AirTag vs Tile: Which Bluetooth Tracker Should You Buy?

January 8, 2024

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You’re rushing out the door and suddenly realize you can’t find your keys. Or you’re packing a suitcase and can’t remember where you put your passport. We’ve all been there – frantically searching for an item we need that seems to have vanished into thin air.

Luckily, Bluetooth trackers offer an easy solution to lost item woes. Just attach a small tracker to your keys, bag, wallet or other items, sync it with your phone, and use the companion app to make the tracker ring when the item goes missing. With a tracker’s help, you’ll be able to find misplaced items in seconds.

The two biggest names in Bluetooth tracking are Apple AirTag and Tile. But which one is right for you? Let’s compare the key factors to consider:

AirTag vs Tile: At a Glance

CompatibilityiOS onlyiOS and Android
Models1 model4 models
Network size~1 billion Apple devicesMillions of Tile users
Tracking techBluetooth, Ultra WidebandBluetooth
Precise trackingYes, via Precision Finding (iPhone 11 or newer)No
AttachmentSold separatelyBuilt into design
BatteryReplaceable (1 year)Replaceable on some models
Water resistanceIP67Splashproof or waterproof depending on model
SetupInstant with iPhoneRequires Tile app and account
AppBuilt into Find MyRequires Tile app
SubscriptionNoneOptional – Tile Premium ($2.99-$29.99/month)
Price$29 for 1, $99 for 4 pack$24.99-$39.99 per tracker

As you can see, there are some clear differences that may make one tracker stand out over the other, depending on your needs. Keep reading for an in-depth comparison on how AirTag and Tile stack up.

Compatibility: AirTag for iPhone, Tile for Everyone

Tile Vs Airtag

The first major consideration is what devices you plan to use your tracker with.

AirTag is designed exclusively for Apple devices. It pairs instantly with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch during setup. And once connected to your Apple ID, you can locate your AirTag using Find My on any Apple device logged into that account.

Tile, on the other hand, offers broad cross-platform compatibility. Tile’s trackers work seamlessly with iOS and Android smartphones, as well as Windows laptops and tablets. Some headphones, laptops, and other electronics even have Tile tracking built right in.

So if you use Apple devices exclusively, AirTag is likely the better pick. But anyone with a mix of iOS, Android, Windows, or other Bluetooth devices will get more versatility from Tile.

Models and Design: Single AirTag vs Tile Variety

Apple offers just a single AirTag model: a small, 1.26 inch wide white disc. It’s water-resistant, has user-replaceable batteries, and is fairly minimalist.

Apple Airtag

The AirTag has no built-in way to attach it to keys, bags and other items. You’ll need to purchase a separate accessory like a key ring or loop. Apple offers high-quality leather and polyurethane accessories starting around $13. Cheaper $10 options are also available from third-parties like some of the best AirTag wallets and keychains.

Tile takes a different approach with four distinct tracker models to fit different needs:

  • Tile Mate ($24.99) – The original Tile device, now called the Mate. Has a square shape with a built-in hole for keys. Water resistant and uses a CR1632 replaceable battery.
  • Tile Pro ($34.99) – An upgraded Mate with increased Bluetooth range and louder speaker. Also square with a keyring hole, water resistant, and uses a replaceable CR2032 battery.
  • Tile Slim ($29.99) – A thin, credit card shaped tracker that easily slides into a wallet or sticks to objects. Not waterproof. Uses a non-replaceable CR2032 battery.
  • Tile Sticker ($39.99) – The smallest Tile that directly sticks to items with an adhesive back. Also not waterproof and has a non-replaceable battery.
Tile Four Distinct Tracker Models

Since the attachment method is built into the design, no extra accessories are needed with Tile trackers. And you can choose the model that best fits your specific tracking needs.

Network Size: AirTag’s Massive Advantage

Both AirTag and Tile use Bluetooth to connect with your phone when in close proximity. But when outside Bluetooth range, they rely on much wider networks to locate your lost item. And this is where AirTag pulls far ahead.

AirTag taps into Apple’s Find My network comprised of nearly 1 billion active Apple devices. Any iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc. that detects a lost AirTag can anonymously relay its location back to the owner. It’s virtually impossible for an AirTag to go “offline” given the ubiquity of Apple products with Find My enabled.

