Hands-on With Apple AirTags

Your new favorite Apple product

Key Takeaways

  • I’ve tested out Apple’s new AirTag, and I’m impressed with how well it works. 
  • The AirTag costs $29, or $99 for a pack of four, and is a great value considering the high price of other Apple products. 
  • AirTags work on Apple’s Find My network, so they can communicate with other Apple devices to alert you to their location.
Apple AirTag paired with an iPhone and next to an Apple for size comparison

Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

Apple’s new AirTag is one of the coolest products the company has produced in a long time, and the surprising thing is it only costs $29. 

Of course, I bought a pack of four for $99, but at least you have the option to go the less expensive route. That’s a change of pace for Apple, which is known as much for its high prices as its quality. But the AirTag is far more than just a cheap accessory, as it’s meant to help you keep track of your prized possessions.

The idea behind the AirTag is hardly novel. Products like Tile trackers and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag have been out for a while, and offer the ability to find your stuff using Bluetooth. But as is often the case with Apple, the AirTags are more than just their specifications. 

"For now, I’m pretty sure I won’t lose my car key."

For starters, the AirTags are incredibly easy to use if you’re already an Apple user. I tore open the package and had my AirTag paired with my iPhone 12 Pro Max within seconds. I pulled a plastic tab off the battery compartment and held the tag next to my phone. The AirTag was discovered instantly, and all I had to do was choose from a list of names that described where I was likely to use it.

I Once Was Lost

I might be the perfect customer for the AirTag as I lose things constantly. One of my chief anxieties in life is losing the key to my Toyota Highlander. As I discovered recently, if you lose the electronic key fob necessary to get your car moving, replacing it can cost nearly $1,000 and take up to a week. 

So, my first mission was to attach the AirTag to my car key, made possible by the Apple AirTag Leather Key Ring. I ordered this ring at the same time as my AirTags in a lovely shade of “Baltic Blue.” It’s a nice piece of kit, but I’ve never spent $35 on a key ring before. 

Apple AirTag held near an iPhone

Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

AirTags are small and portable, making them very easy to keep on a keychain or wallet. At 1.25 inches wide and 0.31 inches thick, they look like tiny flying saucers engraved with an awesome Apple logo. 

Once paired, it was time to play hide and seek with the key and AirTag around my apartment. I stashed the key in a drawer and pretended I had forgotten where I left it.

But Now I’m Found

AirTags work on Apple’s Find My network so they can communicate with other Apple devices, even those that aren’t yours, to alert you to their location. If there’s an iPhone, even if it's not your own, within the Bluetooth range of your AirTag, you'll be able to see where it is. Apple claims that even if a random iPhone detects your AirTag, the owner won’t know about it even when the information is passed back to you. 

During my recent test, I wasn’t going far from my AirTag, so it didn’t have to tap into strange iPhones. I was only about 40 feet away when I tried the Find My app, and my key was found almost instantly on the map.

Once I moved within about 30 feet of my keys, I was within Bluetooth range, and that’s when  precision tracking kicked in. This feature uses a U1 chip in your iPhone and AirTag to get a precise location. The nice part is the iPhone shows you directions to where your item is located. In practice, I found the tracking was accurate to less than a foot. Pretty good!

"At 1.25 inches wide and 0.31 inches thick, they look like tiny flying saucers."

However, there were a couple of times when my iPhone couldn’t seem to find the AirTag as I got closer. That’s when I triggered the alarm sound, which was loud and high pitched enough to penetrate through layers of clothing and Ikea furniture. 

Overall, the AirTag has been a delight to use. I’ve only had it a short time, but I’m looking forward to giving it a long-term test. For now, I’m pretty sure I won’t lose my car key.

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