Apple Face ID TrueDepth 3D Camera System Allegedly Has 2-Year Lead Over Android Competitors

iphonex face recognition beach
Although we doubt that there are many iPhone X owners out there that actually like the notch cutout from the top of the display, most have just learned to embrace it. The reason for the notch is due to the TrueDepth camera system that powers the Face ID facial recognition system.

Face ID is capable of powering rather whimsical Animojis that users can share with each other in iMessage, or for more serious business when it comes to unlocking your smartphone, authenticating purchases (via Apple Pay) or entering your password/credit card details into a web form. Apple says that its Face ID technology features superior security credentials compared to Touch ID, and the company will apparently hold an advantage over the Android competition for at least the next year.

According to component makers Viavi Solutions Inc, Finisar Corp and Ams AG, the hardware necessary to make technology like Face ID come to life are in short supply, and the amount of R&D that Apple has funneled into the technologies behind it are hard to replicate in a short span of time.

Apple's TrueDepth Camera System used for Face ID on the iPhone X

"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."

It also doesn't help that Apple's ability to throw cash around means that it was able to lock in a nearly $400 million deal with Finisar on vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, which are part of the TrueDepth camera system. Apple decided to ink the deal with Finisar after it reportedly experienced bottlenecks with its previous supplier, Lumentum.

“It is going to take them a lot of time, the Android-based customers, to secure capacity throughout the whole supply chain,” said Bill Ong, Viavi's senior director of investor relations. Viavi produced optical filters that are crucial for 3D sensing modules.

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“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.”

While Apple's Android competitors haven't been able to duplicate the 3D facial scanning capabilities of the iPhone X -- yet -- they have quickly jumped on the bandwagon in regards to copying the display notch. Numerous Chinese OEMs have already announced smartphones that feature the notch, and even ASUS has shamelessly ripped off the design trend with its ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5Z. The LG G7 and the OnePlus 6 are also rumored to adopt the notch for their respective display panels.