Teardown expert iFixit diagnosed the newly launched AirTag to see the tracker’s components and to compare them with the interior of competing trackers in the market, Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag by Samsung. With obvious design differences, the test also revealed that AirTag has different hardware as well, especially the speakers. Here is the complete on the teardown.
AirTag is the smallest Bluetooth tracker in the market with the best sound
iFixit opened all three trackers’ to compare their design, battery, and speaker quality, and was impressed to find that Apple productively used every aspect of AirTag to deliver a good quality product, “Yeah, this tracks.”
It is the smallest tracker in the market, “about the size of a half-dollar coin, it’s not much larger than the battery that powers it.”
Only AirTag uses ultra-wideband technology which uses low energy for short-range and high bandwidth connectivity over a large radiofrequency, approximately from 1Hz to 3000 GHz. Samsung offers the UWB tech in the SmartTag+ tracking device.
All three trackers have user-replaceable, long-lasting, Lithium coin cell batteries. Having said that, Tile Mate has a 20mm cell with .66Wh capacity, and “AirTags and SmartTags use 3-volt CR2032 coin cell batteries.”
AirTag has a magnet “inside the donut-shaped logic board, nested into a coil of copper to form a speaker.” Apple’s designed the trackers body as a speaker driver. Although the magnet will increase the tracker’s weight, it will deliver good sound quality, unlike on the other two trackers.
Power is sent to the voice coil, which drives the magnet mounted to the diaphragm—in this case, the plastic cover where the battery lives—which makes the sounds that lead you to your lost luggage.
The dinky piezoelectric speakers in the Mate and SmartTag made just as much, if not more, noise in our testing, so pure volume isn’t the answer. Looks like one corner Apple refused to cut on this tiny disk is sound quality. Piezo speakers are tiny and cheap, and sound like it—we’re talking McDonald’s happy meal speakers here. Knowing Apple, and knowing how seriously they take their noisemakers, sound quality can never be compromised, not even here.
Why didn’t Apple drill a keychain hole in AirTag?
iFixit expert was able to drill a DYI tiny hole for a key chain in the tracker but Apple intentionally did not build it. As AirTag is designed around the speaker, “Apple is using the plastic dome itself as the speaker diaphragm.” So the expert warns:
Drilling in the wrong place can cause serious damage, so don’t try this at home unless you’re willing to potentially turn your tracker into a very light paperweight.
Price and features comparison of AirTag, Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag
- Retailing for $24.99, Tile Mate offers:
- 200 ft. Bluetooth range
- Up to 1-year user-replaceable battery
- Compatible with Android, Windows, and iOS platforms
- We do not sell data, nor do we use location data for marketing purposes
- Retailing for $29.99, Galaxy SmartTag offers:
- With the Galaxy Find Network,¹ easily find what you lost within 130 yards, even when offline.
- Control various smart products at home with just a tap and the SmartThings app.
- Only compatible with Samsung Galaxy phones.
- Retailing for $29, AirTag offers:
- Size 1.26 inches (diameter) and 0.31 inch (height)
- Weight 0.39 ounce (11 grams)
- Splash, Water, and Dust Resistance- Rated IP67 (maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529
- Apple-designed U1 chip for Ultra-Wideband and Precision Finding
- Built-in speaker
- Battery-User-replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery
- The Find My app is compatible with these iPhone accessibility features:
- Invert Color
- Larger Text
- Compatibility with braille displays
- System Requirements and Compatibility
- Apple ID
- iPad models with iPadOS 14.5 or later
- iPhone and iPod touch models with iOS 14.5 or later