Phone Key Disconnected

Phone Key Disconnected

My Samsung 7 phone gets disconnected so often from my Model 3 so I have to use the card key to drive the car. The Tesla service center technician rebooted my phone and it worked for a few hours then disconnected again. He thought it's my phone's problem. I wonder if anyone has similar issue like mine? My car is 3 weeks old, the Phone Key worked during the first week then quit.

stevenmaifert | 8 februari 2018

We are having the exact same problem with my wife's Samsung Galaxy S5. Works for a while and then disconnects. The fix is a phone reboot. Works for a while and then disconnects. It is not the phone's problem, it is Tesla's problem for trying to get a phone to do something it was not designed to do. I can't make phone calls on the FOB for my Model S, so why does Tesla think using a smartphone to unlock a car is such a nifty idea when they are already using Bluetooth Low Energy FOBs for the MS/X.

msada | 14 februari 2018

I am having the same problem with my google pixel phone

Hi_Tech | 14 februari 2018

Similar for me... though, I believe I noticed more issues when both my wife and I had our phones on us (though my wife's had the Bluetooth off). Maybe just a coincidence.

EVRider | 14 februari 2018

When using the phone to unlock/drive the car, does it use Bluetooth, a cell (or Wi-Fi) connection, or a combination of both? For example, the Model S/X calendar sync uses both -- the calendar data is sync'ed via the internet, but for security it isn't displayed in the car unless the phone is connected via Bluetooth (and the Tesla app is installed).

If the Model 3 phone unlock feature relies on the internet in any way, I could see it being unreliable at times, since it would require both the phone and the car to have a decent connection.

EVRider | 14 februari 2018

I meant that both the phone and the car would need a decent connection to the internet.

Hi_Tech | 14 februari 2018

For unlock/drive, I believe it's only Bluetooth. When you connect to the app, the "Phone key" option will tell you to turn on BT for it to work (if your BT is off).
Rest of the data is connected via internet connection.

sabbia | 14 februari 2018

Same problem (occasionally) with Pixel 2. Bluetooth is on. I have a feeling that it sometimes takes a while to connect instead of an outright permanent disconnection that requires action.

My car would not unlock today but did after about two minutes (I should add that I tried to use the card but it was in my wallet and the card did not seem to unlock the car either...or maybe that took some time also.

stevenmaifert | 14 februari 2018

@sabbia - If the app is working properly, you should get a screen on your phone that looks like the phone on the left: It shows the phone key is connected and the walk-up/walk-away locking feature should work. Our problem has been that it only stays connected for a short while and then shows disconnected for unknown reasons. The walk-up/walk-away locking feature won't work when disconnected is showing, requiring a reboot of the phone to get connected again. It stays connected for a few hours and then drops out again.

Hi_Tech | 14 februari 2018

@stevenmaifert - That's a nice and toasty 79 degrees in both cars... Would love to be in your neck of the woods during this winter! :-)
Also, my two cars look the exact same (previous MS is black, M3 is red with 18" aero). Could be my phone's screen shot, if not for "ruby".

charles.a.braun | 14 februari 2018

Wife and I both have S8 phones and same version of the app. Her phone always works on our 3, mine rarely works. Nobody has explained that to my satisfaction, but I have gotten used to using the card. It is not that big of a deal.

rxlawdude | 14 februari 2018

I've got a S7 (and have tested on a Note 4, too). I'm not sure why people have to reboot. Simply opening the app to the foreground AND making sure the Tesla in focus on the app is the Model 3 always works.

rxlawdude | 14 februari 2018

I wish Android had a way to designate apps to run as a service or more robustly in the background!!!

andy.connor.e | 14 februari 2018


You can. When you open an app and hit the home button, its still open. So what you CAN do, is go into the developer options and set the background process limit to none, and then as i stated previously, open the app and hit the home button so its still open. No background processes will run, but the Tesla app will still technically be open and not be in a background running state. Should at least help with the battery drain.

sabbia | 14 februari 2018

Prescription law: My app has the M3 selected but occasionally the phone key is marked "disconnected." I don't think I have to reboot when this happens. As I noted, sometime the mere passage of time is the trick but I'm not sure.

charles.a.braun | 14 februari 2018

@rxlawdude - It might "always work" for you. It certainly "always works" for my wife. It is a about a 50/50 crapshoot whether or not it works for me.

Teslaguy | 14 februari 2018

Guess we have to chuck all the android phones. The same problems occur with DJI drones not connecting to the phone.

rxlawdude | 14 februari 2018

For those with "unreliable" results using the phone-as-a-key, here are a few factors:
1. The app must be running.* Anyone who states otherwise (like that you only need the BT on) is patently incorrect.
2. The app must be displaying your Model 3. Those with two Teslas can "swipe" the app screen between the two cars. If the M3 is not displayed, it will not work as a key.
3. It seems that iPhones are a bit better with the background running Tesla app compared with Android. I have confirmed that once you've opened the app on the iPhone (AND you had the M3 on the screen of the app before switching out of the app), it runs reliably in the background until the phone is rebooted.**

* Either on the screen or running in the background. For background to work, you still must meet criterion #2. For some reason, the Android Tesla app apparently goes to sleep after a relatively short time after being put in the background. It must be re-opened for key connectivity to resume.
** I did not test this over long periods of time. It is possible that the background operation goes to sleep after some time period or memory condition occurs.

charles.a.braun | 14 februari 2018

@rxlawdude - I can kill all apps on my phone, reboot, launch only Tesla app, ensure the Model 3 is selected and walk up to my car before the phone "goes to sleep" and my car will open less than 50% of the time.

