BMW’s 2023 X1 and its electric SUV, the iX1, can now be unlocked with your iPhone

BMW’s Digital Key Plus now works with the 2023 Xi model and the iX1, its all-electric SUV, using an iPhone or Apple Watch in your pocket.

Digital keys now work with BMW’s 2023 Xi and iX1 models

According to a press release published on the BMW website, its 2023 X1 and the iX1 (BMW’s first all-new electric SUV) now support unlocking and starting your vehicle with a compatible mobile device, like an iPhone or Apple Watch.

To set up a digital car key for your BMW, use the German carmaker’s My BMW app [App Store link]. Digital car keys can be shared with other people, and you can easily revoke access. Thanks to Apple’s power reserve mode, you can unlock your vehicle with a digital car key for up to five hours after the iPhone’s battery has died on you.

Other BMW vehicles also support digital keys, including the company’s 2022 i4 and 2022 iX. Visit Apple’s CarPlay micro-site to view a list of all the car manufacturers that support digital car keys. BMW’s iX is the first automobile to implement the latest Digital Key 3.0 standard. These digital car keys work with major mobile wallets from the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung and others that have access to the device’s embedded secure element.

For further information on using digital car keys, be sure to read Apple’s support document covering how to use your iPhone or Apple Watch as a car key.

What is Digital Key Plus and how does it work?

CarKey was developed jointly by Apple and BMW. However, the feature is not limited to BMW vehicles because digital CarKey was designed to securely lock, unlock and start any compatible vehicle with an iPhone or Apple Watch. Initially, the feature used the short-range NFC wireless standard, meaning you had to gently tap your car with your phone to unlock it. The digital key specification for compatible vehicles is maintained by the Car Connectivity Consortium.

Enter the Digital Key Plus standard, an evolved version of CarKey, which uses Ultra Wideband technology instead of NFC. It unlocks the car as soon as it detects when you’re near it. Digital Key Plus eliminates the need for a physical car key, but it also means your iPhone or Apple Watch can stay in your pocket because Ultra Wideband works over a greater distance than NFC. Read: How to access AirTag’s NFC tag

Want do you need to use Digital Key Plus?

The Digital Key Plus requires a compatible vehicle and mobile device. In the case of Apple, the Digital Key Plus standard works on any iPhone from the iPhone 11 onward or Apple Watch Series 6 or newer. On a related note, BMW was changing its chip suppliers recently, which has led it to temporarily pull support for Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto features. BMW has promised to re-enable support for CarPlay and Android Auto by June.