TrackR Pixel vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Pro: Best Bluetooth Tracker 2019
After months of testing, I found Tile Pro to be the best Bluetooth tracker by a wide margin because of its superior range, robust sound, and a huge community of users. TrackR Pixel can be found for just 15, but it’s cheaply made, has a terrible app, and the batteries only last two months.
I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing three Bluetooth trackers (TrackR Pixel vs. Tile Mate vs. Tile Pro) while evaluating five categories: range, software, battery, sound, and design.
Tile Pro (2018)
- Range: It has 300ft of Bluetooth range. It’s a huge upgrade over TrackR Pixel.
- Software: The app is fantastic, and the community is equally excellent.
- Battery: The battery is guaranteed to work for a year, then a new battery (CR2032) is $2 after it dies.
- Sound: It’s much louder than TrackR Pixel.
- Design: It shows more craftsmanship. It comes in black and white.
Best for you if...
You care about actually finding your lost items. Tile Pro is $20 more than TrackR, but it has triple the range, louder volume and exponentially better build quality. These are worthy upgrades. If you’re not willing to spend the extra $20 for additional assurance, you shouldn’t be buying a Bluetooth tracker in the first place.
Tile Mate (2018)
- Range: It’s advertised as a 150ft range from your phone, but I found you need to be in the same room.
- Software: The app is excellent, and the community is large.
- Battery: The battery is guaranteed to work for a year, then a new battery (CR1632) is $2 after it dies.
- Sound: It’s quieter than TrackR devices but loud enough.
- Design: Mate is 35mm x 35mm x 6.2mm. It feels well made and there’s a circle cutout. The battery door is nice.
Best for you if...
You want the Tile brand without as much reliability. Tile Mate isn’t a bad product, and it's great that the batteries can be replaced with the 2018 version, but when you can get an extra 100ft of range and a louder speaker for an extra $10 with Tile Pro, it doesn't make sense to not upgrade.
- Range: It’s advertised as a 100ft range from your phone, but I found you need to be in the same room.
- Software: The app is okay, but the community is much smaller than Tile’s.
- Battery: TrackR sends free replacement batteries for life, but randomly and often, and you have to email TrackR.
- Sound: It's louder than Tile Mate, but the Tile Pro is much louder.
- Design: It's the size of a quarter, and made of cheap plastic that's hard to open to swap batteries.
Best for you if...
You want to pretend you’re tracking your devices, but don’t actually care if they’re found. The point of these devices is to eliminate the anxiety of not knowing where your stuff is, but TrackR doesn't do this because you never know if the batteries are working.
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Why listen to me?
- I’ve been obsessed with gadgets since I was eight years old.
- I bought each device with MY money.
- I’ll update this post frequently because my opinions change.
- I don’t have insider access. I’m just like you, the everyman.
- Bluetooth trackers aren’t magic. They use low-powered Bluetooth, rather than GPS, meaning you can only locate something within 100ft (advertised) or 40ft (my real life tests).
- You can ring your tracker if it’s within Bluetooth range. Otherwise, it’ll show the last known location.
- Your phone’s Bluetooth has to be on, and the app has to be open. If you close the app, it stops tracking (it needs to be working in the background). Closing apps is a bad habit of mine because there’s no need to close apps on iOS devices.
- The apps use a significant amount of background data and battery. Also, they use your location data for marketing and other reasons. Collecting location data isn’t unique; most apps do it. The difference is Bluetooth tracking apps don’t work if your location data is disabled, so you don’t have the option to disable it.
- If you press the button on the trackers, your phone will make a noise (if it’s within Bluetooth range) to help you locate it.
- If you lose your keys or wallet, you can let the community know your item is lost, and when people with the app come across your item, you’ll be notified.
- You can use Alexa or Google Home to find your devices.
- You can’t put them on your cars or pets, despite what the Internet might tell you.
- Tile Pro supposedly gets over 300ft of range if in clear sight. Other reviewers say it’s closer to 150ft in reality. I’ve found its range spans from one end of my house to the other. It’s a noticeable upgrade over Tile Mate and TrackR Pixel.
- Tile Mate advertises a 150ft range from your phone and Tile for the ringer to work, but other reviewers say it’s about 70ft. In my tests (in the real world with walls and drawers), I’ve found you’ll need to be in the same room or maybe one room over for it to work.
- Since Tile’s inception, you’d need to buy a new device, each year, because the battery wasn’t replaceable. I was one of the few people who didn’t hate this strategy and here’s what I said previously, “Tile offers a better solution than TrackR because there’s no battery anxiety and you can upgrade to the newest technology every year for a discount.”
