Nio Phone: Enhancing the Digital Key Experience for Car Owners

Published in on August 10, 2023.

Nio founder and CEO, William Li, has emphasized that the company’s venture into phone manufacturing is aimed at providing car owners with an improved digital key experience. While Li did not provide specific details on how the Nio phone will deliver this enhanced experience compared to other smartphone brands, a recent report sheds some light on the matter.

According to the report, there are complex challenges involved in turning smartphones into digital car keys, particularly in terms of connectivity and location capabilities. For example, in order to transform an Android smartphone into a digital key, it not only needs to rely on Bluetooth communication but also requires the phone to call the vehicle control app. However, the Android system has mechanisms that can kill background apps, potentially leading to an unstable digital car key experience. Car companies can resolve this issue by paying a fee to phone manufacturers to ensure their car-control apps are not shut down in the background too often.

The report also highlights Nio’s decision to develop its own phones as a significant factor behind their partnership with Oppo and Vivo. As premium car manufacturers, Nio believed that positioning and identification capabilities were crucial for a more interactive experience between the car and the phone. Ultra Wide Band (UWB) car keys with identification capabilities can enable centimeter-level positioning, allowing the car to identify the driver and passengers for customized settings and improved user experience.

Nio has joined the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) and plans to collaborate with other phone makers in establishing new standards for digital car keys. The CCC utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and UWB technologies for the development of these standards. It is clear that digital car keys have evolved into a significant market segment that cannot be disregarded.

As of now, the release of Nio’s first phone model is imminent, as it has already obtained an internet license in China. The phone is expected to be officially launched and available for delivery in the third quarter, with key specifications including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC, 12GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage.

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