UPDATE: First Tesla Model 3 Key Fob Images Emerge

SEP 21 2018 BY WADE MALONE 101

There have been hints in recent months that Tesla might be moving away from ‘Phone As Key’ as the primary means of entry in the Model 3.

***UPDATE 9-20: Here are the first official Tesla Model 3 key fob images straight from the FCC:

UPDATE: Key car confirmed. See embedded Tweet directly below:

Currently, Model 3 owners have two means of unlocking their car. A user can connect their phone by Bluetooth. Or they can hold up a key card to a sensor on the B-pillar. In an ideal scenario while connected by Bluetooth, the car will unlock as you approach. As you walk away from the vehicle the car should automatically lock again. In practice, this method has proven less reliable than a more traditional key fob.

While walking around their home, many owners hear their car lock and unlock as they pass near the garage. Others have reported issues losing Bluetooth connection regularly. People have all sorts of “remedies” for getting the vehicle to reconnect. Restarting the application, turning bluetooth on/off on their phone, toggling airplane mode and restarting their phone completely generally will work. However, a car with a key fob would have no such issues.

This is not an issue specific to the Model 3. Bluetooth keyboards, mice, speakers and headphones frequently lose their connections. With a phone application, operating system, and Model 3 regularly getting software updates, issues are going to pop up on a regular basis. Android users appear to have the most difficulty keeping their phone actively connected. Dozens of Android OS variations exist, amplifying the problem. Drivers with Apple devices have reported far less issues, especially those using newer phones such as the iPhone X.

Tesla Model 3 phone connection can be finicky for some users

For those who would prefer a fob, relief might be on the way.

Many drivers instead use the key cards as the default. While more reliable, the key card is not particularly convenient. Removing a card from a wallet or purse and holding it up to the B-pillar is far more troublesome than a key fob.

In a video posted by Consumer Reports, reviewer Jake Fisher stated that while he found the iPhone application to be reliable enough, he was not a fan of the key cards. Having spoken with Elon Musk about the issue, Fisher quoted Musk as saying “We really need to provide a normal key to the customers of the car.” Consumer Reports wrote in May:

Currently, the Model 3 does not ship with a conventional key. Instead, owners open and start it using either a smartphone app or a plastic keycard. Musk acknowledged that the keycard was difficult to use and that the automaker would consider providing a key fob to owners.

This week, Reddit users came across a filing with the FCC posted on August 6th that hints at a Model 3 fob. The last time a Tesla key fob filing was made was in 2015 at the launch of the Model X.

It is possible this new fob is simply a lower energy update to the Bluetooth fob launched at that time for the Model X and Model S. The power output on the new fob is listed as 3.8 mW to the original 7.48 mW on the X/S. If an update is coming to the other vehicles, it is a good time to launch one for the Model 3 as well.

Consumer Reports has a history of nudging Tesla into providing needed updates. Considering the issues many users have had, it seems likely an optional fob is on the way.


Source: Reddit

Categories: Tesla

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101 Comments on "UPDATE: First Tesla Model 3 Key Fob Images Emerge"

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There are some things that a car should just “do”
Unlock the doors reliably is one of them.

I don’t know, unlocking the doors might lead to reckless driving.


Told you so. Key cards and the phone app were stupid

The problem is not with the car, it’s with trying to make it work with every phone out there. You have a huge swath of people with old and or outdated phones trying to make it work with a new car.

How may Tesla Model 3 ($49,000+) buyers have outdated phones and cannot afford to upgrade? Probably 0.
By the way, even I have iPhone X and works great, I want a key FOB with a frunk open button.

I have 3 cars and one of them is a 911 GTS, yet I still have the 5S because it works reliably and there is nothing I need from newer Iphones

Part of the reason I was able to pay cash for my model 3 is because I don’ buy $1000 phones every 2 years on credit.

But it is better to be like me who can buy the house, yacht and car cash and the latest iPhone. I don’t understand this either/or mentality of little people.

