Apple AirTag Review

The easiest way to find your keys if you have an iPhone

You’ll never lose anything in the couch again. Apple’s AirTag ($29) takes advantage of tight iOS integration and the world’s vast network of iOS devices to create Bluetooth trackers that are easy to set up, use, and trace — especially compared to the Tile. , which is the current leader of the industry. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, AirTag is a great and enjoyable way to track down your lost devices, and it deserves our Editors’ Choice award for iOS tracking devices.

never lose anything again

There is a good industry of trackers for people, vehicles and goods. For Samsung phone and tablet owners, Samsung has SmartTag and SmartTag+. For iPhone and iPad users, AirTag really competes against Tile, a giant of the industry, which has built its entire brand on low-cost Bluetooth trackers that let you beep when you lose your keys.

(A quick note: AirTag is compatible with any iPhone or iPad running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later. We mention the iPhone throughout this review for simplicity, but none with an up-to-date iPad pairing. Will also work for. Finding more with airtag.)

Airtags are easier to install than Tiles, have better directional search powers, and can be found remotely. Tiles come in more form factors than AirTag, and you can call your phone the other way around as well as the Tile. But their range is a maximum of 30 feet, and the range on the AirTag is functionally infinite as long as there’s an iPhone nearby.

Airtags can be purchased in one go or in a discounted four-pack.

You can get one AirTag for $29 or pay $99 for four. Plus, you’ll need to buy holders for them: Unlike the Tile and SmartTag, the AirTag doesn’t have a lanyard hole. Apple sells a leather key ring in blue, gray or red for $35; A leather loop holder in brown or red for $39; and a silicone loop holder in blue, orange, white, or yellow for $29. This being Apple, there is already a huge third-party ecosystem. You can get the basic versions of the Keychain and Loop Holder from Belkin for $12.95, and Amazon has dozens of no-name keychain and loop holders starting at $2.99.

Your AirTag fits into one of these holders.

The tags themselves are small metal discs with a shiny silver side and a white side. Apple offers free printing of a monogram or emoji on each tag, so you can tell them apart and designate them for a special use.

An airtag is unnoticeable when dropped in the pocket of your jeans. At 1.26 inches in diameter and 0.31 inches thick, it’s slightly thicker than the Tile Mate or Tile Pro, and much thicker than the Tile Slim. However, it is noticeably thinner and smaller than the Samsung SmartTag. The difference between the AirTag and the Tile Slim mostly comes into play if you’re trying to track your wallet, as the AirTag will bulge it out more than the Tile Slim will. But tiny little tags easily disappear into a backpack, coat pocket, or suitcase, and they look great in one of Apple’s keychain holders.

Apple says the AirTag’s replaceable CR2032 battery will last about a year.

The back of the AirTag is quite shiny.

The tags are pretty durable, although I wouldn’t drive them by car. They’re rated IP67 and water resistant for up to 30 minutes, so they can be left in a pool, but if your wallet sinks down a drain, you’ll need to act fast.

In classic Apple fashion, AirTags are prettier than the competition. They’re shiny and smooth, and the personalized printing is a nice touch. Keychains and strap accessories tend to look like fashion items rather than technical items. The shiny sides of my AirTags didn’t get scratched while I was using them, even though I shook one with the keys in a plastic bag for about 30 seconds. Your Mileage May Vary; Some other reviewers I know say their tags are worn out, so they may have sharp keys.

Magic Finding Powers

The setup and basic search feel like magic. Grab a new AirTag for your iPhone or iPad, and it’s automatically detected. You can name it, and then the Find My app will start tracking it. To find the AirTag, you can ask it to make a slight piping sound or play a hot-and-cool game with the distance. My Airtags said they were “connected” to within about 45 feet, and a distance indicator appeared when I was within about 30 feet. If you have an iPhone 11 or higher, that distance indicator is accompanied by a helpful directional arrow, thanks to the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) directional protocol. The Tile doesn’t have a UWB tag yet; If you want UWB in the Samsung Tag, you’ll need to get the $39.99 SmartTag+ as opposed to the original SmartTag.

