In our eyes, the Tyle is one of Kickstarter’s greatest success stories. We’re not saying this because it’s the most well-funded Kickstarter (it’s not) or because there aren’t any other innovative products out there (there are.) What makes the Tile stand out is how the company has developed over time. After launching their first generation, they quickly followed up with a pair of improved models. The Tile Mate and Slim offered a battery replacement program, improved range, and upgraded software. Those models are still selling well today, but Tile has already come back with another upgrade.
The Tile Sport and Tile Style’s claim to fame is their range. They claim that the signal can go twice the distance as the last generation. Given the inherent limitations of their low-power Bluetooth receiver, this is pretty impressive. What do these updated trackers have to offer aside from range? How do these improvements impact the usability of everyone’s favorite Bluetooth tracker? To find out, we decided to try them out for ourselves.
If you haven’t used a Bluetooth tracker before, now is a great time to try it. The Tile Sport and Style, like their older brothers, are inexpensive devices that can be attached to anything you don’t want to use. You can attach one to your key ring, for example, and never lose your keys again. The free app you install on your phone communicates with the Tile over Bluetooth. If you lose your keys somewhere in your house, just tap a button on the app and the Tile will start chirping, allowing you to find it. If the Tile is out of range, your phone will show the GPS coordinates where it was last found. Tiles also work in reverse. You can push the center button to locate a lost phone.
Bluetooth trackers are a fantastic way to keep tabs on any small items that are easy to misplace, and the Tile is the most prominent manufacturer in the industry. We’ve already done several in-depth reviews of Tile products before. In this review, we’re going to be focusing mainly on the improvements and upgrades to the hardware. If you want to know more about the basic functionality, check out our reviews of the Tile Mate and Tile Slim. These reviews will show you how they’re used, while this one will tell you what’s new.
The appearance is the most obvious update. Instead of the minimalist white look of the previous models, the Tiles are starting to look a lot more like a fashion accessory.
The Style, as the name implies, has the most appealing look of the two. The core design is still a small square, but they’ve now engraved the case with a textured design. The logo is embossed with a gold-like metal, and the whole thing is wrapped with a matching metal band.
The band itself is perfectly square, while the tile has a single corner dog-eared. This hole creates a loop that allows you to attach it to your keys, backpack, or anything else you plan to track. If you were to hold the classic Tile in one hand and the Style in the other, it would be obvious that these are the same device. The appearance is still very consistent. But these small visual updates make a major impact, so we can safely say that this is the most attractive Tile to date.
The Tile Sport keeps the same basic layout as the Style, with a couple key differences. Instead of white, the Sport has a two-tone graphite color scheme. The sport is a little thicker, and has a crosshatch texture on it. The band is a little thicker, making it more rugged. This design is ideal if you’re going to have it exposed to the elements, as scratches and snags aren’t likely to rough it up too much.
Tiles use an ultra-lower power Bluetooth chipset that allows their batteries to last for years. The downside of this hardware is that the range is extremely short. If you live in a large house, you might find that you have to wander around your home before the Tile is in range.
The Sport and Style have updated hardware that supposedly doubles the range to 200 feet. To test this out, we grabbed the Tile Slim we reviewed last time and headed outdoors.
Bluetooth runs on 2.4 GHz. Just like your router, the actual range depends mostly on the amount of obstacles between the source and the destination. If there is a clear line of sight to the tile, your range will be much better. If it’s behind several walls, the range will suffer. We decided to do two tests to get a rough scale of what kind of ranges to expect.
For the first test, we placed both tiles on the external wall of our house and walked down the street 200 feet. The tile Slim lost reception at close to 150 feet. Meanwhile, the new models had no problem at 200 feet. As long as there is line of site, it’s clear that these models live up to their specifications.
Without line of site, the range dropped pretty significantly. We placed both the old and new tiles inside the home and started walking outdoors. To be as authentic as possible, we shoved them down inside the couch cushions. After all, where else are you supposed to lose your keys?
As soon as we closed the front door the Tile Slim lose reception. In total, it’s range was only about 15 feet. Meanwhile, the Tile Sport was still in range over 100 feet down the road, with several homes and fences in between. The Style lost reception about 6 feet before the sport, but we don’t see this as being significant.
Both the Tile Sport and Style are now rated for IP68 weatherproofing. They are completely immune to dust and debris, and can survive underwater at depths greater than 1 meter. The old Tiles weren’t exactly fragile, but these upgrades will be advantageous to anyone who leaves them attached to something that remains outdoors.
The Style is thinner, sleeker, and lighter than the Sport. It’s durability is roughly the same as the older models. The Sport, on the other hand, is the most rugged tile ever made. It’s got a stainless steel frame, and the large band on the outside is made from Graphite. We’d be totally comfortable with attaching the Tile Sport to our hiking backpack or downhill bike before heading out on a weekend adventure, as it’s hard to imagine a circumstance where this thing could break.
Another big improvement to the Tile lineup is the speaker. When you search for a tile, the ringtone comes out at nearly twice the volume as the previous model. Tiles were already loud to begin with, so this update is a bit of a mixed bag. If you’ve lost your tile while gardening and are trying to find it under a pound of soil, the additional volume could be necessary. But if your Tile is sitting on your bedside table next to your sleeping wife, watch out. Luckily, the app gives you the ability to decrease the volume. But this option doesn’t pop up until it starts ringing, so you’ll get a couple of loud chirps before you can reduce the volume.
The final improvement with these new models is the ability to integrate with your Smart Home. Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa are supported. You just say “Alexa / Ok Google, have tile ring my keys.” You do have to name your tile for this to work, but it’s a handy feature to have.
Just like the previous generations, the Tile’s battery cannot be changed. This makes it a disposable product. It should last you a year or more, and you’ll start getting notifications on your phone a month or two before the Tile dies. Once it’s gone, you’ve got two options. You can simply buy another one, or you can mail it in and receive a discounted model through the ReTile program.
The Tile has always been our favorite Bluetooth object tracker, and now it’s even better. The range improvements are huge. You won’t spend time hunting around your house trying to get it in range. Even in a crowded place, you’ll be able to detect the Tile from over 100 feet away. This additional range explains why the speaker has been made to be so loud, as it will be hard to hear it from that far away.
If you’ve ever lost your keys, phone, or wallet, we’d highly recommend that you try the Tile. Our personal favorite was the Sport. The appearance is a little more reserved, and the improved durability ads another layer of confidence. That being said, we can see the appeal of the Tyle Style if you’re using it as a key ring, attaching it to your phone, or simply want something a little more fashionable.