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Apple denies report it told suppliers to reduce accuracy of facial recognition

Key Points
  • Apple has denied a Bloomberg report that it told suppliers to reduce the accuracy of its facial recognition system on the iPhone X known as FaceID.
  • The iPhone X has faced delays because of issues with the 3-D sensing modules in the device
  • At the heart of the issue was a component known as the dot projector

Apple told suppliers it could reduce the accuracy of the facial recognition technology in the upcoming iPhone X in order to speed up production of the devices, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

However, Apple has denied that report.

In a statement to CNBC, the company said, "Bloomberg's claim that Apple has reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false and we expect Face ID to be the new gold standard for facial authentication."

It's been widely noted that Apple's $999 iPhone X will be in short supply when preorders open on Friday. Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI said there will be no more than 3 million iPhone X units available for purchase when preorders open.

At the heart of the delays is the 3-D sensor that recognizes faces and unlocks the handset. The feature is known as FaceID.

Despite the complexity of the sensor, Apple still gave suppliers its typical two-year lead time to develop it, according to Bloomberg. The tight schedule "underestimated the complexity" of making and assembling the components, the news agency said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The issue is with one of the components that make the FaceID technology work called the dot projector, which is key in determining whether to unlock the iPhone X based on a person's face. Suppliers struggled to combine the small and fragile components to create the dot projector, which slowed down production.

It's unclear how much of a difference the reduced specifications of FaceID could affect its performance on the iPhone X.

Apple initially declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. Subsequently, the company issued the following statement:

"Customer excitement for iPhone X and Face ID has been incredible, and we can't wait for customers to get their hands on it starting Friday, November 3. Face ID is a powerful and secure authentication system that's incredibly easy and intuitive to use. The quality and accuracy of Face ID haven't changed. It continues to be 1 in a million probability of a random person unlocking your iPhone with Face ID.

Bloomberg's claim that Apple has reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false and we expect Face ID to be the new gold standard for facial authentication. "

Read the full Bloomberg report here.

This story has been updated to reflect Apple's denial of the Bloomberg report.