Chipolo is a company that makes Bluetooth trackers. These small gadgets — also known as key finders — allow users to locate keys, wallets, and other personal items through a connected smartphone app. Chipolo offers a number of different trackers.
We’re concentrating on the Chipolo Classic in this review, which Chipolo describes as “an upgraded version of our popular previous model.” The Classic is available in six colors and has a replaceable battery. The other current tracking option from Chipolo is the Chipolo Plus. Both trackers are $25, but Chipolo Plus is water-resistant, and louder than the Classic. On the downside, the Plus tracker’s battery is not replaceable.
Both trackers work with the Chipolo app, which is available for Apple’s iOS devices through the App Store, and for Android devices through the Google Play store. Both the Classic and the Plus have a typical Bluetooth tracker look — they’re small discs with a built-in hole for sliding the tracker onto a key ring.
How It Works
Bluetooth trackers are gradually becoming more popular as a way to keep track of your keys, wallet, and other personal items. But how do they work?
A Bluetooth tracker — or key finder — is essentially a small accessory that attaches to an item of your choice and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The tracker’s phone app tells you where the tracker is — or was last seen. If you’re in Bluetooth range, you can direct the tracker to beep, right from your phone. Lots of trackers, including Chipolo, also offer “reverse finding,” as it were — press the tracker itself and your phone will ring. So while your tracker may be a key finder, it will also work as a phone finder.
As useful as all of this is for tracking down missing keys around the house, it may not be as helpful if you leave your tracked item away from home, far out of Bluetooth range. Bluetooth trackers can still help in a few ways in this situation, though. First off, your phone should always be linked to the tracker, so your tracker’s app should be able to tell you the last location it registered for the item. Which is good, but it may not be enough — especially if the item was stolen, or if it’s been moved.
See Our Roundup Of The Best Bluetooth Trackers Here
This is where the tracker’s crowd network comes into play. If your Chipolo tracker is lost, you can mark it as missing — doing so will put out a signal that allows other Chipolo users to find your item. Other users don’t have to actively search for your missing tracker, either. Just as you run the app in the background on your phone, other users are doing the same. Anyone running the Chipolo app who comes into range of the tracker will notify you, unbeknownst to them. Unlike some other trackers, Chipolo’s “found” notification comes via email. You’ll then see the tracker’s location on a map.
It’s important to note that while many people refer to Bluetooth trackers as key finders, there are a number of other uses. Outside of your keys or wallet, some users may want to attach a tracker to their pet’s collar, a piece of luggage, a backpack, a bike, or much more. The possibilities are vast, and you can always get multiple trackers.
We used Chipolo’s iOS app, which we found to be clean and well designed. Users can switch between a list of connected trackers and a map view, which shows the current locations of said trackers.
The additional menus within the app allow users to add more connected Chipolos, as well as add “named locations” to the app. This will let users mark certain trackers as “at home” or “at work,” for instance. It’s a minor feature, but a welcome one.
When users click on the ellipsis button for each connected Chipolo, they’ll find an option to customize that tracker — you can change each Chipolo tracker’s name, ringtone, and tag, the last of which shows which item is being tracked with that specific Chipolo tracker. (For instance, you can tag your tracker as “Keys,” “Backpack,” “Luggage,” and much more.)
Additionally, users can share Chipolos with friends or family. Through an email invite, you can add other users who are able to see where your tracker is. This not only allows Chipolo to, essentially, act as a tracker for a person, but it also allows these additional users to find the tracked items.
Another neat touch is Chipolo’s selfie feature. You can tap Take Selfie within the menu, and your phone’s front camera will open. You can then take a selfie by giving the tracker itself a double tap, allowing your Chipolo to act as a remote Bluetooth shutter. Added features like this aren’t worth the price of admission alone, but they could be a deciding factor for a consumer comparing multiple tracking options.
As mentioned earlier, Chipolo offers a crowdfinding feature, which the company calls Community Search. If a fellow Chipolo user walks by your lost Chipolo tracker, you’ll receive an email pointing to its recorded location. Unlike competing trackers Tile and TrackR, Chipolo doesn’t seem to make any claims about the size of its community, so it’s hard to immediately get a sense of how effective the Community Search tool may be.
Chipolo offers a unique feature through its website — you can actually log into the site to check your phone’s location. You’ll be given the chance to make your phone ring, or to send a message to your phone’s lock screen. This particular feature requires users to sign up online, either by making a Chipolo Community account, or by signing in with Facebook or Google account credentials.
Bluetooth Range And Battery Life
Both Chipolo Classic and Chipolo Plus boast Bluetooth range of 200 feet, which is on the higher end of what most Bluetooth trackers offer. We found that Chipolo Classic didn’t quite live up to that billing — the range seems to fall below what Tile’s Sport and Style trackers offer (those trackers also claim a 200 ft. range). Keep in mind that walls and floors within a building, among other objects, can limit range.
Chipolo Classic and Chipolo Plus differ when it comes to battery options, which makes sense both for Chipolo and for consumers. The Classic tracker offers nine months of battery life — which isn’t fantastic, but is certainly acceptable — and the battery is replaceable.
Chipolo claims that Chipolo Plus gets a year of battery life, but the battery is not replaceable. Instead, you’re basically trading the Classic’s replaceable battery feature for water resistance and a louder tracker melody (the Plus can ring at 100 dB compared to Classic’s 92 dB).
We found that our Chipolo Classic always reconnected quickly and the app proved to be quite responsive after weeks of use. We didn’t see any issues with our connection when in range, either, so we believe Chipolo is making a dependable tracker.
It’s worth noting that the plastic tracker can get scuffed up a bit, especially around the key ring. You’re probably not buying a tracker for its aesthetic appeal, but if you are, Tile’s trackers would be a better option.
Who It Might Be Good For
- Users who want the option of a replaceable battery (Classic) or water-resistant, louder tracker (Plus).
- Users who want a clean, responsive app.
- Users who want to be able to find their phone using a website.
Who It Might Not Be Good For
- Users who want the best app or Bluetooth range available.
- Users seeking a stylish Bluetooth tracker.
In some ways, Chipolo seems to offer the best of both worlds when compared to other leading trackers on the market. You can opt for the more practical Classic, with its replaceable battery, or pay the same $25 for the slightly larger Plus, with its water resistance and louder alert melody. Some users may opt for both options — perhaps using the Plus for keys and the Classic for one or more other items — and both could be tracked by the same app. You can buy the trackers in packs, too, which reduces the per-tracker price.
We don’t really know how strong Chipolo’s crowd finding community is, and we doubt it compares to those of Tile and TrackR. Nevertheless, we think Chipolo makes a top rate Bluetooth tracker which deserves heavy consideration from consumers. We can vouch for the Classic through our testing, and the Plus is likely of similar quality. Both trackers can be purchased from Chipolo’s website, as well as other websites and in certain retail locations.
Editor’s Note: Some sections of this review explaining Bluetooth trackers were borrowed from other reviews on this site.