Apple AirTag Review

We tested an Apple AirTag and found it works best for tracking items, but it has some other uses too.
Best for tracking items
Apple AirTag
  • pro
    No monthly fees
  • pro
    1-year battery
  • con
    Doesn’t track motion
Cathy Habas
Staff Writer, Safety & Security
September 19, 2022

Apple AirTags worked well when we tested them and earned two thumbs up for tracking items like keys, purses, and luggage. They can also be used to track kids, pets, and cars, but that’s where things get a little sticky since AirTags don’t do a good job of tracking things in motion. We’ll explain what to expect from Apple AirTags no matter how you want to use them.

For even more details, check out our Apple AirTag FAQs.

pro
Pros
pro Very affordable
pro No monthly fees
pro 1-year battery
pro Track up to 16 per Apple ID
pro Easy setup
con
Cons
con Best features require iPhone 11 and up
con Doesn’t track things in motion
con Useless without nearby Find My devices

Apple AirTags vs. best GPS trackers

Apple AirTags have a longer battery life and way more affordable price tag than our favorite GPS trackers. But AirTags really have no other features besides location tracking. GPS trackers usually have geofencing alerts and scheduled location updates, whereas AirTags only show their location on demand.

Tracker
Best for
Upfront cost
Subscription cost
Max battery life
Standout feature
Learn more
Read review
Best for vehicles$6.58/mo.N/AMaintenance reminders
Best for kids$8.99/mo.10 daysArtificial intelligence
Best for seniors$24.99/mo.5 daysAutomatic fall detection
Best for pets$12.99/mo.20 daysActivity monitoring
Best for items$0.00/mo.1 yearPrecision finding

Amazon.com price as of post date. Read full disclaimer

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What's in the box

Image: Katie McEntire, SafeWise

  • Apple AirTag (battery included)
  • Quick start guide

Most affordable tracking device

Apple AirTags are incredibly affordable, especially compared to GPS trackers. Bluetooth trackers always cost less than GPS trackers anyway, but AirTags go a step further with no monthly fees, period.

Even the one-time purchase price of about $30 is as good as it gets.

You do need an iPhone to set up an AirTag, and those don’t come cheap. But if you’re already an iPhone user, AirTags are super budget-friendly.

How Apple AirTags track things

We go into more detail about how AirTags work in our Apple AirTag FAQs. Here’s the quick explanation:

Apple AirTags anonymously connect to any nearby Bluetooth-enabled device that’s also part of Apple’s Find My network—about 1.8 billion devices worldwide.

The AirTag’s location is estimated based on the GPS location of those devices. It shows up in the Find My app as a pin on the map.

You’d be able to see that you left your wallet in your car, for example, and not at your friend’s house. But if you still couldn’t find your wallet in your car, you could use the Find My app to make the AirTag beep. The sound would help you know which part of the car to rummage through.

And if that still didn’t work—and you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone 11 or later—you could use the Precision Finding tool to turn your phone into a compass. Just follow the arrow until the distance reaches zero, and you should be right on top of the lost item.

Bluetooth is too slow for items in motion

Bluetooth tracking technology is a catch-22 for AirTags. On the one hand, it’s the reason these quarter-sized gadgets are so affordable and can run for nearly a year on one battery. On the other hand, Bluetooth connections are relatively slow—and that means an AirTag can’t reliably connect to devices in the Find My network when it’s moving 65 miles an hour down the freeway, for example.

Other uses for Apple AirTags

You’re not at a total loss if you’re hoping to use AirTags to track cars, pets, or kids. You just need to understand the limitations of each use.

Tracking vehicles with AirTags: Okay for short trips

AirTags aren’t set-it-and-forget-it devices for tracking your teenage driver or trucking fleet, but they work okay for shorter trips in urban areas.

For starters, AirTags beep when separated from your iPhone for more than 8 to 12 hours. That’s a safety feature to prevent people from being tracked without their knowledge. But even if the driver gives you permission to use an AirTag, that beeping can’t be turned off. And it would be pretty annoying—but you could try putting the AirTag in the trunk and see if it’s tolerable.

Then there’s the issue of tracking things in motion. You’ll get location updates when the vehicle slows down or stops and is around other slow-or-stopped Find My devices. So you might get location updates at each red traffic light or whenever the car stops to get gas. But if the car doesn’t stop for hours or gets stranded in the middle of nowhere, you’re less likely to get an update.

For more accurate vehicle tracking, check out our recommended vehicle GPS trackers. While they do have monthly fees, you get a lot more value than with an AirTag.

Tracking pets with AirTags: Good in most cases

AirTags should work well for tracking pets as long as you don’t live in a remote area or on a huge farm. For example, if your farm dog decides to camp out with the cows for the night, there’s probably not a Find My device within 33 feet, so the AirTag couldn’t send a location update.

AirTag’s long battery life makes it ideal for attaching to your pet’s collar—you won’t have to take it off to charge, which could leave your pet vulnerable if they choose that moment to wander off. And the beeping shouldn’t be an issue since your pet probably hangs out within 33 feet of you within an 8-hour time span.

The only other time an AirTag would let you down is if your pet gets scared and runs off in a panic. The AirTag might not send a location update until they stop for a breather. You wouldn’t be able to track them in real-time, but it would be better than nothing.

You can find all kinds of colorful silicone collar attachments for Apple AirTags to keep them snug. And if you need a tracker that’s more reliable in the countryside, check out our favorite GPS dog collars and pet trackers.

Tracking kids with AirTags: Good complement

We consider AirTags a secondary layer of protection for kids. GPS trackers have fewer limitations than AirTags but can have a margin of error of about 16 feet. Imagine all the hiding places your child could find within a 16-foot radius—especially in a crowded area.

That’s when it would be helpful to use the Find My app to hone in on your child’s location. Otherwise, AirTags lack safety features like geofences and emergency buttons, so we don’t recommend them as your primary kid tracker. Check out our list of the best kids GPS trackers instead.

Final word

Apple AirTags work well for tracking items and pets, but they’re not the best option for tracking anything that moves too fast or could end up in a remote area. Otherwise, you can’t beat AirTag’s price.

How we reviewed Apple AirTags

Image: SafeWise. 

For our Apple AirTag review, we conducted hands-on testing from setup to tracking to dismantling. We also compared its technical specs to other trackers on the market and researched safety concerns. Learn more on the SafeWise methodology page.

Related articles on SafeWise


Disclaimers

*Product prices and availability are accurate as of post date and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over seven years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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