iFixit shared the first part of their two-part series in dismantling Apple’s AirTags project tracker, which shows that Apple must make impressive design decisions to achieve its compact design, including rethinking the layout of the speakers.
For comparison, iFixit compared Apple’s “AirTags” with Tile Mate and Samsung Galaxy SmartTags. Compared with competitors, “AirTags” have the smallest size and the most internal space, which can accommodate the battery itself. The obvious design difference is that AirTags lacks a built-in key ring hole. iFixit attributes this to Apple’s history of “turning basic functions into advanced additional accessories”.
X-ray inspections of these three devices did show that Apple did not waste any internal space for its project tracker. On the other hand, Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag seem to be “expanding” the internal space. Although they take up more space, neither tracker includes ultra-wideband technologies such as “AirTags”. It is worth noting that Samsung recently launched an ultra-wideband version of the Galaxy SmartTag. However, iFixit was unable to obtain a comparison result.
Tile Mate, Galaxy SmartTag and “AirTags” all have batteries with replaceable coin cells. “AirTags” and Galaxy SmartTag use .66Wh CR2032 batteries, while Tile Mate uses a smaller .39Wh CR1632 battery. TagAirTags in provides a twisting and lifting mechanism for its back plate in terms of battery replacement, but if you happen to have greasy or slippery wrists, it has no easy way to lift the back plate.
All three trackers can be opened with your fingers, no other tools are needed! That said, AirTag is by far the most difficult, especially if you are addicted to snacks earlier and have greasy fingers. Imagine opening a stubborn pickling jar with only two thumbs. You already have an idea. Other trackers have special drafts, you can separate them with your nails, so that you feel moist inside!
Ordinary users have the farthest distance to replace the battery without proper tools. iFixit said that even in that case, Apple showed “surprising limitations” on the sealed AirTag, noting that it only requires the use of a vise and some plastic rods to fully open the tracker.
“AirTags” has a built-in speaker, and in settings and other situations, it will make a sound when the iPhone is pinged via the “Find Me” app via the paired iPhone. However, given its small size, Apple must consider a new method of installing speakers into the tracker. Through “AirTags”, Apple decided to use the entire body as a speaker driver, and the underside of the cover was used as a magnet for the speaker.
When you enter AirTag, it rotates all the way down. Did you notice the “button” on the underside of the cover? Just like Mate and SmartTag, this is not a clickable button, but the magnet we saw earlier in X-rays. It is located inside a donut-shaped logic board, nested in a copper coil to form a speaker. You read that right-the main body of AirTag is essentially a speaker driver. The power is sent to the voice coil, which drives a magnet mounted on the diaphragm (in this case, the plastic cover where the battery is located) and the sound made will lead you to the lost luggage.
As we pointed out earlier this week, it is possible to drill a hole in the AirTag to make up for its lack of a built-in key ring hole. Doing so will definitely invalidate the “AirTags” warranty, and although possible, it is a risk. As iFixit said, “Drilling holes in the wrong location can cause serious damage.”
iFixit said that the second part of the disassembly will include detailed information about the “AirTags” circuit board and other hidden secrets. For everything you need to know about “AirTags”, be sure to check out our guide.