Tile however relies on its own much smaller proprietary network. Only Tile devices or smartphones with the Tile app installed can detect Tiles and report locations. Estimates peg Tile’s network in the millions – not even close to Apple’s reach.

In real world use, this means a lost AirTag is far more likely to be located by a passing Apple device than a lost Tile is to be found by someone who specifically installed the Tile app. AirTag’s extensive network is a huge advantage for actually finding your stuff.

Tracking Technology: AirTag’s Ultra Wideband Edge

On paper, AirTag and Tile work similarly – using Bluetooth connections to the tracker when nearby, then leveraging the wider network when out of Bluetooth range. However both use different technologies for the tracking experience:

  • Bluetooth Only for Tile – All four Tile models rely solely on Bluetooth to connect to your phone and other Tile users in range. The different Tile models have Bluetooth ranges from 150 feet up to 400 feet.
  • Bluetooth + Ultra Wideband for AirTag – AirTag combines standard Bluetooth with Apple’s U1 ultra wideband chip for more precise tracking. This enables the “Precision Finding” feature exclusive to AirTag.

Precision Finding on the AirTag provides a next level tracking experience by giving you real-time directions to locate your lost item. When in range, it uses feedback like feet distance, haptics, sounds, and visual arrows to literally walk you to the AirTag.

This functionality is only available on newer iPhone models – the iPhone 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 lines. So you’ll need one of those models to take advantage of AirTag’s ultra wideband features for Precision Finding. Learn more about why your AirTag location may not be updating with tips to fix it.

But when used with a U1-equipped iPhone, AirTag’s tracking abilities are far beyond what any Tile model can provide.

Attachment Methods: Built-In vs Accessories

Attaching your tracker securely and conveniently to everyday items is crucial. Here’s how AirTag and Tile compare on attachment options:

  • AirTag – As mentioned the AirTag has no built-in way to attach to items. Key rings, loops, straps, and other accessories are required, sold separately. Apple offers high quality leather and polyurethane accessories starting around $13. Cheaper $10 options are also available from third-parties.
Airtag Accessories
  • Tile – All four Tile models have attachment methods built into the design, so no extra accessories needed:
  • Tile Mate/Pro – Keyring hole for attaching to keychains, bags, collars, etc
  • Tile Slim – Adhesive backing to stick to items or slide into a wallet
  • Tile Sticker – Adhesive backing designed to stick to nearly anything
Tile Built In

Between the two, Tile offers more convenience and flexibility right out of the box. But AirTag gives you more style options with Apple’s premium leather accessories or inexpensive third-party cases.

Battery Life: 1 Year Typical for Both

Conveniently, battery replacement is straightforward for both brands and lasts around 1 year typically. See how long AirTag battery actually lasts with real-world use cases.

  • AirTag – Uses a replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery with about a 1 year lifespan. Pops open to insert a new battery.
  • Tile – Tile Mate and Tile Pro use replaceable CR1632 and CR2032 batteries, respectively. Also last around 1 year. The Tile Slim and Tile Sticker have non-replaceable batteries rated to last 3 years.
Airtag's Battery

So battery life is similar across both brands. The only advantage Tile has is the 3 year rating for its non-replaceable Slim and Sticker models. But 1 year is standard for small Bluetooth trackers.

Water Resistance

Tile and AirTag models also have comparable water and dust protection:

  • AirTag – Officially rated IP67 water and dust resistant. Can withstand splashes, rain, dust, and being submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.
  • Tile – Tile doesn’t disclose official IP ratings, but states the Tile Mate and Tile Pro are “water resistant” while the Tile Slim and Tile Sticker are “waterproof.” Based on those descriptors, Tile likely offers IP67 protection or better.

For both brands, all models appear able to withstand splashes, dust, rain, and more making them suitable for most real-world use cases. I wouldn’t recommend intentionally submerging them, but they can survive exposure to the elements.

Setup Process: AirTag’s Seamless iOS Integration

One of AirTag’s biggest perks is the seamless, almost instant setup right from your iPhone.

