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Apr 12, 2001
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iFixit has shared the first of its two-part series in tearing down Apple's AirTag item tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to achieve its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout.

airtags-teardown-tile-mat-galaxy-smarttag.jpg

For comparison, iFixit compared Apple's AirTag to the Tile Mate and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. Compared to the competition, AirTag is the smallest in size, with the most internal space used to house the battery itself. One notable design difference is AirTag's lack of a built-in keyring hole, which iFixit attributes to Apple's history of "turning essential functions into premium, add-on accessories."

An x-ray of the three devices does indeed show that Apple wasted no internal space for its item tracker. On the other hand, the Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag seem to be "sprawling" with internal space, and despite their larger footprints, neither tracker includes ultra-wideband technology like AirTags. It is worth noting that Samsung recently launched an ultra-wideband variant of the Galaxy SmartTag; however, iFixit was unable to obtain one for its comparison.

airtags-ifixit-battery-replacement.jpg

The Tile Mate, Galaxy SmartTag, and AirTag all feature coin cell replaceable batteries. AirTag and the Galaxy SmartTag use a .66Wh CR2032 battery, while the Tile Mate uses a smaller .39Wh CR1632 battery. AirTag features a twist and lift mechanism for its backplate in terms of battery replacement, but it doesn't include an easy way to lift the backplate if you happen to have greasy or slippery hands.
All three trackers open up with finger power—no other tools required! That said, the AirTag is by far the most difficult, especially if you indulged in a snack earlier and have greasy digits. Imagine opening a stubborn pickle jar with just two slippery thumbs, and you’ve got the idea. The other trackers have dedicated divots for separating the pieces with a fingernail—moisturize to your heart’s content!
Replacing the battery is the furthest an average customer will be able to get into their AirTag without proper tooling. Even in that case, iFixit says Apple showed "surprising restraint in sealing the AirTag," noting that completely opening the tracker only requires a vise and some plastic sticks.

airtags-speaker-teardown.jpg

AirTag features a built-in speaker which emits sounds when pinged by a paired iPhone through the Find My app, during set-up and other situations. However, given its small form factor, Apple had to think of a new way to fit a speaker into the tracker. With AirTag, Apple decided to use the entire body as the speaker driver, with the underside of the cover serving as the speaker's magnet.
It’s circles all the way down as you head inside the AirTag. Did you notice the “button” on the underside of the cover? That’s not a clickable button, like the Mate and SmartTag have, but rather the magnet we saw earlier in the X-ray. It sits right inside the donut-shaped logic board, nested into a coil of copper to form a speaker. You read that right—the AirTag’s body is essentially a speaker driver. 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.
As we noted earlier this week, it is possible to drill a hole through an AirTag to make up for its lack of a built-in keyring hole. Doing so will certainly void your AirTag's warranty, and while it is possible, it is a risk. As iFixit notes, "drilling in the wrong place can cause serious damage."

iFixit says that the second part of its teardown will include detailed information on the AirTag's circuit board and other hidden secrets. For everything you need to know about AirTags, be sure to check out our guide.

Update: iFixit shared some additional teardown images, providing a closer look at the AirTag's various components.

airtag-teardown-close-up.jpeg

airtag-teardown-photo.jpeg


Article Link: iFixit Shares AirTag Teardown Revealing 'Impressively Compact' Design Compared to Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag
 
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bwayne

macrumors member
Mar 3, 2021
71
67
There’s like so MANY nefarious things you could do with these components and their unfettered anonymous access to any iPhone around.

Update: I want to clarify I am not advocating people to do nefarious things, this is just a vulnerability, and it needs to be pointed out.
 
Last edited:
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Manzanito

macrumors 6502a
Apr 9, 2010
685
952
Well, I guess that partly explains the lack of a hole. It must have killed Apple designers to have all that unused space in order to accommodate the loop, so they redesigned it into a coin which minimised the wastage of space.
I don’t know, mr posted an article earlier about a guy succesfully drilling a hole on the rim of an AirTag while keeping it functional, so there must be another reason, be it design, durability or just to sell accesories.
 
Comment

sirdir

macrumors regular
Aug 16, 2006
244
453
That great UWB chip has so far done very little for me. Each time I tried it went from 'weak signal' straight to 'nearby', the arrow only being visible a fraction of a second. Updating the position with my GFs iphone didn't work, scanning the marked as lost Airtag with my GFs iPhone didn't work either. It's all quite flakey so far.
 
Comment

lazyrighteye

macrumors 68020
Jan 16, 2002
2,157
1,065
Denver, CO
What a beautiful design. Everything in a circle like it should be. I studied industrial design and as always apple create art, they are incredible at going the extra mile to make it look gorgeous inside and out! Something they got from Steve and Johnny! It actually looks a bit like Apple Park in there! 😄
Ha. Apple Park also crossed my mind.
I know a building is not a tracker… I still bet they applied some lesson(s) from their campus build into that little tracker.

And the quarter x-ray is such a fun touch. Well played.
 
Comment

Apple_Robert

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
24,621
29,873
In the middle of several books.


iFixit has shared the first of their two-part series in tearing down Apple's AirTags items tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to have achieved its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout.

airtags-teardown-tile-mat-galaxy-smarttag.jpg

For comparison, iFixit compared Apple's AirTags to the Tile Mate and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. Compared to the competition, AirTags is the smallest in size, with the most internal space used to house the battery itself. One notably design difference is AirTags lack of a built-in keyring hole, which iFixit attributes to Apple's history of "turning essential functions into premium, add-on accessories."

