Apple has always been known for its tight tolerances and strict quality controls. However, with the Face ID components on the iPhone X, the company had to lower component specifications to help improve their yields.
A Bloomberg report details that Apple had to lower the component specifications of the dot project modules which allowed the company’s supply chain to test and build the units faster.
The dot projector has a precision which can be affected if the components are off by even several microns which can affect its performance. The stringent standards led to one of Apple suppliers Finisar Corp from quitting the company’s supply chain as it could not meet the specifications. The components were also very fragile which created problems for LG Innotek Co. and Sharp Corp. to assemble them into dot projectors.
The report cites that at one point, both companies combined were able to make only 20 percent of usable dot projectors. The companies had to slow down the production process of the dot projector to prevent breakages and to meet the tight specifications from Apple.
However, this created a bottleneck in the production of iPhone X. To meet the huge demand and boost the yields, Apple has relaxed some specifications of Face ID. This led ot a reduction in the time taken to test the modules thereby speeding the whole process.
For now, it still remains unclear how the reduced specifications will affect the performance of Face ID. When Apple first unveiled the iPhone X, it had mentioned that its accuracy was higher than that of Touch ID. Given that the iPhone X only features Face ID as the only biometric unlock option, it is unlikely that Apple will compromise much about the accuracy of Face ID.
Interestingly, Apple had started working on the Face ID technology for over five years. The company gave its suppliers a two-year lead time to set up the Face ID supply chain. However, this was still not enough due to the complexity of the components involved.
Despite the relaxed guidelines, Apple is only expected to have a limited number of iPhone X units available for sale next week. The company encourages walk-in customers to arrive early to ensure they are able to get a unit on launch day.[Via Bloomberg]