Hands-on review: Chipolo One Bluetooth object finder
Image credit: Hilary Lamb
The Chipolo One is a handy little Bluetooth item finder which does exactly what it says on the tin.
Item finders are – unlike so many other products vying for our money and attention – actually useful devices. Chipolo is one of many players in this market. Its latest offering is the Chipolo One: a small yet surprisingly vocal device which connects to your phone to help you find your keys, purse, cat or whatever else you choose to attach it to.
The Chipolo One is a plastic disc a little larger than a standard round communion wafer, approximately 38mm in diameter and just over 6mm thick. It is lightweight and doesn’t feel at all ‘premium’ or ostentatious: the design and six colour options are basic (no rose gold or marble effect here). Its USP is that it has an easily replaceable battery – a standard coin lithium – which lasts up to two years. This won’t attract any headlines or eye-catching YouTube reviews, but it’s a genuinely useful quality which we appreciate, particularly given that item finders are sometimes discarded when their battery runs down, on account of replacing them being such a fiddly job.
You do need to create an account and install an app to use the device. Thankfully, the app is lightweight and very easy to set up. In the app, you can list plenty of Chipolo devices and tag them as ‘keys’, ‘wallet’, ‘dog’, ‘helmet’, etc. You also get a map view of all your device locations, based on Google Maps.
Overall, the app is clean, simple and free of external ads. However, we would recommend immediately going to settings to disable analytics, promotions and location history collection, as well as banishing the large ‘SHOP NOW’ banner (which is the first thing you see when you open the app). The top two options in the hamburger menu are to refer a friend and to buy more Chipolo devices; unfortunately, we couldn’t find any way to hide those.
To find your connected item, you simply select the missing item from your list in the app and tap ‘Ring to find’. The Chipolo One starts ringing within a second or so; the ringing can be switched off in the app. If you have Bluetooth always switched on, this works very reliably.
According to the Chipolo website, this model has a range of 60m and can ring at up to 120dB, which is roughly equivalent to a rape alarm. While this reviewer never had any difficulty hearing the ringing in a one-bed flat or standard office, it certainly wasn’t as loud as a rape alarm (perhaps it would be inappropriate and distressing for a humble item finder to be that ear-splittingly loud) and we can imagine that it may be harder to find if the owner has a hearing impairment or if they are further away from their lost item. The device does not appear to get louder the longer you leave it ringing and it was not clear to this reviewer if there were any way to make the alarm louder.
The Chipolo One can also be used in reverse: the device can be double-clicked to make your phone ‘ring’. To use this function, you must have the Chipolo app always running. It took this reviewer a while to work out that her Huawei phone – which takes an aggressive stance on power saving – was shutting down the Chipolo app whenever the screen was switched off. Tinkering with settings to keep the app running in the background fixed the problem.
Helpfully, double clicking the Chipolo will make the connected phone ‘ring’ out loud even when you have headphones attached or other Bluetooth devices connected. This function is very welcome, particularly as increasing numbers of people (this reviewer included) permanently keep their phones on silent and thus suffer the embarrassment of not being able to fall back on the classic ‘calling a missing phone to find it’ trick.
The device and its app are otherwise quite limited in their functionality, which is – in our view – perfectly acceptable. You can set up an out-of-range alert to remind you when you leave your tagged items behind. You can also take photos within the Chipolo app (triggering the camera by double clicking the device), although most phones will already give you the option to trigger photos without touching the screen.
The Chipolo One is far from a showy, multi-functional lifestyle product, but does it do what it needs to? Yes - and it won’t break the bank either.
Chipolo ONE, £21.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.