What is UWB and which Samsung Galaxy phones support it?

A Leonid Afremov painting displayed on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra's more vivid display
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

UWB is short for ultra-wideband, a wireless technology that relies on radio waves to accurately gauge distance between objects. Samsung started offering the radio on its flagships with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and all subsequent models have the feature as standard. UWB can be used as a virtual car key for select BMW models, and the tech sits at the heart of Samsung's SmartTag+.

What is ultra-wideband?

Think of ultra-wideband (UWB) as a turbocharged verison of Bluetooth. The Bluetooth LE (low energy) standard isn't ideal for location sensing because of the latency — which is usually over 3ms — but with UWB, that is brought down to under 1ms. UWB also has over three times the range of Bluetooth, and can transmit over 20 times the amount of data.

UWB has significant advantages over Bluetooth because it works at a higher frequency — the pulse-based technology uses spectrum from 3.1GHz to 10.6GHz. It also uses wider 500MHz channels to transmit data (Bluetooth is usually limited to 20MHz) and this allows the standard to send or receive a burst of data in a short amount of time.

UWB is an emerging standard, and as such it is limited to flagships. Apple, Google, and Samsung are the three brands that offer it on their flagships, so if you have the Pixel 8 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, or the Galaxy S24 Ultra, you will be able to use the radio to unlock additional features. 

Auto manufacturers are embracing the standard as an easy way to unlock cars, with the likes of BMW, Audi, Ford, and others rolling out UWB compatibility to their latest models. So if you have a phone with UWB, you can use it to unlock your car. 

Samsung's SmartTag+ is a UWB-based tracker that delivers much better range and accuracy than the standard SmartTag, which still relies on Bluetooth. 

Which Samsung phones have UWB?

Samsung started integrating UWB into its flagships with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra back in 2020, and the best Samsung phones include the feature as standard. 

That said, Samsung is picky about what models get UWB connectivity; the standard model in its Galaxy S series misses out on the feature, and it is limited to the Plus and Ultra models. 

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S23+
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S24+
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

In addition to phones, UWB tech is slowly making its way to connected devices and earbuds, with the Galaxy Buds Pro 2 and Pixel Buds Pro featuring the tech. This allows easier pairing with phones, 

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

  • Ruchi Chandel
    Samsung has integrated UWB technology into some of its recent Galaxy smartphone models to enable innovative features like spatial awareness, precise location tracking, and secure data transfer. As of my last update, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra are among the smartphones that support UWB.