Tile Responds To Criticism Of Unreplaceable Battery

Tile Responds To Criticism Of Unreplaceable Battery

Earlier this week, I wrote about how I’m rethinking my recommendation of the Tile trackers because of the finite battery life and how the battery cannot be replaced. Tile has sent a response to that article. What do you think? Are their responses reasonable?

Tile’s decisions basically come down to a decision to design their products. And while the company does offer a “reTile” program, where you can trade your old Tile in for a new one, at least one reader mentioned the freight costs made that prohibitive for Australians.

Here are Tile’s responses:

Why don’t you just design a version with a changeable battery?

A product’s design is a reflection of priorities and values. We made this choice because we feel it gives the most benefits to users. Tile only works when the batteries work, so we guarantee that Tile will work uninterrupted for one full year. During that year, we don’t want Tilers to worry about replacing or recharging coin-cell batteries. Simply, set it up and go. When the one year is approaching, we’ll proactively tell you and give you member pricing to reTile.

By not having a replaceable battery, we’re also making Tiles safer and more durable. When you minimize the number of moving parts, there’s much less chance it will break, which also means kids and pets can’t get to the battery.

Why didn’t you make any improvements to the battery with the Pro Series? That must be the number one request from customers.

We designed Tiles to last for one year, guaranteed. During that year, you don’t have to worry at all about recharging or replacing the battery of your Tile – just use your Tile with peace of mind. Once your Tile approaches the one year mark, our reTile program allows you to easily replace your Tile and even upgrade to the latest version at a discount.

The battery is a tradeoff. While we were able to make significant battery improvements with the Tile Pro Series, those improvements were applied to battery-dependent functions including range and loudness. From our consumer research, we know that range and loudness are the top requested features so it was important to us to make those improvements without compromising our guaranteed battery life of one-year.

What do you think? Are these reasonable compromises?


  • where you can trade your old Tile in for a new one

    It’s worse then that, you still have to pay for the new one, you get a %40 discount, if you mail back your old tile using the envelope they provide of course or they’ll charge you full price.

    This is essentially a subscription service hidden under the guise of engineering and customer care, nothing but a profit based decision to go the route of 100% planned obsolescence to get more then one pay cheque from each customer vs a single one and letting the customers change batteries, which would be fine if they were upfront about it.

    article on the decent alternatives that aren’t a subscription service would be great right now ha

    • Tile should be honest, non- replaceable battery is profit motivated only. Replaceable button batteries exist everywhere else, watches, small clocks, hearing aids, calculator, key fobs, etc.. Tile could certainly engineer a case with just, if not greater, security battery replacement as a watch. The warrantee is obvious, its warranted while its working, and warrantee expires just prior its predetermined failure. Buy, throw away, and buy more!

    • So I just bought a tile 4 pack on amazon prime day. A 4 pack for the cost of 1. That’s the only reason I got it. So we’ll see.

      I already own a competing product Orbit, which is a little thicker but still small and sleek. And you can replace the battery. However the battery only lasts for maybe 3 months.

      If the tile really works for a full year then for $25 for a 4 pack every year on prime day, I would consider that. Orbit doesn’t tell you that you should replace the battery, so you end up finding out it’s dead the hard way.

      If tile doesnt consume any or much battery until activated then that would mean I could use this 4 pack on my keys for 4 years assuming the battery doesnt have a short shelf life.

      I also think, using tile for a day, that the app is better which at the end of the day might make all the difference. I’ll have to see if it works consistently day by day.

      I certainly think this is a subscription model baked into the product. You can find videos of replacing the tile battery at the expense of mangling the shell. So unless there’s something magical about the batteries they use, there shouldn’t be a good reason why you can’t replace them.

  • Gota get that sweet sweet subscription model money rolling in. $50 bucks a year, or $50 one-off. Thats the only reason it doesn’t have a replaceable battery.

  • There’s no excuse in 2017 for anyone to make a disposable device like this. Of course, the onus rests with the people who purchase such a device, there will always be many people who just don’t care if they throw these in the garbage every year.

  • I would like to see them offer the option of having a rechargeable Tile.

    As mentioned in the previous post, I currently have a Tile-run Keysmart Pro, which has approximately a 2-3 week battery life, but I can charge it with a micro-usb. It really isn’t that much of an inconvenience.

    On the other hand, I haven’t been overly impressed with the connection between my phone and the KeySmart, with it not connecting with my phone for > 3 hours while I went from Ikea, to my house, to my folks house. I checked the app and it still said I was at Ikea and not connected to my phone. Once I opened the app it reconnected, but had I lost my keys… basically useless.

  • There’s only one valid reason they provided: not letting kids or pets get access to what I assume to be some sort of button cell battery. If ingested these can be fatal.

    Still not a justification for making them all like that though, and I don’t know if I’d put a Tile on my pet anyway.

    • Genuinely curious, are these riskier than AA/AAA batteries? If not their point is somewhat a moot point, as there’d be as much chance they could eat remote batteries (with the exception you actually put it on your dog)

      • I’d have to research it further but given the new guidelines are specifically for button cell batteries I guess not. The issue is when they lodge in the oesophagus from memory – this causes them to discharge and damage the tissues, eventually perforating the oesophagus. It only happens if it lodges in there, but the risk is higher with little kids due to their anatomy. If the cell passes through without lodging it’s not dangerous.

        I don’t know if kids (or dogs) would be inclined to eat a AA or AAA cell versus a CR2032. I’d have to research further to see if it has the same clinical effects.

    • I was given two tiles as a gift in 2016, which I replaced earlier this year. With the freight cost to Australia it was cheaper to buy new tiles on Ebay than replace them from Tile. Sadly making them a disposable item.

