27 January 2021
Apple launched the AirPods Max, its over-the-ear headphones with a smart case you can’t take your eyes off. The overly priced over-the-ear headphones from Apple might have many cool things to deliver but it’s still lacking something. It is the U1 chip that is missing from the headphones, well if we go by the technical specifications.
As pointed out by MacRumors first, the tech specs page of the newly-launched AirPods Max does list the U1 chip, indicating the same might not be present inside the headphones.
Those who are unaware should know the U1 chip enables improved spatial awareness, which means this allows the devices to communicate with other U1-equipped devices.
While this may not sound a big deal for most of the consumers, it could be a key factor for many, especially when Apple is poised to bring AirTags. This clearly indicates the new AirPods Max does not support Ultra-Wideband (UWB) for communication and it may not be compatible with the rumored AirTags, a potential tracking device for misplaced or lost items.
The rumored AirTags are expected to use Ultra-Wideband technology so as to locate and communicate with other U1-equipped devices. But with AirPods Max lacking this dedicated chip, the AirTags may not able to track them if lost.
The U1 chip is one of the dedicated chips launched by Apple. It was announced when Apple introduced its new iPhone 11 last year. Since then the chip can be found in many Apple products but the rollout has been inconsistent. Apple iPhone 11, iPhone 12 models, Watch Series 6 models, HomePods mini, all these devices come with a U1 chip. But, second-gen iPhone SE, Apple Watch SE, or the latest iPad, iPad Air and iPad Pro models do not include this chip for UWB.
Last year, when Apple introduced its U1 chip, it touted that the new chip will enable “amazing new capabilities” in the new iPhone models, including a more accurate version of AirDrop with iOS 13.
The U1 uses low-energy and short-range radio technology that is used primarily for wireless data transmission. It was launched to bring more accuracy than Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi. The U1 chip is used to precisely measure the time a radio wave takes to pass between two U1-equipped devices.