The new Chipolo One looks a lot like Chipolo's previous key finders, right down to its circular shape and multiple color options. (There are six different colors in all.) But this $25 tracker has a few tricks up its sleeve — including out-of-range alerts — to challenge Tile's position as one of the best key finders.
I've spent a couple of days testing the Chipolo One prior to its CES 2020 launch. I'll need to spend a little more time with this new key finder before coming to a final verdict, but the Chipolo One introduces a couple changes that makes it a formidable alternative to trackers like the Tile Pro and Tile Mate.
Chipolo One price
The Chipolo One competes in another key area with Tile's top-rated key finders — price. Chipolo is charging $25 for the Chipolo One. That's $10 less than the Tile Pro and the same price as the Tile Mate. But the current iteration of the Tile Mate is not as polished as the $35 Tile Pro, so that makes the Chipolo One a viable lower-cost alternative if you don't want to pay up for a key finder.
Chipolo One out-of-range alerts
The biggest change with the Chipolo One has nothing to do with the look and feel of the key finder. Chipolo says its new tracker has an updated shape with "a sleek curvature design," but if you stacked it next to the Chipolo Plus, I'd have a hard time telling the difference. Instead, Chipolo put its efforts into improving the features for the Chipolo One, including support for free out-of-range alerts.
Tile has such a feature for its family of trackers, but it's only available if you subscribe to Tile Premium, an optional service for $3 a month. With Chipolo, all you have to do is launch the Android or iOS app, select the object your tracking and scroll down to Out of Range Alerts. From there, it's just a matter of toggling the service on.
Chipolo One alarms
Previous Chipolo trackers have featured loud alarms, and the Chipolo One's is even louder, at 120 decibels. I could hear it from two rooms away, even when I buried the Chipolo One in a pile of laundry. Setting the Chipolo One next to the also loud Tile Pro, I sounded the alarms on each. They're both equally ear-splitting, and I don't think you'd have trouble hearing either key finder's alert.
Chipolo One battery
The Chipolo One uses a replaceable battery — a CR2032 that lasts about two years, Chipolo says. Replacing the battery means prying open the key finder using a narrow slit on the side. I was able to pop open the Chipolo One using a flat-head screwdriver, though I scuffed up the blue plastic casing when doing so. Still, I found swapping out a battery with the Chipolo One to be much easier than it was on the new Tile Mate, while not as elegant as the Tile Pro's approach.
Key finder meets selfie remote
A few other features return with the Chipolo One, such as the ability to use your key finder as a remote button to take a selfie from your smartphone. Just launch the camera from within the Chipolo app and press the key finder twice. You can also press the Chipolo One twice to find your phone if it's misplaced. A triggered phone will keep playing an alarm until you unlock your phone and launch the Chipolo app — other key finders with similar two-way find features usually let you just press the home button to turn off the alarm.
Chipolo One performance
Initial testing of the Chipolo One points to a key finder with decent, though not exactly class-leading range. I took the Chipolo One out to a busy public park, dropped it on the ground and saw how far I could walk away with my phone while still remaining in range of the tracker. Typically, I was able to stay in contact with the Chipolo One from 40 to 50 feet away, reaching up to 60 feet in some tests.
That's not a bad range, though it's slightly disappointing, given that Chipolo is listing a 200-foot range for the Chipolo One. What you get in the real world rarely reaches what key finders promise, given the vagaries of Bluetooth connectivity, but that's still a pretty big gap. I plan to continue testing to see if range improves in different settings.
The Chipolo One's range is also slightly less than what I got from the Chipolo Plus the last time I tested that key tracker. And it's dwarfed by the 200-plus feet of range I can regularly get when I use the Tile Pro. The cheaper Tile Mate's range is more comparable to what I saw from the Chipolo One, at least in my testing of both key finders.
There's some good news about Chipolo's performance. If you're in range of the tracker, you'll be able to hear its loud alarm, even over the din of a public park. And when I did lose my connection, I usually regained it after walking about 15 feet in the direction of the tracker. Chipolo's app also includes a map showing you where you last left the device: it's not precise, but it can be helpful if you've left something behind at a location that's attached to a Chipolo One.
I've been somewhat impressed by the Chipolo One's out-of-range alerts, which have consistently alerted me when I've left my keys behind at home. Usually, those alerts arrive in the form of notifications about three minutes after I've left the house. The notification flashes up on my iPhone's screen, and there's a little chime that plays if my phone isn't in silent mode. (It just buzzes briefly if I do have the phone silenced, which is less helpful.)
On the whole, I've found Chipolo's approach to be more consistent than what's available from the Tile Premium alerts, and Chipolo's are free to boot. But I do want to continue testing to see how those alerts work when I leave my keys behind somewhere other than my house.
The Tile Pro is the cream of the crop when it comes to key finders, and nothing I've seen so far from the Chipolo One looks like it's going to threaten that position. But not everyone is going to want to spend $35 on a key finder and they may be even less reluctant to pay a monthly fee for out-of-range alerts. The Chipolo One solves both those concerns by offering such alerts for free in a lower-cost tracker. We'll have to run some final performance tests, but right now, the Chipolo One is staking its claim as the best alternative to Tile.