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The iPhone’s most sophisticated feature will hit more Android phones this year

Published Feb 5th, 2019 4:47PM EST
iPhone XS vs. Android
Image: Apple Inc.

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When the iPhone X launched in late November 2017, we expected Android vendors to quickly copy the phone’s new features. That ended up being true, to some extent, but most iPhone X clones last year only replicated the notch design of the phone, not the notch itself. In it, we have the various components that make 3D facial recognition possible, and only a couple of companies released phones last year with Face ID-like functionality.

Several reports in early 2018 revealed that Apple had secured a supply of Face ID parts for the iPhone, or the components that delayed the iPhone X’s launch to November. Analysts then said that Android phone makers would need two years to catch up to Apple when it comes to Face ID support, and it sure looks like that prediction is coming true: A report says that we’ll see more Android phones with Face ID-like features starting this year.

Lumentum Holdings said on Tuesday that it expects Android smartphone makers to launch devices with 3D facial recognition technology, Reuters reports, which could help reduce its dependence on Apple. The iPhone maker reported lower than expected numbers for the December quarter, and the trend will continue for the current quarter, the report notes.

“During calendar 2019, based on customer engagements we have today, we expect new and existing customers will announce and release additional new 3D sensing-enabled products,” Lumentum CEO Alan Lowe said during an earnings call. “Several of these opportunities are expected to bring new functionality that could expand our content per device, including world facing capabilities.”

The exec did not mention any customers, and it’s not clear at this time what Android flagships will feature 3D facial recognition support. Also, it’s not clear what Android devices will sport 3D “world facing” cameras in the near future.

Reuters does note that Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang said in a recent note that the Galaxy S10 5G phone will have 3D-sensing technology. But it’s unclear whether the 3D camera will be placed on the back or front. Some rumors did say the 5G Galaxy S10 phone will have four lenses on the back instead of three like the premium Galaxy S10 phones, with the extra camera being a depth sensor.

But the report also quotes Needham and Co. analyst Alex Henderson, who says: “Android is strong but still small versus Apple, but orders and design wins are strong in Android for both front facing and world facing.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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