iFixit takes away Apple’s AirTag and finds a great spot for a keychain hole | GeekComparison

Apple recently jumped into the tracking market with the AirTag, a small Bluetooth device with coin cell battery that you can attach to your gear and ping with your smartphone. The device started shipping Friday, so of course gadget disassembly site iFixit got hold of one and took it apart — then put a drill on it?!

As with most Apple products, it looks like some serious engineering has gone into the $29 tracker. The device is barely bigger than the user-replaceable CR2032 battery that powers it, putting rival devices like the Tile and Samsung Galaxy SmartTags to shame with their relative size. Inside, a single circuit board uses a unique donut-shaped design that crams all the components into a ring beneath the battery.

The hole in the center of the circuit board allows Apple to pack a surprisingly large voice coil speaker. The speaker is only for playing ringtones, so you may find your AirTagged thing if you lose it, but apparently the ringtones are super high quality. By comparison, Tile and Samsung’s trackers both use cheap little piezoelectric speakers for playing ringtones, which iFixit rightly notes would be right at home in a “McDonald’s Happy Meal toy”. This speaker is only for acoustic location, so anything that makes a shrill sound will work – Apple just goes for luxury over-engineering.

The other very Apple-esque quality of the AirTag is that it almost seems designed to sell accessories. The most popular use for these trackers is to find your car keys, but out of the box there is no way to attach a key fob to an AirTag. Instead, Apple has enabled a broad ecosystem of AirTag cases, ranging from a $13 keychain to a $449 Hermes (yes, that’s four hundred and forty-nine dollars) luggage tag.

iFixit’s solution to the much sought-after key ring hole is – what else – a drill! The disassembly experts have found a suitable dead space in the AirTag that is somehow not blocked by the battery, speaker or circuit board, and after some careful drilling, iFixit’s AirTag now has a keychain hole with the least possible volume. “The AirTag survived the operation like a champ and works like nothing happened,” the site says. iFixit further noted that the sound profile “didn’t seem to change much”, but the IP67 rating for dust and water resistance is now heavily compromised.

The site conveniently pointed out the safe areas to drill if you want to try this at home, with the proviso that you can have your $29 tracker blocked if you mess up the procedure. Apple sells the AirTags in a $99 four-pack if you want some practice.

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