To set up an AirTag you simply:

  1. Bring it near your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch
  2. Tap connect when the notification pops up
  3. Name your AirTag
Airtag Setup Process

That’s it – less than a minute start to finish. No app download required because AirTag is integrated directly into the Find My app.

Tile setup requires:

  1. Downloading the Tile app
  2. Creating a Tile account
  3. Bluetooth pairing your phone with the Tile tracker
  4. Assigning a name to the Tile device
Tile App Setup Process

A bit more involved, but Tile has the advantage of detailed video instructions in app that walk you through each step. Still, AirTag setup is far faster and more streamlined, especially if you plan to use multiple trackers.

Companion Apps: Find My vs Tile App

AirTag is controlled through Apple’s Find My app – the same one used to locate iOS devices and other Find My compatible products. So there’s no separate app to download if you already use Find My.

Find My

With Tile, you’ll need to download the Tile app (available for iOS and Android) to manage your trackers. This gives Tile users access on more device types as mentioned.

Tile App

Functionally, both apps provide a map view to locate trackers, make them play a sound, set range alerts, connect with accessories like smart speakers, enable lost mode, and more.

AirTag has tighter iOS integration with features like Pixel Finding and Siri support. But the Tile app is well-designed and simple to use for basic tracking needs.

Subscription Options: Tile Premium for Enhanced Features

No subscription is needed to use the core tracking functions of AirTag or Tile. However, Tile does offer an optional Tile Premium subscription that unlocks additional features:

Tile Premium ($2.99/month or $29.99/year) includes:

  • Smart alerts when you leave tracked items behind
  • 30-day location history
  • Free battery replacement annually (Tile Mate and Tile Pro only)
  • Unlimited sharing of Tiles with friends and family
  • Priority customer support

The Premium features are nice extras for heavy Tile users. But they aren’t essential for basic “find my item” needs. AirTag has no subscription; all features are included out of the box.

Pricing: AirTag vs Tile Models

Here is how pricing compares across Tile models and the AirTag:

AirTag (1 pack)$29
AirTag (4 pack)$99
Tile Mate$24.99
Tile Pro$34.99
Tile Slim$29.99
Tile Sticker$39.99

As you can see, individual AirTags and Tile trackers are priced very similarly in the ~$25 to $35 range. The only outlier is the $39.99 two-pack of Tile Stickers.

For most buyers, the per tracker pricing is effectively the same. Bundles and packs offer some cost savings if you need multiple trackers.

Beyond the upfront cost, be sure to factor in any additional accessories you may need for the AirTags. But the tracker itself is very competitively priced with Tile models.

AirTag vs Tile: Key Takeaways

  • AirTag works exclusively with Apple devices while Tile offers cross-platform compatibility
  • Tile has several tracker models to suit different needs; AirTag has just one design requiring accessories
  • AirTag taps into Find My network for unparalleled location coverage
  • U1 chip enables Precision Finding for next-level tracking abilities unique to AirTag
  • Tile trackers have built-in attachment methods while AirTag needs accessories
  • Both offer ~1 year battery life but some Tiles are rated for 3 years
  • Setup is far faster with AirTag, but Tile app works across platforms
  • Optional Tile Premium subscription provides extras like smart alerts and battery replacement
  • Pricing is similar – ~$25-$35 for individual trackers of either brand

AirTag vs Tile: Which is Right for You?

For iPhone owners, AirTag is likely the best choice. It delivers a streamlined setup, ultra wideband powered Precision Finding, and unmatched location coverage through Apple’s Find My network.

Android users or those with an assortment of devices will appreciate Tile’s cross-platform support and multiple tracker models to mix and match.

Either tracker type will ably handle helping you find lost items. But we recommend AirTag if you live in the Apple ecosystem, while Tile is ideal for Apple holdouts and Android households.

