After announcing plans for digital car keys in its phones during the Galaxy S21 launch, Samsung is finally starting to add support for the feature. Samsung says support for the ultra wideband (UWB) and NFC-enabled digital car keys will hit South Korea first, and it will only work with one car to start — the all-electric Genesis GV60.
On devices that support UWB — the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and Ultra, Note 20 Ultra, and Galaxy Z Fold 2 and 3 — Samsung promises “passive entry,” meaning you can unlock and lock your car without pulling your phone out of your bag or pocket. With your phone nearby, you’ll also be able to start your car and make adjustments to mirrors, seats, and more.
The digital keys are stored in Samsung Pass — and protected by an “embedded Secure Element (eSE)” — and, according to Samsung, can be shared with anyone running Android 11 with its app downloaded. That amounts to accessing one type of car in one region right now, but Samsung has partnerships with Audi, BMW, and Ford. Hopefully, those carmakers will add support soon now that Genesis has broken the seal. The Verge has contacted Samsung for details on when more cars and regions will be supported.
Also, since Samsung is supporting NFC for keys, older Galaxy phones running Android 11 should be able to get into the fun. Samsung now uses UWB and NFC for two headlining features on its phones: these digital car keys and finding items with the Galaxy SmartTag it announced in January. That brings it in parallel with Apple, which introduced digital car keys enabled by the U1 chip alongside iOS 14.