Apple May Have Compromised Accuracy of the iPhone X’s Face ID Sensor to Speed Up Production
We’ve known for months that the iPhone X will be very difficult to buy until 2018, but a new report is providing some details on what Apple is doing to improve the situation. Bloomberg reports that Apple has lowered the specifications for its Face ID components, to allow its supply chain to manufacture the iPhone X quicker.
Apple is very demanding company with stringent tolerances and quality control, in this case, it appears Apple had to be the one to pull back on its requirements. Bloomberg says the Infrared dot projector is very fragile, composed of a microscopic gallium arsenide laser and glass lens. The brittle nature of the parts also caused problems further down the supply chain, Bloomberg says. LG and Sharp both ‘struggled to combine the laster and lens to make dot projectors’. In order to keep to Apple’s quality standards, production slowed.
At one point only about 20 percent of the dot projectors the two companies produced were usable, according to a person familiar with the manufacturing process.
The dot projector, a sensor inside the so-called TrueDepth camera system that allows Face ID to work (by projecting over 30,000 invisible point on a user’s face to create an accurate depth map of it), seemed particularly troublesome. The report does not detail exactly how Apple changed the specification, and what impact that will have on the experience in terms of Face ID reliability and speed.
Apple claims Face ID’s accuracy is 1,000,000:1, compared to 50,000:1 for Touch ID. If Apple has reduced the accuracy, the company will still be able to claim that Face ID is far more accurate than Touch ID.
Rumours suggest that Apple will only have 2 to 3 million units ready for day one (November 3), while backorders will stretch for the entire holiday season with a reported 20 to 30 million total iPhones ready.
Most of the manufacturing related issues, Bloomberg says, should go away as production starts to ramp up some time at the beginning of next year.