Potential Model 3 Fob: Tesla Registers New BLE Fob With FCC

Tesla Model 3


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.

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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32 Comments on "Potential Model 3 Fob: Tesla Registers New BLE Fob With FCC"

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

TM3x2 Chris

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.


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.

TM3x2 Chris

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.


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.


No it sucks.

Scott Franco

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.

TM3x2 Chris

Ahhhh, Yugo, that brings back memories.


You own a Tesla, and still have galaxy 3?


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.:-)

Chris Stork

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.


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…)

George Bower

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.?

Wade Malone

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. 🙂

George Bower

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.

George Bower


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.

Murrysville EV

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.

TM3x2 Chris

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.

Get Real

AutoPilot 3.0, ala the Movie Airplane?

Wade Malone

Surely you are joking! 😉

TM3x2 Chris

Don’t call me Surely!