I have an iPhone X with the latest OS. It fails to unlock about half the time, or more.

Hey 7 pretend electrics, is the Iphone as fake as your cars?

You have neither.

Well for the price you pay maybe Tesla can throw in a free modern phone.


Tesla phones


Has Car Fob, Flamethrower, Boring Hat, Toothpick, and a few other useful items!

And automatically tweets out calling people pedophiles…

And hidden compartment for Marijuana and ambient….

I think the problem is either related to the number of Bluetooth pairings I maintain, or the fact that the app. is tied to two Teslas.

this is such nonsense…i have a less than 1.5 year old oneplus 5, with android 8.1 on it. my phone is not old, nor is my software outdated. i would say the reliability of phone key for me in the two months i’ve had the car is MAYBE 40% success rate.

if they can’t make it work 100% of the time with the latest version of android on a phone that’s less than two years old, they shouldn’t have used it. period.

I’ve got iPhone X and have had no issues with the app and locking. Can’t comment on the garage part in the article since I don’t have one and I’m not parked that close to my apt. I have no doubt however that Android users are having issues because Android is….Android.

Disagree entirely.
The phone app is very reliable on iPhone, haven’t had a single problem yet. It might be an Android issue more than it is Tesla.
The key card beats car keys or fobs. It fits nicely in one’s wallet.

From the reddit discussions, folks that had older phones had more trouble with the feature. The very newest phones including Androids were fine. I’ll be getting a 3 soon and I’ll be using the feature as much as possible.

It’s not stupid to have them, but they should not be the main or only options. Key fob only = great. Key fob + options like phone or key cards = awesome.

My issues are on the latest iPhone. It’s garbage.

How would you know? I’d bet you’ve never owned one…

He’s right actually it is really bad.

He’s on iPhone #8 so maybe cut him some slack!

😆 😆

I see Eleventy Pretend Electrics has added an imaginary iPhone to the imaginary EVs he pretends to own!

Amazing how he has all these “problems” that nobody else seems to have. Perhaps he should try imagining he has fewer problems with his electronic gadgets!

iPhone is an American thing. Rest of the world uses Android.

Disagree, while the current setup is not perfect the only thing I need to do is use the app to unlock. Thanks to a home combo lock and my Model 3 I no longer use keys.

Perfect, who needs keys anyway, they mostly scratch things!

No it sucks.

It wasn’t stupid. They should be available features.

What was stupid was the fact that they were the “only options”…

Samsung galaxy 3 is about as reliable with the M3 as a Yugo. Not sure I feel like upgrading just to find out a new phone does not work much better.

Ahhhh, Yugo, that brings back memories.

You own a Tesla, and still have galaxy 3?

Why upgrade if the phone is working well? The most common issue, a new battery for the Galaxy S3 is $20 (try that with an iPhone). Aside from action games, most Android apps will run on the newest OS it supports.

Does it still get security updates, though? If not, still using it is downright irresponsible…

If you are having trouble with your Galaxy 3, try your Motorola StarTac.

The logical thing to do in your situation is to change your car.:-)

We need other emojis than thumbs up or down. S3, really? 🙂 Only like 6 generations back. Like a classic car 😉

Might start having issues with frequency coverage and such.

Yessssss! Aside from the cavernous hatchback (and there’s nothing I can do about that), the key fob was the only thing I was truly going to miss about my Model S when the time comes to trade it in. I hope it’s an add-on feature for the base model and included with the premium interior.

To be clear, I want the fob not because of the phone connection issues I’ve heard being reported, but because I love the Summon feature and use it all the time, not just to show off. I’d use it a lot less if I have to get out my phone, unlock it, enable GPS and launch the app each time. It’s so convenient to reach into one’s pocket and push a sequence of buttons by feel compared to that. I’d also pop the frunk a lot less for the same reasons. (Of course, there’s no guarantee they’d have any of that functionality on a fob, but this is Tesla, so it’s likely they would.)

