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Samsung adds long-promised Galaxy S21 feature, but hardly anyone can use it

Samsung has started to roll out its digital car keys feature for a select number of phones in South Korea, but it’ll only work with one rather expensive vehicle.

The feature is initially available for those driving the forthcoming, all-electric Genesis GV60 car, provided users have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone with ultra-wideband technology on board. The company is yet to confirm when more cars and territories will open up, after the feature launches later this year.

That means the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 2, Galaxy Z Fold 3, and Galaxy Note 20 phones will be able to unlock the car via the Samsung Pass digital wallet app. Users will also be able to share the key with friends, provided they have a compatible phone.

The key here is that UWB tech that means GV60 drivers will be able to unlock, start, activate the vehicle’s personal settings and even open the boot using passive entry. UWB provides greater short-range accuracy than Bluetooth, making it perfect for use when close proximity is necessary for safety.

In a newsroom post, Samsung writes: “Samsung’s digital key is powered by advanced UWB technology, a short-range, wireless communication protocol that uses radio waves to operate, much like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. However, UWB transmits radio waves at a much higher frequency, enabling highly accurate spatial awareness and directional capabilities that allow mobile devices to understand their surroundings better.

“UWB enables passive entry, so you can say goodbye to digging through your pockets and bags in search of your keys. You’ll be able to lock and unlock your car, start the engine, open the trunk and even activate personalised settings like adjusting your seat and mirror position before you enter the car—all through your smartphone and without pushing a button. If you’re lending your car to a friend or family member for a short period, you can easily share the digital key and even set a time limit on how long the shared key will be available to them.”

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