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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

U1 Chip, Wi-Fi 6 to Haptic Touch: Things you didn’t know about Apple’s new iPhone 11 series

Apple's latest iPhone 11 lineup offers a lot more than an improved camera system or battery life. Here are three things that Apple didn't talk about the new iPhones at its fall event.

Written by Anuj Bhatia | New Delhi | Updated: September 16, 2019 9:51:57 pm
Apple iPhone 11, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 price in India, iPhone 11 Pro specifications, iPhone 11 review, iPhone 11 launch in India While it wasn’t mentioned, Apple’s latest iPhone 11 lineup does include the U1 chip that enables ultra-wideband (UWB) positioning, Wi-Fi 6 and more.

Ever since Apple debuted its iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, the emphasis has been on the improved camera system, fast and zippy A13 Bionic chipset and longer battery life. And while these features bring significant improvements to the iPhone 11, there were a few other notable upgrades that Apple didn’t mention during its high-profile event held in Cupertino, California, on Tuesday.

Not mentioned on the stage, but briefly shown on the screen was a “U1” chipset inside the iPhone 11 lineup. Apart from this mysterious chipset, the new iPhones also support Wi-Fi 6, the next-generation of Wi-Fi networking. But one feature Apple took away from the new iPhones is 3D Touch, which has been on the iPhone since 2015. The new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max do not include the 3D touch feature found in the previous-generation iPhones.

U1 chipset uses Ultraband technology

Apple’s flashy new iPhones have a new chipset inside called the U1, which wasn’t highlighted at its highly publicised event. Developed by Apple, this U1 chipset can be used to precisely locate other U1-equipped Apple devices. The “U” in U1 stands for “ultra-wideband.”

The official Apple website does provide some information about the U1 chipset. “The new Apple-designed U1 chip uses Ultra-Wideband technology for spatial awareness – allowing iPhone 11 Pro to precisely locate other U1-equipped Apple devices,” it reads. “It’s like adding another sense to the iPhone, and it’s going to lead to amazing new capabilities.”

Ultra-wideband radio technology

Think of “ultra-wideband” (UWB) as similar to Bluetooth Low Energy. But it is much faster than Bluetooth and has the potential to replace Bluetooth LE. It can apparently transfer files at 8mbps, which is much faster than Bluetooth. The iPhone is the first and only smartphone to support the U1 chipset.

Also read|Apple iPhone 11 vs iPhone XR: Should you upgrade?

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Apple’s U1 chipset. Is Apple working on more U1-equipped devices? It is largely believed that Apple is working on a Tile-like object tracking device that will come with the U1 chipset. Apple never mentioned such device at its recently concluded fall event. Another theory suggests the U1 chipset could improve AR experiences. Rumour has it that Apple is secretly working on augmented reality (AR) glasses. Apple did not announce its AR glasses at the iPhone 11 event. Maybe Apple will probably tell us more about the U1 chipset and its use case at its rumored October event.

For now, though, Apple’s U1 chip supports an improved version of AirDrop, which allows users to point their phones towards each other to share files. This feature will go live with iOS 13.1 on September 30. Keep in mind that the U1 chip is only found on the top-end iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, and not the “affordable” iPhone 11.

3D Touch is gone from the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max

Yes, Apple is discontinuing 3D Touch, a feature which has been on the iPhone since 2015. Apple’s official website clearly stated that the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro do not feature 3D Touch. Instead, the new iPhones now come with “Haptic Touch.”

If you don’t remember, 3D Touch used to offer different interactive levels based on how hard users press down on the iPhone screen. That feature is gone forever and has been replaced with a new Haptic Touch which does the same thing by how long users hold on until you feel a haptic response, instead of how hard you press down on the phone’s screen.

Also read| Apple iPhone 11 cheaper in US, Dubai: Full comparison with India prices

3D Touch was first introduced for the iPhone 6S in 2015 and has been included in every major iPhone. The iPhone XR was the first iPhone to ditch 3D Touch with “Haptic Touch.”

Apple’s latest iPhone 11 lineup has Wi-Fi 6

Like the Galaxy S10 and Note 10, Apple’s iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max come with Wi-Fi 6 support. Well, yes, Wi-Fi 6 is the new WiFi standard, technically known as “802.11AX.” Wi-Fi 6 is not only faster than the current Wi-Fi 5, but also offers better range. And that’s not all. Wi-Fi 6 will also improve the Wi-Fi connection and performance in crowded spaces like cafes. In theory, Wi-Fi 6 might also improve battery on smartphones that support the latest Wi-Fi standard.

Of course, Wi-Fi 6 brings a lot of improvements. But to fully take advantage of Wi-Fi 6, you need to install a new router that comes with Wi-Fi 6 support. Unfortunately, at the moment, Wi-Fi 6 routers are expensive to own.

Wi-Fi 6 offers a top speed of up to 3.5Gbps and less network congestion. And even if you own a Wi-Fi 6 router, you cannot fully tap the potential until unless your service provider offers insanely fast internet speeds.

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