How to Use AirTags With Older iPhones

It's different without Apple's U1 chip

What to Know

  • You can use AirTags with old iPhones, but you won’t be able to use the Precision Finding feature.
  • To find your AirTags on an older iPhone, open Find My, tap Items, tap the lost item, and go to the location indicated on the map.
  • When you’re in the last known location of the lost item, tap the lost item in Find My and tap Play Sound to have the AirTag sound a tone.

This article explains how to use AirTags with older iPhones. This article will also explain how to use AirTags with iPads.

Using AirTags With Older iPhones

AirTags utilize Apple’s U1 chip to provide accurate location information, allowing you to locate a lost AirTag with a tremendous degree of accuracy. The catch is a lot of iPhones don’t include the U1 chip. The iPhone X and older iPhones don’t have it, and it was also left out of the second generation iPhone SE even though the chip was already around when that phone was released. As of the M1 iPad Pro (2021), no iPad has it either.

You can use AirTags with older iPhones, iPads, and even Macs, but you can’t access all of the functionality. You can also set up AirTags with an older iPhone, so you can use AirTags even if you haven’t updated your iPhone in a while, or you have a second generation iPhone SE which lacks a U1 chip.

The biggest difference between using AirTags with older iPhones and the newer iPhones (with the U1 chip) is you can’t use the Precision Finding feature if your phone doesn’t have the U1 chip. Without the U1 chip, your phone also can’t help other people find their lost AirTags if you happen to find yourself in close proximity to a lost AirTag.

You can still check a lost AirTag for a message if your older iPhone has NFC, but your phone won’t automatically sense a lost AirTag and ping Apple with its location if you don’t have the M1 chip.

How to Set Up AirTags With Older iPhones

You can set up an AirTag with an older iPhone, but there are some limits. Your iPhone needs to be running iOS 14.5 or newer, Find My needs to be turned on, you need to turn on Bluetooth, and you need to turn on Location Services. If you have an iPad running iPadOS 14.5 or later and meets the other requirements, you can also use the iPad to set up AirTags.

Here’s how to set up AirTags with an older iPhone:

  1. Make sure your iPhone has Find My, Bluetooth, and Location Services all turned on.

  2. Remove the wrapping from your AirTag and pull out the tab to activate the battery.

    Your AirTag will play a sound if it’s ready to set up. If you don’t hear a sound, make sure the battery tag was fully removed.

  3. Hold your AirTag close to your iPhone or iPad.

    See a message that more than one AirTag was detected? Move your other AirTags away from your phone so only one is close to your phone at a time.

  4. Tap Connect.

  5. Select an item name from the provided list, or select Custom Name if you don’t see a name you want to use.

  6. Tap Continue.

    Setting up a name for an AirTag on an iPhone.
  7. Tap Continue again to register the AirTag with your Apple ID.

  8. Wait for the setup process to finish, then tap Done.

    Final steps to set up AirTags on iPhone.
  9. Repeat this process if you have additional AirTags.

How to Use AirTags With Older Phones

You can use AirTags with your older iPhone through the Find My app just like newer iPhones, with the exception being the Precision Finding feature will be locked out. That means you can use your older iPhone to put an AirTag into Lost Mode, view a lost AirTag’s location on a map, and rename AirTags.

You may want to provide a phone number and message when you turn on Lost Mode for your AirTags, as you won’t be able to use Precision Finding to pinpoint your AirTags once you arrive at their location.

Here’s how to find your AirTags with an older iPhone:

  1. Open the Find My app on your iPhone.

  2. Tap items.

  3. Tap the missing item on the map for more information.

  4. Tap Directions, then go to the location indicated on the map.

    Finding an AirTag on an iPhone.
  5. Once you arrive at the last known location, open Find My and tap the missing item on the map again.

  6. Tap Play Sound.

  7. If your AirTag is within Bluetooth range, it will play a tone.

  8. If the AirTag doesn’t play a tone, change your position while remaining in the vicinity of the last known location of the AirTag and tap Play Sound again. You can also tap Stop Sound if you find the item while the sound is still active.

    Using sound feature in AirTag on iPhone.
  • Which phones are compatible with AirTag?

    AirTag works with iPhones running iOS 14.5 and later, but the Precision Finding feature works only with select models: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Android phones don't support AirTag setup and tracking, but you can use a Bluetooth scanning app to read and find lost AirTags on an Android device.

  • Can you use an AirTag to find an iPhone?

    Sure, if you chose not to enable Find My iPhone, it's possible to find an AirTag assigned and attached to your phone. First, try to locate the AirTag from the Find My app map or tap Play Sound. If you don't see or hear it, put your AirTag in Lost Mode; swipe up on your AirTag and choose Lost Mode > Continue > enter your phone number or email > and tap Activate.

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