AirTag teardown helps you open it up; reveals a special speaker

AirTag teardown helps you open it up; reveals a special speaker
Apple introduced the long-anticipated AirTags during the "Spring loaded" event back in April, and ever since then, we've been looking forward to seeing the guts of the tiny but mighty tracker.

The wait is over thanks to the folks from iFixit, who took apart not only Apple's AirTag but also Samsung's Smart Tag, as well as Tile's Mate tracker - some may say "the original tracker". The investigation led to a few takeaways, as well as more questions.

First of all, Samsung and Tile's gadgets are considerably bigger than the AirTag. This leaves them with some room for a dedicated keyring hole, and although the AirTag lacks one, it has managed to fit similar or better tech in a much smaller body.

The AirTags have an ultra-wideband (UWB) chip which helps to locate an item more effectively. Samsung and Tile don't make use of a UWB chip on the tested units, but the Korean company will start selling a Smart Tag+ soon, which will take advantage of the tech, while Tile is also said to join the party soon.

Here's the drill : No keyring hole - no problem

Images courtesy of iFixit
The first surprise from the teardown comes right here, as the iFixit team has managed to drill a hole into their AirTag! It seems like it took them two attempts, with the second one being successful! They've used a 1/16-inch drill bit to punch a hole through the white plastic part of the tracker - at the very edge of it.

If you'd like to take the risk, make sure you've removed the battery. Otherwise, the AirTag doesn't seem to have any chips, boards, or other tech parts sitting at the end of its plastic portion, so you should be safe. iFixit managed to get a perfectly functional AirTag with a dedicated keyring hole, which can save you enough money to get lunch and dinner, or even buy another AirTag!

To be clear, we don't advise you to try drilling a hole into your AirTag. There are quicker and more affordable ways to find a way to attach it to your keys. Check out our picks for the best AirTag accessories, and choose one according to your budget and style preference. There are great options which don't cost an arm and a leg (wink, wink, Hermès).

Some people have been even more resourceful. A user under the name of anup.chavda, who commented on this MacRumors article about AirTags teardown, has managed to 3D print his own AirTag holders. He claims it costed less than 10 cents, and it took him 10 minutes to do it - of course, if you happen to have a 3D printer at home.

3D-printed AirTag holder

Manicure-breaking tech

In order to punch a hole into your tracker, first, you need to open it up. While Samsung and Tile's devices let you slide a fingernail between the two pieces that hold the trackers together and pull them apart, the AirTag doesn't. Apple's solution is more sophisticated but requires another form of sacrifice - your patience. 

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You twist and turn on the backside of the AirTag, but this operation is far less simple if your hands a wet or oily. So, prepare some tissues. The small surface of the backplate doesn't help either.

Then you're welcomed by the user-replaceable battery. The folks from Cupertino and Korea have decided to go with the same CR2032 battery, said to last around 300 days for the Smart Tag and about a year on the AirTag. Tile uses a smaller CR1632 battery, so don't be surprised if you need to change it a bit earlier. 

No MagSafe. 'Yes' MagSpeaker.

Apple has an excellent track record when it comes to speakers - Steve Jobs, Tim Co... Ok, sorry. The point is - the company knows how to make a good sound system, at least if we count after the iPhone 7 series. All of their phones post-single speaker era deliver great stereo speakers; AirPods are praised as some of the best TWS earbuds on the market, and the MacBook is a sound champ over in the laptop world.

The AirTag doesn't feature a traditional piezoelectric speaker, but little in this tracker is traditional. Upon opening AIrTag, you're welcomed by a very circular set of components. We don't know if it's intentional, but the inside kind of resembles Apple Park and the "spaceship" slapped in the middle of it (Apple's headquarters).

What's more exciting is that there's a button-like piece of plastic, which is supposed to mimic a traditional speaker unit surrounded by copper. This essentially turns the entire body of the AirTag into a magnetic speaker (hence MagSpeaker). We've seen similar tech being used in smartphones like the Huawei P30 Pro back in 2019, which vibrated the screen to make sound.

Although, as found recently by MaxTech, Samsung and Tile's speakers are louder, Apple's sound is more directional. Of course, its practical uses remain to be tested, but early impressions are good and suggest that despite not being as loud as the competition, the sound coming from the AirTag is noticeable even from a distance.

iFixit promises to go more in-depth with the second part of the teardown, where they show detailed board shots, chip rundown, and further details about the three trackers.

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