Though it remains unclear why, the U1 Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip first added to the iPhone 11 series back in 2019 and then subsequently brought to the iPhone 12 series, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the HomePod mini, is not featured in Apple’s recently revealed AirPods Max over-ear headphones.
The pricey headphones’ press release states that each ear cup features Apple’s H1 chip, but there’s no mention of the U1. In fact, the U1 doesn’t even appear in the AirPods Max spec sheet on Apple’s website.
Ultra Wideband technology allows devices to understand precisely where they’re located relative to other devices in the room. Apple currently utilizes the U1 chip for faster AirDrop sharing and allows iPhone 11/12 users to unlock specific cars’ specific models.
Looks like they made some changes on these to get them out the door as was deemed likely after several development set backs over the past many months — not seeing swappable bands, and Apple Watch Digital Crown instead of touch panels, and left and right sides aren’t reversible.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) December 8, 2020
With the HomePod mini, the U1 chip is utilized for handing off Apple Music tracks between the iPhone and the smart speaker. In theory, it would make sense for the AirPods Max to include similar functionality.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple reportedly ditched several features from the AirPods Max in order to release them in 2020.
Removed features include swappable bands, the left and right sides of the headphones being reversible and finally, opting for a Digital Crown-like wheel for settings navigation instead of a touch panel. It’s possible that the plan was also to include the U1 chip in the AirPods Max at some point.
The AirPods Max are set to start shipping for $779 in Canada on December 15th.
Image credit: Apple