Review: Apple AirTags are worth the wait

After being rumoured for years, Apple has finally released AirTags - wireless little devices that can be attached to things to stop them from being lost.

A rival to the likes of Tile and Samsung's SmartTags, AirTags have launched with a RRP of NZ$55 each in Aotearoa.

Do they work as well as they claim to? What are the drawbacks?

I've been using some AirTags for the past few weeks and here are my thoughts.

The good

Yep, AirTags work just as well as Apple claims they do.

If you already have an iPhone and have used the Find My app before, AirTags are super easy to connect to and then use to track your items.

And that tracking can be fun.

Getting super accurate directions on your phone to exactly where the tag is located has a bit of a sci-fi feel to it - I kind of want to add sound effects to mine so it's like when Ripley is tracking Newt in Aliens.

Newshub's Daniel Rutledge reviews Apple's AirTags.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Immediately upon opening the package, we hid tags from each other around the Newshub office in Auckland and then found them using the app.

If you're close to the tag, the app will tell you what you've named it ("keys", "jacket" etc) is "nearby". When you get within about 10m it'll tell you how far it is exactly and in what direction, even telling you to try going up or down a building level.

When you're further away, you can track it on a map like you would any location on an online map.

The AirTags can emit a sound when you want them to and as you get close to them, satisfying haptic feedback in your phone helps with locating them.

It's easy as, and has uses beyond finding lost stuff.

I used an AirTag with my luggage on a recent trip to Adelaide and while on the tarmac, made sure my suitcase was in the plane before it took off. 

Use Apple AirTags to make sure your luggage has gotten on the plane with you.
Photo credit: Newshub.

It's accurate enough that you can see when it's still in the terminal and when it's out on the plane with you. You can also check it's still on the plane when you land - which I did, but I suspect I would have already noticed if it had fallen out.

That price is fair and the battery in them is said to last for about a year. When it needs replacing, you can easily do so with any CR2032 battery.

There's not a great deal more to say about AirTags.

Unlike other tech reviews, this particular item is very uncomplicated, offering basically one feature which it excels at.

The bad

If you don't own other Apple products, these are off-limits to you.

Android users can help identify lost tags and get them back to their owner, but you need the Find My app to own and use AirTags.

While the prices of AirTags are totally reasonable, what their accessories cost is a bit on the nose. You can't attach a plain tag to your keys, you need it in a holder that can work as a keyring - and Apple branded ones cost more than the AirTag itself on the company's NZ website.

There are third-party versions available for much cheaper, so shop around if you want to save some money. 

There is also the possibility of misusing AirTags, like using them to track people without their consent.

Apple has of course implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening, but there are concerns it's still possible. A report that tested the stalking capabilities of AirTags on the Washington Post found "Apple's efforts to stop the misuse of its trackers just aren't sufficient".

But the possible misuse of them by creeps shouldn't really dissuade normal people from wanting to use them in the right way.

The verdict

Apple's AirTags do what they say on the tin and do it very well.

They're a simple device whose usability has been simplified in the extreme for iPhone users, making it remarkably easy to set them up and use how you like.

It's a shame they can't be used by non Apple customers and that the Apple-branded accessories for them are quite expensive.

But for iPhone users who tend to lose things, like their keys or wallet, these are easily recommendable as a great buy.

Newshub was supplied Apple AirTags for this review.