Apple Takes Two-Year Lead Over Android Makers With Face ID

Posted on March 20, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Android, iOS, Mobile with 35 Comments

Apple reportedly has a two-year lead over most Android manufacturers with its 3D sensing tech on the iPhone X. The new 3D sensing tech on Cupertino’s flagship iPhone powers the new Face ID feature, which allows for seamless authentication for payments, and improved AR capabilities. Apple has apparently been able to take a huge lead over Android manufacturers like Samsung and Xiaomi due to production bottlenecks.

Reuters reports that suppliers worldwide are struggling to produce a key part of the 3D sensing tech used on the iPhone X: the vertical-cavity-surface-emitting lasers, or VCSELs. 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 tech by the end of this year.

Apple’s lead in the market has mostly been made possible by the company’s huge $390 million investment VCSEL supplier Finisar last year. As Android manufacturers continue to struggle with low availability of VCSEL chips, Apple is expected to bring its new 3D sensing tech and Face ID to the entire 2018 iPhone lineup later this year.

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Comments (35)

35 responses to “Apple Takes Two-Year Lead Over Android Makers With Face ID”

  1. dcdevito

    It's a great technology, but taking away a fingerprint scanner is a bigger downgrade overall, and I don't care how much fanboys defend it.

    • Elindalyne

      In reply to dcdevito:

      The combo on the S9 really seems great. The Intelligent scan is fast and you don't lose the fingerprint reader.

      • IanYates82

        In reply to Elindalyne:

        Yeah, I like the fingerprint on my s8-the slim case guides my finger to the right spot, avoiding the camera, every time.

        I occasionally use iris unlock if I remember it's there, but with location unlock enabled and the fingerprint reader, I already have the phone unlocked before I even get it near my gaze.

    • Edward Grego

      In reply to dcdevito:

      I guess I'm a fanboy then... I don't miss the FP reader in the least, Face ID is as fast and much less finicky to use. Think about if you're entering an app that needed your FP to open and you pressed to long or to hard and you went back or home, that scenario is gone. I don't have to worry if I'm using gloves or have dirty fingers, I can still use my device. In every single way Face ID is better than the finger print reader.

      • itmaster68

        In reply to Edward_Grego:

        I must agree.. I'm coming from a different perspective. I have never been an iPhone user until the iPhone X. I was windows phone with an ICON, then unfortunately switched to Droid turbo 2, which was horrible.. I finally caved in and went to IPhone X. it has been just works and is always fast. the touch interface once you understand it works great.. the face ID is great, even at night with glasses it works 9 times out of 10. I never had touch ID so maybe not having had Touch ID I have nothing to compare it to and don't miss touch ID?

  2. randallcorn

    I use face unlock on my Oneplus 5T and love it. It is not used for purchases. I have a fingerprint sensor on the back for that. I like the way this is done. Oh and my price is $499.

  3. Bart

    Weird. I remember a technology called Windows Hello that was on the market already a long time ago. Or is Face-to-face that much better?

  4. pwrof3

    It's funny how everyone bitched about FaceID, saying it was stupid and they didn't want it. Now all of a sudden, Android is two years behind on a technology no one said they wanted.

  5. Jeremy Petzold

    Face ID = Hell No!

    I don't care about my face being seen....IU care about usability. Fingerprint lets me open my phone without having to pay attention to opening my phone. It is the perfect compromise of security and convenience. Face ID is a HUGE step back.

    • PincasX

      In reply to Jeremy_Petzold:

      I have seen this "huge step back" argument made but nobody has explained why it is a huge step back, can you actually articulate the reasons that it is so terrible?

    • red.radar

      In reply to Jeremy_Petzold:

      No doubt that face-id has flaws. I think the thing to remember is that this is the first release of the technology. And the criticisms are largely performance based. If Android manufactures are jumping in to support the technology then there has to be merit to the approach. Also, I don't see IphoneX customers returning their devices or regetting the purchase. They seemed to have found a way to adapt in spite of the flaws.

      Or perhaps its just FOMO. . . which is a stark criticism of Android manufactures. I don't think FOMO is what is pushing the technology forward.

      So.. If you assume Face-ID had perfect performance, what is better having to touch your phone to unlock it, or the phone just unlocking itself when you look at it? From a customer experience point of view I kind of see the attraction to the technology. I am willing to wait till the next round of Apple hardware refreshes to see how well the technology improves before damning it to the dust bin.

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to red.radar:

        “or the phone just unlocking itself when you look at it?”

        I think this is ultimately the end goal. And in my use it really gets pretty close.

        Most of the time, I pull the phone out of my pocket, into my normal “use it” position, and all of my unlocked notifications are there waiting for me.

        Pretty sweet.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to Jeremy_Petzold:

      Honestly... it is pretty awesome. I have more freedom pulling my phone out and just using it now. It took a bit of adjustment. For the first while I realized that I was still pulling my phone out with my thumb where Touch ID would be.

      Once i I stopped doing that I just started grabbing my phone and starting to use it. It does the rest. Truly, it is ready to work by the time it is in front of my face. No meaningful delay.