- The newest Tile Mate and Tile Pro are guaranteed to work for one year with their original batteries, and I can vouch for that because they use the same battery as the older generations.
- Why aren’t I criticizing Tile for replaceable batteries now? Tile found a way to make their batteries work for a full year, unlike TrackR devices that turn out to be wildcards.
- Tile Pro is 128 decibels and much louder than Tile Mate (119 decibels) and TrackR Pixel.
- Tile Mate is quieter than TrackR Pixel.
- You have eight ringtone options.
- All Tile trackers are lightweight with a quality build and design that’s miles ahead of TrackR. I’m sure not everyone cares, but I value craftsmanship.
- Tile Pro: 42mm x 42mm x 6.5mm and 15.5 grams. (It comes in white and black.)
- Tile Mate: 35mm x 35mm x 6.2mm and 7 grams.
- It’s easy to remove the battery covers, but it’s going to fall off inadvertently.
- Tile Pro and Tile Mate are only splash proof. This is disappointing because Tile Sport and Tile Style were fully waterproof last year. This is the only disadvantage to their new replaceable battery strategy.
- There’s a web app to track your phone. (Although, you can’t track your Tiles with the web app, and Apple already has phone tracking with Find My iPhone.)
- Tile’s community is much bigger than that of any other tracker. For reference, in my small town of 30,000 people, there are 160 Tiles but only four TrackR devices. That’s important for Tile’s Community Find feature. There’s a much greater chance someone else will find your lost item.
- Tile is the only tracking device with an Apple Watch app. It’s not a throwaway app; it’s useful for locating the Tile.
- Tile’s not only making tracking devices, but they’re also building a platform. Bose, Samsonite, and other companies are implementing Tile’s technology directly into their items. Hypothetically, you could locate every item you own inside Tile’s app without buying any Tiles. Bose will implement this with a firmware update for the Bose SoundSport Wireless and QC30 headphones.
- Tile has an optional service called “Tile Premium” for $30/year. It’s not something most people should buy, but if you go this route, here’s what you’ll get:
- You get free batteries for life. Considering the CR2032 is only $2, it’s not a huge benefit, but it’s nice to know the new batteries will show up on your doorstep without requesting them.
- Smart Alerts with geofencing will alert you when you leave locations without your Tile by your side.
- A three-year warranty with premium customer support.
- You can give your friends or family access to your Tile so they can help you find it when it’s missing. It’s a smart idea because it increases your chances of finding it.
- TrackR Pixel advertises a 100ft range from your phone and TrackR for the ringer to work but other reviewers say it’s about 50ft. In my tests (in the real world with walls and drawers), I’ve found you’ll need to be in the same room or maybe one room over for it to work.
- TrackR’s pitch over Tile has been that the batteries are replaceable, but now that Tile devices have replaceable batteries that last a full year, what’s TrackR’s pitch?
- TrackR sends batteries to you for free when you’re running low. But getting the battery out of TrackR Pixel is not easy. I still can’t do it after following their tutorial, and I’m not the only one who struggled based on the number of downvotes on their YouTube videos. Also, you’ll set off the phone locator button when you use their method. (Battery replacement on TrackR Bravo is easy.)
- The batteries only last a couple of months with minimal usage, even less if you use it frequently. What happens if you forget to switch out the batteries? You don’t have a tracker. That creates unnecessary anxiety.
- The batteries in my TrackR Pixel arrived with no juice. Based on Amazon reviews, that’s happened to other customers as well.
- The battery tracker in the app isn’t accurate and is always changing.
- TrackR Pixel is louder than Tile Mate, but the Tile Pro models are way louder than TrackR devices.
- If you’re looking for something small and unobtrusive, TrackR is your best best.
- TrackR Pixel has flashing LED lights. This seems useless but might help in some unusual circumstances.
- TrackR devices feel cheesy and aren’t well-built and not waterproof. There’s no point to TrackR to save money if can’t outlast Tile. This observation is based on calculations rather than real life experience. I’ll update this post once I’ve used it for longer.
- TrackR has a community feature called Crowd Locate. The only problem is its network is small. There are four TrackR users in my town. That could change, but right now the community feature is useless. Another issue is the Crowd Locate notification goes off every time your phone comes in contact with your TrackR. You only want notifications if something is lost. I don’t need alerts every time I leave a room in my house.
- There are separation alerts with geofencing. You’ll be notified when your phone gets too far away from the tracker. There are “WiFi Safe Zones” so you won’t get a warning when you’re connected to your home’s WiFi. The geofencing and safe zones don’t work well and substantially decrease the battery life, but it’s a smart concept. It’ll be a massive breakthrough for the company that can perfect letting me know I’ve left a product behind before I think of it.