Which object tracker should you pick?

Which object tracker should you pick?

AirTag – the first object tracker from Apple – is finally here. The disc-shaped Apple-branded object tracker is a new entrant in the domain and goes against the most renowned name out there – Tile. Tile offers a wide range of trackers, but we’ve picked the Tile Pro for comparison due to the similarity in asking price and features. In this AirTag vs Tile comparison, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of each product and try to find out which one’s the better solution.

Design

Right off the bat, the Tile Pro takes this round. But before we delve into the subjective topic of aesthetics, let’s talk about the more important functional aspect. The Tile offering has a keychain hole, which means you can easily attach it to your heavy bunch of car keys, or school bag using a fabric loop. In other words, the Tile Pro offers what every object tracker should have as a fundamental design feature.

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Utility vs aesthetics? Sorry, but you made the wrong choice here Apple!

That brings us to the AirTags. There’s no keychain hole on the Apple offering, and it’s a catastrophe, in my opinion. Yes, they look good without it. But to actually use the AirTag in most cases, you need to spend more money on a keychain or loop accessory. But Apple is making a ton of money forcing you to shell out on first and third-party accessories, so they’re happy about it, at least.

Tile Pro is said to be water-resistant, but the company has not provided a number or certification rating yet. The AirTags, on the other hand, come with an IP67-certification and are claimed to last up to 30 minutes in one meter of water.

Talking about aesthetics, it rests on the buyers’ taste whether they prefer the industrial design of AirTag or the utilitarian approach taken by the Tile Pro. However, the Tile offering does come in a bunch of colors that include Black, White, Ruby Red, Azurite Blue, and Rose Pink.

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The AirTags, on the other hand, come in a single white color. However, if you purchase them from the Apple Store, you can get your name or an emoji engraved on it for free.

Compatibility

The Tile Pro is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. For the former, your phone needs to run Android 8.0 or a later version. On the Apple ecosystem, your iPhone should be on iOS 13 or a newer build. You need to download the Tile app to use the tracking functionality though.

The AirTag, on the other hand, works only with compatible Apple devices. They support a very limited interaction with Android phones, but the device needs to be NFC-enabled and only comes in handy when a tracker has been put in Lost Mode. You can check more details about AirTag compatibility in this detailed article.

Tracking

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The biggest difference between AirTag and Tile Pro is the technology they use for tracking misplaced objects. The Tile Pro is limited to Bluetooth and offers a tracking range of 400 feet or 122 meters.

AirTags, on the other hand, rely on Bluetooth as well as Ultrawide Band (UWB) technology. Unlike Tile, Apple has not revealed the maximum tracking range. However, the UWB tech does bring one key advantage – Precision Finding. This guides you towards your lost item with an AR directional overlay on your phone’s screen as well as voice cues, which is more effective than just following the chime sound coming from a tracker. However, this feature is only available for the latest iPhones and the iPhone 11 series as well.

Now, coming to the location system these two object trackers rely upon. In the case of AirTags, they rely on the Find My network that is essentially a mesh made up of hundreds of millions of iPhones all across the globe. If your AirTag goes out of range and you enable Lost Mode, the object tracker starts sending out Bluetooth pings. Once an iPhone comes into range, it instantly receives a notification that an AirTag is nearby. The person can then choose to alert the original owner about the location of their AirTag.

Apple says that the location data will be encrypted, and no one except the owner can see it, not even Apple. Moreover, if an Android phone is brought near a lost AirTag, the two devices can link via NFC to send a similar lost item notification to the original owner. The wide network of devices that the AirTag have at their disposal gives them a huge advantage. Additionally, an iPhone or Android device interacting with a lost AirTag doesn’t need to have an app installed.

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Tile also has a network of its own, but it relies on the fact that a nearby device coming in contact with a lost Tile Pro must have the companion app installed. That’s because only phones with the Tile app installed can pick up the Bluetooth pings sent out by a lost Tile tracker. Yes, Tile trackers can communicate equally well with Android and iOS devices, but the need to have the companion app installed on those devices severely limits the scope of finding a missing item that has gone out of range.

Battery Life

The Tile Pro is claimed to last up to a year, driven by a replaceable CR2032 battery. Tile also offers a subscription-based premium service that brings perks such as Smart Alerts, access to location history for the past 30 days, no limit on sharing, and free battery replacement.

Apple, unlike Tile, doesn’t offer any premium service for the AirTags. As for the battery life, the company says that its object tracker can last over a year of usage powered by the same CR2032 coin cell battery as its Tile rival.

Pricing

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The Tile Pro costs $34.99 a pop, while the 4-pack bundle will set you back by $99.99. The AirTag is priced at $29, but if you go with the 4-pack bundle, you’ll end up paying $99. If you’re not worried about a closed ecosystem and use an iPhone, the AirTags is simply the best option. But if you want a more versatile product without any ecosystem limitation and not being forced to spend your money on accessories, get the Tile Pro.

If you’ve been planning to pick up Apple’s object tracker, make sure you have the more recent iPhone 12 and 11 series models because they have the U1 chip inside to take advantage of the Precision Finding feature. And in case you’ve got an iPhone 12, make sure to check out this list of the best iPhone 12 cases. Stay tuned to Pocketnow for a detailed AirTags review coming very soon.


View Apple AirTag at Amazon


View Tile Pro at Amazon




I’ve been writing about consumer technology for over three years now, having worked with names such as NDTV and Beebom in the past. Aside from covering the latest news, I’ve reviewed my fair share of devices ranging from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices. I also have interviewed tech execs and appeared as a host in YouTube videos talking about the latest and greatest gadgets out there.

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