Android makers looking to keep up with Apple’s Face ID technology are planning to debut their own 3D sensor tech next year — but they might have some catching up to do.
Chinese smartphone vendors Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi are working to equip their next-generation smartphones with 3D sending functionality, according to supply chain sources cited by DigiTimes. Oppo and Xiaomi, specifically, have reportedly verified total 3D sensing solutions developed by a joint partnership between Qualcomm, Himax and Truly Opto-electronics. According to those sources, all three Chinese OEMs are expected to debut smartphones with 3D sensing technology in 2018.
The newest report lines up with an October forecast by well-connected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. According to Kuo, the number of inquiries into 3D sensing technology nearly tripled since Apple took the wraps off its own Face ID and TrueDepth Camera technology in September.
That’s a stark contrast to many manufacturers’ previous plans to develop display-embedded fingerprint recognition technology. That’s something that Apple was also rumored to be exploring (with some difficulty), although a chief Apple hardware engineer said in October that the company “spent no time” developing such a solution, since it had decided on Face ID early on in the iPhone X’s development.
Apple regularly competes with Android phonemakers in the race to debut new and innovative features. While Apple was the first to equip a device with a facial recognition system as advanced as Face ID, for example, several Android makers beat Apple to the punch of developing a smartphone with an edge-to-edge display.
Still, it’s not currently clear how advanced the Android-based 3D sensing systems will be by next year, since previous forecasts suggested that Android makers had some catching up to do. In a KGI Securities research note distributed in October, Kuo said that Apple’s Face ID and TrueDepth system was at least two and a half years ahead of the competition.