Android OEMs Still Deem 3D Sensors Too Expensive: Report

Samsung Galaxy S8 AH NS 306 iris scanner

Many Android original equipment manufacturers still deem 3D sensors too expensive and remain reluctant to commercialize them with their 2018 smartphones, DigiTimes reported Friday, citing sources from the Taiwanese semiconductor industry. While 3D sensing solutions have been on the market for some time now, their adoption rates in the mobile industry remain essentially non-existent, even after such technologies were embraced by Apple’s iPhone X last fall. Some manufacturers are said to have been hoping FaceID would prompt Android OEMs to emulate such solutions but nothing resembling that trend has yet been observed in the industry. Prices of 3D sensing technologies remain high as a number of key components necessary for manufacturing three-dimensional mapping modules are still in short supply, making such platforms highly expensive even if there’s virtually no large-scale demand for them, some sources say.

The new claims are in line with previous reports about a general lack of enthusiasm surrounding mobile 3D sensing solutions and indicates the vast majority of smartphones set to be released over the course of this year won’t feature any such technologies. Several companies like Himax are presently trying to incite some interest in 3D sensors by promising accessible and versatile platforms which don’t require any particularly expensive hardware, though the SLiM tech and other similar solutions remain niche offerings which are yet to be embraced on any significant scale. According to current estimates, a 3D sensor array comparable to that powering the FaceID service on the iPhone X is priced at between $30 and $50. Should manufacturers move forward with commercializing the technology, the added production costs would be passed on to consumers, which may prove to be highly detrimental to whoever does so first given the ultra-competitive state of the global smartphone market where even a small price difference can make a new device dead on arrival, less it comes from either Samsung or Apple, some insiders believe.

Even Samsung is circumventing 3D sensing in the near term and may not adopt any such platform before 2019, recent reports indicate. The company’s Galaxy S9 lineup combines facial recognition and iris scanning into a single authentication package but still doesn’t come with any kind of a 3D camera module. Recent estimates suggest approximately 200 million mobile devices released over the course of 2018 will offer 3D sensing, with most of them being iPhones and possibly even iPads.