AirTag vs Tile iPhone battery life
April 20, 2021 1:17 PM   Subscribe

I tried using Tile last year but returned it pretty quickly because I found it resulted in poor battery life with my iPhone. Based on the technologies it uses (e.g. UWB) will AirTags be any better?
posted by wutangclan to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Apple says the Air Tag is designed to last more than a year on its replaceable CR2032 battery. The footnote regarding the one year battery life specifies that "Battery life based on an everyday use of four play sound events and one Precision Finding event per day. Battery life varies with usage, environmental conditions, replacement battery manufacturer, and many other factors; actual results will vary."
posted by RichardP at 1:28 PM on April 20, 2021

Response by poster: Clarification: I'm asking about the AirTag's impact on the battery life of the iPhone, vs with Tile. I found that the iPhone battery would drain much more quickly, perhaps because GPS reception was always active.
posted by wutangclan at 1:35 PM on April 20, 2021

A newer Tile widget will use UWB (cite), though no word on specific time to release. It might be easier to do an apples-to-apples comparison on time-to-recharge impact, when both products are using the same underlying technology.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:55 PM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m not sure if anyone outside of Apple knows for sure yet. However, Apple’s tech spec page for Airtags claims that Airtags are "efficient, so thereʼs no need to worry about battery life or data usage.” Moreover, since Apple controls the operating system and designed the U1 chips exactly for this purpose, they are almost certainty doing things to reduce the drag on your phone’s battery life that Tile can’t currently do. So, wait for the reviews to come out if you want to be sure. But I would bet that using/enabling Airtags will result in a much smaller drag on your phone's battery than actively using the Tile app currently does.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 1:58 PM on April 20, 2021

I just never let the tile app start, or hook into notifications, and it doesn't run in the background. Does not seem to interfere, and I can still fire it up and use it when I need to find my keys the cat knocked under the table.
posted by nickggully at 1:58 PM on April 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

Tile uses Bluetooth, whereas AirTag uses the UWB protocol, so power consumption should be less. I haven't seen any comparisons yet, though.

Tile says they'll be releasing a UWB version soon, btw.
posted by theory at 2:02 PM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Are you asking about the battery usage on your phone when your phone is participating in the Apple Find My network or when you actively use the Find My app to locate a lost item that is attached to an Air Tag? If you are asking about the first case, keep in mind that by default if you have Find My iPhone enabled on your device your phone has been listening for UWB/Bluetooth broadcasts from other lost iPhones/devices since upgrading your phone to iOS 13 (although users can’t play a sound on an offline device or erase it remotely, they can use the location information uploaded to the Find My network in the background by other iPhones to help them find their lost device). So if have Find My iPhone turned on in your iPhone's settings, you already know what effect listening for Bluetooth broadcasts from lost devices has on your phone's battery life.
posted by RichardP at 2:15 PM on April 20, 2021

The finder network has been enabled since iOS 13 (Find My iPhone -> Find My Network) in settings. If you haven't noticed any extra battery drain since iOS 13, buying an AirTag isn't going to change that. The battery costs are negligible since uploads wait until the device is already awake and the network is up for other reasons (checking email, browsing, etc.).
posted by antijava at 7:25 PM on April 26, 2021

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