Goodbye, Traditional Car Keys: Samsung Phones Now Able to Unlock Doors, Start the Engine

Apple was the first tech giant to allow its smartphones to double as car keys, and now the South Koreans at Samsung are following in the footsteps of their American rival with a similar announcement.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 6 photos
Photo: Samsung
Genesis GV60 exteriorGenesis GV60 exteriorGenesis GV60 exteriorGenesis GV60 interiorGenesis GV60 interior
The company’s latest high-end models can now be used as digital car keys, therefore being able to lock and unlock the doors of your vehicle, start the engine, and even adjust certain settings all using only a few taps on the screen.

Originally announced at the Unpacked event the last January, the new feature is powered by ultra-wideband (UWB) technology that allows the mobile device to communicate with the car wirelessly and securely.

As a result, phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 can get access to certain functions of the car without the need for the traditional keys, with the mobile phone company explaining that drivers would even be allowed to adjust the seat and the mirror position before entering the car.

At the same time, Samsung’s Android phones will allow car key sharing with someone else, all for a limited time and using a secure method that doesn’t expose any kind of data.

The first car model to support the new feature is the Genesis GV60, and Samsung says the debut will happen by the end of this year in Korea. There’s no word as to when international users could get the same functionality, but there’s no doubt this is Samsung’s long-term goal, especially as the adoption of Apple’s UWB technology is also on the rise.

At this point, only five phone models coming from Samsung support the new digital car keys, namely the Galaxy S21+, Galaxy S21 Ultra, Note20 Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 2, and Galaxy Z Fold 3. The company has remained tight-lipped on whether it plans to expand this feature to more devices or if the company is already discussing with other carmakers to introduce similar functionality on more vehicles.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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