I believe Summon with the app for a Model 3 would be faster than summon for the Model S. The app directly connects to the car versus connecting to the internet, then to tesla servers and then back down to your car.
I’ll be trying the PaaF (phone as a fob) even if there is a fob. The newer the phone the less issues people were having.

Unfortunately, even on the 3, the Summon feature is often slow to connect, sometimes fails to connect, and sometimes disconnects randomly.

I was showing off the summon feature and pulled my Model 3 half way out of my garage (he was parked in front of the garage, so I couldn’t pull it all the way out). When I tried to move it back INTO the garage, it stopped working, and I had to wait a few minutes for it to reconnect. As luck would have it, I had stopped the car where the garage door frame blocked the front doors, so I couldn’t just hop in the car and pretend that I didn’t try to summon it back into the garage. 😀

This is why I don’t understand regular people buying android phone. It’s a science experiment. I can see people who are into tech liking android because it’s more open. But, for normal people, the iPhone is a no-brainier. It’s a closed system that just works, the apps are better curated, long-term OS support is better, and it’s priced similarly to the better android phones.

Some people don’t like being at the mercy of a monopolist.

(Admittedly, Android/Google is only marginally better on that score…)

Don’t like monopolies, but buy a Tesla….

There is no Monopoly for phones. Depending on how you look at it, there is a functional duopoly (Apple + Google). But, people have choices. I prefer the reliability and “it just works” factors that Apple’s products provide. I acknowledge that I’m giving up some flexibility that Android would provide.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen enough people having app problems with various iPhone problems that some people in Model 3 owners groups are even saying things like “most of the connectivity issues seem to be Apple-related” (that’s a direct copy-pasted quote from a discussion on Tesla app connectivity problems).

I know that’s not actually correct – I’ve got a 2017 model Samsung that Tesla’s Phone Key feature doesn’t work on, and which can’t connect to Bluetooth audio unless I suppress contacts list sharing. And when I asked Tesla support, I got responses like “you don’t have a Pixel, do you? We’re having lots of problems with them” and “if you get a new phone, avoid Motorolla’s phones, because we can’t get our software working on them consistently yet.”

These problems affect iOS and Android-based phones, and they affect new and old phones.

long term OS support isn’t necessarily better. My Android phone’s (Samsung Galaxy S5) most recent FW update is from a month ago, 4.5 years after it was launched. Apple is awful about forcibly obsolesence-ing HW: standard earphone support, the non standard iPhone plug and now Lightning, forcing an endless dealing with dongles.
Apple doesn’t support USB OTG either, or MHL (the HDMI standard for mobile devices).
Apple also doesn’t allow iPhones using NFC for anything except Apple pay (I can, and do, use my phone’s NFC daily to read medical devices, load and display the contents of my mass-transit access).

(*)Apple’s computers are even worse; Apple has used 12 kinds of video connectors over 15 years, and the permutations are numerous. I have a whole drawer full of them.

I work in IT and used to laugh at Apple computers. They’re still fairly useless in a work environment. But, for home they’re great. Viruses are almost unheard of and they just work. Getting my parents a Mac has cut their support needs to almost zero.

You’re lucky you’re still getting updates on your old phone. Most android manufacturers seem to abandon their hardware after 2-3 years max. Power connectors have changed there too. Mini-USB, Micro-USB, USB-C. There were some proprietary ones too.

Google >>>> Apple. In Google we trust!

Also the web browser I’m using on my Ubuntu PC is by Google, not Apple. Apple means closed ecosystem garbage.

I guess I’m confused. It sounds like the new fob will use Bluetooth. I thought the older fobs used radio waves or some such but not Bluetooth. And if bluetooth is the problem why use it in a fob.?

Tesla started using BLE fobs in 2015 with the X and 2016 with the S. So far there has been few issues with the redesigned fobs.

The major difference is the lack of a phone OS, lack of hardware variance, lack of additional bluetooth connections, and no app software that needs to be updated everytime an iOS or android update breaks connectivity.

