This was reported by Bloomberg, who tried to analyze what is happening with the production of the new top of the range.
For several weeks there has been talk of possible delays for the iPhone X and all the main analysts are convinced that Apple has far fewer units available than those that will be required by the market. According to KGI Securities, for example, only 3 million iPhone X will be shipped by November 3, the day in which the new smartphone of the apple should be on sale in stores (the presales, however, will start this Friday, October 27); Additionally, the aforementioned analyst firm estimates that only 25-30 million iPhone Xs will be sold by 2017 (due to inventory shortages), while a recent Nikkei report lowers the estimate to just 20 million. To give a comparison, last year Apple sold 78 million iPhones (between 7 and 7 Plus) in the last quarter of the year.
This morning Bloomberg published a long report in which it tries to explain what is happening with the production of the iPhone X: according to the well-known portal, which cites anonymous sources close to the matter, Apple has decided to reduce the accuracy standards required for FaceID to speed up the production of the smartphone, whose delays would be caused mainly by the front camera system.
In fact, it seems now established that the problems in production are mainly related to the camera TrueDepth, even if simply calling it a camera is an understatement: what is on the front of the iPhone X, in fact, is a complex sensor system comparable to the one that Microsoft had used for its Kinect. The difference, of course, is in the size: the Kinect was the thickness of a large book, while on the iPhone X everything is compressed into a few millimeters of high engineering.
Inside the TrueDepth camera of the Apple smartphone, in fact, we find not only a normal 7 megapixel camera (accompanied by proximity sensor, brightness sensor, microphone and speaker), but also three components that had never been mounted before on an iPhone: an infrared camera, a flood illuminator and a point projector.
These three elements allow iPhone X to create the 3D mapping of the face that was discussed long after the presentation and, basically, allow the Face ID to work: the flood illuminator emits an infrared beam, thanks to which the infrared camera perceives if there is a face in the frame and, in this case alone, the point projector uses 30,000 points to determine if the face is authorized to unlock the device.
READ ALSO: With the TrueDepth camera, iPhone X is two years ahead of Android
According to several informants, the point projector is the main cause of the delays: this hypothesis had already been suggested in September by the Wall Street Journal and is corroborated today by Bloomberg. This delicate sensor, in fact, uses a vertical cavity surface emission laser (VCSEL), whose laser is composed of a semiconductor called gallium arsenide; everything must be placed behind a glass lens and the entire sensor is extremely fragile and difficult to assemble. According to what reported by Bloomberg, a few micrometers (or microns, if you prefer) of difference are enough to offset the behavior of the sensor: to give an idea, we are talking about a measurement much lower than the thickness of a hair.
According to reports from Bloomberg, Apple has worked for five years on this technology, but would have completely underestimated the time required for production and assembly: according to the report, in fact, the fragility of the components would have created great problems for LG Innotek and Sharp, in charge of production, to the point that only 20% of the point projectors made so far by the two companies would be usable. Add to this that one of the laser suppliers to which Apple had turned, Finisar Corp., would not have been able to meet the deadlines of the Cupertino company.
To try to shorten the time, in short, it seems that Apple has reduced some precision specifications of the FaceID, in order to speed up the production of components. It is unclear what the difference is, but it is very likely that the new biometric authentication system will be however much more secure than the old Touch ID: during the presentation, Apple had talked about a failure rate of one in a million cases, against one in 50,000 of the fingerprint reader. With the new specifications it is plausible that this value will drop, but unlikely there will be significant changes for the end user.
There will likely be a shortage of sensors until early 2018, when production settles down, but in the meantime Apple will have to face the high demands of the Christmas holidays: we just have to wait for the next few months to find out how many potential buyers will be left without iPhone X.