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Car won't unlock until I handle my iPhone

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Moderator
Nov 28, 2018
12,383
14,709
Riverside Co. CA
As hypothesised, it appears from my experiments that it's an antenna sensitivity issue. If I place my phone/butt within a few centimeters of the door, the car will unlock. Disappointing, as that is rather inconvenient. I'd rather not have to body slam the car.

Bluetooth low emissions sometimes wont work through your body. If you keep your phone in your back pocket (probable, since you said " slam your phone / butt"), just turn partially around, wait 1-2 seconds, and try to open the door again. its not a problem with the car its the fact that bluetooth low emissions dont work great through bodies... and you WANT that signal to be weak.

The "how did theives steal my car from my driveway??" issues where thieves use bluetooth LE repeaters to boost the signal and clone the key signal show that you want that signal to only operate when you are basically within a foot or two of the car.

At least with iPhones, it works very well... just not through "butts".
 
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smithrukami

Member
May 8, 2019
144
24
irvine
this happens to me 50% of the time.
i just learned i left my option of walk away lock turned off from my window tinting man. so at the dealer last night they nearly took the car for service until he asked about that last minute. goes to show these cars are smart so best to first consider human fallacy or error before concluding its tesla fault.
 
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CarbonFree

Member
Aug 24, 2017
186
205
Seattle
This still happens, all the time. Other high end cars don’t have this problem, but they use sophisticated fobs with high power and femtosecond timers/time of flight to prevent amplification attacks.

If the antenna had just a few inches more reach, it would work perfectly. Has anyone attempted to rip out the cheap thing that came with the car and upgrade it?
 

Phlier

Bluebird
Jun 12, 2019
2,184
4,082
Utah
I just don't understand how you guys are having such problems. I mean, I'm not saying you don't have these issues, I'm just not sure how you are.

I've used an iPhone 6, 6s, 8, and two XR's on my car, using various flavors of IOS 12 and now 13, and I have only had one instance of having to handle the phone in order to have the car unlock, and that was due to an improper phone setting.

Are you guys that are having issues absolutely sure you have your phones setup correctly? There are only a few people reporting issues, while the vast majority of us are not.

So there is something wrong with your setup... either a hardware or software issue with your phone, or a problem with your car. Because when the hardware is good and the software is setup right it works. Every time.

I don't keep my phone in a rear pocket though, always in a front pocket. Wife keeps hers in her purse.

TL;DR: It will work every time if you have your software setup and no hardware issues. If it's not working for you, keep diving into it and find what's holding you up.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Moderator
Nov 28, 2018
12,383
14,709
Riverside Co. CA
I just don't understand how you guys are having such problems. I mean, I'm not saying you don't have these issues, I'm just not sure how you are.

I've used an iPhone 6, 6s, 8, and two XR's on my car, using various flavors of IOS 12 and now 13, and I have only had one instance of having to handle the phone in order to have the car unlock, and that was due to an improper phone setting.

Are you guys that are having issues absolutely sure you have your phones setup correctly? There are only a few people reporting issues, while the vast majority of us are not.

So there is something wrong with your setup... either a hardware or software issue with your phone, or a problem with your car. Because when the hardware is good and the software is setup right it works. Every time.

I don't keep my phone in a rear pocket though, always in a front pocket. Wife keeps hers in her purse.

TL;DR: It will work every time if you have your software setup and no hardware issues. If it's not working for you, keep diving into it and find what's holding you up.

With this thread re surfacing, I can confirm for me that, with my phone in my back pocket, I need to turn my rear end at least partially toward the car. It then works, every time. If I stand with my rear end facing away from the car, with my phone in my back pocket, it does not work.

For reference, I am 6'3 roughly 220 so, somewhat tall, but not a super large person. It does not work well through bodies as I said before. @Phlier yours likely works all the time as its in your front pocket, and your wifes phone in purse, so no "body flesh" in the way.

For each person who is having this issue, I would bet that they keep their phone in their back pocket, or in some other manner in which the signal needs to pass through them to work, and it doesnt do that through "butts" very well at all.
 

CarbonFree

Member
Aug 24, 2017
186
205
Seattle
I sometimes keep my phone in my back pocket, but this morning it was in my front pocket.

I suspect that, despite the denials of my service center, there is a problem with my car. It is an early build, so they may have changed the antenna design subsequently, or the antenna may be bent, or loosely screwed. I don't know if the SC has the tools to even diagnose such an issue.
 

gavine

Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast
Apr 1, 2014
2,614
2,184
Philadelphia, PA
I sometimes keep my phone in my back pocket, but this morning it was in my front pocket.

