How often do you lose your keys? What about your phone? You use them every single day but somehow they manage to disappear under our noses on a regular basis. So how do we abolish the irritating process of crawling on your hands and knees listening out for the muffled buzz of a phone on silent mode? It’s simple, we use a Bluetooth tracker.
There are hundreds of trackers out there on the market and choosing one that will actually work can be tough. That’s why we jumped at the chance to review the tracking chip that’s marketed as “the world’s loudest Bluetooth tracker”, the Chipolo Plus.
Chipolo; a stylish tracking chip
So first thing’s first, what does it look like? The trouble many people have when choosing a Bluetooth tracker is that the most effective ones have a bulky or ugly design (something you don’t want to attach to your keys or won’t fit in your wallet). This meant you had to compromise on range/volume etc. in order to have a subtle tracker. Thankfully this isn’t the case with Chipolo. This particular tracker is slightly smaller than a poker chip and comes in a variety of colours. These include Charcoal Black, Rose Quartz, Coral Red, Lemon Yellow, Ocean Blue, Mint Green and Pearl white.
The Chipolo Plus is sealed in one continuous plastic body. This gives the tracker properties of water resistance but does mean that you can’t switch the battery out when it runs flat. Thankfully it already uses minimal power and should last up to one year before it needs replacing; this isn’t too expensive to do when you sign up to the Chipolo Renewal Programme either. When you sign up for the renewal programme you can save up to 50% off of the cost of your new tracking chips.
How much does a Chipolo Plus cost?
When you buy a Chipolo device you aren’t just paying for a Bluetooth tracker, you’re paying for a support network. Unlike other manufacturers, Chipolo give provide their customers with a quality tracker and the support you need to get the most out of it – they won’t just leave you high and dry to work it out for yourself.
So how much does a Chipolo Bluetooth tracker cost? The Chipolo Plus costs £20.99 for one or £58.96 for a pack of 4 (with a 30% discount). Considering the support you receive and that they can last up to a year, this isn’t too expensive for a Bluetooth tracking chip.
How does Chipolo work?
The Chipolo Plus works in a similar way that M2M GPS trackers work. The only difference is that there’s no GPS chip! This means you can’t monitor the location of your tracker 100% of the time; instead it uses Bluetooth beacons and a mobile app to find the last known location of the chip. This way the Chipolo Plus is able to keep its small design and consume less power.
What makes Chipolo different from other Bluetooth trackers is that you can use other people’s mobiles to find it. When you lose your Chipolo you can mark it as ‘Lost’ in the app. That way, you can see the location on your Chipolo when it’s near someone else’s smartphone. This is extremely useful if the item your chip is attached to has been picked up and is on the move. The only issue with this nifty feature is that you rely on other people A, having the app, and B, having Bluetooth turned on.
Similar to the ‘lost and found’ feature, you can share one tag with your entire family. By doing this your Bluetooth tracking chip can be located in real-time when in range with any of your family members’ mobiles. The only limitation to this feature is that everyone needs the app (which they might not want).
But Chipolo isn’t just designed to find your lost tracker; it’s designed to help you find your mobile phone too. When connected (and in range), you can call your phone by squeezing your Chipolo twice in quick succession. This feature also overrides silent mode meaning you’ll always be able to hear your phone. This feature is great for those who regularly misplace their phone whether it’s at home or out and about.
Chipolo mobile app for iOS and Android
From our experience the mobile app was great. We used the mobile app to test the device and didn’t have any problems connecting whatsoever. Simply click the ‘+’ button on the top left of the app and firmly press your Chipolo until it beeps. All you need to do then is rename your chip and you’re good to go!
The interface is simple and easy to use, and the map is extremely accurate too. By tapping the map showing the last known location of your Chipolo, you are taken into Google Maps where a pin has been dropped. This gives you the ability to view the directions to the last location your tracker was picked up.
Not only can you ring your Chipolo Plus using the app, you’re able to share its location and even use your BLE tracking chip to take a selfie! How many tracking devices do that?
How could the Chipolo Plus be improved with M2M?
From our experience the Chipolo Plus has been great. After some fun and games hiding keys around the InfiSIM office and getting colleagues to find them using the app, we can’t fault it on much. Having said that, although the Chipolo Plus boasts a 60 meter connectivity range, trying to connect after 40 meters or so posed some problems. It might have been because we left the Chipolo in the car etc. but it did make us wonder whether it could be improved using M2M instead of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).
Equipped with a GPS unit and an M2M SIM card we we’d be able to constantly monitor the location of our devices. This would eradicate the need to be within 60 meters of the tracker and would only ever be invisible to us if the SIM can’t pick up any signal. Even then this would be extremely rare if it’s using a non-steered roaming SIM.
Obviously enhancing these devices with GPS and M2M would improve the likelihood of us finding the device; but even-so, the device would have to be bigger, cost more and even compromise its water resistance. This is because it would need replaceable batteries to cater for the increased power consumption.
What do we think about Chipolo?
We’ve been using the Chipolo Plus for a couple of weeks now and we’ve enjoyed every minute. Apart from having a few issues with the range, we’ve used the tracker for both finding items and for fun. We love the fact that it’s so easy to set up; anyone could pick a Chipolo Plus up and use it right away without any issue.
The volume of the ring is loud enough to be heard from anywhere within the given range (providing it’s not tucked away in a cupboard etc.) and the ‘Ring Phone’ feature has been a life saver on multiple occasions. All of this comes from such a small and subtle device that looks sleek and doesn’t get in the way.
Thanks to the water resistance of the Chipolo Plus you can now afford to lose items such as your keys outside in the rain without worrying that your Bluetooth tracker will break. This is one of the best features of the device even if it does mean that you have to replace it year on year. Then again, if you don’t mind having a non-water resistant BLE tracker, then the Chipolo Classic has your back covered. The battery life of the Classic is 3 to 6 months.
After much deliberation we have come to the conclusion that the Chipolo Plus wouldn’t benefit from M2M like other BLE and GPS trackers. This is because they have some unique USPs that other trackers simply don’t have. These include the small design, water resistance and the cost. By compromising these the features, the Chipolo simply wouldn’t meet the same standards it’s already at.