Apple's iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro both uniquely feature a new U1 chip, but some users aren't happy about it. To appease them, and to comply with new regulations in some countries, Apple is now offering iPhone 11 owners the opportunity to disable the chip.

What can Apple's U1 chip do?

The U1 is a new chip by Apple that allows its latest iPhone models (or any U1-equipped device) to detect its exact position relative to other devices in the same room. The U1 joins other "dedicated" chips developed by Apple, like the W1 and the newer H1 chip found in AirPods. Each chip has specialised tasks it handles, helping Apple's devices to work more efficiently and integrate better.

Pocket-lint has an explainer on the U1 chip here, but, in a nutshell: It uses technology, called Ultra Wideband (UWB), to determine location and spatial awareness. Apple calls Ultra-Wideband "GPS at the scale of your living room", and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro currently use this system to enhance Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, as well as to make AirDrop work better and smarter. 

Why would you disable Apple's U1 chip?

Some users have complained about how the U1-equipped iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro can track location data even when the location services are turned off. Apple has now rolled out the iOS 13.3.1 software update to allow users to disable the U1 chip. Plus, according to 9to5Mac, UWB technology is currently not allowed in some countries, like Russia, Iran, Argentina, and Indonesia.

So, as a result, users can now permanently turn off the U1 chip.

Apple/Pocket-lint

How to turn off Apple's U1 chip

To ensure your iPhone no longer tracks your location all the time, do this:

  1. Update your iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro to iOS 13.3.1.
  2. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  3. Scroll to and tap Privacy.
  4. Tap Location Services.
  5. Select system Services from the list
  6. Go to the Networking and Wireless option and disable it.
  7. Confirm to disable the U1 chip.

Note: By turning the U1 chip off, your iPhone can no longer use location services to improve your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.