Two weeks after the WSJ reported that Apple hit a production snag on the iPhone X, specifically as relates to critical components for the new iPhone’s facial recognition technology, on Thursday the Nikkei reported that iPhone X manufacturers are still struggling to refine 3-D sensors, especially dot projectors in Apple premium handset’s TrueDepth, according to a tech executives. Following up on the explanation provided by the WSJ at the end of September, the problematic dot projector makes up part of the transmitting module, dubbed “Romeo,” of iPhone X’s new facial recognition function that allows users to unlock phones and make payments. The receiving module is fittingly named “Juliet.”
The Nikkei first reported in September that suppliers were struggling with the production of 3-D sensors for facial recognition, a key – and somewhat controversial feature – of the new iPhone X, the most keenly awaited smartphone this year and is touted as the first major upgrade of Apple’s iconic device since iPhone 6. The smartphone is set to go on sale early November, although should production problems persist, delays may be unavoidable.
The Nikkei also notes that the executive’s comments were confirmed by Jeff Pu, an analyst with Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting, who also identified the dot projector as the troublesome component holding back mass production of iPhone X.
The struggle for Taiwanese suppliers to churn out iPhone X has led to a year-on-year drop in revenue in September for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn Technology Group. According to Nikkei, TSMC’s sales in September fell 1.25% from a year-ago to 88.57 billion New Taiwan dollars ($2.93 billion), while Hon Hai’s revenue dropped 3.7% to NT$451.04 billion. TSMC is the sole chip supplier for the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X range. Foxconn is the sole assembler for iPhone X, while it splits orders for iPhone 8 Plus with smaller Taiwanese rivals Pegatron and Wistron.
There was some good news: iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 have given major Taiwanese tech companies a boost in the past month, with the 19 local tech companies on the Nikkei’s watchlist saw their revenue grow 0.68% year-over-year. The accumulated sales of nine Apple suppliers monitored by the NAR in Taiwan rose 1.85% from the same period in 2016.
For now, there is no reason to panic for the Apple faithful: “Pu stuck to his view voiced late September that iPhone X will enter mass production in mid-October and begin to be shipped from China in the third week of this month. He is, however, cutting his forecast of the volume of iPhone X that will be produced this year, from 40 million units to 36 million.”