AirTags May Not Work With Bitterant-Coated Batteries

The coating could address choking concerns, but might also block contact points

Apple has stated that trying to use batteries that have been coated in a bitterant with AirTags may not work, because the coating could block the contact points and prevent them from working.

This may sound like a random issue to specify, but it comes on the heels of a recent statement from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding Apple AirTags. According to the ACCC, there is concern over how easy it is to access an AirTag's battery compartment, which houses a small battery that could be swallowed by a child.

AirTag exploded view

Apple

A common way for product makers to discourage children from swallowing small components like button batteries or Nintendo Switch games is to coat the piece in a bitterant. The non-toxic coating makes the item taste bad, which discourages children from putting it in their mouth. However, Apple warns that the coating could inhibit the battery's contact points in the AirTag's compartment, which would prevent it from working properly.

AirTag battery life display

Apple

Apple has updated its AirTag battery replacement page to include this information, and has added a choking hazard warning. It is also recommended that, when replacing an AirTag's battery, you make sure the compartment is completely closed. The ACCC points out that while AirTags play a tone when the compartment cover contacts the battery, it doesn't indicate that the compartment is securely locked. To make sure the compartment is properly secure, Apple says to rotate the cover until it stops.

It's worth noting that incompatibility with batteries coated in a bitterant doesn't seem to be universal, so it's possible that a coated battery could still work—emphasis on "could." If you're concerned about the choking hazard potential and don't mind spending money on a battery that might not work with your device, it's an option.

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