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Apple warns against using bitter coated batteries in AirTags

AirTag vs. Tile
(Image credit: Apple)

You’re going to need to change the batteries on your AirTags at some point, and according to Apple it’s a good idea to avoid bitter-coated batteries.

The bitter coating on your batteries may stop children (or pets) from eating the batteries, but Apple’s support page claims that they might not work. Why? Because the coating itself may interfere with the battery’s contacts. 

“CR2032 batteries with bitterant coatings might not work with AirTag or other battery-powered products, depending on the alignment of the coating in relation to the battery contacts,” the page states. 

In simple terms the bitter-coating on these types of CR2032 batteries could cause alignment problems inside the AirTag. That in turn would stop the Tag from working, which is the last thing you want to discover when you’ve lost your keys.

Apple has come under fire for the batteries in its AirTags, particularly in Australia where retailers pulled the products from shelves over safety concerns. This was followed by a safety warning from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 

Those fears were spurred by the fact children can (and do) eat the batteries, which in turn causes serious injury and, in extreme cases, death. Every parents’ worst nightmare, basically, and you can understand the appeal of using bitter coated batteries.

The idea is that the coating smells and tastes bad, so kids and animals are more likely to spit them straight out. Nintendo even uses a bitter coating on its Switch cartridges for this very reason.

AirTags don’t have rechargeable batteries and likely never will, because their small size would make the task of adding a recharge port or wireless charging coil impractical. Not to mention the fact an open port would make it much harder for Apple to ensure the tags had the same IP67 dust and water resistance rating they do now.

If you are concerned about the safety of your kids (or pets) then you are still welcome to give bitter coated batteries a try. You just need to bear in mind that they may not work correctly.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.