If a new report from Bloomberg is to be trusted, Apple’s marquee 3D facial recognition feature of iPhone X may not be as accurate as originally demonstrated.

That’s because, according to writers Alex Webb and Sam Kim, Apple has quietly told suppliers to lower the accuracy of Face ID in order to overcome the ongoing manufacturing woes with the dot projector component and speed up production.

UPDATE: Apple has refuted Bloomberg’s claim in a statement to the press, calling the report “completely false” and saying that the quality and accuracy of Face ID haven’t changed. “It continues to be 1 in a million probably of a random person unlocking your iPhone X with Face ID,” according to Apple.

Here’s an excerpt from the Bloomberg story:

As of early fall, it was clearer than ever that production problems meant Apple Inc. wouldn’t have enough iPhone Xs in time for the holidays. The challenge was how to make the sophisticated phone—with advanced features such as facial recognition—in large enough numbers.

As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation.

While the report states that Apple downgraded Face ID accuracy “only a little,” it’s unclear if user experience will be impacted because of that decision.

The phone’s dot projector, which flashes 30,000 dots onto the user’s face, is at the heart of Apple’s production problems. The laser projector is made of gallium arsenide, a semiconductor material and the lens is constructed of glass.

Both are fragile and easily broken. Precision is key. If the microscopic components are off by even several microns, a fraction of a hair’s breadth, the technology might not work properly, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

It’s so fragile that LG Innotek and Sharp both struggled to combine the laser and lens to make dot projectors. “At one point only about 20 percent of the dot projectors the two companies produced were usable,” said the source.

The dot projector shortage is expected to end in early 2018.

Bloomberg adds that Foxconn a month ago pulled 200 workers off an iPhone X production line because Apple was struggling to get sufficient units of the phone’s 3D sensor. Coupled with the very aggressive schedule and the fact that suppliers had not been given the typical two-year lead time, Apple was forced to postpone the handset’s arrival until November 3.

What do you make of this report?

Let us know by posting a comment below.

  • Iskren Donev

    I would be mad at Apple if this is indeed true. So far Apple has built itself as a brand that does not compromise the security and privacy of their customers.

    Reducing the accuracy of the Face ID system flies in the face of that image and in my opinion would do tremendously more damage that having a really slow iPhone X rollout.

    • askep3

      They probably only reduced it by a very low percentage, but who knows.
      Now I’m worried

      • Iskren Donev

        The moment I read the “only a little” quote in the article my mind was going “way more than we feel comfortable disclosing”.

    • Arijit Biswas

      I agree. I don’t mind waiting a few weeks more.

  • noracuts

    If the sensor is that fragile and if they are off by “a fraction of a hair’s breadth”, one has wonder how it will hold up in real world use. I don’t care how much you baby your phone, at some point, it will be knocked or dropped.
    I wonder how much it will be to replace those sensors in the notch.

    It’s pretty evident that this phone was rushed, not thoroughly planned and may even have been a plan B or C.

    • Jordan

      Better wait for the next generation of iphone X….

      • Past0rB

        Plz wait. One less person in the que Friday Morning. Thank you.

      • Jordan

        Even without this information (which seems to be false), I would not have been in the queue on Friday 😉

    • TechnoBuff

      I agree.. stated that earlier when it was announced that this release was not planned well at all. The execution seems weird. The fact that Apple is struggling with production/supply of this key component this late in the game speaks volumes.
      Somewhat laughable that this product was years in planning and that component which is the key selling point of this iphone is somewhat lacking.
      Every day use of the phone will not be as smooth as other iphones due to lack of TouchID.
      There are numerous times i have to use my phone without having to look at it directly by glancing sideways. TouchID works flawlessly and seems natural to use. Having to look directly at my phone always just to unlock will be interesting to say the least.

    • Iskren Donev

      That’s a really good point, I didn’t think that dropping the phone can potentially degrade the True Depth camera system.

    • Past0rB

      Just curious how an unsubstantiated article based on speculation makes something pretty evident. Plz explain.

  • Jamessmooth

    Lower the accuracy, lower the price.
    Look, this may turn out to be nothing. However, if I’m paying well over a thousand USD for a phone, there better not be a single thing wrong with it. Face ID better work every damn time.

  • Christopher Morris

    Aaaaannnnd I’m still going to be online at 3:01 EST ordering my new phone along with millions of others trying to get that first shipment. Though I hope this development doesn’t cost Apple in the long run. Hoping it’s not like a catastrophe like the Note’s exploding batteries.