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First impressions: Apple AirTag and the iPhone 12 in purple

By Kenny Yeo - 24 Apr 2021

First impressions: Apple AirTag and the iPhone 12 in purple

Note: We now have a more detailed review of the AirTags, complete with commonly asked scenarios tested and security matters covered.

Apple announced a new iPhone 12 in purple and the AirTag tracker earlier this week.

Apple just had their first event of the year and there were a couple of major announcements.

New 24-inch iMac and iPad Pros aside, Apple also announced purple iPhones and AirTags, which we will be taking a quick look at here. 

If you like the colour purple, this is the phone for you.

Let’s begin with the iPhone 12 in purple. Well, there’s really not much to say other than it’s an iPhone in purple. If you need to be reminded of its capabilities, check out my review from last year here. It’s not an in-your-face shade of purple. Rather, it’s a soft pastel shade, which I find very appealing. The quality of the finish is, as you’d expect, very high. So if you fancy purple like I do, then I think you will find this new addition very appealing. Take note this new purple finish is only available with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini and not the Pro iPhones.

The AirTag is the size of a very large coin.

As for the AirTag, it’s small and light. To me, it feels like a very large coin. The body is white polycarbonate and there’s a polished metal cover that’s etched with the Apple logo. The metal portion comes off to reveal the user-replaceable battery within. It’s a CR2032 battery that should be stocked at most, if not all supermarkets, grocery stores, and hardware stores. Replacing batteries should therefore be a cinch. As for battery life, Apple is saying it should last for over a year with “everyday use”.

Accessing and replacing the battery will be a cinch.

Setting AirTags up isn’t all that different from AirPods. You simply bring it near your iPhone and a prompt will appear asking if you'd like to connect. Thereafter you’ll be asked to name it and that’s it. It’ll now appear in the Find My app. The app is what you'll use if you are trying to locate your AirTags.

The pairing process is effortless.

Each AirTag has a built-in speaker which uses its polycarbonate housing to produce a series of high-pitch chirps when you activate the “Play Sound” function. It was louder than I had expected. However, the chirps don’t play for long – presumably an effort to conserve battery – so unless you have pinpoint hearing, you might need to activate it a couple of times before you can find it.

Precision Finding makes it easy to find the AirTag. However, this feature is only available with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 series of phones.

Owners of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 will find that it’s more effective to use the Precision Finding feature. If you are within range, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 can use the Ultra Wideband capability of their built-in U1 chips to determine the precise direction and distance of your AirTag. It’s impressively precise and can even give you a distance reading down to the tens of centimetres. I find this to be far more effective than using the “Play Sound” feature. Check it out in action below:

I have a couple of other tests in mind before I can give my verdict on the AirTag, but based on my first impressions so far and considering the fact that it takes advantage of Apple’s extensive Find My network, the AirTag does make a strong case for itself (assuming you are an iPhone user). And at S$49, it isn’t even exorbitantly priced – not something that can be said for most Apple products. If you are the type of person who is constantly misplacing stuff like keys and bags, it looks like it could be the best S$49 you’ll ever spend.

Stay tuned for my full review of the AirTag (which is now published here).

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