iPhone X Sales Discourage Chinese Manufacturers From Copying Apple’s Face ID Sensor

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is an adage that is very applicable to the tech industry. This has been the case for Apple, who has always proven to be the trendsetter in more ways than one. But this year is slightly different. The Cupertino giant’s rivals may have already copied the design of the iPhone X, but they are skipping the opportunity of bringing Face ID to their premium handsets this year.

DigiTimes reported Friday that China-based smartphone vendors are not at all considering incorporating 3D sensors into their upcoming releases. Supply chain sources said Chinese manufacturers are not adopting the 3D sensors that power up iPhone X’s Face ID because they are more keen on equipping their flagships with in-display fingerprint sensors this 2018.

Sources said there are three reasons for the companies’ decision here. First, the unit cost for 3D sensors is quite high due to the substantial efforts in developing software, hardware and system integration. This could significantly push the pricing of their phones up. Second, Chinese manufacturers are afraid that possible patent infringement by their own 3D sensors could lead to a lot of issues. Finally, the iPhone X failed to meet sales expectations despite the sophisticated 3D-sensing technology.

However, this doesn’t mean that Chinese companies will never use 3D sensors for their own phones. They are simply reluctant to launch a device with 3D sensors internationally. They have opted to incorporate 3D sensors into devices that are exclusive to their home country. They say that this is a good way for them to test market response and reduce possible risks that come with global releases. 

Industry sources revealed that Chinese phone makers are mostly relying on Qualcomm for the in-display fingerprint sensors they will be embedding into their 18:9 all-screen phones. The first company to publicly release a smartphone with Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensing solution is going to be Huawei. The company’s Mate 11 flagship handset, which comes out in the second half, will come equipped with Huawei’s new biometric module. 

Qualcomm is expected to do well this year because Huawei’s local competitors are also adopting the ultrasonic fingerprint sensing solution in their own Android smartphones. Other Asian brands will reportedly follow suit in 2019. What’s good about Qualcomm’s new biometric module is the fact that it is very thin and can function well even when the finger that touches it is either wet or greasy. 

Face ID Face ID is not something that Chinese phone makers are considering for their upcoming releases. Photo: Reuters/Stephen Lam

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