On the other hand, my wife, who probably has not rebooted her phone (same S8 as me) since Saint Swithens Day gets anywhere within about 8 feet of the Model 3 and it springs to life EVERY TIME.

It's cool though. As I said, I have pretty much given up on the app and just use the card. I also have to use the card to lock the car when I exit, because "walk away door lock" just never works for me either. On the ocassions that I forget to swipe my card before I walk away and I remember 5 minutes later, I can check my phone and see that the car is unlocked. I then tap the lock button and the car locks just fine using the app.

rxlawdude | 14 februari 2018

@charles, that's interesting, and not what I've seen testing with four different phones, three of them Android, the fourth an iPhone 7.

stevenmaifert | 14 februari 2018

@rxlawdude - Any thoughts on what we could do different? The app is running in the foreground and displayed on the screen. The Phone Key will sit there disconnected indefinitely until we reboot the phone.

Carl Thompson | 14 februari 2018

I've said this previously in another thread but I'll say it here.

Android has a feature which where it will forcibly suspend apps running in the background. This per-app setting defaults to allowing the app to be suspended but likely needs to be disabled for the Tesla app. You can turn that feature off but where to do it is in different places depending on the Android implementation.

On the phone I'm using today it's at

Settings > Battery > Battery optimization > All apps > Tesla

You'd want to switch that to "Don't optimize"

If you're having trouble keeping your Android phone connected to the Model 3 can you give changing this setting a try? Please let us know if it works!

If your setting is in a different place than mine please post where to find it here so other Model 3 owners having issues can try it too.

rxlawdude | 14 februari 2018

@stevenmaifert, are you "pointed" to the M3 on the app? It absolutely won't work if, for example, your MS shows on the app screen.

rxlawdude | 14 februari 2018

Also, for the iPhones, if you "point" the Tesla app to the M3, it remembers that until you re-open the app and "point" the app to your other Tesla(s).

rxlawdude | 14 februari 2018

Anyone suggesting the battery optimization setting of Android would solve the issue clearly is clueless. It makes absolutely no difference.

Carl Thompson | 14 februari 2018

"Anyone suggesting the battery optimization setting of Android would solve the issue clearly is clueless. It makes absolutely no difference."

I'm just trying to help. No need to be a dick.

BTW, you do really lousy job of pretending you don't see my posts.

PhillyGal | 14 februari 2018

Just a point of reference I had a hard time connecting to the app this morning (iPhone X) to pre-heat the cabin so I assumed the car would not unlock based on the phone and that I'd have to whip out the keycard.

I was wrong and the car did unlock without pulling out the card.

madkim23 | 14 februari 2018

@PhillyGal - That happens on occasion to me as well. I also find that the 3 does not connect as reliably as the S and when it does connect, it generally takes much longer. When I've experienced issues, every time I've switched to the S, it worked flawlessly, so it is not a general app access issue. The car graphic will often show door openings and closings, as if it is recapturing my last park and exit of the vehicle before enabling me to access the car. Hopefully this will be improved with future updates.

PhillyGal | 14 februari 2018

I'm sure it'll be improved. We don't have the S set to "always connected" (range mode instead) so it isn't 100% reliable itself. For the 3, that isn't an option.

rxlawdude | 14 februari 2018

That's definitely true: the M3 takes a LOT longer for the app (we're talking about over cellular or wifi, not BT) to communicate with the app than the MS. Sometimes takes up to 45 seconds for the M3, less than 10 seconds for the MS.

I wonder if they are defaulting to an "energy saving" mode (we don't have a configurable switch for that yet) that takes longer for the car to "wake?"

Or do they have M3s on a slower server? (JUST KIDDING!)

stevenmaifert | 14 februari 2018

@rxlawdude - Yes, we are pointed to the Model 3 as shown on that app screen. All the other remote features that require a data connection work. At this point, I think it is up to Tesla to figure out why the app they created is randomly disconnecting the Phone Key feature on some of our authenticated phones.

