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What is the Apple U1 chip? The Ultra Wideband chip explained

If you’re looking at buying an iPhone, you might have heard about the U1 chip powering some of the smartphone’s features. But, what exactly does it do?

Read on to learn all about the Apple U1 chip, including what it is, what it does and which devices you can find it powering. 

What is the Apple U1 chip? 

The U1 is an Apple-made chip that uses Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology to bring spatial awareness to its product line. 

The U1 chip initially launched alongside the iPhone 11 in 2019 and has since expanded to the brand’s newer smartphones, smartwatches and more Apple devices.

The coprocessor sits alongside the other chips, allowing Apple devices to precisely locate each other with a level of accuracy beyond what is possible with GPS or Bluetooth alone. 

This enables features like the ability to share a file via AirDrop simply by pointing one phone at another phone, with the U1 automatically positioning that device at the top of your list. This makes it easier to find the person you want to send your file to when there are multiple devices in the room. 

Ultra Wideband is the technology behind Apple’s AirTags, with the Tile-like trackers using UWB to send precise directions to your phone via the Find My app. 

Another use for the U1 is listening to music with the HomePod Mini. This chip makes it possible to transfer the music playing on your iPhone to the HomePod (and vice versa) simply by holding your phone next to the speaker. 

What Apple phones have the U1 chip? 

The U1 chip can be found in the following iPhones: 

The U1 chip can also be found in the Apple Watch (6 and later), the HomePod Mini and the AirTags. It’s also presumably present in the iPhone 14, though there’s no mention of it on the spec page.

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