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iPhone 11 phones pack a unique chip that Apple barely talked about

Published Sep 11th, 2019 6:50AM EDT
iPhone 11 vs. 11 Pro
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple on Tuesday unveiled a bunch of new products, including the highly anticipated iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro phones that were featured in numerous reports during the past few months. Many of those iPhone rumors came true, but not all of them. Notably absent from the show was the reverse wireless support feature the iPhone 11 phones were supposed to get. A last-minute leak, however, said Apple wasn’t happy with it and could have scrapped the project. Also, a last-minute leak told us the new phones will feature a brand new type of silicon, and Apple did deliver that one. But the company hardly addressed in on stage during the event. That’s the new U1 chip that was shown on certain roundup slides during the Apple event, and which is explained on Apple’s product pages for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro.

With the U1 chip, you’ll be able to share files, find people and objects and play “more precisely than ever,” Apple explains. But the company only addresses one of these features, and that’s AirDrop sharing:

Ultra Wideband technology comes to iPhone. The new Apple‑designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 to precisely locate other U1‑equipped Apple devices. Think GPS at the scale of your living room. So if you want to share a file with someone using AirDrop, just point your iPhone at theirs and they’ll be first on the list.

The feature will be available on September 30th on all iPhone 11 models, presumably once the iOS 13.1 is ready to launch.
The report that did mention this new Apple coprocessor referred to it as the R-series chip. It doesn’t matter what Apple calls it, but what the chip can do. And that report said that the U1 would improve spatial awareness and potentially help with finding lost objects (or people), that have an Apple Tags attached.

Image source: Apple Inc.

Apple Tags is what that report called Apple’s rumored Tile-like device that’s supposed to let you find missing objects with ease. Apple didn’t introduce such a device during the event, however, which might explain why it didn’t spend too much time explaining what the U1 can do.

Considering the wording in the paragraph above, it sure looks like the U1 can do a lot more than letting you share files with ease. But Apple isn’t ready to reveal more details.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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