MarylandS85 | 15 februari 2018

Makes sense. Of course there are first class citizens (Model S and X owners) and second class citizens (Model 3 owners). This is ‘Merica after all. :^)

In all seriousness, I wonder if having the WiFi connection activated with the latest firmware on the 3 will improve the connectivity/responsiveness. Does the 3 not have the option to stay Always Connected like the S and X?

justin.rogers77 | 15 februari 2018

I'm on the essential phone, wife on a pixel 2xl, I set mine up to ignore battery optimization for the Tesla app last week, it didn't make a difference. I was on an Android 8.0 beta now on 8.1 I will try again. Connection is 50/50 unless I open the app as I approach. My wife seams to have better luck too without changing the battery optimization settings. I too think it has to do with the app not being as optimized as well for Android vs iOS. It even says that on Tesla website that Android is less reliable.

madkim23 | 15 februari 2018

@MarylandS85 - I don't see an always connected option, so not sure how things are currently configured. Based on the performance of the app, it seems like "always connected" is not enabled.

andy.connor.e | 15 februari 2018

I dont think its inappropriate to suggest that the software portion is not perfect yet. There are reports from owners that its flawless and that it doesnt work all the time. "Your experience may vary".

Carl Thompson | 15 februari 2018

"I'm on the essential phone, wife on a pixel 2xl, I set mine up to ignore battery optimization for the Tesla app last week, it didn't make a difference."

OK, thanks, good to know. Darn, I was hoping it was something easy like that.

slr_pwrd | 15 februari 2018

In my case with Samsung Note4, when the phone is within car's Bluetooth range and Phone Key's status shows "Disconnected", the status flips every 5 seconds back and forth "enable bluetooth......" and "Disconnected". While this is happening, the phone's Settings, Bluetooth on/ off switch keeps flipping back and forth at same rate as Tesla App status. I showed it to Tesla SC personnel today. They informed me that Engineers are aware of it and working on a fix. He even took video of the app status and bluetooth on/off behavior to send to engineers.

rxlawdude | 15 februari 2018

Clearly, there are still issues with the BT approach. The myriad versions of hardware, OS and "custom skins" that manufacturers layer over the native Android are definitely vexing for a developer to have working on all devices.

But some are reporting very different results with same/similar phones that, when I tested, seemed to reliably connect and unlock. I know my wife would mention if the app on her iPhone 7 was only working 50% of the time when she has the phone in her purse.

mike | 15 februari 2018

If you are on Android 8.1 you may get better results by changing the "background check" setting for the Tesla app.
It is a setting under "developer options", so you may need to enable that first.
To enable developer options go to Settings->System->About phone and tap on "Build number" seven times.
Then the "background check" setting can be enabled or disabled for each installed app.
Of course, disabling "background check" for a misbehaving app might allow it to drain your battery really quickly.

awhiting | 18 februari 2018

I'm using a Samsung Galaxy s8+ with Android 7.0 and I think I found the solution. The Tesla manual says to always keep the app open in the background for the phone key to work. With my phone, it's the opposite. If I always keep the app closed and not running in the background, the phone key works as advertised. Please try this and let us know if you have similar results. This could just be for my phone.

rxlawdude | 18 februari 2018

@whiting, that's not my experience with a GS7edge and Note 4.

TexasBob | 18 februari 2018

FWIW, I experienced a similar issue with a different bluetooth device (headphones) and finally realized after much frustration with intermittent connectivity issues that the Tile app/device (which was constantly seeking up to 4 Tiles) was exceeding the number of simultaneous connections for the phone. I deleted the Tile and the problem went away. It is worth looking at the number of devices that are paired with your phone and deleting unnecessary ones (and any associated apps if relevant e.g. Tile).

GCM3 | 18 februari 2018

Well, I am wondering that this is caused by the Tesla App's update last week. After I updated my app on my Nexus 6P, it keeps shutting down my bluetooth every few of seconds. It seems like BT restarted automatically and then it happens again. If I stop the APP from background, the BT works without any problem. Now, if Tesla App is running, I can not use Bluetooth on my phone for other purpose because it connects and disconnects frequently. Also, I can not just walk to the car and open it. I have to restart the BT on the phone and then I can open the door or drive the car. Sometimes, I get in the car and the BT stopped and I can not start the motor. I hope Tesla will have a update of APP soon to fix this problem.

justin.rogers77 | 19 februari 2018

@mike, trying that now, background check off. I will try it on my wife's pixel 2 as well. Will report back.

@gcm3. How do you have a 6p with battery life long enough to make it a day? My 6p is just a backup phone while traveling with project fi and it loses about 20% in ten minutes!!

GCM3 | 19 februari 2018

@justin.rogers77. well, I replaced the battery so it is a normal phone. Works well except of this problem of BT now.

Thom EM | 20 februari 2018

Day 2 and I'm disconnected with an iPhone X. Doesn't seem to be phone brand specific.

awhiting | 20 februari 2018

I deleted the app on my Galaxy S8+ and reinstalled it and set up my Phone Key again in my car. It has been working since yesterday but I'm not confident this will fix it.

rxlawdude | 20 februari 2018

Guys, it would be VERY HELPFUL if those experience disconnects would pull their phone out and report EXACTLY what is stated under PHONE KEY (Disconnected, Connecting, Connected.)

rxlawdude | 20 februari 2018

experience -> experiencing

awhiting | 20 februari 2018


rxlawdude | 20 februari 2018

@whiting, and that's when you're standing with your phone next to the M3?