Apple suppliers confirm two of iPhone 8’s biggest features

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iPhone 8 facial recognition
We could be waiting a long time for iPhone 8.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple supplier Largan says it will ship its new 3D sensors in time for iPhone 8, while another supply chain vendor confirms waterproof wireless charging technology.

Largan’s sensors are capable of carrying out facial and iris recognition and provide an alternative to fingerprint scanning. They could be the solution Apple turns to if it is unable to embed a Touch ID scanner beneath the iPhone 8’s display.

A number of rumors have claimed iPhone 8 will pack facial recognition and iris-scanning capabilities like some of its biggest rivals. Reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that iPhone 8 will feature infrared sensors that can map a user’s facial features.

What’s more, Kuo stated that those sensors would be provided by Largan. But it’s not yet clear how much of a role they will play in iPhone 8. Facial recognition could merely be an alternative to Touch ID, or a temporary replacement.

Apple is expected to follow Samsung and deliver an edge-to-edge display with iPhone 8, a design that leaves no room for a physical Home button. Some reports claim Apple will shift its Touch ID scanner to the back of the device, or embed it beneath the display.

It seems Apple would prefer the latter option, which no other smartphone maker has offered yet. However, some reports suggest Cupertino is having difficulty developing this technology in time for this year’s iPhone refresh.

If that’s the case, and Apple doesn’t want to put Touch ID on the back of the iPhone, facial recognition could well be a temporary Touch ID replacement.

Largan CEO Adam Lin confirmed to Japanese newspaper Nikkei that the company’s 3D sensors will begin shipping during the second half of 2017. This could give Apple time to implement them into its next-generation smartphone before it enters mass production later this year.

Lin didn’t confirm Apple’s plans, but he did reveal that Largan plans to add around 4,500 employees to its workforce, almost doubling it, and build a new factory worth $661 million in Taiwan to handle production.

Apple wouldn’t be the first to offer iris scanning or facial recognition — these features have been offered by the likes of Microsoft and Samsung for years. But it’s thought that Apple’s implementation will be vastly improved and more secure.

Nikkei is also reporting that Wistron, another Apple supplier, has confirmed new waterproof charging technology that will finally bring wireless charging to iPhone.

“Assembly process for the previous generations of [iPhones] have not changed much, though new features like waterproof and wireless charging now require some different testing, and waterproof function will alter the assembly process a bit,” the company said during an annual shareholders’ meeting Wednesday.