Apple reduced accuracy of key Face ID component in order to have iPhone X on time

Apple reduced accuracy of key Face ID component in order to have iPhone X on time

Apple's iPhone X security relies hugely on a brand new feature that has never before been put in a phone: 3D face recognition, or Face ID. An array of complex sensors projects more than 30,000 infrared dots onto a person's face to create a detailed 3D facial map. Apple proudly said the probability of someone else unlocking an iPhone with Face ID is 1 in 1,000,000, much more secure than the 1 in 50,000 chance with Touch ID fingerprint recognition.

But when it came to actually making the iPhone X on time and the tight deadlines, Apple was about to stumble badly.

In order to fix dire supply chain issues, Apple has allegedly quietly told suppliers they can reduce the accuracy of Face ID to make it easier to manufacture, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The "solution" came as November 3rd, the official iPhone X launch date looms closer. And some analysts claim that even with this reduced quality of Face ID recognition, Apple will only have 2 to 3 million phones on launch day, and between 25 and 35 million for the traditionally strong holiday quarter. Initially, those estimates stood at 40 million, but supply chain difficulties brought them down.

Face ID technology, image courtesy of Bloomberg

Face ID technology, image courtesy of Bloomberg


The 3D Face ID sensor consists of three key elements: a dot projector, flood illuminator and infrared camera. The flood illuminator fires infrared light, illuminating the face, and the camera uses that light to recognize a face. The dot projector then flashes 30,000 dots on the face and the light that is bounced back is used to determine whether the pattern matches an already registered face. It is this dot projector at the third stage of Face ID that is creating trouble for Apple's production. Manufacturing it requires great precision between the dot projector itself and the glass lens on top of it, and even a micron of a difference could cause inaccurate results.

This current report says that at some point in the manufacturing, the technology was so hard to make that only 20% of what was being rolled off the production line actually worked. LG and Sharp were tasked to make the innovative projector. LG Innotek has recently just confirmed that mass production is just beginning

"That technology is something we have been looking at for five years. We had prototypes that were this big," Apple chief designer Jony Ive said earlier referring to around a foot-long prototype.

To ease all of those worries, Apple has relaxed requirements for the new technology and it is not yet clear whether and/or how this will affect the quality of the face scans.

We have seen Apple struggling making enough devices in the past as well: the AirPods are one clear example, but also some iPhone colors like Jet Black and some Apple Watch models, but it's the first time that Apple is expected to have such a setback on a hugely important model in its most important quarter of the year.

source: Bloomberg

Related phones

iPhone X
  • Display 5.8" 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A11 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2390 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2716 mAh(21h 3G talk time)

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128 Comments

1. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

I want this thing to release. I am curious to see how accurate Face ID really is.

37. sgodsell

Posts: 6737; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

They had to reduce its accuracy, because it would fail too many times. Which defeats the purpose of having something replace Apple's TouchID altogether, especially when it fails and backs up to using your password. Then why have FaceID in the first place. So the real reason is the amount of failures when it scans. Anyone with half a brain realized that a finger print scanner is going to be much faster and more reliable than facial recognition. It comes down to small amounts of more static data (TouchID), verses large amounts of more variable data.

57. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

I've stated that soooooo many times. Only you and I agree because be have brains and actually understand how tech works. We aren't just platform fans.

70. Darckent

Posts: 87; Member since: Sep 17, 2016

Funny how iPhonearena say 'allegedly' No iPhonearena it's FACT Apple are trying to cover up the story by denying it Their shares have fallen due to this story so why aren't the 'ill sue you' trigger happy apple suing Bloomberg? Because they can't because the truth would come out that they did reduce the reliability of the face id Lol apple are the shadiest This is a company charging 80pounds for a charger to quick charge your phone.. Face id is a bigger risk now it's been reduced in quality, finger print scanner on the back would have been the better option not some tech that ain't ready and now been reduced in security. WTF

88. ecmedic4

Posts: 520; Member since: May 02, 2013

How do you know its fact? Can you provide some actual proof of this "fact"? Just you saying its fact doesn't make it so. With the extremely low yields and speculation that the iPhone X will be in extremely low availability I would assume that they didn't reduce the accuracy very much, if at all otherwise they would prob have more stock on launch day. Guess we will just have to wait an see on launch day and thru the remainder of the year. Until their is actual proof of something, instead of speculation then PA is accurate in saying "allegedly". I know its hard for some of you to accept that word because you hate Apple, but THAT is the FACTS.

