Apple AirTag vs. Chipolo CARD Spot: Which should you buy?

Chipolo Card Spot Airtag
Chipolo Card Spot Airtag (Image credit: Adam Oram / iMore)

Apple's AirTag has become the de facto item tracker for iPhone users, and for good reason. One of its best features is the Find My network, which is also available to third-party item trackers and allows devices like the Chipolo CARD Spot to exist and fill niche use cases where the AirTag isn't quite as well-suited, such as in your wallet.

Apple AirTag vs. Chipolo CARD Spot: Breaking it down

While both trackers being compared here integrate with the global Find My network, there are still some differences when it comes to real-world usage that might sway your decision. But first, here's how the specs break down.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple AirTagChipolo CARD Spot
ConnectivityBluetooth LE, U1 (Ultra Wideband), NFCBluetooth
Works with Find MyYesYes
Works with non-Apple devicesNoNo
Left-behind notificationsYesYes
Precision FindingYesNo
Built-in speakerYesYes, 105dB
Battery lifeOne year (user-replaceable CR2032)Two years (non-replaceable, Renew & Recycle program)
Water and dust-resistance ratingIP67IPX5
Dimensions1.26 in x 1.26 in x 0.31 in3.35 in x 2.11 in x 0.09 in

Apple AirTag vs. Chipolo CARD Spot: AirTag wins when it comes to finding your gear

Airtag Review Hero

Airtag Review Hero (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

Integration with the Find My network sets both the AirTag and Chipolo CARD Spot apart from the myriad of Bluetooth trackers on the market.

Working with Find My means that it's easy to set up both devices with a couple of taps in the Find My app, and you'll be able to see your tracked item's last known location on a map, make it ping to help you find it, or set it to Lost Mode to alert its finder of your contact details. Better yet, given that the Find My network includes hundreds of millions of iPhone owners, any time an iPhone user comes within the Bluetooth range, you'll be updated about your AirTag or Chipolo CARD Spot's location.

Precision Finding lets you pinpoint AirTag's exact location.

However, AirTag can go one step further than the CARD Spot, thanks to Apple's proprietary U1 chip. This Ultra Wideband chip allows for Precision Finding, which means you can use your compatible iPhone to pinpoint and guide you to your item's exact location. This is especially useful in situations where you might have misplaced something around the house and just can't see it.

Chipolo's CARD Spot does not feature this chip, relying on Bluetooth instead, so you can't use Precision Finding. To combat this, the CARD Spot has a louder speaker, which can be triggered from the Find My app and should help you find your lost wallet by following the sound.

Apple AirTag vs. Chipolo CARD Spot: CARD Spot is best for the wallet

Chipolo Card Spot Lifestyle

Chipolo Card Spot Lifestyle (Image credit: Chipolo)

Though you could slip an AirTag into your wallet's coin pouch, its thickness does make for a noticeable bulge which is not ideal. The super-slim 0.31-inch design of the Chipolo CARD Spot makes it a much better pick for the specific use case of tracking your wallet. You'll barely notice it as it slides right into one of your wallet's card slots, and you'll enjoy left-behind notifications and the ability to place your wallet on a map if you lose it.

Chipolo CARD Spot slides right into one of your wallet's card slots without adding bulk.

The comparative thickness of AirTag is partially due to it containing a user-replaceable coin cell battery. No doubt, if Apple wanted to make a thinner tracker without the ability for a user to swap out the battery, it could have, though this would have been a worse call environmentally. Unfortunately, Chipolo's CARD Spot's thinness comes at the cost of a replaceable battery, though the company estimates a two-year lifespan and offers a 50% discount on a replacement if you return yours to be recycled.

The CARD Spot's lower dust and water resistance ratings are also less of a concern if it is going to remain in your wallet. In contrast, AirTag's use cases include being strapped to the outside of a backpack or dangling off your keys with various AirTag accessories where it may be exposed to the elements more often.

Apple AirTag vs. Chipolo CARD Spot: Which should you buy?

For most use cases, Apple's own AirTag will suit your needs better, with the Precision Finding feature really setting it apart when it comes to actually finding lost property. Bear in mind that you may need to spend a bit extra to grab a keychain case or other type of mount to attach it to whatever item it is you want to track.

Given its form factor, the Chipolo CARD Spot should only be picked up by those that want to keep tabs on their wallet, but it fills that niche use case well. Find My integration is great for those wanting to keep everything within the Apple ecosystem, and it adds minimal bulk to your daily carry. Its lack of Precision Finding may still have some slipping an AirTag into their wallet's coin pocket.

Adam Oram

Adam Oram is a Senior Writer at iMore. He studied Media at Newcastle University and has been writing about technology since 2013. He previously worked as an Apple Genius and as a Deals Editor at Thrifter. His spare time is spent watching football (both kinds), playing Pokémon games, and eating vegan food. Follow him on Twitter at @adamoram.