The Tile Sport is definitely superior to the Tile Style.
Crucially, the new Tiles have twice the Bluetooth range of the previous version.
Bluetooth trackers are relatively simple devices. They use your phone’s GPS to determine their exact location and need to be within Bluetooth range to be rung remotely.
The Sport and Style can now be detected from up to 200 feet away in perfect conditions, and have the same year-long battery life as previous Tiles. Still, a 200-foot range is a best case scenario, where there’s no interference, and a direct line of sight between your phone and the tracker. A Bluetooth signal can be affected by a number of things, including Wi-Fi signals, people walking by, microwaves, office lighting, metal, concrete, and water (like fish tanks).
Both the Sport and Style have higher waterproof ratings.
The new Tiles are rated IP68, and are completely protected against dust and can withstand long-term underwater immersion in depths beyond 1 meter. The previous models, the Tile Mate and Slim, are rated IP57, which meant they are protected from limited dust exposure and protected from immersion up to 1 meter.
They’re also much louder than last year’s Tiles — and have volume control and a new hot/cold proximity meter, so you can stop annoying your roommate.
You still can’t change the Tile’s battery, which lasts at least one year.
The Tile’s biggest flaw is the way it handles its battery, which, to keep the tracker waterproof, is glued onto the device’s circuit board and can’t be changed. The entire device needs to be replaced after its battery is depleted.
The reTile program (which you’d need to proactively sign up for) allows you to trade in old Tiles for new Tiles at a discount, though the company has not said how much a discounted Tile Sport or Style would be. (The Tile Mate can be reTiled for $15, and its original price is $25)
What’s frustrating is that you can’t see how much battery is left in your Tile. When your Tile is low, you’ll get a notification to replace it, but you can’t see exactly how much percentage remains. The battery *is* guaranteed to last a full year, so if it doesn’t, you’re covered by the company’s warranty and can send it back to Tile for a new one.
The Trackr Pixel’s battery can be replaced (it also has LED lights for finding items in the dark) and has a battery life of about a year, though its community is smaller than Tile’s.
Who should get a Tile tracker?
Nicole Nguyen is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.