Last year, Apple introduced us to its long-awaited AirTag. This product became a direct competitor to the longstanding Bluetooth tracker maker Tile. It might seem like these two products are very similar but in truth, there are quite a few things that set these two apart. Let’s dig in and see which Bluetooth tracker is best!

AirTag vs Tile: Price Comparison

The AirTag only has the sticker form factor which costs $29.99 on Apple’s website. You can also buy a pack of four for $99.99. The equivalent to this design from Tile also costs $29.99, but Tile also offers the Tile Mate which costs $24.99. This is a small fob with a hole for your key ring. AirTag requires you to buy a separate attachment to connect it to your keys or a lanyard. If this is factored in, technically the AirTag costs more to be as functional as the Tile Mate is out of the box.

On the other hand, for Tile’s extended features like free battery replacement, $100 reimbursement, and smart alerts you have to subscribe to Tile premium a $29.99 a year ($2.99 per month). If you’re willing to skip those premium features, then Tile Mate is the cheaper option. AirTag matches or is cheaper when compared with the Tile Pro, Sticker, and Slim models.

tile-key finder
The Tile Mate, meant to attach to the key ring, is $24.99.

AirTag vs Tile: Side-by-Side Comparison

AirTagTile
 Compatibility:iOS, iPadOS, iCloudAndroid, Windows, iOS, iPadOS, iCloud
Styles:14
Price:$29.99Tile Pro $34.99, Tile Mate $24.99, Tile Slim $34.99, Tile Sticker $34.99
Location Technology:Apple Find My appBluetooth, Tile App
Water Resistance:IPX6IPX6
Voice Support:SiriSiri, Alexa, and Google Assistant
Safety Features:Some FeaturesScan and Secure

Looking at the table above it is clear to see that Tile offers a lot more variety to users. However, there are some features you can only get with Apple AirTag. Let’s dig into what sets these two trackers apart.

Tile vs AirTag: What’s the Difference?

Some quick history about these two devices. Tile has been in the Bluetooth tracking game for over a decade, a lot longer than their competitors. This is good because of how Tile tracking works. Each tile product is a part of a Bluetooth network, and they all speak to each other to find your missing device. Tile reports there are over 10 million trackers worldwide and in cities like New York, there is supposedly a tile product every block. This makes the network very strong in highly populated areas but for those of us that live in more rural areas, there can be some issues.

AirTag is different — it uses Apple Find My app, which comes standard with every Apple device. So, instead of relying on other locators, it can use the entire Apple network. Every iPhone and iPad can be used to find AirTag. It also comes with Ultra-Wideband (UWB) which makes the very impressive precision location feature possible. Precision Finding gives you real-time direction to the location of your lost device within a 100-meter radius.

Connectivity

There are also differences in the way each tracker connects to devices. AirTag is incredibly easy: simply place the AirTag next to your iPhone or iPad and a connect option will appear. Because Apple uses the preloaded Find My app, there is no setup whatsoever. Tile requires you to sign in to their app and access your location settings. It is a bit more involved, but it is still a simple process to get set up with the app. It is also worth mentioning that both trackers have voice recognition support. Tile supports Siri, Alexa, and Google assistant while AirTag only supports Siri.

Because it is built around proprietary software, the AirTag can only be used with iOS and iPadOS operating systems, limiting it to Apple devices. Tile, on the other hand, is compatible with Android, Windows, and IOS. This gives consumers a few more choices. And that’s not the only choice Tile gives you.

Size and Variation

There is a whole lineup of Tile users to choose from that vary in size and price. The two that are often compared are the Tile Pro and Tile Sticker. The Tile Pro is oval-shaped and about 7.5mm thick. It is also the loudest of the Tile lineup and, in terms of feature set, the most comparable to AirTag. Tile Sticker is closest in size and price, but it is quite a bit smaller than AirTag.

The other two models are the Tile Mate (a smaller, more streamlined version of the pro that can attach to your keys or lanyard), and the Tile Slim (a rectangular-shaped Tile that is just a little thicker than the average credit card). The latter model is perfect for wallets or clips. Unlike AirTag, you can also activate your Tile device, and it will make your phone ring. This is something that many Apple users have hoped would come with AirTag.

Despite the variations in form factor, Tile is still a bit lagging in the durability category. The stainless-steel back of the AirTag gives it a distinct advantage, and it can withstand a lot more punishment than its opponent. The two both have IP67 water resistance, so they can handle being completely submerged in one meter of water for 30 minutes. AirTag batteries are capable of lasting up to one year and they are replaceable after that. Only the Tile Pro features a one-year replaceable battery, but the other three models guarantee their batteries for up to three years.

Apple-AirTag
Apple released its first AirTag in April 2021.

Tile vs AirTags Anti-Trust Issues

We’ve outlined a lot of the ways that AirTag and Tile are different, but the two do still share a ton of similarities. In fact, when Apple announced the AirTag, Tile was furious; they petitioned Congress to hold an Anti-trust hearing against Apple. This is not the first time that Apple has come under fire for allegedly anti-competitive behavior.

