Two years ago, I went on a dream honeymoon with my wife.
We traveled around Europe for a month, constantly eating.
It took me a few months to work off all that pasta and pizza. But luckily, I took a bunch of pictures to remember the trip with.
When we got home, I uploaded all my photos to an external hard drive and wiped my memory card clean. We packed up our San Francisco apartment and moved across the country to North Carolina.
Somewhere in that move, I lost my hard drive.
I know where it is—I think.
It’s either at my Mom’s, Dad’s, in-laws, brother’s, or maybe even my place.
Yep, definitely one of those places.
No matter how much I search, though, I can’t find it.
A few weeks ago, I found myself reminiscing about that trip and wanted to look through the photos.
If only I had something that could track down where I last had that hard drive. Something that could let me know if I was warmer or colder in my search.
It’s too late for that hard drive, now. It’ll show up when it shows up.
But I wanted to prevent the same thing from happening again. After some research, I found Tile, a system for keeping track of your valuables via Bluetooth.
They sent me some of their best stuff to try.
I might not ever see those honeymoon photos again, but can Tile help me keep my other valuables? Check out my full review of Tile below and see for yourself.
What is Tile?
Tile is a system for making sure you don’t lose your valuables ever again.
Users download the Tile app and connect it to a series of Bluetooth trackers. Track your keys, a wallet—even your turtle.
Seriously. That’s Pokey the Tortoise. He got out one day and nobody could find him.
The owners hired a pet detective to track Pokey down. After they were reunited, the owner picked up a Tile to make sure Pokey never lost his way again.
You can’t make this stuff up.
But Tile isn’t just for tracking down missing turtles. You can track your drone:
You can track a frequently missing toy:
You can track a passport (which saved this guy’s trip):
And you can even track your pig:
What is a Bluetooth Finder?
A Bluetooth finder uses the technology that exists in most phones and smart-home devices to help track down missing items.
Bluetooth finders are different than GPS trackers because they don’t receive any signals from satellites—just Bluetooth connectivity.
You can track a Tile finder through your phone, tablet, or even a smart-home device like a Google Nest.
As long as your phone is within range, you’ll be able to find whatever you’re missing. If you’re not in range, you can see where your item was right before your phone lost the signal.
Like I mentioned earlier, I wish I’d had one on the hard drive with all my vacation photos. But the past is the past—I must move on.
But I’ve definitely taken a few new precautions. I’m keeping a Tile Slim in my wallet now.
Seriously, a Wallet Finder?
Yep, since I picked up the Essentials Four Pack from Tile, I’ve been keeping track of my wallet.
Let me check it now.
Yep, it’s right next to me in the drawer where it should be. Phew.
If you’re someone who misplaces their wallet or keys often, a Bluetooth tracker might not be a bad idea.
It can certainly save headaches on those rushed mornings when you can’t seem to find anything you need to get out the door.
The big question is: does Tile work like they say it does?
I’ve been testing out the range and capability of these nifty little gadgets for the past few weeks and my verdict is in.
Tile Unboxing & Review
Tile App Review
Before you can activate any of your trackers, you need to download the app. I’m a bit sensitive about downloading new apps because my phone is getting pretty old (would you believe I’m still on my first smart-phone?).
The only apps I have are bare-essentials. I don’t have Lyft or Uber on my phone because I don’t have space. Apparently, I’d rather walk home than give up my podcasts.
But the Tile App doesn’t take up much space at all, so I didn’t have to play that game of “which is more important.”
The App is straight-forward and connecting my trackers was a breeze.
Tile does offer a premium version of the app that will send you notifications if you leave something behind, but I’ve found the free app to be all the help I need.
Right now I’m tracking my wallet, keys, and camera. Through the app, I can check where each was last seen.
The only downside I can see to the app is that you must have Bluetooth and location tracking turned on in order for the Tiles to work. With my old phone, the battery is a bit weak, so I always have Bluetooth off by default.
Tile’s added a super-cool feature that’ll help if you’ve lost something but didn’t have Bluetooth on. You can select “notify when found” in the app, and it will allow your Tile to receive signals from anyone in the Tile community (which has over 2 million members).
Whenever anyone with the Tile App gets in range of your missing item, you’ll get a notification with the location where it was last pinged.
