Tesla recently rolled out an over-the-air update to its mobile app, introducing Ultra-Wideband (UWB) support for the Phone Key feature. This update will allow compatible iPhone owners to unlock their Teslas more quickly, easily, and reliably using Apple’s innovative short-range wireless technology.
What is Ultra-Wideband?
Ultra-Wideband, or UWB for short, is a cutting-edge wireless protocol that transmits large amounts of data over very short distances. Compared to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, UWB offers a number of advantages:
- Precise location tracking accuracy down to just a few centimeters
- Extremely difficult to interfere with or intercept due to the amount of bandwidth utilized
- Low energy consumption for longer battery life
- High transfer speeds for large files and robust connections
This combination of precise location services and resilience against interference makes UWB perfect for wireless car key applications. It’s already being adopted by major players like Apple, Google, Samsung and car manufacturers.
How UWB Improves Tesla’s Phone Key
Tesla’s over-the-air update brings UWB support for the Phone Key system which allows owners to use their compatible iPhone or Android device instead of the traditional keycard to unlock and drive their vehicle. Here is how UWB makes Phone Key faster and more reliable:
With Bluetooth, you need to take your phone out and hold it near the driver’s door pillar for 1-2 seconds to unlock. With UWB’s precise location tracking, just walking up to your car with your iPhone in hand or pocket instantly unlocks the doors.
Starting your Tesla with Phone Key used to involve placing your phone in either cupholder which requires manually positioning it. Now you can leave your UWB iPhone in your bag or pocket and simply sit down in the driver’s seat to start the vehicle right up.
Bluetooth connections can easily face interference leading to inconsistent or failed unlocking attempts. By operating on high-bandwidth channels, UWB signals are far less impacted by other wireless interference for rock-solid reliability.
Tapping your wallet or pocket to instantly unlock and fire up your Tesla truly enables keys-free convenience. No more fumbling for your keycard or phone.
Paving the Way for New Features
With ultra-precise distance tracking, Tesla could roll out new UWB-powered features like gesture controls, custom driver profiles that automatically adjust seats and climate settings as you approach, and passive entry that senses your presence to open doors.
Which Tesla Vehicles Support UWB Phone Key?
The Tesla vehicles that currently support UWB Phone Key unlocking and driving functionality include:
- Model S (built 2020 or later)
- Model X (built 2020 or later)
- Model 3
- Model Y
So if you have a newer Model S, Model X, Model 3 or Model Y, you can now leverage UWB to revolutionize the keyless entry experience if you have a supported iPhone model (covered next).
Which iPhones Work With Tesla UWB Features?
To tap into all the perks of UWB Phone Key functionality, you’ll need one of following recent iPhone models with Apple’s U1 ultra-wideband chip inside:
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 12 mini
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 13 mini
- iPhone 13
- iPhone 13 Pro
- iPhone 14
- iPhone 14 Plus
- iPhone 14 Pro
- iPhone 14 Pro Max
So if you bought a flagship iPhone recently, chances are you’re all set. Even if you have an older iPhone, you’ll still benefit from the basic Bluetooth-based Phone Key capability.
How to Enable UWB Phone Key on Your Tesla
Using Ultra-Wideband with your Tesla is as easy as updating your Tesla app and toggling on the new UWB feature:
- Install latest version of the Tesla app (at least 4.7 or higher).
- Open the app and go to Controls > Phone Key.
- Select the vehicle you want to enable UWB on.
- Toggle “Use Ultra-Wideband” to the “on” position.
Once enabled, the next time you approach your Tesla with a supported iPhone model, your doors should magically unlock! Then take your seat and simply press the brake pedal to fire up driving the key-free way.
The Future of UWB Car Key Tech
Tesla is leading the pack in leveraging UWB, but other automakers like BMW have also started rolling out UWB digital car key support. And with Apple rumored to be developing its own UWB car keys for iOS 16, support is poised to skyrocket.
UWB promises to transform keyless entry from a clunky feature into a truly magical experience. As the infrastructure improves and more car manufacturers integrate this game-changing wireless standard into their vehicles, tapping your pocket to unlock your ride could soon become second nature.