Apple Event 2018 Question #2: Will All the iPhones Get Face ID?

Apple's scanner has made a mark with consumers.

The iPhone X's Face ID in action

Apple is gearing up to release three new iPhones in the next week. While some may hope that the company brings back the Touch ID scanner that first debuted in 2013, leaks suggest the company will expand its Face ID scanner to phones across its range, along with a planned expansion onto the iPad range.

For this year’s launch, rumors suggest that all three phones will use an X-style design with a face scanner and no home button. The $699 6.1-inch LCD iPhone will serve as the cheapest model alongside an upgraded $899 5.8-inch OELD device and a $999 6.5-inch OLED phone. The jury’s out on the names: some rumors suggest all will be called “iPhone XS,” while another suggests the phones will be called “iPhone XC,” “iPhone XS” and “iPhone XS Plus” in order of pricing.

Here’s why Apple is doubling down on Face ID.

Why Every iPhone Will Receive Face ID

Apple has struck a positive tone about the benefits of face recognition. Its scanner system projects 30,000 dots onto the face in a unique pattern, which the phone measures with a sensor in a similar process to the Microsoft Kinect. If the projection registers a match with the data stored in the phone’s Secure Enclave, the phone is unlocked. Apple has stated that unlike Touch ID, which could unlock the device with the wrong fingerprint in one of 50,000 cases, Face ID has a chance of an incorrect match with just one in a million faces.

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Setting up Face ID on the iPhone X.

It’s also clear that the iPhone X charts the future for the company’s smartphone. It has a radical redesign with no home button, instead relying on a swiping gesture to navigate and return to the home screen. Designer Jony Ive [said the phone starts “a new chapter” in the company’s history. CEO Tim Cook said in a February earnings call that the phone was designed to “set up for the next decade,” adding “that’s the reason it’s chock full of incredible innovation. And so you can bet that we’re pulling that string.”

Another reason that the company is going all-in with Face ID is because it’s a long-term project, Ive said that the company was working on its launch five years prior to the iPhone X. Analysis suggests the technology is around two years ahead of anything Android smartphone makers can produce.

What will Android makers do in response? Ming-Chi Kuo expects them to double down on fingerprint-on-display technology, which debuted in the Vivo X21. The company demonstrated the technology at Shanghai Mobile World Congress last year, which uses a 1.2mm thick display to send an ultrasonic pulse through the screen to measure the print. Phones like the OnePlus 6T are now expected to use the scanners as a way of differentiating themselves from the iPhone.

There’s an outside chance that Apple reverses course and brings back a fingerprint scanner, but with an enviable advantage over Android manufacturers, chances are looking slim.

Check out some of the other big questions we’re following ahead the September 12 Apple event.