If you’ve lost your phone or other belongings, you can track them down with tech. Read more on Bluetooth trackers from Tile and Chipolo, and Apple’s Find my iPhone tool.
If you’re regularly misplacing your phone, wallet or keys, perhaps it’s time to do something about it. There are lots of ways to track down your lost belongings, whether you’re using a stick-on Bluetooth tracker, a free service such as Find my iPhone or a mobile security app.
Below, we’ve taken a closer look at some popular Bluetooth trackers on the market from Tile and Chipolo.
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The £30 Tile Slim is a mini, square-shaped Bluetooth tracker that can slip neatly into your wallet. If you misplace something you’ve attached Tile to and it’s within 30 metres, you can find it using sound with the Tile app for Android and iOS. When you tell it to, the tracker itself will make a buzzing noise – handy if there’s something wedged down the side of the sofa.
Otherwise, you can use the Community feature, which notifies you if other Tile owners come within range of your item.
Tile’s maker says the Slim’s battery will last for a year. If you’ve lost your phone, you can press the button on the Tile to make your mobile ring. It’s only water resistant, not waterproof, so don’t expect it to survive a long dip.
The Tile Mate works in the same way as the Slim, but it’s a little smaller and a fraction lighter. It uses the same app to help you find things, and it will run for a full year with no charging required.
If you pair your mobile with your Tile and then lose your phone, you can log on to the Tile website and see its last known location. From the desktop site, you can make your phone ring or send a lock-screen message – handy if somebody has picked it up and needs to know how to return it.
The Mate will cost you £23 (cheaper than the Tile Slim). It has a claimed range of around 30 metres, but the manufacturer says it’s most effective at 10 metres. There are a couple of accessories on offer for the Tile Mate and Tile Slim. You can grab some adhesive stickers, zip straps and iron-on pockets to hold the tracker. Like the Slim, this model is water resistant.
The Chipolo is an alternative to the Tile, but it does the same job. Its maker says this tracker can work from a distance of 200 feet (around 60 metres), so in theory it can top the Tile Slim and Tile Mate. Double-pressing the Chipolo will make your phone ring (even if it’s on silent), and the mobile app is also supported by the Apple Watch. A map on the app will tell you where and when you last synced the tracker.
As with Tile, you can use the user community to help you find your stuff. Other people won’t know you’re looking for a lost item, but their phone will act as an extra pair of virtual eyes during the hunt. A single Chipolo Plus will cost you £20.99 on the official website. It’s water resistant, with a battery said to last a year.
Our table below shows how these Bluetooth trackers compare in terms of price, range and battery life.
Find my iPhone
Lost your iPhone? Don’t fret, because you can use Apple’s Find My iPhone to pinpoint your mobile on a map. After spending some time with the devices above, we’ve found that Apple’s service is more reliable than its Bluetooth tracker competitors.
Assuming you’ve configured Find my iPhone before you lose your mobile, you can use it to lock your screen remotely and display a message to show to somebody that might have picked it up. The message you share can be customised, so you could use it to note down a second number for somebody to contact you on. If you’d rather eliminate any chance of somebody using your lost phone, you can use Remote Erase. As the name implies, this wipes all your personal data.
We’ve been hard at work reviewing Apple’s latest phones in our test lab. Head over to our iPhone 7 review and iPhone 7 Plus review for our thoughts. Our complete guide to the latest iPhones will also help you pick the perfect model for you.
Mobile security apps
You might want to consider downloading a mobile security app for that extra peace of mind. Not only will you be protected against online nasties and viruses, but you may also be able to track lost tech. We’ve reviewed many well-known security apps in our test lab, including McAfee (right), which lets you remotely wipe information from your device in case of emergency.
Not every mobile security app we’ve tested does an effective job of keeping you safe. Head over to our mobile security app reviews page for our expert verdict on the latest apps.