Other tech giants like Google, and video game developer Epic Games, have brought forth accusations that Apple’s business practices are designed to shut out any competition. Tile’s main complaint is that Apple is creating products based on Tile’s longstanding products. This would give Apple an unfair advantage, as it can design its hardware and software to work better together than any other third-party company, therefore shutting the door to the iPhone and iPad market for Tile.

This article is meant to compare these two tracking devices so that readers like you can make a well-informed buying decision, so I won’t wade into talking about the ethics of Apple’s business practices here. I would like to say, however, that this is worth knowing when making your decision. Apple’s products might be great now, but if they are the only game in town, will they stay that way? Food for thought!

Anti-Stalking Features

Unfortunately, anti-competitiveness is not the only thing the tech giant has had to contend with. With any device that deals with location services, you are bound to deal with digital stalking. Apple has made efforts to make AirTag safer. There is a feature that makes the device chirp when it is away from its registered owner for a long period of time. You can also turn the back of the AirTag counterclockwise to turn off the tracking feature if needed.

Earlier this year, Tile released a new feature to combat digital stalking called Scan and Secure. This feature works by scanning nearby areas to find other Tile devices and alerts you when there are other Tiles in the vicinity. In order to use this feature, you need to be logged into the app, have Bluetooth and location tracking on, and enable precise location on your device. So, while it’s a step in the right direction, both companies need to do some serious work on safety features.

Tile vs AirTag: Five Must-Know Facts

Before we wrap up, let’s quickly run through what we know so far.

  • AirTag has the advantage when it comes to setup and features, but it is limited to Apple devices.
  • Tile offers much more versatility in both compatibility and form factors.
  • AirTag is cheaper than Tile Pro at $29.99, but you can’t attach it to anything unless you buy a separate accessory, which can double the price.
  • AirTag and Tile Pro have one-year replaceable batteries, but other Tile models do not.
  • Both are IP67 water-resistant.

Tile vs AirTag: Which Should You Choose?

The Tile and AirTag are evenly matched at this point. What it really comes down to is compatibility. If you are an IOS user already, then it’s a no-brainer. The AirTag works great with iOS and has some impressive features that make it a great tracker. For anyone who isn’t an Apple user, it is ALSO a no-brainer! Tile offers more versatility and can be used across a wider range of products. Either way, you can’t really go wrong with either product.

Tile vs AirTag: Which is Best? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are AirTags cheaper than Tile?

On the surface, AirTag is cheaper than Tile Pro, it’s equivalent in features but don’t be fooled. But Tile includes a keyring hole you can use to attach it to your belongings. Apple demands you buy a separate accessory to do the same thing and this can almost double the price. So, when you take that into account Tile ends up being the cheaper option.

Which smart tag is best?

It comes down to compatibility. Apple users who have more than one IOS device will be thrilled with the impressive feature set and ease of use of the AirTag. For everyone else, Tile is the way to go. It offers much more versatility and can connect with any mobile OS available.

Are AirTags and Tile stickers the same size?

No, the AirTag is slightly bigger than the Tile Sticker. They are about the same thickness though so Tile Sticker still isn’t a great option for wallets or clips. Probably why the Tile Slim exists!

How long do AirTags last?

AirTag batteries can last up to 1-year and are replaceable after that. Tile Pro also has 1-year replaceable batteries but the rest of the Tile lineup does not.

re AirTags waterproof?

Yes, it is IP67 water-resistant. This means it can withstand being fully submerged in 1-meter deep water for up to 30 mins. Tile is also IP67 rated and capable of the exact same resistance.

What is the lawsuit about Tile and AirTag?

When Apple released the AirTag, Tile very quickly called foul. Accusing Apple of anti-competitive behavior. They claim that Apple is creating a device that is very similar to their longstanding product in order to shut them out of the IOS market. Apple is able to use its own software to make sure that the AirTag offers a better experience and Tile can’t keep up.

How do I stop AirTag from tracking me?

If you turn the stainless steel bit on the back counterclockwise it will shut off tracking. To do the same on Tile you have to go into the app and shut it off there.

What are the dangers of Tile and AirTag tracking?

Like with any tech that provides location tracking there is a risk of digital stalking. Because Tile and AirTag rely on users to create their networks there is some concern that users can abuse the information and use it for stalking. Earlier this year, Tile released a feature called Scan and Secure to combat this but there are still plenty of improvements that need to be made.

  • AirTag vs. Tile: Which Bluetooth Tracker Should You Choose? Available here: https://www.pcmag.com/news/airtag-vs-tile-which-bluetooth-tracker-should-you-choose
  • Tile's Website Available here: https://www.thetileapp.com/en-us/
  • Why Apple’s latest gadget is catching the attention of antitrust regulators Available here: https://www.vox.com/recode/22395840/apple-airtags-tile-tracker-antitrust-regulators
  • Tile launches its anti-stalking safety feature in its mobile app Available here: https://techcrunch.com/2022/03/17/tile-launches-its-anti-stalking-safety-feature-in-its-mobile-app/
  • Apple's Website Available here: https://www.apple.com/airtag/
  • AirTag vs. Tile Buyer's Guide Available here: https://www.macrumors.com/guide/airtag-vs-tile/