Chipolo One Spot tracker beats AirTag in 3 crucial ways [Review]

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Chipolo One Spot review
Chipolo One Spot offers many of the best features of Apple’s AirTag. And it’s better in other ways.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Chipolo One Spot is the strongest rival for Apple’s new AirTag. Both can access the Apple Find My network for locating lost objects. But the One Spot has better range, and is easier to attach. And there’s more.

I’ve tested both these trackers. Here’s why I prefer Chipolo’s over Apple’s.

Chipolo One Spot review

You can attach a tracker to an item you either misplace frequently, or to something that you’d be very upset if you lost. Maybe it’s your keys; maybe it’s your luggage. Or perhaps it’s a pet.

A strong Bluetooth radio and support for Apple’s Find My network makes the Chipolo One Spot unusually well-suited for any of those options.

Hardware and design

The tracker is an unobtrusive black disc 1.5 inches across and 0.25 inches thick. It’s made of plastic. That makes it bigger than AirTag, and not as nice looking.

But Chipolo built in a feature that somehow never occurred to Apple: a hole. You can easily attach the tracker to your keys, your dog’s collar, etc., without any hassle. AirTag requires you to buy a holder just to clip it to anything. This is a major advantage for One Spot.

You don’t have to worry about the One Spot running into a bit of water. It has an IPX5 rating, which means it can get rained on. AirTag, on the other hand, has an IP67, so it can survive under a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Replacing the battery in Chipolo’s tracker just requires prying open the case. It’s as easy as changing the battery in AirTag.

Apple AirTag vs. Chipolo One Spot: The AirTag looks better than Chipolo One Spot. But it doesn’t perform be
The AirTag looks better than Chipolo One Spot. But it doesn’t perform better.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Chipolo One Spot performance

Let’s get something out of the way: One Spot doesn’t support Ultra Wideband like AirTag does. And UWB is necessary for the cool trick where an iPhone and the Find My application show you an arrow pointing toward your misplaced item. But the AirTag’s short-range access makes the feature more of a gimmick than anything else. (My AirTag review discusses this limitation in depth.) So I don’t consider UWB much of an advantage.

And Chipolo built very good Bluetooth access into its tracker. My iPhone was able to locate the One Spot wherever I put it in my home. And the same is true of AirTag. They both passed the “in a pants pocket on the other side of the house” test.

My home is fairly small, so next I did some harder tests. And here One Spot came out ahead. In my distance trials, I found that my iPhone could still reach the Chipolo tracker tag well enough to set off its audible alarm about 60 feet farther away than the AirTag.

Also, I’ve been testing the AirTag as a pet tracker, and it gave me a bad moment last week when it couldn’t find my cat, who’d been right next to me a moment earlier. Turns out he was less than 20 feet away but behind my car. I did some followup testing without the cat and found that Apple’s tracker wouldn’t go through/around the car. But One Spot had no problem.

Speaker volume

As the range for finding something with the UWB feature in AirTag is limited (see above), you primarily depend on hearing the audible alarm in either of these tracker tags to find lost items around your house. And the Chipolo One Spot makes this easy, emitting a loud pattern of beeps. I can hear it anywhere in my home, and even when the tracker is way over in my neighbor’s yard.

AirTag just isn’t that loud. I can hear a distinct volume difference between the two trackers. Consider the pants pocket test I did earlier. With the device muffled by cloth, I couldn’t hear the AirTag until I was closer to it, even though the app told me the alarm was playing. This wasn’t a problem with One Spot. I could hear it across the house.

I used the NIOSH Sound Level Meter application to get some hard numbers. My reading with the One Spot was 76 decibels, while it was 56 decibels with AirTag. Some of both readings was ambient noise, but you can still see the difference.

Find My

The Apple Find My app doesn’t care if you're looking for an Apple AirTag or a Chipolo One Spot. It treats them both the same.
You can use the Find My app to locate your Chipolo One Spot. Just like if it was an Apple AirTag.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

AirTags appear in a new Items tab in the Find My app. This is where you command the tracking tag to play a sound so it can be found. If an item gets really lost, not just misplaced, AirTag can still help it be found. Any iPhone, Mac or iPad — not just the owner’s — can find a tag and anonymously notify the owner of its location. No additional software is necessary. That means there are hundreds of millions of Apple devices around the world that can report your lost item.

One Spot does exactly the same thing. You search for it in the Find My app, and any Apple device can let you know where it is. And the stronger Bluetooth radio Chipolo put in means it might even be better than AirTag at being picked up by passing Apple devices.

The same goes for the security systems Apple made for AirTag. Someone will be notified if a One Spot is being used to follow them, for example.

Chipolo One Spot final thoughts

Both Chipolo One Spot and Apple AirTag set themselves apart from rival tracker tags with the Find My network. AirTag doesn’t have any advantage over One Spot here.

But One Spot does have advantages in finding nearby items. Its Bluetooth range is longer and its speaker is louder.

True, AirTag’s shiny metal exterior looks nicer. But Apple didn’t put in the simple hole needed to attach its tracker to keys, etc., while Chipolo did.

Pricing

Chipolo expects to launch One Spot in June. A single unit costs $28, while a pack of four runs $90. Go to the Chipolo website to add your name to the wait list.

A single AirTag costs $29 from the online Apple Store. A pack of four runs $99. So One Spot is just a bit cheaper.

Chipolo provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out other in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.