How to avoid AirTag batteries dying now that Apple isn’t showing life remaining

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You can no longer check the battery level of your AirTags at all times, but there are some things you can – and should – do to make sure they don’t die unexpectedly from you.

This might be the shortest guide in Apple history. The answer to the question of how to check the battery level of your AirTags is that it is not possible.

It’s not that Apple gave the upcoming iOS 16 a chance, it’s that it changed iOS 15 as well. Previously, you could open the Find My app, tap a named AirTag, and see a battery icon.

That was just an icon, there was no way to get a percentage of the remaining battery life. So it was always an approximation, but if you still saw that the battery was about three quarters full, everything was fine.

Except maybe it wasn’t you.

Apple hasn’t commented on why it removed the battery indicator, but one possibility is that it was unreliable for some reason. AppleInsider AirTag users, for example, have had their iPhones show a low battery warning, only to see about a 50% charge, according to the Find My app.

What Apple now recommends

Really, Apple’s advice now in its updated support documentation is that you should leave it alone. Ignore your AirTags — until your iPhone displays a low battery warning.

If you somehow miss this notification, you can go into the Find My app and tap on the named AirTag. Once you’ve received that low battery alert – and only if you’ve received it – you’ll also now have the old battery icon back in Find My.

It will show you a very small charge and it’s really pointless.

This icon only appears when you’ve received the notification, and you’re more likely to recognize this alert than suddenly decide to check Find My for a battery icon’s return.

Also, the icon is still just an image with no percentage. Neither it nor the warning message has an actual number or possible indication of how much time you have left on that battery. The warning only says that you should replace the battery “soon”.

Going to Find My might show more information, but it’s not useful. “Low Battery”, it can say. “Some features are not available.”

Apple doesn't say which features

It doesn’t say what these features are, nor does Apple’s support documentation clarify the issue. But since AirTags pretty much do the job, it’s fair to assume you’d want them to have all of their functionality at their disposal.

What AppleInsider is usually recommended

Apple seems about right in its estimate that an AirTag battery will last a year. It obviously depends on how much time you spend looking for the AirTag, but a year seems to be about what most people typically get.

Regardless of whether you received the alert or not, schedule a battery replacement one year after receipt. Or rather, since you don’t want to waste batteries, buy a new battery pack when 12 months is up and keep it with you until you get the warning.

It may take a minute to remember when you bought the AirTag. But at least for the future, you can use Siri to remind you to buy the next battery in, say, 11 months.

However, when you buy a new battery, it has to be the right one. That sounds obvious since you’re never going to clip an AA battery into an AirTag, but there’s something more to it than just physical size.

First, the battery must be a CR2032. But secondly, they shouldn’t be CR2032 products that have a so-called bitter coating.

This coating is intended to prevent children from swallowing the small batteries. However, that same bitter coating can prevent proper contact with the AirTag’s battery contacts.

There are exceptions

Since Apple won’t say how much time you have between the warning and complete battery death, assume the worst. And especially when you go on a trip.

So yes, buy a battery and have it on hand as the AirTag nears the end of its one-year lifespan, but also install it well in advance if you are about to leave.

As far as you know you still have a few weeks left in the battery, but there’s no way to check. And AirTags have proven so useful, particularly for tracking wandering luggage, that having one would now be annoying but also let it die.

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