Apple AirTag Review: The item tracker to get if you have an iPhone

Always leaving your sling bag on the MRT train or your keys at your neighbourhood kopi tiam? If you are an absent-minded iPhone user, you should get Apple’s AirTag.

PRICE: S$45 (for one) or S$149 (a pack of four); available in Apple Store
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, NFC, Ultra Wideband
WATER RESISTANCE: IP67 (maximum depth of 1m for up to 30 minutes)
BATTERY: Removable CR2032

The AirTag is a small circular device that lets you track your everyday items using Apple’s “Find My” app.

It looks like a small white puck from its front and has a polished metallic rear featuring the Apple logo. And if you order straight from Apple online store, you can get free engraving on its glossy white front.

An Apple AirTag. (Photo: Apple)

Size wise, the AirTag is slightly bigger than a Singapore 50-cent coin and weighs only 11g. It is rated at IP67 for water and dust resistance, so you do not need to worry if it takes a bit of rain when you attach it to your backpack.

The Apple AirTag compared to a Singapore 50-cent coin. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The AirTag features a U1 chip for Ultra Wideband (UWB), Bluetooth Low Energy, Near Field Communications (NFC), accelerometer and a built-in speaker. There is no GPS, so it is not some fancy tracking gadget from a spy movie.

+ Easy setup
+ Sleek looks
+ Affordable
+ Works most of the time

– No accessories included in the box
– Only for iOS and iPadOS users
– Gets scratched easily

Instead, the AirTag taps on Apple’s “Find My” network that comprises nearly a billion Apple devices. It works by having any nearby Apple device – which is part of the “Find My” network – securely relaying the location of your lost AirTag to iCloud. This then allows you to see it in the “Find My” app.

Apple says this is done anonymously with end-to-end encryption to protect everyone’s privacy. And only you – not even Apple – can see the location of your item.

Out of the box, the AirTag does not come with any accessories. Its small size means it can be easily slipped into a bag or purse.

Accessories by Apple for AirTag. (Photo: Apple)

But it does not have any holes for you to thread a string through, unless you want to drill a hole through it. Thus, if you want to attach it to your keys, you have to fork out extra moolah for Apple’s AirTag accessories.

Apple’s AirTag accessories are of high quality and feels exquisite. But it is also costly.

For example, an Apple AirTag Leather Key Ring costs $55, which is more expensive than the AirTag itself. So you are looking at $100 investment if you want a nice-looking key chain with AirTag.

The Apple AirTag with the Leather Key Ring. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Not to mention, the AirTag Leather Loop costs $59, while the polyurethane version is priced at $45.

Even with these original accessories, the AirTag still get scratches within a few days. But that’s more because of its shiny rear. But I bet third-party vendors, like Belkin, will be coming out with cheaper AirTag accessories and protection pretty soon.

Apple’s Leather Loop for AirTag feels exquisite, but expensive. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Pairing the AirTag is really a breeze. Place the AirTag close to an iPhone running iOS 14.5 or above, and a window will appear on its display. Tap on Connect and the AirTag is paired.

Preparing to connect to a new AirTag. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

You can name the AirTag according to the item that you are attaching it. And if you change your mind later, you can easily rename that particular AirTag in the app.

In the items tab of the Find My app, you will be able to keep track of your AirTag-attached item. There are other options in the app too. For instance, you can tap the Play Sound button for AirTag to keep ringing until you can find it.

And if you are using iPhone 11 or 12 series that are equipped with UWB, you can utilise the Precision Find feature to find your item.

Using Precision Find lets you easily find your items. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

This feature allows your iPhone allows to give you visual, haptic and audible feedback, so as to direct you to your lost item. So, you know exactly where and when to turn to get to your item.

And I found it to work very well. Especially in crowded places when many people are walking around with their iPhones.

I asked my wife to hold my keys with an AirTag and stand somewhere randomly in a busy shopping mall. This is to simulate me dropping my keys. The Precision Find was able to accurately lead me to the location of my keys (and wife).

Not to mention, I always forget where I park my car. This is especially so in huge carparks like those of Resorts World Sentosa or Marina Bay Sands. Thus, I also put an AirTag in my car.

Putting an AirTag in my car. Don’t worry, this is just for the photo shoot. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

It was able to show the general location of where I parked the car and offers direction to it. In an open-air roadside parking near my office where there are plenty of pedestrians and cars, using Precision Find to get the location of my car is pretty easy.

However, in underground carparks like in Vivo City, it gets more tricky. This is probably because there are less people walking around and less cars zooming past my car when I was testing it at around 3pm on a weekday.

As it depends on whether there are any iPhone user who happens to walk or drive past my car, it took like 5 minutes before I managed to get the Precision Find to kick in. But once it was activated, I managed to find my car quite easily.

OK, I found my car. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

To assuage privacy concerns, Apple has included features to discourage unwanted tracking. So, if someone puts an AirTag into your bag, your iPhone will be able to detect it and notify you that an unknown AirTag is with you.

Currently, this will happen after 3 days when it is separated from its owner. You will then be able to play a sound on the unknown AirTag to locate it and view more information, such as instructions on how to disable it by removing its battery.

Even if you are an Android smartphone user, you will be also alerted. The “unfriendly” AirTag will also automatically sound an alert after 3 days when it is separated from its owner.

And if your Android smartphone has NFC, you can tap the smartphone on the “unfriendly” AirTag. Then, it will prompt the smartphone to open a web page with information about the AirTag.

Tapping on the AirTag with an Android smartphone can reveal information about it. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

If the AirTag is not marked as lost, it will display information on how to disable the this “unfriendly” AirTag, . If marked as lost, you will see information about how to contact the owner.

In case you are wondering, the AirTag uses a user-replaceable CR2032 coin battery. This item tracker is supposed to last up to a year before you have to replace the battery, according to Apple.

For now, we just have to take Apple’s word for it. Maybe by next year, we will know if Apple’s claim is true.

Nevertheless, it is great the AirTag is using the CR2032 coin battery that is readily available, instead of some proprietary battery.

It is easy to replace the CR2032 coin battery in AirTag. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

In addition, replacing the battery is a cinch. Push down on the metallic rear, twist counter-clockwise and take the cover off to replace the battery.

As you might expect from Apple, the AirTag is a sleek, easy-to-use and very efficient item tracker. In short, the Apple AirTag is a definitely the item tracker to get, if you are using an iPhone. No-brainer.

DESIGN: 9/10

Trevor Tan

Started out with dreams to become a street photographer, Trevor Tan somehow became a tech journalist with over 16 years of consumer tech experience. Maybe he plays too much video games and buys too many new gadgets.
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