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Model Y won't support Tesla's new stable UWB Phone Key connection before Juniper facelift

Model Y will have to use Phone Key with BT for now (image: Tesla)
Model Y will have to use Phone Key with BT for now (image: Tesla)
'Tesla Phone Key keeps disconnecting' is perhaps the most prevalent search term in connection with the feature. The 2024.2.3 Tesla software update version that is rolling out helps users with newer iPhones to unlock their cars much more reliably and quickly.

While the world's most popular vehicle - the Model Y - supports several unlocking methods that include Tesla's Phone Key, the feature will seemingly stay on the slower and less reliable Bluetooth connection for now.

That is despite the fact that Tesla is rolling a new 2024.2.3  software update that includes the faster and way more reliable Ultra-wideband (UWB) Phone Key connectivity support:

Ultrawide band (UWB) technology is now available for Phone Key. So your vehicle and Phone Key can communicate with greater accuracy to more responsively lock, unlock, and open Automatic Doors... In the Tesla app, choose Phone Key > Upgrade and follow the instructions. After setup, keep your iPhone Settings for Nearby Interactions on for Tesla. Requires iPhone 11+ and Tesla app 4.29.5+.

Tesla Phone Key Bluetooth vs UWB connection

One look at the numerous "Tesla Phone Key not working" searches or tip videos is enough to realize that the UWB Phone Key functionality is long overdue. Since Bluetooth connection is not nearly as quick and reliable as UWB that Apple hides under the Nearby Interactions setting, Tesla drivers often have to take out their iPhones, fiddle with the Bluetooth connection, or even go into the app to unlock their cars.

That's a far cry from the seamless process that Tesla puts on display in its Phone Key ads, and comments like "Tesla needs to fix this issue, I have a new Y and still have this problem" are indicative of why there are so many "tesla phone key disconnected" or "tesla phone key not working" searches out there.

Tesla UWB Phone Key: supported models

Unfortunately, the new UWB functionality is reserved only for select Tesla models, and the owner with the new Model Y may be in for a disappointment. The world's bestselling vehicle just doesn't support UWB connectivity, so Tesla is only outing the Phone Key upgrade to the new Model 3 Highland and the 2023 Model X. The latest Model S refresh also has Ultra-wideband chips, as does the Cybertruck, so the enhanced Phone Key function will probably be arriving to those soon.

Unfortunately, Model Y drivers will have to keep using Phone Key over Bluetooth with all the connection drops and frustration that this entails, at least until Tesla outs the Juniper facelift in the summer. Those Model 3 Highland and newer Model X owners with the iPhone 11 and up, however, can add their Teslas to the Nearby Interactions roster, hit the Phone Key upgrade option in the app, and enjoy seamless and reliable Tesla locking and unlocking with the phone in their pocket. 

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2024 02 > Model Y won't support Tesla's new stable UWB Phone Key connection before Juniper facelift
Daniel Zlatev, 2024-02- 9 (Update: 2024-02- 9)