A BLE fob that is purpose built to unlock the car will be more consistent. It is dedicated to unlocking doors and nothing else and Tesla controls the hardware. 🙂

So that’s what the b l e stands for 🙂

Thanks for the response

Bluetooth Low Energy, more specifically.

Bluetooth also uses radio waves… Just in a standardised, very complex networking stack.

iPhone SE User here, no problems with my 3. The only time I’ve lost connection was in a building with WiFi problems. I disabled WiFi and the car came right up. As for using the keycard as a backup, I’ve tested it and you don’t have to take it out of your wallet. Just hold the wallet up to the pillar and the car unlocks. I really enjoy not having a FOB, there is almost no reason to carry keys anymore.

Also, the locking and unlocking when the car is in the garage has already been eliminated with a software update.


How on Earth can they program it so it doesn’t
Lock and unlock the car everytime you walk by it. I have to have Auto present off in my Model S door handles because I get sick of the door handles popping in and out every time I walk by it.

Model 3 door handles don’t auto present. When you are near the car the phone key connects, but the car doesn’t actually “start up” until you trigger the door latch with your hand. I can walk all around mine in the garage, so long as I don’t open the door it doesn’t come on. No screen, no A/C, etc.

My SE has been fairly reliable. I’ve had about half a dozen times when the door doesn’t open in the last four months. I just flip bluetooth off then on and then it works fine.

A key fob would move me one step closer to signing up (again) for a Model 3. But so would a HUD.

An inflatable doll would make me sign again….
It’s for carpool access after the stickers expire…mkay.

An inflatable doll made by Tesla would be an instant hit. I bet it would come with its own phone app and a summon feature.

AutoPilot 3.0, ala the Movie Airplane?

Surely you are joking! 😉

Don’t call me Surely!

In the credits for “Airplane!”, it’s actually spelled “Otto Pilot”. 🙂

One of 2000 steps?

I have an idea for you Elon. Integrate the FOB transmitter with an Android Phone and make a “TESLA” phone. Preload all your Tesla apps on them, add wireless charging, and integrate the UI with the car. Contract with Huewei or Xiaomi to make a gazillion of them and sell them at a premium. You’ll probably make enough to build your Gigafactory in China. Your welcome.

I thumbed up because the Tesla fans would buy into this, in addition to a blow up Elon doll.

Elon blow up would be awesome for people who want to go on the carpool lane!

Umm, if they own a Tesla they are likely legal to drive in the HOV lane already.

I have to admit being annoyed every time I walk near the garage hearing the car’s HVAC system fire up. And I go into my garage quite often. How is the car supposed to know if I’m just getting a screwdriver or if I’m planning to drive somewhere?

Curious. My M3 doesn’t do anything until I touch a door handle. Is there a setting for proximity unlock that I missed?

You need to disable “walk up unlock”.

As far as I can tell that option doesn’t even exist in recent software revs.

Expect this to be the most bad ass forward thinking Fob ever made by a car manufacture.

This whole phone app/key card thing as the only ways to unlock a car was always self-indulgent over-engineering.

My 2013 Leaf, my wife’s 2016 Rogue, and my 2018 Leaf all use/used a fob + handle button. Stick the keys in your pocket, push a button on the door handle and it unlocks (or locks on the way out). Get in the car, press start, and off you go. Fantastic in the winter when you often want your keys in a pants pocket and not a coat pocket, or when your hands are mostly full or it’s raining and you want quick entry. Simple, highly reliable in our experience, had just about zero learning curve.

If Tesla wants to earn their bonus points with the gizmonauts (and I’ve been a card-carrying member of that club for decades), they can keep the app/keycard options, but also provide a fob. How hard is this?

You get in a car and expect your phone to pair with the stereo.
Tesla just saw an opportunity to eliminate the need to carry a device.
It shouldn’t be a problem but it is.

I hope it becomes the norm as an additional feature. Then Bluetooth would become less of a rats nest.