This feature requires a pretty massive scale to be useful at all, but Tile has the largest Bluetooth tracking community out there. So while there’s no guarantee anyone will come across your missing stuff, you have a better chance with Tile than anywhere else.
Tile Mate Review
I hooked my Tile Mate onto my keyring so I never had to go searching for them again.
Now, I’m not going to lie—I live with a very organized wife, so I haven’t had much trouble finding my keys for the past three years. If I leave my keys out, they tend to come back at me with a stern reminder to “put them in the bowl.”
It’s really an excellent bowl.
What I like most about the Tile Mate is the fact that I can ring my phone from my keys. Even if my phone is turned to silent, I can just double-tap the Mate on my keys and my phone will start ringing.
Now that’s something I can use.
I always know where my keys are, but I practically never know where my phone is, so in the past three weeks, this has helped me more than once.
The Tile Mate has a range of 200ft and rings up to 90 decibels—just loud enough to hear all around the house if you’re in a two-story.
If you’re the kind of person who misplaces your keys often (no shame), I can see one of these saving a lot of stress.
The Mate isn’t limited to keys, though. You can attach one to your cat, dog, water-bottle, backpack—whatever you tend to lose most often.
To give you an idea of the process, I just had to pair these two videos back to back.
Here’s what Tile imagines the process of finding your missing things will look like:
Nice. She’s got a refined accent and everything.
But here’s what it actually looks like when you find your Tile:
Yeah, maybe diving through the trash isn’t the most glorious thing—but it gets the job done.
I like that the Tile Mate doesn’t add much weight or bulk to my keyring—it’s no burden to carry around at all.
Tile Slim Review
The Slim is a new addition to the Tile family. It’s a tracker the size of two credit cards and fits easily into my wallet.
I just recently switched from a leather wallet to a fancy new minimalist wallet. I really like having the Tile Slim because I don’t notice it’s even there. That being said, if you already struggle with wallet-butt, take out the non-essentials first.
The Slim is the most attractive Tile tracker in my opinion, and I think it looks super cool at the front of my DM1 wallet. The only problem is that my cards are harder to get out when I have the tracker in.
If you have a passport portfolio, you can just slip the Slim right into the pocket for some added safety (could be a lifesaver if you tend to misplace things).
Tile Sticker Review
The Sticker is the least “natural” shape, meaning it doesn’t blend in as much as my other Tiles. While the Mate just looks like any ordinary key-fob, and my Slim lives harmoniously in my wallet, the Sticker is a big conspicuous button.
I thought about putting it on my computer, but I felt I’d knock the Sticker off one day when slipping my laptop into my bag (it only attaches with adhesive—no keychain or string).
My first choice was my new external hard drive. That was a natural, seeing as how my lost one still stings me from time to time.
The second Sticker went inside my camera bag. I don’t think I placed it quite right (it makes my bag harder to zip up), but I don’t want to remove it and place it elsewhere because I know the adhesive won’t work as well.
If I have any issues with Tile, it’s with their Sticker. I like having it for my hard drive, but it’s not the sleekest look.
My Overall Thoughts on Tile
What I Like
Tile trackers ring throughout the house, even when in bags, behind doors—anywhere in range.
Each tracker can also ring your phone if you’ve lost your phone. Even if your phone is on silent mode.
The Tile App has over two million members that can help you find your lost things.
Tile trackers have connectivity to smart home devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Nest.
What I Don’t Like
Tile Sticker is a bit bulbous and difficult to discreetly place, unlike the Mate and Slim.
The Tile App is an easy way to keep track of the things in life you can’t afford to lose—your wallet, keys, phone, or turtle.
Had I known about Tile a few years ago, I’d likely still have my honeymoon photos (to be honest, there were probably more photos of pasta than of my wife. It’s better if she doesn’t know).
But now that I’ve got my hands on a few of these handy Bluetooth trackers, I don’t have to worry as much about those small half-minded mistakes that end in major headaches.
I’ve set my keys in unusual spots. My wallet has slipped out of my pocket while I was getting out of my car. My phone has gotten lost between couch cushions. Maybe I could’ve prevented all these things.
But sometimes life just has a way of throwing you for a loop.
With Tile, I have the comfort of knowing that even if I make a silly mistake like putting my hard drive in the wrong moving box, I can always reverse the damage with a few simple clicks on my phone.