Another nice touch: If your iPhone isn’t near the AirTag, you haven’t found it, and it’s dark, you can tap a flashlight icon in the app to turn on your phone’s light.

UWB Directional Search is a huge help.

The AirTag’s piping sound is noticeably quieter than the Tile Mate—78.3dB versus 99dB at six inches—but I could still hear it from about 20 feet, or so when the AirTag was in the middle of my couch cushion. However, buried deep in a bag or in a noisy outdoor area can be hard to hear.

The killer difference here is that Apple’s Bluetooth connection is a lot more reliable than the Tile’s. I have several Tiles that I use to track my keys and wallet, and their bluetooth connection is incredibly unreliable and intermittent. AirTag worked whenever I tried it.

One of the few drawbacks of AirTag is that you can’t use it to ping your linked iPhone or iPad. Competing trackers provide this feature. If your phone is the one you’re most likely to lose, the Tile may be a better option.

Pass to Persian

If Airtags are more than 30 feet away from your phone, they can use a Bluetooth connection with strangers’ Apple phones to tell you where they are. Apple says these connections are end-to-end encrypted and that no one, not even Apple, knows the location or identity of any AirTag.

It’s important to note the limitations of AirTag. It’s not a true GPS tracker, as it relies on being within 30 feet of one’s iPhone to deliver its location over the network. It works well in dense cities full of iPhone users, but is far less useful in rural areas. Both Tile and Samsung take advantage of third-party device networks as well. Tile currently claims to have 7,302 users within a radius of about 10 miles from me; Samsung, like Apple, doesn’t give a number.

If you need to track an object or child where no phone goes, take a look at Jiobit, which uses GPS and its own cellular connection.

Clockwise from top left: Samsung SmartTag, Apple AirTag, Tile Mate (with keys).

I left an AirTag, a SmartTag and a Tile at the local coffee shop and went home to “find” them. After 19 minutes, Find My told me that the airtag was found, but the app thought it was around the corner from the shop. Another 22 minutes later, it reached the correct address and stopped there. I got an accurate SmartTag location from Samsung within 36 minutes. Tile, on the other hand, took more than seven hours to tell me where my tag was.

track me track you

With the AirTag being so small, affordable, and connected to a global network, you might be concerned that someone might slip one into your bag or car and use it to track your movements . Of course, other trackers can also be used in this way.

You can type each AirTag with an initials or emoji.

There’s a tricky balance between making it difficult to chase down someone with a tag and making the tag useless for tracking down lost or stolen items. Initially, Apple was inclined towards keeping Airtags secret; They will be silent for three days after being separated from their owners, before beeping once to alert you of their presence. But after an outcry about Airtags being used to stalk people, Apple has changed it to a random period between 8 and 24 hours. However, they still only beep once, and since the airtags aren’t that loud, you can easily miss it.

If you have an iPhone with OS 14.5 or later and a “foreign” AirTag (not paired with your device) traveling with you, Apple says you’ll need it at the end of the day or when you return home. You will get an alert. Location as indicated in Apple Maps or Contacts. Apple says an app for Android users will arrive by the end of the year, but until then, Android users have no way of telling if they have an AirTag on their person if they don’t hear a beep.

My daughter put an airtag in her back pocket before going to the craft store. After about 20 minutes, it gave me an update every 5 to 15 minutes, with some location within a block. He had no idea the device was being pinged; It didn’t make any sound or alert his phone.

You should see this screen when there’s a suspicious AirTag near you.

I set up AirTag on two different Apple accounts with two different home addresses, but I couldn’t create foreign Airtag alerts, even when I took a long walk with an iPhone and an AirTag. That said, I was following myself the wrong way, because all my phones know is that they stay at my house a lot of the time, and they check in with my phone when I get home.

This opens up a loophole in the anti-stalking narrative, and one I can’t figure out how to solve. An airtag can be used to follow a child or live-in partner until he or she returns home every day.

This is also possible with Samsung tags (unless the person tracked has a properly configured Samsung phone and does not actively search for foreign tags), and the only reason…

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