      I’m not planning on continuing to use them after the battery runs out. Would be interested in a rechargeable alternative though.

      • You can use TrackR which has a replaceable battery. It is what I intend to use next time around. The Tile looks more elegant and has a much larger user base, making it more likely if your item is lost it can be found.

  • Given that button batteries are in devices all over the place anyway, and that my dog is more likely to eat a Tile than an exposed battery, I don’t buy their comments.

  • Why not just use wireless charging tech, you get all the advantages of not having a battery compartment and you can still charge the device. I think people would rather pay a little more then needing to buy a new one every year.

  • planned obsolescence – crappy business model and should not be supported. If your product is good enough, people will keep buying it. If you need to force people to buy from you, they will jump at the first competitor that doesn’t suck as much as you.

  • Yeah I find this quite wasteful! They seem quite sensitive about the battery issue. I made a comment about their battery on a FB post, and Tile contacted me via FB Messenger to defend their product and justify their single use product. It certainly seems like a scam….

  • TrackR or NutTag are viable alternatives with replaceable batteries, although not a guaranteed 1 year battery life (i would hope they give low battery alerts), NutTag also have a heavy duty rechargeable GPS tracking with cellular data for pets and kids.

    I’m tempted to go that route, i’ve misplaced my keys and wallet numerous times in the last few weeks (if only id put them in the same place every time and out of reach of the kids)

  • 1) It’s their business model. If you don’t like it, buy something else or start a competitor … that is viable.
    2) No one said Tile don’t recycle so why assume it all goes in the bin?
    3) A sealed unit is easier to make dust/water proof.
    4) Shipping in Aus… I see that as a business opportunity. Why not become a local distributor? Have an inventory that you buy in bulk and sell as required. If you can come to an arrangement with Tile, you could probably beat eBay prices.

  • I have a set that’s just run over the 12 months it’s $74 to buy another 4 through re-tile or $120 from a local store so the savings there, although Aus is not eligible for recycling.
    Considering I can get a new (rip off) Land Rover (and most others) car key fob from Ebay for $50 and programme myself, makes the use of Tile mostly for convenience for lost keys….
    I do question whether or not I lose my keys enough to justify $74/yr.
    The app works best when more people own a Tile and use the app, so can see where the subscription thing comes in there….

    I’d try TrackR as some others have mentioned, but not after reading these appalling reviews:
    At first i thought it was all people assuming it was a gps tracker, but not, most of the complaints are about devices that stopped working after less than a month!!!

    Atleast Tile is a quality product, i’ll give it that!!!

  • Tiles greed is going to cost them a huge loss in market share. Because Tile was one of the first two market I bought a bunch of them and gave some to family and friends. However now that all of them have exhausted batteries myself and family members are defecting from the Tile brand. For the early adaptors who like the technology, they will realize the non replaceable battery is not a design feature but a scam for a hidden revenue model and will seek-out other brands that offer replaceable batteries. And by the way, the first company that introduces a locator device like a Tile that functions with the wireless cell phone charger, will dominate the industry!

    Tile will probably become the Nokia or Yahoo of the industry; meaning an innovative company who started a technology but did not listen to the customer and lost out to other companies who DO LISTEN to the customers.

  • The year replacement is a con.
    I opened up a couple of Tile ‘Classic’ trackers after two years. My phone said they needed replacement over 9 months ago. I checked the coin cell lithium battery, it is a CR2032 and was reading 3.25 Vdc. More than enough to keep going! They are 3.6 Vdc when new, 3 Vdc nominal, end of life is supposed to be 2.0 Vdc for most devices.
    I believe the year replacement is a fallacy, and just to keep a steady revenue for Tile. If you are not locating your tiles often and ringing them the battery does last more than a year.

  • I think the whole point of the model is that reselling the tiles pays for the service. All the tech connecting the tiles costs money. If they sold a tile once to everyone that would use one how would they pay to run the servers and what-not in the future? They have to factor into the price of the device the cost to support the service profitably.

  • I have several tiles and have just bought some new. As Tile say ‘it is not possible to know the life of a Tile’ as it depends upon when activated (in storage it uses less power until that point) and how often it is used – e.g. asked to make sound etc so do not assume that when Tile tell you, your tile is in fact ‘dead’ just check it occasionally, not too often as that will flatten the battery. I have another competitive product where the battery can be replaced but that has its’ own problems – smile. It IS a design option as they say!

  • Failure to provide a rechargeable, or, at least, a replaceable tile is completely profit motivated and environmentally irresponsible. I will never buy another tile ever again!

  • I travelled from Australia to the US in April and used my Tiles. I had attached one to the inside of my suitcase with a small and cheap locked padlock. They cut the padlock off and I found the Tile floating in the suitcase. I’ve since learned that Tile raises suspicions because it effectively makes the suitcase a ‘smart suitcase’ and the lithium batteries are not meant to fly. So I probably won’t use mine next trip. And yes, the whole subscription model is outdated. Disposability is a big issue and I think we’re way past that. Painting it like it’s doing us a favour is folly and seems like they’re insulting our intelligence.

  • I keep tiles in all my suitcases, wallets bags etc. and it gets really expensive to replace them. So instead I’ve replaced the batteries in a couple of the flat tiles with rechargeable ones. It’s pretty tricky to cut them open since they’re glued shut, but hey, you were gonna toss it anyway.
    They use these weirdo rectangular 3V batteries which you need to remove.
    I tried hooking up a CR2032, but it’s tricky if you don’t have a battery holder. Instead I just went with a rechargeable Li-ion battery. 4.2V didn’t seem to be a problem.
    However, getting the end-product to look nice is an entirely different matter. I just glued them shut again and hung a battery connector out.

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