Will Apple Slim Down the TrueDepth Camera Notch for 2018’s iPhones?

Apple is readying a trio of new iPhone models for the fall of 2018. While all three are slated to boast Face ID, thanks to their adoption of Apple’s TrueDepth camera system; as far as we know, the company has no imminent plans to update its Face ID technology this year.

That may be the case.. However, a new research note published this week by Barclays investment bank paints a slightly different picture.

Saying that they believe Apple’s Face ID system will “evolve slightly,” Barclays analysts Andrew Gardiner, Hiral Patel, Joseph Wolf, and Blayne Curtis predicted in their research note that Apple will incorporate a “smaller notch” on its 2018 iPhones.

The note, a copy of which was obtained this week by MacRumors, goes on to corroborate earlier rumors that Apple will bring Face ID to a redesigned, 2018 iPad model.

“Based on several data points within the 4Q17 reporting period and our supply chain meetings at CES, we remain confident that Apple is set to deploy its TrueDepth 3D sensor across the iPhone range in 2018 and to also add it to the pending iPad Pro refresh as well,” the analysts assert, noting that, “Given the complexity and multiple years spent developing the current generation of [TrueDepth camera] module, combined with supplier comments over the past month regarding multi-year customer commitments, we do not envisage a major change to the architectural make-up in 2018.”

However, “We do expect the sensor to evolve slightly, potentially reducing in size (i.e., smaller notch) and improving in specificity […] helping to further drive very strong growth [for some Apple suppliers] in 2H18 as the second generation of sensor ships in this year’s new iPhones.”

Will Apple Make the Notch Smaller?

While the idea of a “smaller notch” (relative to iPhone X’s) sounds like something we can all get onboard with, the likelihood of it actually happening, unfortunately, is quite slim.

As we mentioned, not only is Apple’s current TrueDepth camera system several years ahead of its closest competition, but from a historical standpoint, Apple has never before rushed to modify a feature or design element so shortly after its debut.

Touch ID security was introduced alongside the 7th generation iPhone 5s, for example, and has remained a central iPhone feature to this day. But as the analysts, themselves, confirm Apple is expected to transition its range of iPhone, and at least one iPad, from Touch ID to Face ID this year.

Barclays prediction also appears to contradict an earlier rumor that Apple will not be making any substantial updates to its TrueDepth camera system until 2019, at the earliest.

As always, therefore, we highly recommend taking this prediction with a grain of salt until further notice.

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Apple to give Finisar $390 million to increase TrueDepth camera tech production

Enlarge / The Messages app has been augmented with a number of features that use the front-facing, 3D camera—including animojis.

Today, Apple announced a big investment in the technology manufacturing company Finisar. The iPhone maker will give Finisar $ 390 million, a portion of its $ 1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund, to help “support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers.” According to Apple’s statement, the investment will allow Finisar to build a new 700,000 square foot plant in Texas, hire 500 workers, and make more vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). These lasers are a component in Apple’s TrueDepth cameras, now being used in the iPhone X for features including FaceID and Animoji.

“VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we’ve ever developed and we’re thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund is meant to create new manufacturing jobs and opportunities in the US. All of the VCSELs that Apple will purchase from Finisar will be made in the Texas plant. In addition to the TrueDepth camera lasers, Finisar also produces proximity sensors for Apple’s AirPods.

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apple – Ars Technica

LG Innotek not expected to boost TrueDepth camera production for Apple until 2019

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While Apple is likely to add Face ID to more products this year, LG Innotek’s rumored TrueDepth supply expansion will only come into play in 2019, a report indicated on Tuesday.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

Apple possibly turning to LG Innotek for future iPhone, iPad TrueDepth camera components for Face ID

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A series meetings between Apple and LG executives, plus regulatory filings by LG suggest that Apple is looking at a one-time payment to help LG build out 3D sensing component fabrication facilities, to avoid a shortage like it may have faced with the iPhone X.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

LG to Supply TrueDepth Tech for Next-Gen iPhone, iPad Lineup

Apple is gearing up to make a sizable investment in one of its go-to camera suppliers, as the company moves to secure a sufficient quantity of 3D sensing camera modules for its 2018 iPhone and iPad models, according to a report out Tuesday from The Investor.

Citing industry sources, Apple is readying as much as $ 820.9 million for an “upfront payment” [investment] in LG Innotek, which the camera maker would reportedly use to build out additional facilities to manufacture the 3D sensing modules for Apple.

“The affiliate of LG Group said in a regulatory filing on Jan. 8 that it would invest 873.7 billion won (US$ 820.90 million) to build additional facilities for its mobile camera module and next-generation module business,” The Investor said, while EDN went on to speculate that Apple’s decision to invest exclusively in LG Innotek is more than likely the result of a meeting between the company’s CEOs, Tim Cook and Park Jong-seok, back in November of last year.

Advanced Manufacturing Fund

Today’s report, if accurate, stands to represent Apple’s third, multi-million dollar investment as part of its previously announced Advanced Manufacturing Fund — a $ 1 billion effort to help jumpstart next-generation manufacturing projects here in the U.S.

Back in December, 2017, it was reported the company would invest as much as $ 390 million in Finisar Corp. while earlier in 2017, Kentucky-based Gorilla Glass makers, Corning, were christened the first recipient of $ 200 million from Apple’s fund.

Worth pointing out is that Finisar and LG Innotek manufacture different components for Apple’s TrueDepth cameras — with the former responsible for building Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSEL) chips, and the latter responsible for producing other, crucial Face ID components, including the camera’s flood illuminator and dot projector.

New iPhones in 2018

So, Apple’s planned investment in LG Innotek actually makes perfect sense — especially if the company is indeed planning to incorporate Face ID on all of its iPhone and iPad models this year. Which should be the case, according to recent mumblings from the historically accurate KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, who recently said Apple could release as many as three new iPhones in 2018, including a refreshed 5.8-inch iPhone X, a larger 6.5-inch ‘iPhone X Plus’, and a mid-range 6.1-inch LCD-equipped legacy model.

Apple is also believed to have at least one iPad Pro model boasting Face ID in the pipeline for 2018, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

Today’s report is unfortunately not clear about when LG Innotek might get started developing its proposed facilities; however with iPhone manufacturing season set to kick off in mid-July it’s safe to say they still have plenty of time to wade through the details.

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