Apple recently jumped into the tracking market with the AirTag, a small, battery-powered Bluetooth device that you can attach to your stuff and ping with your smartphone. The device started shipping on Friday, so of course the iFixit gadget site got one and tore it up – and then took an electric drill ?!
As with most Apple products, some serious engineering seems to have entered the tracker for $ 29. volume. Inside, a single board uses a unique donut-shaped design that pushes all the components into a ring under the battery.
The hole in the middle of the board allows Apple to pack a surprisingly huge speaker with a voice coil. The speaker is only for playing melodies, so you can find something with AirTagged when you lose it, but obviously the melodies will be super high quality. By comparison, Tile and Samsung trackers use inexpensive small piezoelectric speakers to play tunes that iFixit rightly points out would be at home in a “McDonald’s Happy Meal toy.” This speaker is just for an acoustic location, so anything that will make a piercing noise will work – Apple is simply striving for luxury over-engineering.
The other very Apple-like quality of the AirTag is that it almost seems designed to sell accessories. The most popular use of these trackers is to help you find your car keys, but outside the box there is no way to attach a keychain to the AirTag. Instead, Apple has activated an extensive ecosystem of AirTag cases, ranging from a keychain holder from $ 13 to $ 449 (yes, that’s four hundred and forty-nine dollars) to a Hermes luggage tag.
IFixit’s solution for the much-needed keychain hole is – what else – an electric drill! Tear experts found a suitable dead space inside the AirTag, which is somehow not blocked by the battery, speaker or board, and after careful drilling, the iFixit’s AirTag now has a keychain opening with as little bulk as possible. “AirTag survived the operation as a champion and worked as if nothing had happened,” the website said. iFixit noted that the sound profile “doesn’t seem to have changed much”, but the IP67 rating for dust and water is severely compromised.
The site has helpfully marked areas that are safe to break if you want to try this at home, with the understanding that you could brick your $ 29 tracker if you confuse the procedure. Apple sells AirTags in a $ 99 package if you want a little practice.