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Apple's new AirPods Max headphones are not equipped with a U1 chip for Ultra Wideband, according to Apple's tech specs, and confirmed by MacRumors. (This chip is not to be confused with the H1 audio chip in each of the AirPod Max's ear cups.)

airpods-max-internals-1.jpg

First introduced in iPhone 11 models last year, the U1 chip enables improved spatial awareness. The distance between two devices that support Ultra Wideband can be measured precisely by calculating the time that it takes for a radio wave to pass between them, with much more accuracy than Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi.

Apple's rollout of the U1 chip has been inconsistent, with all iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models, Apple Watch Series 6 models, and the HomePod mini equipped with the chip, but not the second-generation iPhone SE, Apple Watch SE, or the latest iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro models. Apple has also yet to release a Mac with Ultra Wideband support.

Apple's use of Ultra Wideband technology has been limited so far, such as a directional AirDrop feature in iOS 13 and later, but the company has promised more exciting use cases in the future. One of those use cases will likely be its long-rumored AirTags items trackers, which analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously said will support Ultra Wideband, which should allow users to locate their lost items with greater accuracy.

Multiple leakers had suggested the AirPods Max (which were dubbed AirPods Studio in rumors) would be equipped with the U1 chip, including Jon Prosser.

Article Link: AirPods Max Don't Contain U1 Chip for Ultra Wideband
 

canyonblue737

macrumors 68020
Jan 10, 2005
2,135
2,596
I don't see why it should.

i think the idea is that apple is using the U1 as the future direction of all apple products to be able to be "located" in space both on a macro scale (like "find my" even away from wifi) as well as in the micro (where in the room are they buried). moving forward many expected nearly all apple devices to have it and then the future "AirTags" would allow you to expand the functionality to non-Apple products. to have a $550 headset without it just seems strange...
 

jlocker

macrumors 65816
Jun 20, 2011
1,022
1,194
Lake Michigan
i think the idea is that apple is using the U1 as the future direction of all apple products to be able to be "located" in space both on a macro scale (like "find my" even away from wifi) as well as in the micro (where in the room are they buried). moving forward many expected nearly all apple devices to have it and then the future "AirTags" would allow you to expand the functionality to non-Apple products. to have a $550 headset without it just seems strange...
Well they want you to buy the Apple Tag to put on the case for the AirPods Max to find them.
 

toxicfume

macrumors newbie
Mar 2, 2012
21
10
U1 is not only for finding lost items, it's for general high-precision proximity awareness. So other proximity sensitive functionalities would be better served with UWB, that would be any device that's mobile (except for Homepod Mini, which act as a base station). The fact that these headphones don't have it I find strange.. since it's most definitely a mobile device. We probably don't have information, and it's very possible that the H1 chip has UWB integrated.
 

AgentElliot007

macrumors 6502a
Mar 22, 2010
569
314
The inconsistent rollout coupled with the still yet to be released AirTags makes me wonder if UWB technology simply isn’t ready for prime time yet. I don’t know much about it, but I have been a bit confused by the strategy relative to the way they’ve communicated about the feature. Perhaps we all misunderstand what it means to the ecosystem. Or again, maybe it isn’t really ready.
 

RONS67

macrumors member
Aug 15, 2016
90
99
i think the idea is that apple is using the U1 as the future direction of all apple products to be able to be "located" in space both on a macro scale (like "find my" even away from wifi) as well as in the micro (where in the room are they buried). moving forward many expected nearly all apple devices to have it and then the future "AirTags" would allow you to expand the functionality to non-Apple products. to have a $550 headset without it just seems strange...
Apple would like AirPods Max owners to buy and affix an AirTag for location services.
 
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howywood

macrumors 6502
May 8, 2020
277
457
Isn't U1 supposed to have the pinpointed spatial awareness feature? I don't understand why it wouldn't be included. Surely they'll bend us over for v2 next year and call it a major upgrade.
 
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Analog Kid

macrumors G3
Mar 4, 2003
8,696
10,953
Man, the U1 strategy is just a mystery... When we finally learn whatApple intends it for, I wonder if we’ll find they’ve been strategically seeding the market with supported devices, or that the tech stumbled but they couldn’t pull it from production in time...
 

adrianlondon

macrumors 601
Nov 28, 2013
4,975
7,435
Switzerland
The spec states:

Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking delivers a cinema‑like experience for movies and shows, with sound that surrounds you.1 Using built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers, AirPods Max and your iPhone or iPad track the subtle motion of your head, anchoring sounds to your device.

Isn't that what the U1 is meant to do?
 
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farewelwilliams

Suspended
Jun 18, 2014
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i think the idea is that apple is using the U1 as the future direction of all apple products to be able to be "located" in space both on a macro scale (like "find my" even away from wifi) as well as in the micro (where in the room are they buried). moving forward many expected nearly all apple devices to have it and then the future "AirTags" would allow you to expand the functionality to non-Apple products. to have a $550 headset without it just seems strange...

Macro scale can be achieved through bluetooth mesh. This is something MacBook already does.

Micro scale sensor is probably unnecessary due to its giant size.
 
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