I suspect that, despite the denials of my service center, there is a problem with my car. It is an early build, so they may have changed the antenna design subsequently, or the antenna may be bent, or loosely screwed. I don't know if the SC has the tools to even diagnose such an issue.

If you fiddle with the phone, does it then work? If so, it’s probably not the car.
 

CarbonFree

Member
Aug 24, 2017
186
205
Seattle
If you fiddle with the phone, does it then work? If so, it’s probably not the car.

The failure has occurred with my last three iPhones (four, if you count a warranty replacement). The iPhone uses a variety of sensors to detect when the user is manipulating it, and enters a high power state if so. I believe the issue is that car is capable of receiving high power iPhone Bluetooth, but has an antenna issue which prevents it from hearing low power/idle power iPhone Bluetooth. Or could simply be the case that the antenna can't really hear any phone which is in any kind of clothes pocket.

Alternatively, my employee badge or some other feature could be disrupting the signal, but I've never heard of passive RFID interfering with Bluetooth.

There's a chance it's somehow an issue related to my phone configuration, so I could try someone else's iPhone.

Finally, I would point out that I rarely pass by the passenger side mirror (where the antenna lies) when accessing my car. I could imagine Tesla's handicapped system working well for someone who garages their car, and must walk by the passenger side every day, and somehow does the same at work. I certainly have better luck unlocking the passenger door than the driver's door. Unfortunately the passenger seat does not offer a steering wheel or pedals.
 
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CWFLY

Member
May 9, 2018
70
66
San Diego
I’m guessing that the people who think it works well with an iPhone, are the people who have Air-buds or a Apple Watch⌚️.

Because both of those things probably keep your iPhone Bluetooth active even when it’s in your pocket.

I wish there were a setting or an app or some other way to get my iPhone to keep the Bluetooth on for 10 minutes after it goes in my pocket.
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
6,338
5,446
MA, NH
I’m guessing that the people who think it works well with an iPhone, are the people who have Air-buds or a Apple Watch⌚️.

Because both of those things probably keep your iPhone Bluetooth active even when it’s in your pocket.

I wish there were a setting or an app or some other way to get my iPhone to keep the Bluetooth on for 10 minutes after it goes in my pocket.

Nope. I have an apple watch, but I rarely use it.

Bluetooth LE is always active on both iOS and Android. The Bluetooth LE takes miniscule amount of power.

The iPhone does use tons of queues to manage power. Like Wifi network changes, Bluetooth Devices becoming present, Gyro etc. It also learns your patterns on which apps to run in background, what order and how long.
 

CWFLY

Member
May 9, 2018
70
66
San Diego
So the how would you explain why, 100% of the time, I have to pull my iPhone out of my pocket (grocery bags in both hands) and tap to wake to get my Model 3 to see my phone?

Do you think perhaps, the BlueTooth LE does not transmit what Tesla requires?

Does BT LE transmit, receive, or both?
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
6,338
5,446
MA, NH
So the how would you explain why, 100% of the time, I have to pull my iPhone out of my pocket (grocery bags in both hands) and tap to wake to get my Model 3 to see my phone?

Do you think perhaps, the BlueTooth LE does not transmit what Tesla requires?

Does BT LE transmit, receive, or both?

My guess is you don’t have the App set to background Processing enabled and Location ALWAYS. And battery not set to Low Power Usage.

You sound like the type of person that would be skeptical of those things based on your worries of BlueTooth power consumption. Those ARE the features/hooks that tell the phone to run the app in background when it sees the cars BlueTooth LE devices.

The app must be set that way to work. And it will consume a little juice but not that much, a few percent.

I had it occasionally fail if it was in my back pocket. if I twisted a little bit it would work. But most of the time it’s in my front pocket and it never failed. It was surprisingly robust.

Recent update to iOS re-reviewed those options on all apps to help prune down power usage. It can be misused. But the Tesla app runs great. Well worth a few % of battery per day.

BTW it’s a little confusing to users but “location Always” is how iOS manages access to Bluetooth Always. Without ALWAYS it won’t be allowed Bluetooth access in background.
 
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CWFLY

Member
May 9, 2018
70
66
San Diego
Where did you get the idea I was worried about Bluetooth power consumption? To the contrary, I said I wish there was a device or setting that would leave it on longer (not turn it off so fast).

That aside, yes, it is puzzling why the
“Location Always” setting has anything to do with bluetooth. Two very different things. Not saying it’s no so, but I’d love to see a reference to that. I do see where the Tesla App says it uses location to optimize the phone key, but that’s a pretty vague note.

Remember, Tesla says you can delete the app and still use your phone as a phone key.

All that aside, my phone is not in low power mode and my Tesla app has everything enabled including Location Always. iPhone XR Latest iOS.
 

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