I have a 3P and have no problems with an Android Samsung 7, never failed so far (1 month) to work and the car has never done anything until I press the door handle. I like not having to worry about forking out $300 for a fob when you lose it.

It’s a no-brainer that Tesla will respond to an overwhelming number of requests for a fob for the Model 3. But my guess is that it will be an option, an upgrade you pay for, rather than standard equipment going forward.

As long as it’s not $2k



I’d pay a hundred for it.

I have to get a replacement fob from a dealership (only place I can get one) and I would love to pay only $100 for it…

The key card would work well for me I think. Just put it in my wallet (or with my work badge). Problem seems to be where to put it once in the car? Can someone with a 3 comment? Don’t you have to place it on the center console to start the car? Does it have to stay there? Seems like Tesla could have a dedicated holder for it.

The card goes behind the cupholder near the arm rest. Then press the brake and the cars wakes up.

“Android users have reported frequent issues with the Model 3 phone as key.”

I think I spotted your problem. “Android”. /jk

I picked up my model 3 yesterday and was 5 for 5 on phone as key working. And then today in a driving rain storm it failed. Fished out wallet to use key card. Dropped wallet in puddle while my coworkers watched in amusement. Used some colorful language. Fob please.

Now sell these for $1,000 and people will buy them, fourth quarter profitability FTW.

This week I found a new problem with the card.

I left it in the car, in the cupholder, to get the car washed. When I came to get the car, the card was gone and the center console open. After running around with the employees for a while, I found out what happened.

They had left the card on top of the console storage cover, the front one, under the one the opens to put a phone. They had bumped the door and it opened. That’s the door that opens by tilting back towards the driver. The card slid down and disappeared *inside the car*. Yep, it is down in the works under the center console somewhere.

I took it to Tesla service, they told me they needed to take the center console apart – or – just get another card.


The IT industry should be deeply ashamed that a ubiquitous technology which has been around for almost 20 years still suffers such basic usability issues.

I suspect most of it is driven by paranoia. I have had several cars now, including the bolt, that simply forget the phone it is bonded with after about a week or so. It has the data, it knows that phone, there is no reason to drop it. They are (apparently) hypersensitive to people “hacking the car” or somesuch.

Oddly, Tesla does not display that issue with my phone. I have had it for months now, and it hasn’t dropped the phone yet.

I say “oddly” because this is the same car and phone that the phone as key fob won’t work for more than a day or two. Its the same fragging bluetooth!

It is true, however, that bluetooth is a minefield, and it varies by maker and type of system. My linux based notebook has some BT appliances that it works well with and connects the second it sees them, and others that have to be fiddled with each time, without rhyme or reason.

I’ve had zero issues with the phone as my key. I wouldn’t get one of these. However I am glad that they are going to offer this so that it can put the whole subject to rest.

This is good!

Phone key isn’t perfect but I still prefer it. For the first time, I don’t have to carry a stupid FOB along with my wallet and phone… and many times old set of metal keys. I LOVE that and am ok having to manually unlock the car with my phone app sometimes. Have yet to have to resort to the wallet key. What TESLA needs to do is make a FOB that will work with multiple TESLA cars. Have asked for that from Ford & Toyota for years.

Ford successfully implemented internally that one Bluetooth Enabled Fob work with multiple Ford/Lincoln cars. It is available to Ford users soon.

Ford already implemented internally one Bluetooth enabled fob that will work with multiple Ford/Lincoln cars. Available to Ford/Lincoln users in future.

It’s my understanding that the card against the B-pillar is using NFC (Near Field Communication), which is something that most smartphones are capable of. Yet I have seen no mention of using the phone to unlock the car in that way. Did I misunderstand, or is there some other reason not to do it that way. I’d think that most people would have their phone handier than their wallet, and in any case, it would be an useful alternative to offer.

I’d prefer the personal aura fob. When I get close to the car, I’d like it to recognize my aura and let me drive. Maybe it wouldn’t let me into the car if I was having a bad day.

How about face recognition with Autopilot cameras? 😉

Yay for proper teardown photos 🙂