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Android handsets are reportedly behind Apple's Face ID technology by two years

22 March 2018

According to a report in October by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, inquiries by Android smartphone vendors into 3D-sensing technologies tripled after Apple unveiled its TrueDepth camera and Face ID technology, which will likely replace traditional Touch ID fingerprint recognition in future iOS devices. So far, no Android manufacturer has managed to duplicate the hardware required for advanced 3D sensing, and a new report claims that they might not be able to do so for another 2 years.

Viavi Solutions Inc, Finisar Corp and Ams AG, some of the part makers say that mass adoption of this technology won't happen until next year.

That means that China's Huawei, Xiaomi and others could be a total of nearly two years behind Apple, which launched Face ID with its iPhone X anniversary phone last September.

Viavi, Finisar and Ams all say that most Android phone producers will struggle to obtain parts for a 3D-sensing camera system - vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers are said to be the toughest to source.

"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, senior director of investor relations from Viavi, seen as the only major supplier of optical filters needed for the 3D sensing modules.
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. (But) the volumes would be very low. When asked about it, OEMs like Huawei, Samsung and Xiaomi declined to comment, says the report.

Apply's lead in the market has mostly been made possible by the company's huge $390 million investment VCSEL supplier Finisar a year ago.

A combination of Apple's control over the supply chain and a shortage of parts means Android-based smartphone makers, like Samsung, LG, and Google, might need to wait until 2019 to deliver a true Face ID competitor, Reuters is reporting after discussing the matter with parts suppliers.

It also doesn't help that Apple's ability to throw cash around means that it was able to lock in a almost $400 million deal with Finisar on vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, which are part of the TrueDepth camera system. Apple has apparently hogged up the supply chain, leaving Android brands to twiddle their thumbs.

Android handsets are reportedly behind Apple's Face ID technology by two years