Face ID deemed too costly to copy, Android makers target in-display fingerprint sensors instead

A new report from Digitimes citing supply chain sources indicates that Android phone makers are ‘rushing’ to implement fingerprint sensors under the display for upcoming handsets.

Android manufacturers have decided that recreating the 3D facial recognition used by iPhone X is simply too costly to include, and are instead focusing on implementing Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint scanners.

The report says that including an Infrared depth-sensing facial recognition system like the iPhone X is simply too expensive for Android smartphones to offer, which cannot command the same price premiums as Apple’s iPhones.

This is a combination of hardware and software development costs. Digitimes claims the cost of the TrueDepth 3D sensors in iPhone X peaked at $60 per unit, an incredibly high proportion of the overall phone cost if accurate.

Android makers are also worried at about possible patent infringement from adopting Infrared dot projector systems. Instead, they have turned to in-display fingerprint sensors as their next-generation of device authentication.

This depends on using Qualcomm technology for ultrasonic-based fingerprint scanners, which can sit below the cover glass and work even if fingers are wet or greasy. The Huawei Mate 11 may be the first mass-market product to debut with the feature, expected in the second half of 2018 although the device is unlikely to be released in the US market.

Apple was rumored to be exploring in-screen Touch ID options for the iPhone X, but obviously abandoned the feature in development. Apple execs have said that Touch ID was never on the table for the iPhone X, and that they were ‘all in’ on facial recognition.

Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup is reported to bring Face ID across all three of the new models, eschewing the physical Touch ID home button for good.

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