AirPods Max do not come with Apple's U1 chip for enhanced tracking

Apple Airpods Max Listening Experience
Apple Airpods Max Listening Experience (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • AirPods Max does not include Apple's U1 chip.
  • The omission is surprising for some since the chip is expected to be a critical part of the AirTags tracking experience.

Reported by MacRumors, Apple's new AirPods Max wireless over-the-ear headphones do not come packed with the U1 ultra-wideband chip. The outlet confirmed the omission of the chip when reviewing the technical specifications for the new headphones.

It should be noted that the U1 and H1 chip are different processors, and Apple's new high-end headphones do contain the latter for computational audio processing as well as enable features like automatic device swapping, easy pairing, and Siri. The U1 chip, however, is Apple's processor that improves spatial awareness between devices and is rumored to be the bedrock of the company's rumored AirTags tracking product. AirPods Max are not, however, the only recent Apple product to ship without the technology.

Apple's rollout of the U1 chip has been inconsistent, with all iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models, Apple Watch Series 6 models, and the HomePod mini equipped with the chip, but not the second-generation iPhone SE, Apple Watch SE, or the latest iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro models. Apple has also yet to release a Mac with Ultra Wideband support.

Airtags Render

Airtags Render (Image credit: Jon Prosser)

The rumored AirTags product is expected to feature the chip, which would allow users to pinpoint the location of lost items with greater accuracy. This has made the omission of the chip on a number of Apple products quite confusing as, if it will be used for such purposes, it would be confusing why the company would not include it in its most expensive headphones.

Granted, the U1 chip has never been included in a pair of Apple or Beats headphones yet, so its absence from AirPods Max is in line with the rest of Apple's headphone lineup.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.