Never lose your keys (or phone) again with Chipolo

As my friends, family, and boyfriend would likely tell you if you asked, I'm bad about keeping track of things. I frequently lose my keys, my phone, my iPad, my wallet, and my bag — all within the small confines of my 400 sq ft studio. (I've got a lot of stuff, okay?)

As such, when I first heard about Bluetooth LE trackers like Tile (opens in new tab), I was thrilled — but they all had fiddly bits and pieces that made my excitement wane. No way to replace the batteries. Tiny zones. I ended up resigning myself to the fact that the Tile was not, in fact, the droid I was looking for.

Chipolo (opens in new tab), on the other hand, might just be the one.

Bitty little color finder

I learned about Chipolo at CES this year, and it delighted me in ways that Tile and other trackers simply hadn't. It's colorful and looks more like a sporty keychain than random technobob. It sports a replaceable watch battery. It has an auto-loss feature to alert you when you're accidentally leaving one of your items behind — and Quiet Zones to keep that feature from being annoying within your own house. And perhaps my favorite bit: if you've lost your iPhone but not your Chipolo, you can shake it and your iPhone will trill in return.

I've been testing a Chipolo on my bag and keys for a few weeks, and I absolutely love it, though there are a few minor kinks in the system that could be better. The thing is dead-simple to pair after downloading the companion app on iOS (opens in new tab), Android (opens in new tab), or Windows Phone; just drop it atop your smartphone screen and let it get to work.

After it's paired, your app displays the name of your Chipolo, a button for making it ring, its current range, temperature sensor, and whether or not you're in a Quiet Zone. The temperature sensor is one of those little extras on the Chipolo that make me smile: It's certainly not the most accurate temperature gauge you'll find on a gadget — not by a long shot — but it absolutely helps when figuring out if you left an item indoors or outdoors.

In the weeks I've had the Chipolo, it never failed to ring when I tapped the button, though depending on the range between the two items, it may take a few seconds for the Bluetooth command to execute. Likewise, a hard shake of the Chipolo rings my phone almost instantly. (I appreciate that it requires a decent amount of force exerted to ping the phone, as the feature could otherwise quickly become annoying on something like a set of keys.)

If there's one complaint to be made, it's that the 180-foot range sensor on the Chipolo doesn't always function like it should. If my keys and iPhone are on the bed, it shows full range; if my keys end up under the covers, that range signal decreases by two bubbles. In day-to-day use this wouldn't normally be a problem — save for the auto-loss feature: If you lose contact with the Chipolo completely, it starts to chirp. This happened to me a few times during my testing period until I installed a geofenced Quiet Zone over my apartment, which solved the problem; nevertheless, it's a disappointing quirk to an otherwise fantastic product.

If your Chipolo senses it's lost, either by carelessness or quirk, it goes into Lost mode, providing you with a GPS snapshot of where the device was when your phone last had contact with it. Not as good as real GPS, but a nice place to start looking. You can also enable SOS mode, which lets anyone else with the Chipolo app installed pick up on its signal and give you a GPS update for easier searching. Once your phone's within range, the Chipolo app automatically displays a "Chipolo connected" screen.

A worthy little gadget

Even with the auto-loss software bugs, I love being able to quickly find my keys or my phone around the house, and I'm tempted to get a few more Chipolos for other important things I don't want to lose — my bookbag, for one.

What about you folks? Do you have a Chipolo or other GPS locator device you adore, or do you prefer to find things the old-fashioned way? Let me know in the comments below.

• Chipolo - $29 - Buy Now

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

20 Comments
  • One thing I always was weary with these was how much battery on your phone are you loosing to this device to keep it connected all the time.. and I assume you need to keep their app open for it to work? Something like this I wish it could connect and keep a background service like a health app setup / extensions so you wouldn't need to keep the app open all the time. Especially if it's at the edge of range or detection and it keeps trying..
  • I haven't seen a huge battery drop, to be honest, but I also have Chipolo's auto-reconnect turned off — I like it more for the "have my devices make a sound" aspect than the "ring when I'm leaving something somewhere" trick.
  • This one is coming out soon (and updated version of their original), by the way: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trackr-bravo-the-thinnest-tracking-de...
  • Serenity what case is that on your iPhone 6? Digging it.
  • I have the same question!!!
  • This guy! http://www.case-scenario.com/en/395-iphone-6-6plus I'm going to review him next week, but early sneak preview = ++ much like
  • Thank you!!! Does it really have that white "Pantone" section on the back with the model number and color name on it? Or is that just a description for the web site to let you know what color you are ordering? I hope it's just for the website because that white section ruins it for me :-( it looks like someone forgot to take the packaging sticker off the case. Sent from the iMore App
  • Thank you!!! Does it really have that white "Pantone" section on the back with the model number and color name on it? Or is that just a description for the web site to let you know what color you are ordering? I hope it's just for the website because that white section ruins it for me :-( it looks like someone forgot to take the packaging sticker off the case.
  • It does, and I had that initial impression when it was in the box, but I actually kind of love it now that I've had the case on. It's fun and a cute sort of stylish.
  • Those look good. Might order the Anthracite one for my Space Gray 6. Will wait for your review first. Please include port-accesibility (headphone and lightning jacks, preferably with aftermarket plugs) and button tactility in your write-up if you can. Also please let us know how easy it is get the case off for cleaning. I have a Power Support Air Jacket and absolutely love the way it feels, but it does let dust in and taking it off makes me feel like I'm gonna break/bend my phone >_<
  • I've found that these work the best and without battery drain! https://www.etsy.com/market/key_holder
  • I've been waiting for something like this that would help me find the cat when she goes traveling. This might be just the ticket.
  • Have tried several of these because in theory they're such a good, useful clever idea. So far none are reliable in the long run. Including Kensington's Proximo (stocked in Apple stores), original Trakr (have ordrered the rev. Edition in hope) and the first to market Zomm (pitched to Shark Tank without success). Tile over promised and under delivered, and there is also a device from Philips. It's a great concept waiting for excellence in execution. Les
    Melbourne, Australia
  • I think even better than this is the simple jailbreak tweak called Clap where you simply clap your hands and the phone will play a noise helping you find it.... Its only a few bucks too.
  • While that's useful to many who misplace their phone in their house or car or whatever (and I've never tried the app you speak of, or these little Bluetooth tags), if executed properly, these tags could be much more useful than that app in so many more and different ways! If I do decide to jailbreak, I will check that app out for my iPad since that's what I often set down in the house for a bit and don't remember where! Sent from the iMore App
  • But then again, with multiple iOS devices, I can just use Find My iPhone for free and play a sound that way. It would be useful if I only had 1 device available and no computer to log into though and possibly worth a few bucks. Sent from the iMore App
  • Can i use this on my outdoor cat?
  • I think so, but you need a bumper case from them? I'm not sure they're making them yet, though.
  • Can someoneplease explain to me in simple layman's terms how to use this app
  • I've been using a similar thing from a startup here in Finland called the iStubb (www.istubb.fi). While the bluetooth connection and location/distance estimation is always a bit iffy on all of these kind of devices, it's a handy thing to have if you're the kind of person that misplaces things like keys, wallets, etc.