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AirTags durability test: Is it even possible to destroy one of Apple's trackers?

We dropped, washed and froze one of Apple's new AirTags trackers to see just how much abuse they could handle.

Apple's AirTags are designed to keep track of lost stuff like your keys, so they'll probably be subjected to some rough treatment in everyday use. To find out how well the AirTags hold up to the elements, I put these $29 trackers through the wringer (so to speak) in a laundry, freeze and drop test.

The AirTag doesn't claim to be waterproof, but it is water and dust resistant according to Apple. It also has a user-replaceable battery which made me even more curious to test the water resistance. Turns out, these trackers are incredibly durable.

Read more: How to pair and set up Apple's new AirTags trackers

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Test 1: Putting AirTags through the wash

I always seem to leave stuff in my pockets when I throw on a load of laundry, so I decided to see what would happen if the AirTag went through the wash. 

Apple's IP67 rating means you can dunk an AirTag in three feet (one meter) of water for up to 30 minutes. A regular wash cycle on my machine takes 54 minutes, so the AirTag would potentially be subjected to more water exposure for a longer period of time than the official rating.

Read more: AirTags: 3 ways they're better than Tile trackers, 3 ways they're worse

I started a regular cold wash cycle with detergent and threw some clothes in, plus the AirTag in the pocket of my pants. During the test I opened the Find My app to see if the AirTag was still connected. I could hear the sound faintly playing from the tracker, even over the loud washing machine. While the signal was weak, I could still use the precision finding to locate the AirTag but I had to stand pretty close to the machine to get it to register.


Spot the AirTag.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

After the cycle was complete, I took out my clothes and found the AirTag had dislodged from the pocket and ended up sitting on the side of the washing machine drum. Thanks to the spin cycle, it was dry to the touch but the white plastic back was a little scuffed. 

I checked it was still making a sound when I pinged it in the Find My app and that precision finding was working. The speaker sounded just as loud as it did before I washed the AirTag and precision finding worked as expected.

Test 2: Will AirTags survive freezing temperatures?

Once the AirTag had gone through the washing machine, I used a fresh AirTag to simulate what would happen if you subject the tracker to really cold temperatures.

Seeing as I live in San Francisco, which isn't known for its sub-zero temperatures, the best way for me to simulate a cold climate was to put something in the freezer set to a chilly -2.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or -19 degrees Celsius. I put the AirTag in an ice tray and left it overnight (18 hours) in the freezer to solidify into a block.

During the freezing process, I checked on the AirTag in the Find My app a couple times. In the first few hours I could ping the tracker and hear the sound, but once the ice had started to solidify I couldn't hear the sound like before.


The AirTag in ice.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Once the ice cube with the AirTag was solid, I pulled it out of the tray and used hot water to expedite the defrost process. Drying off the AirTag and testing out the sound and nearby finding worked as expected. I then opened up the AirTag to see if any water had made its way into the battery compartment and noticed a small droplet had formed just by the water seal. So if your AirTag does come into contact with any water (or you drop your keys in the snow), you may want to open the casing and wipe it down.

Test 3: AirTags drop test

In his testing, CNET's Patrick Holland noticed the AirTag's stainless steel cover developed some scratches after a few days on his keys in the Apple leather holder.

Attaching a new AirTag to my keys housed in a Spigen leather fob, I dropped the keys 10 times from several heights onto rough pavers. 


The AirTag comes flying off the keys on the last drop.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

After the drops, the Apple logo on the stainless steel side showed some scratches. But apart from the cosmetic damage, the tracker worked as expected. So if you're really concerned about keeping the AirTag in pristine condition, you might consider an even more protective case.

Read moreOur favorite AirTag accessories start at $13

How tough are the Apple AirTags?

In these unscientific real-world tests, the AirTags are incredibly tough and able to withstand going through the wash, the freezer or multiple drops and still work as expected. 

Apple's official documentation says that splash, dust and water resistance are not permanent conditions and that the resistance may decrease as a result of normal wear.