Tom's Guide Verdict
The Chipolo One is worth considering thanks to its excellent out-of-range alerts and low-price. It’s an excellent alternative to the Tile Pro if you want a lower-cost key finder.
Outstanding out-of-range alerts
Battery replacement can be tricky
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
The Chipolo One key finder provides a long-awaited alternative to the Tile Pro, our current pick for the best key finder. Not only does the Chipolo One cost less than the Tile Pro, it also offers an out-of-range alert feature for free that Tile charges extra for. Even better, Chipolo One’s out-of-range alerts work like a charm.
Not every Chipolo One feature is as polished, and even with a half-dozen color options, Chipolo’s tracker can’t beat out more stylish looking key finders. But if you’re looking for a gadget that ensures you’ll never get too far from home without your keys, our Chipolo One key finder review confirms that this is the tracker you need.
Chipolo One key finder review: Price
The Chipolo One costs $25, with discounts available when you buy in bulk. (A four-pack costs $75, for example.) While you can find cheaper key trackers for less, Chipolo’s price compares favorably to Tile’s top trackers, with the Tile Pro costing $35.
The Tile Mate costs the same $25 as the Chipolo One, but the current iteration of the Mate isn’t as impressive as previous versions, making the Chipolo One a viable lower-cost alternative to the Tile Pro.
Since we published our Chipolo One review, the company has come out with a new version, the Chipolo One Ocean Edition. This new key finder has the same features as the Chipolo One, but it's made from recycled plastic fished out of the ocean. It costs $30 — a $5 premium over the standard Chipolo One — with $1 of every purchase donated to Oceanic Global, an organization that promotes ocean conservation efforts.
Chipolo One key finder review: Features
The Chipolo One looks a lot like Chipolo's previous key finders, right down to its circular shape and multiple color options. (I reviewed the blue version, which is quite a colorful piece of plastic.) Chipolo says its new tracker has an updated shape with "a sleek curvature design," but if you stacked it next to the now-discontinued Chipolo Plus, I'd have a hard time telling the difference between the two key finders.
Promised range: 200 feet
Tested range: 40 to 50 feet
Battery Type: Replaceable CR2032
Size: 1.5 inches in diameter
Geofence Feature: Yes
Instead, Chipolo put its efforts into improving the features for the Chipolo One, including support for free out-of-range alerts. Activate out-of-range alerts from the Chipolo Android or iOS app, and when you leave your Chipolo behind, your phone will beep and you’ll get an on-screen notification. Tile offers a similar feature, but it's only available if you subscribe to Tile Premium, an optional service for $3 a month.
Speaking of alarms, previous Chipolo trackers have been pretty loud when you use the companion app on your phone to press a button and ring the tracker to find out where it is. The Chipolo One's alarm 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.
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 key finder review: Performance
How you feel about the Chipolo One’s performance depends on what feature is more important to you — a key finder with a wide range that stays connected to your phone at a great distance or one that reliably alerts you when you’ve left something valuable behind. On the latter feature, the Chipolo One is second to none, but its range disappoints.
I’ve been using the Chipolo One since it debuted this January, and I’ve been impressed by how dependable the key tracker’s out-of-range alerts are. Whenever I leave the house without the Chipolo One, I get an alert, usually within two to three blocks, leaving me plenty of time to turn around and retrieve the tracker (and whatever it’s connected to) before I’ve gotten too far away.
On the whole, I've found Chipolo's approach to be more consistent than what's available from Tile. That key trackers alerts are available through the Tile Premium subscription service, and they reach my phone much later and with less consistency. If I’m driving or taking public transit, I usually get the Tile alert far too late to go back and get my keys. And let’s remember that Tile charges extra for this feature while out-of-range alerts are free to Chipolo One users.
But the Chipolo One can’t compete with the Tile Pro when it comes to staying connected to your smartphone, allowing you to use the app on your device to sound an alarm to help find any item you’ve misplaced. When I first got the Chipolo One, I took the key finder 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. Subsequent tests in other locations produced similar results — good luck staying consistently connected to the Chipolo One tracker beyond 40 feet.
That's a pretty modest range, and especially disappointing since Chipolo lists 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. It’s also slightly less than what I got from the Chipolo Plus the last time I tested that older 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.
There’s a question as to how important range truly is for a key finder when it comes to tracking down lost items. Given that most of the time, you’ll be searching for your keys in a house or office, you likely won’t be more than 70 feet away from whatever it is you’re trying to find, unless you happen to live or work in a mansion. As a result, the Chipolo One’s lack of range isn’t as concerning to me, especially since its out-of-range alerts perform so well.
Chipolo One key finder review: Battery
The Chipolo One uses a replaceable battery — a CR2032 that lasts about two years, Chipolo says. The one inside in my Chipolo One is certainly going strong after four months of regular use.
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, and a person could easily pry open the wrong end, damaging the key finder. It’s easier to swap out the battery on the Chipolo One than it is on the new Tile Mate, though I’d recommend opening up your key finder only when absolutely necessary.
Chipolo One key finder review: Verdict
The Chipolo One can’t match the extensive range of the Tile Pro, but then again, not many key finders can — even other Tile-made devices. And the Chipolo One offers something none of Tile’s trackers do — consistently helpful out-of-range alerts that come at no extra cost.
I still think the looks, performance and overall polish of the Tile Pro makes it the best key finder, but the Chipolo One proves to be a terrific alternative, especially given its lower price tag. Tile still may be the leader of the pack when it comes to key finders, but our Chipolo One review finds that there’s more than one way to track your keys.
Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.