93. southernzombie

Posts: 352; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

So now because of the reduced accuracy if I were to use Face ID to lock my phone, somebody who looks a lot like me but not quite exactly like me MAY be able to unlock my phone.

2. Jacksie66 unregistered

Next year on the iPhone X 2. We're so brave that we've actually removed the screen. Available for purchase separately on the Apple store for €500...

3. darkkjedii

Posts: 30786; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

That's B.S. Apple. Reduce the accuracy of this revolutionary unlocking feature, after totally eliminating TouchID from the phone as well...wowww! I can't wait to read the comments on this crap, and see the flock, flock to make excuses for it. Glad I got a Note 8.

11. bucky

Posts: 3771; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

that phone can wash my car for me but as long as it has touchwiz its going to rot from the inside in a few months- and you paid a$1000 for it.

15. baldilocks

Posts: 1428; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

TouchWiz has been gone for quite some time. Try to keep up.

31. darkkjedii

Posts: 30786; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Good post bro.

58. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Only in name though.

76. apple-rulz

Posts: 1875; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Yes it’s now called Samsung Experience. Same thing, different name.

110. iushnt

Posts: 3054; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Note 8 still beating iP8 in speed test.

18. aegislash

Posts: 1437; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

Bucky, that's a nominee for most stupid comment of the day. Anyone who actually uses a Samsung phone these days, knows how well they keep up after months and months of use.

24. DBoss

Posts: 102; Member since: Feb 18, 2017

I was one among a person who troll samsungs touch wiz. i own s8 plus & trust me i nev noticed a single lag from day one...

26. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

I have 2 Note 8's and I didn't pay $1000 for either of them.

106. iushnt

Posts: 3054; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

If u don’t know, no touchwiz since last yr.

17. worldpeace

Posts: 3092; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Probably it's just an excuse, to hide that faceID actually isn't as accurate as they claimed in presentation.

4. tedkord

Posts: 17093; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

So they're making the feature that failed during their showcase less accurate? Sounds like a good idea.

129. ShaikhJGI

Posts: 356; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Exactly ted & also as per Mr. Ive, this technology was(is) 5 years in the making. I mean is he really serious? 5 freaking looooongg years and this is what you have? :D :D :D

131. tedkord

Posts: 17093; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Well, it probably is a 5-year development cycle to achieve this, but unfortunately it looks like maybe they're only 3.5-4 years into it.

5. ShadowWarrior

Posts: 153; Member since: Aug 08, 2017

Will be the best selling iPhone ever

21. cmdacos

Posts: 3818; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

As it should be after years of stagnation...

29. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Based on what? Your word? They aren't even gonna have enough to even make that a possibility.

96. darkkjedii

Posts: 30786; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Probably not. By the time they get up to speed, the XS will be in the works. It'll be the same phone, though, so they can just combine the sales.

6. aegislash

Posts: 1437; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

They're reducing the accuracy of FaceID, instead of just delaying the release until they have enough iPhone X units ready for a mass launch? Man, Apple truly has changed under Cook. Do you honestly believe Steve Jobs would have allowed the iPhone X to be released with a notch....let alone released with a less accurate FaceID? Jobs was a perfectionist first and foremost. After these past few years, as much as I love Apple....they just don't feel like the same company they were when Jobs was at the helm.

71. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Right on, man. The Apple of today is all about making quick cash, even at the expense of performance and convenience of it's own consumers. Who the heck would want a half-assed and less accurate Face ID just for the sake of getting the iPhone X quickly? Hilarious.

7. nikhil23

Posts: 414; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

now about cutting those corners

8. LanjaKodaka

Posts: 219; Member since: Sep 27, 2016

I would still not want this phone because it's a 1st gen device in terms of hardware & software. It already has so many production problems and idk which additional problems it would cause once it's out in people's hands.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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