Tesla’s innovative streak continues with the introduction of ultra-wideband (UWB) support in its latest software update, 2024.2.3, marking a significant improvement in how Tesla’s phone keys operate. This wireless protocol, akin yet superior to Bluetooth, promises to revolutionize the interaction between Tesla vehicles and their owners’ smartphones, albeit with the caveat that only the most recent models equipped with the necessary hardware will benefit from this advancement.
Ultra-wideband technology operates on short-range radio waves, similar to Bluetooth, but stands out by consuming less energy and offering high-precision location tracking capabilities. These features make UWB an ideal choice for accurately locating devices and measuring the distance between them with unprecedented precision, offering advantages over Bluetooth in terms of location accuracy.
The Evolution of Tesla Phone Keys
Tesla phone keys have already changed the game by enabling owners to lock and unlock their vehicles without a physical key, and even share access digitally. Despite their reliability, there have been instances where the car fails to recognize the proximity of the phone. The integration of UWB aims to address these occasional hiccups by ensuring the vehicle knows exactly where the phone is, potentially eliminating recognition delays.
Furthermore, UWB is expected to refine features that depend on the phone’s location, such as automatically selecting the driver profile based on which phone key is closest to the driver’s side.
Activating UWB Phone Key Functionality
For Tesla owners to utilize the UWB-enhanced phone key, a setup process via the Tesla app is required. Users will be guided to “Upgrade Your Phone Key” and must allow the app access to UWB capabilities. For iPhone users, this involves enabling “Nearby Interactions” within the iPhone’s settings.
Supported Vehicles and Phones
Given the hardware dependency of UWB, only Tesla’s latest models, such as the new Model 3 and the 2023 Model X, are compatible with this feature. This limitation means that earlier models like the first-gen Model 3 and current Model Y will miss out on UWB support. On the smartphone front, iPhone models from the 11 onwards include UWB support, with initial Tesla UWB support focusing on iPhones, though Android devices with UWB are expected to follow.