Lost AirTag found in 30 minutes during test, Tile takes 12 hours

Airtag Review Hero
Airtag Review Hero (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • New tests have revealed the power of Apple's AirTag, and how easy it is for other users to reunite you with one if lost.
  • TechRadar tested both an AirTag and a Tile Mate to see which one would be discovered first.
  • The AirTag was found in just 30 minutes, whilst Tile's tracker took 12 hours.

New tests from our friends at TechRadar have revealed just how easy it is for Apple users to discover lost AirTags and reunite them with their owner.

In a report, TechRadar tested both AirTags and a Tile Mate, one of the best Bluetooth trackers around, to see which one would be found first by someone out in the community:

We decided to find out by deliberately leaving an AirTag and a Tile out of range of our smartphone, timing how long it took each to be discovered by other users. The AirTag has the user base, but Tile is the more entrenched solution - so which would be found first?

The test

TechRadar placed both "behind a street sign on a busy thoroughfare, around one mile from our home" at 9 am on a Monday morning. They returned home, marked both as lost, and then waited.

The Results

TR says that within just 30 minutes they had received a notification to say their lost AirTag had been identified by a passing iPhone:

Within just 30 minutes, a notification popped up with the location for the lost AirTag as it had been identified by a passing iPhone, although the location given was the road that runs parallel to where we'd originally placed it, even though it was still in the original spot.

The report says that the same alert was received 13 times in total from iPhones passing by that had identified the lost tracker. Importantly, the location given each time was slightly off, marking it on a nearby parallel road rather than where the AirTag was left. As the report notes, Apple's Precision Finding feature powered by Ultra Wideband technology would bridge this gap in location accuracy if you were trying to find your lost items.

By contrast, it was "almost 12 hours" before someone in the Tile community detected the missing Tile Mate (which was in the same spot) and sent off a notification to say the item had been found. In contrast to the AirTag however, the location given was much more accurate from AirTags.


TechRadar writes:

It's pretty clear to see that, if you are out of range of your keyfinder, you're likely to be reunited quicker with an AirTag than a Tile tracker, but that's because of the size of the communities in the area we tested it in.To detect an AirTag, an iPhone or iPad needs to be running iOS 14.5 - the most recent version of the operating system - and have the Find My iPhone feature turned on.

As the report notes, the proliferation of iOS, and in particular iOS 14 is such that AirTag is already a very powerful tracker despite being just a few weeks old thanks to Apple's FindMy technology and its ecosystem.

The case isn't open-and-shut however when it comes to AirTag versus its competitors, check out our guide below for the full lowdown.

Apple AirTags vs. Tile Mate: Which should you buy?

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9