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Car won't unlock until I handle my iPhone

CarbonFree

Member
Aug 24, 2017
186
205
Seattle
My two iPhones have never worked properly with my 3. My brand new iPhone XS Max, for example, will fail to hands-free unlock the car most of the time.

The odd thing is, however, that once I take the phone out of my pocket (waking up the screen) the car immediately unlocks. I don't have to unlock the phone, just engage its motion sensor.

It's as if there is a low power key mode which fails on the Model 3, but the high power mode succeeds. I suspect an issue with the car's Bluetooth module.

Has anyone else encountered this issue? Service is stumped.
 

RTPEV

Active Member
Mar 21, 2016
1,216
1,494
Durham, NC
First of all there is a gigantic thread devoted to this topic here: Phone as Key Issues

But I won't make you read all 60 pages! Suffice it to say, the phone as key is problematic.

But here is my latest observation. I normally have my phone out of my pocket and in my hand, ready to set down in the center console.

Occasionally though, my hands are full and I try opening the door without taking the phone out of my pocket, and based on recent experience, almost every time that my car has failed to unlock (which is fairly rare these days), it's when my phone is in my pocket.

In the past I would have done what you are trying to do. Unlock the phone, get into the Tesla app, wait for it to connect to the car (and wake up the car), and then try again. Or maybe toggle Bluetooth, or airplane mode.

But lately, I haven't been doing any of that. I simply take my phone out of my pocket and wait. And maybe 10 seconds later (tops), it unlocks.

I think it's as simple as my Bluetooth connection doesn't work well through my jeans! And it's not that my phone is in some kind of sleep state or something, because typically I will have just picked it up and walked 50 feet out to my car.

There is other anecdotal evidence to suggest this. Some people keep their phones in their back pockets and it never works, but they found that if they rotated so that the phone is near the B pillar that it works.

So I think the Bluetooth Low Energy is just a tad bit too Low Energy!
 
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First of all there is a gigantic thread devoted to this topic here: Phone as Key Issues

But I won't make you read all 60 pages! Suffice it to say, the phone as key is problematic.

But here is my latest observation. I normally have my phone out of my pocket and in my hand, ready to set down in the center console.

Occasionally though, my hands are full and I try opening the door without taking the phone out of my pocket, and based on recent experience, almost every time that my car has failed to unlock (which is fairly rare these days), it's when my phone is in my pocket.

In the past I would have done what you are trying to do. Unlock the phone, get into the Tesla app, wait for it to connect to the car (and wake up the car), and then try again. Or maybe toggle Bluetooth, or airplane mode.

But lately, I haven't been doing any of that. I simply take my phone out of my pocket and wait. And maybe 10 seconds later (tops), it unlocks.

I think it's as simple as my Bluetooth connection doesn't work well through my jeans! And it's not that my phone is in some kind of sleep state or something, because typically I will have just picked it up and walked 50 feet out to my car.

There is other anecdotal evidence to suggest this. Some people keep their phones in their back pockets and it never works, but they found that if they rotated so that the phone is near the B pillar that it works.

So I think the Bluetooth Low Energy is just a tad bit too Low Energy!

My only issue with this surmise (which is just as valid as mine, lacking definitive data) is that my phone often stays connected [bluetooth] multiple hundreds of feet away and/or through multiple walls.
 

RTPEV

Active Member
Mar 21, 2016
1,216
1,494
Durham, NC
My only issue with this surmise (which is just as valid as mine, lacking definitive data) is that my phone often stays connected [bluetooth] multiple hundreds of feet away and/or through multiple walls.

That's regular Bluetooth though. The key uses BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), an entirely different mechanism (despite the similar name).
 
If your phone is in your back pocket, your body may affect the BT connection. Try walking backwards to your car or move the phone to the front pocket to see if your experience changes. If it does, you know why.

I usually have my phone in my front pocket but have at times had it in the back pocket and the car didn’t detect it.

Only other time I have had issues, I forced quit the app and re opened it.
 
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G78M3

Member
Jul 31, 2018
185
146
South Florida
My two iPhones have never worked properly with my 3. My brand new iPhone XS Max, for example, will fail to hands-free unlock the car most of the time.

The odd thing is, however, that once I take the phone out of my pocket (waking up the screen) the car immediately unlocks. I don't have to unlock the phone, just engage its motion sensor.

It's as if there is a low power key mode which fails on the Model 3, but the high power mode succeeds. I suspect an issue with the car's Bluetooth module.

Has anyone else encountered this issue? Service is stumped.

That happens to me once every few months... when it happens, I delete the phone from the car, then add it again as a key, and that always solve it.
 

stonelance

Member
Jul 26, 2018
409
350
Seattle
This happens pretty regularly for me with my android phone as well. Pulling the phone out of my pocket and waking it up is always enough to unlock the Tesla (other than rare instances where the Tesla app seems to have closed\crashed). I found that if i turn on the climate prior to walking out to my car then this pretty much never happens though, so I suspect it is because the car is in deep sleep, and not the phone. Or possibly a combination of both phone and car being in a low power mode at the same time.
 

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