AirTag vs Other Bluetooth Trackers

While Tile is likely AirTag’s biggest competitor, there are other Bluetooth tracker options that may better suit your specific needs:

  • Dynotag – Dynotag is known for its small, versatile designs like a ring tracker. It has a replaceable battery and QR code for returning lost items. Works on iOS and Android.
  • Atuvos – Atuvos trackers are very affordable at $25 for a 2-pack. They offer location sharing and real-time tracking. iOS and Android compatible.
  • Samsung SmartTag – First-party tracker for Samsung Galaxy devices. Leverages Samsung’s Galaxy Find Network. Lacks ultra-wideband support.
  • Fi Collar – Fi is purpose-built for pet tracking. The Fi Collar lasts up to 2 months on a charge and is waterproof and rugged. Subscription required.
  • Eufy SmartTrack Link – Eufy’s tracker offers features like address logging when lost and hot/cold tracking tones. Only for iOS.
  • Chipolo One Spot – Chipolo has a loud 150dB tracker with a 200 ft Bluetooth range. iOS and Android compatible.
  • Jiobit – Jiobit is optimized for tracking young children thanks to its compact design and unique safety features. iOS and Android.

For most users, AirTag or Tile will be your best bet. But if you need specific capabilities like extensive Android support, pet tracking, or safety features, one of these other Bluetooth trackers may be a great alternative.

FAQ: Common AirTag vs Tile Questions

Can I use AirTag with Android?

No, AirTags only work with Apple devices – iPhones, iPads, Macs, etc. There is no Android compatibility.

Is Tile or AirTag more accurate?

AirTags are generally more accurate thanks to Apple’s U1 ultra wideband chip enabling Precision Finding. Also the massive Find My network improves remote location coverage.

How long does AirTag battery last?

The typical AirTag battery lifespan is 1 year before needing replacement. Some Tile models also last 1 year, others are rated for 3 years.

Can Tile track an Android phone?

Yes, you can use the Tile app on Android phones and tablets to sync with Tile trackers. This allows you to track your Tiles from an Android device.

Is AirTag waterproof?

AirTag is rated IP67 water and dust resistant. This means it can withstand splashes, rain, dust, and being submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.

Can you track AirTags when phone is off?

No. Your iPhone needs to be powered on and connected to the Find My network in order to view or track paired AirTags remotely.

What is the range of AirTag and Tile?

AirTag has a Bluetooth range of about 30 feet. Tile Bluetooth ranges vary by model from 150 to 400 feet. When out of Bluetooth range, their wider networks locate items.

How accurate are AirTags over long distances?

AirTag accuracy over long distances is excellent thanks to Apple’s Find My network of ~1 billion devices that can detect it and relay the location anonymously.

Can AirTags hear you?

No, AirTags do not have microphones and cannot hear audio or record sounds. But they do emit beeping noises – learn why your AirTag might be beeping and how to stop it.”

Do I need a subscription for AirTag or Tile?

No subscription is required for basic AirTag or Tile tracking features. Tile does offer optional Tile Premium subscriptions with bonuses like smart alerts, battery replacement, location history, etc.

Can someone track me with AirTag or Tile?

AirTags and Tiles have anti-stalking measures. You’ll get alerts if an unknown tracker moves with you. You can also make unknown trackers play a sound to locate and disable them.

Key Takeaways: Choosing Between AirTag and Tile

  • AirTag is the choice if you use Apple devices. Tile offers wider cross-platform compatibility.
  • Multiple Tile models are available to fit different needs. AirTag has one design requiring accessories.
  • AirTag’s location accuracy is better thanks to Apple’s U1 chip and Find My network.
  • AirTags take seconds to set up right from your iPhone. Tile requires downloading the app.
  • No subscription needed for either. Optional Tile Premium unlocks added features.
  • Tile trackers have built-in attachment methods. AirTags need a separate case or keychain.
  • For iPhone users, AirTag is likely the best choice. Tile excels for Android and cross-device households.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully this detailed comparison has helped you decide whether the Apple AirTag or Tile trackers are a better fit for you.

Both are excellent item trackers that save you time and stress when trying to find misplaced belongings.

In most cases, we recommend the AirTag for iPhone households thanks to its seamless setup, built-in Find My integration, and Precision Finding capabilities.

But Tile tracker’s cross-platform design and variety of models offer more flexibility if you need Android support or specialized designs.

Whichever you choose, a Bluetooth tracker can provide peace of mind that you’ll never lose your valuables again! Have any other questions as you decide between AirTag and Tile? Just let me know.