Review: Chipolo CARD Spot

One of the smartest things that Apple did when they created the Find My network is that they opened it up to third parties so that you weren’t forced to only buy AirTags. Now the cynic in me says that this was only done to allow them to make a few extra bucks via licensing deals, and to blunt any suggestions of anti-trust, but it is still a great move by Apple. Because the problem with AirTags is that they don’t fit every use case. For example, you can’t put an AirTag in a wallet. Nor can you put it in a location where space is a premium and an AirTag would never fit into. That’s where the Chipolo CARD Spot comes in. It’s a card sized tracker that works on the Find My network. In fact, it only works on the Find My network. Let’s have a look at it.

This is the “mostly black” colour which sounds kind of like something that Google would do. It’s also the only colour available at present. The CARD Spot and one piece of paper is all that you get in the box. Which by the way is taped up so well that ripping the box apart to get the CARD Spot out is faster than cutting the various pieces of tape that keep the box sealed. But that would be a bad idea as the instructions to add the card to Find My are on the inner part of the box. And adding it is trivially easy. Here’s what I did on my iPhone running iOS 15.4:

  1. Open the Find My app on your iPhone
  2. Go to Items and click on the plus sign
  3. Click on Add Other Item
  4. Press the button that’s located on the bottom left corner CARD Spot until it makes a sound
  5. Follow the onscreen prompts.

Speaking of prompts, if you’re running iOS 15.4 and presumably later as at the time of writing this review iOS 15.4 was the latest version of iOS, you’ll see this:

I’ve removed my personal information from this screen shot, but the message is clear. Don’t be a scumbag by using this to track people without their knowledge. And if you decide to be a scumbag, law enforcement will hunt you down like U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard tried to hunt down Dr. Richard Kimble. If that reference is alien to you, this will help.

After you click on that, you have to name it and you’re done. In short, the setup process is almost no different than an AirTag. Which is good.

Now let’s talk about the CARD Spot. It’s 2.4mm thick. Which makes it the size 2 credit cards stacked on top of each other. Thus making it perfect for your wallet or any other tight spot. It is IPX5 water resistant, which means that it is protected from water jets projected by a nozzle from any direction. It has a non-replaceable battery which lasts two years. More on that in a bit. And it has a 105dB speaker. Though when I tested it, the Noise app on my Apple Watch never got any higher than 88dB when the card was right next to my Apple Watch. Though 88dB is still plenty loud. And it’s 8dB louder than the AirTag that I tested. My wife and I put this to use immediately by adding these to our Ekster Aluminum Cardholder.

Now to be fair, the Ekster does have the option of adding this tracking card which also happens to be made by Chipolo to it which requires Chipolo’s own app to use. My issue with that was that you had to one more app to your phone to use their card. Now we have an option that lives within the iOS ecosystem.

Now over to that battery. Or more accurately, the non-replaceable battery. It’s slated to last two years. And when it dies, Chipolo will give you a 50% discount on a new one and remind you about the discount two years from now. On top of that they will make easy for you to send it back to them to recycle. But only if you register the CARD Spot using this card:

The big white spot is a QR code that goes to a website and fills in the serial number of the CARD Spot for you when you scan it with your phone. All you have to do is enter your email address and you’re done. While not having replaceable batteries isn’t ideal, this reduces the environmental impact that one of these cards will create in two years. Though the next version of the CARD Spot that Chipolo ships needs to have replaceable batteries as Tile figured out years ago that not having replaceable batteries in their products was a liability due to the environmental impact of creating eWaste. Another reason why Chipolo may want to get a move on having replacement batteries is that competition is inbound in the form of the AirCard by Rolling Square which promises replaceable batteries in a package that’s only marginally thicker than the Chipolo CARD Spot. As an aside, I’ll get one in to review once they do start shipping.

One thing that I should point out is that the Chipolo CARD Spot is Bluetooth only. Why should you care? Well, AirTags use Bluetooth and Ultra WideBand. That give you the advantage of not only finding your items over a longer range as well as leveraging the Precision Finding feature of the Find My app. Assuming that you have an iPhone with an Ultra WideBand chip. So in the case of the CARD Spot, you don’t have the ability to use those features. Which means that if you lose an item that has the CARD Spot on it, you can only get the general location of the Item, and then use the Play Sound feature to play a game of Marco/Polo to find it. This makes the CARD Spot more along the lines of a Tile tracker. Which to be clear isn’t a bad thing. But I would love to see the next version have Ultra WideBand functionality to increase the ability of the CARD Spot to help you find your lost items.

The Chipolo CARD Spot goes for $35 USD for one or $60 USD for two. The latter has free shipping on top of that. If you’re in the iOS ecosystem and you need a tracking device that is thinner than an AirTag for use in the Find My network, this is the one to get. At least for now.

One Response to “Review: Chipolo CARD Spot”

  1. […] have this Chipolo CARD Spot tracking card in my cardholder so that I can use Apple’s Find My app to find it should I […]

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