New iPhones and iPads starting with iPhone 13 may use much smaller Face ID sensor chips

The die size of Apple’s vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) chips used for Face ID in new iPhone and iPad models coming down the pike later this year should be cut in half.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Smaller Face ID chips in 2021 iPhones and iPads.
  • Reducing die size will yield more chips from a single wafer.
  • This will help the company reduce production costs.
  • Smaller chips should help Apple shrink the notch.

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A smaller Face ID sensor chip in new iPhones

A new supply chain report from DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade publication, claims that the Cupertino technology giant will scale down the die size of VCSEL chips used in Face ID sensors for the new iPhone and iPad coming later in 2021 by as much as 40 percent to 50 percent.

This will sharply cut production costs for Face ID modules since more Face ID sensor chips will fit on a single wafer. On top of that, half-size chips should help make the whole Face ID module smaller. Prior rumors alleged that other engineering optimizations for a smaller notch include relocating the earpiece to the top bezel along with a redesigned TrueDepth camera module.

A VCSEL module like the infrared transmitter used by Face ID is basically a semiconductor-based laser diode that emits a beam of infrared light invisible to the human eye vertically from its top surface.

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DigiTimes has a hit-and-miss track record in terms of reporting about Apple’s supply chain moves and upcoming products. The publication has solid sources in the Asian supply chain which permits the publication to more or less accurately predict unreleased Apple products. In terms of timelines and launch dates, DigiTimes is less accurate than other publications so keep that in mind.