An x-ray of the three devices does indeed show that Apple wasted no internal space for its item-tracker. On the other hand, the Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag seem to be "sprawling" with internal space, and despite their larger footprint, neither tracker includes ultra-wideband technology like AirTags. It is worth noting that Samsung recently launched an ultra-wideband variant of the Galaxy SmartTag; however, iFixit was unable to attain a piece for their comparison.

airtags-ifixit-battery-replacement.jpg

The Tile Mate, Galaxy SmartTag, and AirTags all feature coin cell replaceable batteries. AirTags and the Galaxy SmartTag use the .66Wh CR2032 battery, while the Tile Mate uses the smaller .39Wh CR1632 battery. AirTags features a twist and lift mechanism for its backplate in terms of battery replacement, but it doesn't include an easy way to lift the backplate if you happen to have greasy or slippery hands.
Replacing the battery is the furthest an average customer will be able to get into their AirTag without proper tooling. Even in that case, iFixit says Apple showed "surprising restraint in sealing the AirTag," noting that completely opening the tracker only requires a vise and some plastic sticks.

airtags-speaker-teardown.jpg

AirTags features a built-in speaker which emits sounds when pinged by a paired iPhone through the Find My app, during set-up and other situations. However, given its small form factor, Apple had to think of a new way to fit a speaker into the tracker. With AirTags, Apple decided to use the entire body as the speaker driver, with the underside of the cover serving as the speaker's magnet.
As we noted earlier this week, it is possible to drill a hole through AirTags to make up for its lack of a built-in keyring hole. Doing so will certainly void AirTags warranty, and while it is possible, it is a risk. As iFixit notes, "drilling in the wrong place can cause serious damage."

iFixit says that the second part of their teardown will include detailed information on the AirTags circuit board and other hidden secrets. For everything you need to know about AirTags, be sure to check out our guide.

Article Link: iFixit Shares AirTags Teardown Revealing 'Impressively Compact' Design Compared to Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag
Good article, MR.
 
Comment

myscrnnm

macrumors 65816
Sep 16, 2014
1,421
920
Seattle, WA
Seeing that x-ray, Jefferson was in dire need of a dentist.
Washington is on the quarter, not Jefferson.
What a beautiful design. Everything in a circle like it should be. I studied industrial design and as always apple create art, they are incredible at going the extra mile to make it look gorgeous inside and out! Something they got from Steve and Johnny! It actually looks a bit like Apple Park in there! 😄
It's sad to me how underrated Apple's design and engineering are. The company is constantly criticized for "costs more, does less" and "overpriced" and "outdated." But looking at the x-rays comparing the different tracking devices, it's immediately obvious how much more thought went into designing AirTags than the products that came before it. The other two look pedestrian, and the internal components are just placed wherever. In the AirTag, the layout of everything inside has been deliberately placed so that no space is wasted, and there's a beautiful symmetry to everything.
 
Comment

Apple_Robert

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
24,621
29,873
In the middle of several books.
Washington is on the quarter, not Jefferson.

It's sad to me how underrated Apple's design and engineering are. The company is constantly criticized for "costs more, does less" and "overpriced" and "outdated." But looking at the x-rays comparing the different tracking devices, it's immediately obvious how much more thought went into designing AirTags than the products that came before it. The other two look pedestrian, and the internal components are just placed wherever. In the AirTag, the layout of everything inside has been deliberately placed so that no space is wasted, and there's a beautiful symmetry to everything.
My bad, I saw the first set of x-ray pics and thought the coin used was a nickel. Washington had worse teeth than Jefferson. Still looks terrible lol
 
Comment

MauiPa

macrumors 68000
Apr 18, 2018
1,779
2,534
"Apple's history of "turning essential functions into premium, add-on accessories." Why do people keep saying such dumb things? Has anyone ever heard of amazon? here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/Protector-Co...ds=air+bag+accessories&qid=1619960776&sr=8-23". so 4 keyrings for $9.99, or 2.50/per. Does iFixit think that is expensive? If you do, you probably can't avoid a tracker by any manufacturer anyway.

Truth, yes Apple sells accessories, well-engineered, good materials, but.....A lot of manufacturers also sell accessories, some as good, some better, some more expensive, most way cheaper.
 
Comment

RecentlyConverted

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2015
798
559
Wow, to be honest, I don't think it's worth Apple's immaculate and extreme efforts to design this tracker which only sells for $29

But I really admire their effort and engineering feat and accomplishment
It may retail for $29, but it’s likely to sell in huge volumes. I am likely to get 8 to start with, I am sure others will get multiple.

A small amount of absolute profit (monetary, rather than percentage), times a huge market, generates a lot of profit.
 
Comment

Abazigal

Contributor
Jul 18, 2011
14,448
13,417
Singapore
Wow, to be honest, I don't think it's worth Apple's immaculate and extreme efforts to design this tracker which only sells for $29

But I really admire their effort and engineering feat and accomplishment
It's definitely paving the way for AR glasses later.

Price it low to flood the streets with them and lay the foundation for a future product.

Best thing - the competition knows it is coming a mile away, but there's nothing they can do about it (except maybe well, Tile's pathetic attempt at a lawsuit).
 
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