PhonAndroid AirTag: iFixit reveals the secret of its invisible speaker in a very detailed teardown
How do the AirTags manage to emit such a powerful sound when no speaker or hole is visible, unlike the Tile and Samsung SmartThings? To answer this question, among other things, iFixit has taken apart the new Apple tracker. The device has by far the most compact and integrated design on the market, with amazing tricks to accommodate the lack of space. iFixit adds to have discovered that it is possible to drill a hole in certain places to avoid the purchase of accessories and to attach it directly to the key ring.
It's now a tradition: with each new release, iFixit engineers publish a detailed teardown that tells us more about their proprietary technology from the tech giants, how it all came together as well as repairability. Just over a week ago, Apple held a keynote on the sidelines of which we discovered new multicolored iMacs, an iPad Pro with the M1 chip, and the firm's long-awaited connected tracker, called AirTag.
iFixit got hold of one of these little white dots, as well as a Tile Mate and a Samsung SmartThings, just to be able to compare them. iFixit immediately notes that the AirTag, the most compact device in this selection, is the only one to offer Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology to locate objects very precisely inside the home. It is this technology that allows the Locate application on iPhone to display the precise direction and distance that separates you from your lost objects.
iFixit dismantles the AirTag and reveals its secrets
A tracker with UWB has just launched from Samsung the SmartThings+ – but it was not yet available for sale at the time iFixit wrote its teardown. Despite this extra connectivity, Apple didn't waste any space in the casing. X-ray analysis reveals that every square millimeter is covered in components except for a thin strip of plastic all around the device.
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Which is not the case of its competitors, who could, it seems, further reduce the size of their tracker with a little more integration. The AirTags battery compartment opens by sliding its metal cover a quarter with your fingers. No tools are required. However, iFixit notes that the AirTag is the least easy to open due to the metal coating and the opening method. Nothing prohibitive, because for once, Apple at least opens its product to battery replacement by the user, unlike other products.
The battery used by Apple is the very standard CR2032 flat battery that is very easily found commercially and in competing products such as the Samsung tracker. Disassembling the AirTags beyond this requires more persuasion, however. iFixit said it was surprised by how little glue was used during manufacturing. Again, a rather refreshing point given the block of glue that AirPods are essentially. A little pressure in a vice made it possible to pass to the lower floor.
At this point, you will probably have a question: where did Apple put the AirTag speaker? The Tiles and SmartThings have a small grille to let the sound out, but the AirTag does not. In fact, the trick used by Apple surprised even the iFixit engineers. Apple has indeed succeeded in using the body of the AirTags as a speaker. For this a magnet is fixed inside the plastic cover. The coil is attached to the back of the battery compartment. It is therefore essentially this compartment which acts as a diaphragm and the vibrations are transmitted via the battery to the metal cover.
Also read: AirTags are Android compatible, but only in one situation
A much higher quality solution than a piezoelectric loudspeaker would be. iFixit ends its teardown with a fun observation. We told you above, even if the space is rather well used inside the AirTags, there is still a strip of plastic around the edge of the tracker which does not contain any components. iFiixit therefore decided to take a drill and make a hole in it, just to add a feature that currently requires the purchase of an accessory: a key ring. Of course, we don't recommend this modification, but at least iFisit shows that it can be considered...
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