Both possession trackers work with Apple's Find My system, but there are some key differences
Possession trackers from the likes of Tile, Orbit and Chipolo have been around for a while, but Apple's entry to the market with its AirTag in 2021 has shone a spotlight on the niche product category like never before.
Now, with the enormous scale of Apple and its Find My system, a billion iPhone users can contribute to a global network capable of finding lost items in a matter of minutes. But, while the AirTag will seem like an obvious purchase for many, the equally new Chipolo One Spot makes for an interesting alternative.
The Chipolo Bluetooth tracker also uses the Find My network, and while it misses out on the AirTag's ultra-wideband technology for precise location tracking, the One Spot is louder, cheaper and more conveniently designed. Being tied to Find My, these two devices are only for iOS users. Chipolo also sells the One, which works with both iOS and Android.
Apple AirTag vs Chipolo One Spot: Hardware and design
Apple AirTag and Chipolo One SpotGearBrain
Both are small, disc-shaped devices that seemingly do very little. The AirTag is undeniably the more attractive of the two, is smaller, and feels more premium than the Chipolo One Spot, despite costing just a dollar more, at $29.
But we urge readers to quickly look beyond the aesthetics of these trackers. Firstly, the stainless steel back of the AirTag attracts scratches at an almost unfathomable rate. It really is a bizarre choice of material from Apple, given the AirTag is going to spend its life attached to a set of keys. The Chipolo's plastic body doesn't look or feel as premium, but it appears to be more hard-wearing.
And, although the AirTag is smaller than the One Spot, it doesn't have an integrated keyring hole, and therefore no way to attach it to anything. Instead, you are expected to pay for an accessory to house the AirTag and give it a loop to hook onto your keys, bag or other possessions. Buy Apple's own leather keyring holder and you're adding a considerable $35 to the initial $29 price.
Chipolo has sensibly given the One Spot an integrated hole, so it is ready to be clipped to your keys right away.
The AirTag wins a point back for being slightly more water resistant than the One Spot, with an IP67 rating compared to the Chipolo's IPX5. In reality this means they can both safe in the rain, but the AirTag is more likely to survive full submersion.
The AirTag is more scratch-prone than the One SpotGearBrain
Apple AirTag vs Chipolo One Spot: Software and features
For the most part, these two possession trackers work in exactly the same way. Both connect to your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth, then tap into Apple's Find My network. All you have to do is give the AirTag or One Spot a name and an emoji to identify it, and it'll be saved in the Items page of the Find My app.
The setup process for both really is quick and simple, and so too is how you locate them when lost.
This is a multi-stage process. Firstly, you can make the AirTag and One Spot play a tune from their integrated speakers, helping you locate them when within Bluetooth range of your iPhone. Both are loud enough to help you find your keys down the back of the couch, but we found the Chipolo to be somewhat louder. This might impact battery life if used a lot, but on that front both companies say their trackers last a year on the same user-replaceable, coin-style battery.
If the sound doesn't help locate your lost tracker, the next step is to enable Lost Mode in the Find My app. Now, whenever the AirTag or One Spot comes into Bluetooth range of any iPhone, iPad or Mac that is a part of the Find My network, you will be notified of the location by the Find My app. This system is completely anonymous and works precisely the same way for both trackers compared here.
During my testing I was alerted within 30 minutes of 'losing' the AirTag and One Spot, and both times the Find My app provided an accurate location of where the tracker was. This was likely achieved due to an iPhone owner walking by.
The only difference in how the two trackers work is how the AirTag has ultra-wideband (UWB) and the One Spot does not. This enables a feature where the Find My app shows the exact distance and direction to your missing AirTag, once your iPhone is connected to it. The interface here looks great and the system serves as a good demonstration from the accuracy of UWB compared to Bluetooth.
But it is something of a gimmick, as you are likely able to hear the AirTag's speaker once you are close enough for the UWB to direct you. I doubt many Chipolo owners will miss this particular AirTag feature, and the ability to attach the One Spot to a keyring likely outweighs UWB support. Additionally, this feature only works with iPhones that have UWB, which are the 11 Pro, 12, 12 Mini and 12 Pro.
Apple AirTag vs Chipolo One Spot: Price
As mentioned earlier, the AirTag is $29 and the One Spot is $28. While it might be tempting to spend the extra dollar for the more premium-looking Apple product, the lack of a keyring hole means you will need to pay for an accessory to attach the AirTag to anything. There are more affordable accessory options than Apple out there, from Belkin for example, but the Chipolo is always going to represent better value for money.
Apple AirTag vs Chipolo One Spot: Verdict
These two devices are very similar, but it is hard not to say the Chipolo One Spot is the better option for iOS users. It is only marginally cheaper, but offers a more practical design that saves on the need to buy an accessory, has a louder speaker and has access to Apple's same Find My network as the AirTag.
The Apple tracker is the more aesthetically pleasing of the two, and its use of UWB for more precise tracking is a nice feature, but not one we suspect buyers will use that often once the novelty has worn off.
Whichever of these trackers you buy, you will have the same ability to find your lost items via the Find My network. That is something that rivals, like Tile, cannot claim.
New Apple AirTag
Check out The GearBrain, our compatibility find engine to see the other compatible trackers that work with your smartphone.
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