Android devices?

No, the Apple AirTag doesn’t work with Android devices. It can only connect to iPhones and iPod touches with iOS 14.5 or later and iPads with iPadOS 14.5 or later.

📌 Which is better, the Tile Pro or Tile Mate?

The Tile Pro is better than the Mate because it has a longer range of 122m as opposed to 61m. It has a louder ring volume to boot.

📌 Does Tile work with Android and iPhone?

Yes, Tile is compatible with both Android and iOS, as well as Windows, making it one of the most flexible Bluetooth tracking devices around.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.