KEY POINTS

  • The iPhone 11 series uses a new U1 chip for more precise location tracking
  • A security researcher discovered that the device constantly tries to discover its location even when apps and system settings are not permitted to
  • Those worried about this can turn it off

Apple's latest handsets make use of the new U1 chip for location tracking. The component allows users to determine the precise location of their iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max in the event that the device gets lost. Despite its benefits, however, the U1 chip has caused some worry over privacy concerns in recent months. 

Security researcher Brian Krebs previously revealed that the iPhone 11 Pro continues to intermittently seek its location even when all the apps and system services on the device are set to never request for for such data. Krebs noted that this is made evident by the location services indicator, which looks like a “small diagonal upward arrow” appearing at the top of the screen.

Apple responded to Krebs's revelation by saying that it is an “expected behavior,” and that the iPhone 11 series was designed to work this way because of the addition of the U1 ultra-wideband chip. The company said all location tracking is done entirely on the device itself, and that it does not collect user location data.

That said, those who worry about their whereabouts being tracked need not think about it as all location tracking services are safely done on the iPhone. Those who still want the U1 chip to stop tracking the device's location can do so via the following steps:

How to turn U1 chip location tracking off:

  • First, users must launch the Settings app on their iPhone 11 series device and navigate to Privacy.
  • Second, once there, users should navigate to Location Services, then to System Services.
  • Third, once inside, users should look for Networking & Wireless and toggle the switch off.
  • Fourth, a prompt will appear. Users must tap on Turn Off to disable location tracking for networking and wireless features.

iPhoneHacks noted that turning the U1 chip off also affects Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Ultra Wideband performance. Those who turn the chip off will also need to turn it on if they plan to use Apple's upcoming UWB tags, which are Tile-like trackers expected to arrive later between the second and third quarter of the year, as per famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

The iPhone 11 helped Apple regain the crown as leader of the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter, according to analysts The iPhone 11 helped Apple regain the crown as leader of the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter, according to analysts Photo: AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI