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Compromise Quality

Updated: Did Apple Compromise Quality to Bring the iPhone X to Market?

October 25, 2017

Did Apple compromise quality when it came to producing the iPhone X’s Face ID? As Bloomberg reports, Apple might have bypassed its own quality controls to get the iPhone X out this fall.

Apple responds below.

First announced on Sept. 12, the iPhone X is the first Apple product to include Face ID, a facial recognition system that replaces Touch ID. Even before Face ID was announced, there had been rumors its components were difficult to produce. The seven weeks separating the iPhone X announcement from its release date (Nov. 3), indicated those rumors were at least unofficially confirmed.

The seven weeks separating the iPhone X announcement from its release date (Nov. 3), indicated those rumors were at least unofficially confirmed.

As Bloomberg explains:

The 3-D sensor (found on the iPhone X) has three key elements: a dot projector, flood illuminator and infrared camera. The flood illuminator beams infrared light, which the camera uses to establish the presence of a face. The projector then flashes 30,000 dots onto the face which the phone uses to decide whether to unlock the home screen. The system uses a two-stage process because the dot projector makes big computational demands and would rapidly drain the battery if activated as frequently as the flood illuminator.

The report notes in recent weeks, Apple has relaxed some of the specifications for Face ID. As a result, it now takes less time to test completed models. In doing so, the number of iPhone X units produced has increased significantly.

The report says:

It’s not clear how much the new specs will reduce the technology’s efficacy. At the phone’s official unveiling in September, executives boasted that there was a one in a million chance that an interloper could defeat Face ID to unlock a phone. Even downgraded, it will probably still be far more accurate than Touch ID, where the odds of someone other than the owner of a phone being able to unlock it are one in 50,000.

Whenever I see stories like this, I find myself taking a pause and wondering whether to hold off on ordering an iPhone X. My heart tells me Apple would never release a security tool that’s not ready, while my brain reminds me of earlier iPhone launch snafus such as antennagate and bendgade.

Are you still planning on buying an iPhone X this Friday, Oct. 27, when pre-orders begin? Let us know below.

Since Bloomberg’s news broke, Apple has responded, telling TechCrunch:

Customer excitement for iPhone X and Face ID has been incredible, and we can’t wait for customers to get their hands on it starting Friday, November 3. Face ID is a powerful and secure authentication system that’s incredibly easy and intuitive to use. The quality and accuracy of Face ID haven’t changed. It continues to be 1 in a million probability of a random person unlocking your iPhone with Face ID.

Bloomberg’s claim that Apple has reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false and we expect Face ID to be the new gold standard for facial authentication.

We’ll continue to follow this story.