In the process of “changing the market dynamic” and making it virtually impossible for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus to become typical box-office hits, the much-hyped iPhone X presented Apple with an unprecedented challenge.
The Cupertino-based tech titan has obviously had trouble putting together large quantities of popular products before, but never this kind of trouble. As a family pioneer and industry trendsetter, the iPhone X posed mass-manufacturing problems in several different departments.
Getting Samsung to supply tens of millions of OLED screens (to begin with) all by itself wasn’t easy, and according to inside sources last week, upgraded new components like the antenna’s flexible printed circuit board and wide angle camera circuit boards also proved unusually tricky to produce in satisfactory numbers.
Still, the super-complex, one-of-a-kind Face ID technology was by far the handset’s greatest manufacturing weakness from day one of the R&D process. The facial authentication method relies on a TrueDepth camera system composed of three groundbreaking elements, thus involving many different parts makers.
Some of these couldn’t meet Apple’s famously stringent quality requirements off the bat, while others faced hurdles in recent months, reportedly prompting a relaxation of “some of the specifications for Face ID.”
That might explain why yields have dramatically improved of late, according to multiple insiders, although it’s unclear exactly how it will impact the precision and security of the iPhone X’s biometric recognition.
Apple has repeatedly touted Face ID as a more convenient, powerful and secure authentication system than Touch ID, claiming the odds of an unauthorized unlocking operation happening on the company’s flagship iDevice have dropped from 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 1,000,000.
We can probably live with that latter number changing to 500,000, but let’s just hope this newly reported compromise doesn’t reduce the feature’s actual accuracy and functionality. Wouldn’t you rather wait for everything to be as near to perfection as possible than experience repeats of Craig Federighi’s demo “fail” for real in real life?