      I’m now to the point where I’m irritated that my iPad isn’t ready to use when I’m ready to use it. I sometimes have to read the error message on the screen to remember it requires TouchID.

      I feel the same about any computer without FaceID. I love opening my wife’s laptop and it’s just like “oh, hi dude, I’ll just launch steam for you”.

      “Thanks, computer.”

      If you want to see if you’d like it without spending a grand on a phone, just setup Windows Hello.

  6. Thretosix

    The face ID on my Android phone that was released before the iphoneX seems to work fantastic.

  7. Daekar

    So... this is something that I haven't seen written about yet, but the functional comparison between the face/iris technology in the GS9/GS9+ and the facial recognition on the iPhone... is the functional difference great enough that it actually matters in everyday "I don't care about animojis now just unlock my phone dammit" use?

    This article seems premised on the idea that the difference is a big deal, but I wasn't aware if that had actually been established.

    • Stooks

      In reply to Daekar:

      BGR dot COM has an article titled...

      "The Galaxy S9’s facial recognition isn’t as secure as Samsung wants you to think


      From it...

      "The iPhone X is still the only handset to feature a secure facial recognition that can be used to authenticate mobile payments on top of handset unlocks. That’s because no other smartphone out there comes with a 3D-scanning front-facing camera system that can actually scan the unique contours of the face. Not even the Galaxy S9.

      The Galaxy S9 does come with Intelligent Scan, an unlock feature that can combine face and iris scans, but that’s still just a cool marketing name used for a feature whose only purpose is to quickly unlock the handset. But the system isn’t more secure than the Galaxy S8’s or Note 8’s."

      • Daekar

        In reply to Stooks:

        So, according to that article it would functionally be the same for me, then. Fingerprint sensors can be spoofed too, so I'm not too fussed about the absolute level of security. If somebody is willing to put significant resources into getting into my phone, I'm screwed no matter what.

        The number of times I just unlock my phone completely dwarfs the number of times I use Samsung Pay, and I never use the Secure Folder function. Nice that everybody is working towards even better recognition, but not terribly important once we've reached this threshold of function.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Daekar:

      The iPhone X’s recognition is based on IR-based 3D mapping. It sends out blips of IR light and looks at the contours of your face instead of using 2D metrics. That’s why Apple’s doofy animoji work better than Sammy’s.

  8. Winner

    Here's the way I see it:

    • Face ID is slower than a fingerprint reader
    • Face ID requires the camera to be pointed at you
    • Face ID is the reason (mostly) that we have to put up with that ugly notch
    • Face ID adds a lot of cost to the phone for those "benefits"

    My conclusion is that I'm happy never needing to have Face ID or a notch on my phone.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to Winner:
      • “Face ID requires the camera to be pointed at you“

      How many times do you use your phone pointed away from you? You are more awesome than I am if you can.

      The *only* thing I don’t like about FaceID is that it *is* slightly more annoying to unlock if I’m handing it off to my wife. At that point it feels a little silly to make the phone look at me, just to hand it off.

      But it I don’t do that frequently.

      I would like like to be able to have an “emergency” face stored in the phone because there is no way she’s going to go to the effort to memorize my pass phrase.

      • Winner

        In reply to curtisspendlove:

        I unlock my phone with my index finger on the back as it is coming out of my pocket. Before I even see the screen, it's unlocked.

        • curtisspendlove

          In reply to Winner:

          I pull my phone out of my pocket with any finger positioning that makes sense in the given moment. By the time I need to interact with the screen, it has seen me, verified me, unlocked, and presented my notifications to me.

          Same end result. Pretty cool way for it to happen.


          • Winner

            In reply to curtisspendlove:

            Do you not need to swipe up to your home screen after it is unlocked?

            • curtisspendlove

              In reply to Winner:

              You can swipe up during the unlock and it clears for you. But I generally don’t since I want to see the details of the incoming notifications.

              On the rare occasion I’m looking to go straight into an app, or home, I know this in advance and I’m ready to swipe up with my thumb.

              Im not sure if this would be more difficult for people with smaller hands.

              Honestly I love FaceID over TouchID for another simple reason. I’m often interacting with my phone with wet (washing dishes) or covered (my region is cold nearly half the year) hands.

              TouchID failed for me far more often than FaceID does. I realize this is personal, regional, and maybe not common.

    • NT6.1

      In reply to Winner:

      It's been years since iPhone was really ahead. Let's not forget they're only now adopting OLED screens.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Winner:

      1) After watching many people use it, it appears to be instantaneous.

      2) I’ve watched it work with the device tilted about 20° away.

      3) That’s subjective so I’ll give it to you. Not everyone likes the notch, and that’s fine.

      4) It’s clearly worth it to some people.

      • Chris Payne

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        Agreed on your points. FaceID is super quick for me, and 10 times faster than entering a PIN, so I'm happy as a clam. If fingerprint scanner is any faster I'm not sure I would notice it.

        Now, to have an under-glass fingerprint scanner for the times when the phone is not pointed at my face... that would be nice. But I think FaceID works much better than a fingerprint scanner would for unlocking in most scenarios... I don't have to be as precise with placement.

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