Apple reportedly has a two-year lead over most Android manufacturers with its 3D-sensing technology used for Face ID on the flagship iPhone X.
According to a new report from Reuters, three of the largest suppliers of 3D sensing tech including Viavi Solutions, Ams AG, and Finisar Corp – which is one of Apple’s main Face ID parts makers – agreed that severe bottlenecks on key parts means “mass adoption of 3D sensing will not happen until next year.”
“China’s Huawei, Xiaomi and others could be a total of almost two years behind Apple, which launched Face ID with its iPhone X anniversary phone last September,” said Reuters with respect to the competition catching up. “In particular, Android producers are struggling to source vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, or VCSELs, a core part of Apple’s Face ID hardware.”
While suppliers work on expanding production over the next 2 years, Android manufacturers will struggle to obtain supply of the VCSEL chips to build their own 3D sensing tech. With many VCSEL suppliers working to ramp up their production in 2019, one of the suppliers expect a second smartphone maker to introduce their own 3D-sensing technology by the end of this year.
When asked about the outlook for other phones having Face ID-like technology, Viavi’s senior director of investor relations Bill Ong told Reuters “We may have a potential introduction of a second handset maker into 3D sensing at the end of this calendar year. (But) the volumes would be very low. In 2019 you clearly will see at least two or more Android-based phones.”
Apple’s two-year lead will allow the company a substantial amount of time to come up with significant upgrades to their 3D-sensing camera technology. This potentially means that by the time Android smartphone makers are launching their duplicate of Apple’s 3D-sensing technology, the Cupertino company would have already moved on to a more advanced implementation of the technology.