After debuting the Ultra-wideband chip on its iPhone 11 lineup last year, Apple has included the chip in a number of its devices as well including the iPhone 12 series and the Apple Watch Series 6. With a price tag of $549, many expected the U1 chip to be also present inside the AirPods Max but that is not the case. Initial rumors surrounding the AirPods Max had also suggested they would come with the U1 chip.
A quick glance at the tech specs of the AirPods Max headphones page makes it clear that they lack the U1 Ultra Wideband chip. The U1 chip allows for improved spatial awareness allowing one to track a device in 3D space and indoor space with far greater accuracy. So far though, Apple has not really used the U1 chip for anything else apart from improving the AirDrop experience with the release of iOS 13 last year.
It is unclear what Apple’s exact strategy with the U1 Ultra Wideband chip is. The company has included the chip in some of its products but given it a miss on others like the iPad Air, iPhone SE (2020), Apple Watch SE, and the 2020 iPad Pro lineup.
It is rumored that Apple would be using the U1 chip with AirTags, its Tile-like tracking tag, to offer precise indoor positioning of tagged products. However, despite many leaks, Apple has not yet released the AirTags and it is unclear when the company will get around to doing so.