Almost every new technology that debuts each year with iPhones gets adopted by Android smartphone makers in a a matter of months. While Android OEMs have “successfully” copied the iPhone X’s screen notch (review) in their latest phones (Google has even implemented software mechanisms in Android P for various types of notches), no one has been able to replicate the 3D facial recognition mechanism found in the costliest iPhone yet. If you think that 3D facial recognition is similar to the Face Unlock feature found in recently launched Android smartphones, you’re mistaken.
Face ID measures the depth of each part of a user’s face in 3D space with the help of an IR emitter, a flood illuminator, and an IR camera, allowing the phone to recognise a face more accurately. These sensors haven’t been used in any Android phone till now, making the Face Unlock feature on current Android phones less accurate and less secure in comparison. Now, it appears that Apple may enjoy its lead in 3D face recognition for a few more months, at least until the launch of the Xiaomi Mi 7.
Xiaomi Mi 7: 3D Facial Scanning, Snapdragon 845
The Xiaomi Mi 7 is expected to be the first Android smartphone to adopt 3D facial scanning technology. While the company has stayed away from screen notches and was the one which ushered the bezel-less screen design starting with the Mi MIX, it might be forced to have a screen notch in the Mi 7 to accommodate the IR emitter and the IR camera at the top of the screen. The phone was originally expected to be unveiled at MWC 2018, but the company launched the Mi MIX 2s instead, pushing the launch of the Mi 7 further in the year.
If a new report from DigiTimes is to be believed, the delay is happening because the software that is required for 3D facial scanning and recognition hasn’t been finalised yet by Qualcomm. So, the company can do nothing but wait till Qualcomm improves its solution and eradicates the software issues. The Snapdragon 845 is said to be the only chipset from that supports the most advanced 3D facial scanning technology that is jointly developed by Himax Technologies, Qualcomm, and Truly Opto-Electronics.
Xiaomi Mi 7: Expected Specifications
The Mi 7 is expected to feature a 5.65-inch Full HD+ screen with a notch, a metal-and-glass body, a dual-camera setup with OIS and 4K video recording at its rear, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, at least 6GB of RAM, up to 256GB of internal storage, a dual-SIM card slot, 4G LTE, gigabit Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, stereo speakers, a fingerprint reader, USB Type-C port, dust and water resistance, and wireless charging technology. It could run MIUI 10, based on Android 8.1 Oreo. MIUI 10 is said to focus on AI and machine learning to improve the software performance.
Xiaomi Mi 7: Expected Launch Date
The Xiaomi Mi 7 was first slated to be launched in Q1 2018, but due to the software issues in the 3D facial scanning mechanism, the launch has been pushed back to sometime in Q3 2018. Till then, the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2s will remain the company’s flagship smartphone product. The phone will face competition from Apple’s next-generation flagship smartphone, Huawei’s next high-end Mate series phone, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Huawei and Samsung are said to be developing 3D facial scanning technologies of their own rather than depending on Qualcomm, so they will have complete control over the feature. Samsung’s first smartphone with 3D facial scanning mechanism is said to be the Galaxy S10 or the Galaxy X. There have been reports that Apple might do away with the screen notch next year and go with a completely bezel-less screen design.