Is it better to buy an AirTag or a Tile tracker? Here's how they compare.

CNN (CNN) —

Tile is perhaps the most well-known Bluetooth tracker in the world of object tracking. Tile has made it simple to find products at different price points by offering many models to choose from and platform compatibility. With the $29 AirTag, Apple has entered the item-tracking game, and features like Precision Finding and Apple integration make it competitive with Tile.

Both use Bluetooth to monitor and link to a network of other devices that work together to pinpoint locations. Tile has a network of millions of devices, while Apple has a network that is approaching a billion devices. Neither has GPS and relies on the linked devices to assign a position as soon as the Bluetooth signal is detected.

The primary difference is the size of each network, which gives Tile cause to be concerned. Let's go over the main advantages and disadvantages of each tracker.

Who are these trackers for?

-Apple AirTag ($29; amazon.com): If you have an iPhone and want to monitor products, you can get an AirTag. AirTag is easy to use and integrates directly into Find My. Precision Finding will also be available to anyone who owns an iPhone 11 or later.

-Tile Tracker (starting at $19.99, down from $24.99 on Amazon.com and thetileapp.com): Those who mainly use Android (or prefer an OS-agnostic approach) should go with a Tile. You can choose from four different designs and will enjoy the built-in features. And, even though the network is smaller, it is still an accurate way to monitor objects.

AirTag: Apple's ecosystem, Precision Finding, and a more extensive finding network

If you have an iPhone, you can use AirTag. The assembly takes less than a minute, and no heavy lifting is necessary. You also don't need to create an account because the tracker is linked to your Apple ID. The entire experience is contained within the Find My app, making it simple to locate your AirTag and other Find My-enabled devices. It works in the same way you can monitor a Mac, Apple Watch, iPad, or even AirPods. The experience is simple and straightforward.

Tap the Items tab in the Find My app to display all of your AirTags on a map and quickly ping them. It's all built-in, to the point that you can ask Siri where one is or build a shortcut to access it quickly. For Tile, you'll need to open the Tile program, which is a little more clumsy. And, when it comes to regular tracking on a map, AirTags have proven to be more reliable than Tile trackers. Apple's network is made up of all the iPhones, iPads, Macs, and iPod Touches online — a figure that is approaching a billion. It has a larger network than Tile, which has millions of users.

Precision Finding with AirTag will be available if you have an iPhone 11 or later. When you're searching for an AirTag and have a general idea of where it is, you can use the app's Find feature to get turn-by-turn directions to it. The tracker's distance in feet and arrows on the screen will lead you to it, and it will change in real-time.

Apple's U1 Chip, which provides ultra-wideband support, enables Precision Finding. The newer iPhones mentioned above support this and can use it to determine the spatial location of the units. It also uses various other technologies (ARKit, Bluetooth, and sensors) to allow this function. Tile, which lacks ultra-wideband, is currently unable to compete.

Tile: Broad compatibility and multiple models to pick from

Tile is the clear winner in cross-platform compatibility, with support for Android, iOS, and Windows. Tile monitoring is also integrated into some gadgets, such as headphones and laptops, right out of the box. The Tile app is used for setup, and Bluetooth pairing is needed. It's simple enough, but it's not built into the base program like AirTags.

Whatever Tile you like, you'll have a simple way to stick it to something out of the box. That is something that the AirTag cannot fit and necessitates the purchasing of an accessory. And Tile has a few versions, which, while confusing, gives you more options. You also get the benefit of being able to ring your linked computer by pressing a button on a Tile. It's very useful and has assisted us in locating our phone.

-Sticker ($24.99, available at amazon.com and thetileapp.com): This is the smallest Tile, a black circle with a way to connect it right out of the box. The adhesive backside can be used. The Bluetooth range is standard, and the battery cannot be replaced.

-Mate ($19.99, down from $24.99; available at amazon.com and thetileapp.com): The original Tile has been renamed the Mate, and it now has a user-replaceable battery. It has a built-in key ring hole and maintains the traditional square shape that is splash-resistant against water.

-Pro ($29.99, down from $34.99; available at amazon.com and thetileapp.com): Tile Pro expands on the Mate's robust design and long-range Bluetooth. It has a key ring hole and a user-replaceable battery. Furthermore, the speaker within can emit a louder sound, which helps locate.

And, like AirTag (as well as Samsung's SmartTag or Chipolo), the primary tracking technology is Bluetooth. Essentially, the tracker can communicate with other devices on Tile's network, which helps to locate the tracker's location. The main problem is that Tile's network is much smaller and is dependent on Tile devices or those that have the app installed. It is in the millions, while Apple's is close to a billion.

You'll always be able to locate your tracker on a map, and if you have Tile Premium, you can even set warnings. The latter is a subscription service (beginning at $29.99 per year) that will send smart reminders if you leave anything behind and make your Tile eligible for a battery replacement. However, it is not necessary and does not improve the network, so it equalizes the playing field with AirTag.

Let's recap

The key promises of the AirTag and Tile trackers are nearly identical. With your smartphone, you'll be able to locate each tracker on a map with relative ease. Tile wins in the design category, with various models to choose from that include a way to attach right out of the box.

If you have an iPhone, however, the solution is to purchase an AirTag. The integration simplifies configuration, and all controls are accessible through the Find My app. You can also use Siri on your iPhone or HomePod Mini to locate the tracker. In our research for item locating, the Find My network covers more ground and is more reliable. If you have a newer iPhone, you will get more congruent tracking with Precision Finding. However, you will need to pair your $29 AirTag with an adapter.

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Is it better to buy an AirTag or a Tile tracker? Here's how they compare.