Apple Hits Another Production Snag On iPhone X

Another day, another headache for Apple, which according to the WSJ has hit a new production snag on its new iPhone X over a pair of components dubbed Romeo and Juliet, which is adding to worries about extended product shortages when sales begin in early November.

According to Nikkei, which first reported the glitch, Problems with production of 3-D sensors for facial recognition are still plaguing Apple's premium iPhone X. Apple introduced contoversial facial recognition to unlock phones and to authenticate payments for the first time with the iPhone X. It's also the cause of the latest snag as makers of 3-D sensor parts are still struggling to reach a satisfactory level of output, and to boost their yield rate.

As the WSJ reports, the "Romeo and Juliet" components are critical parts of the new facial-recognition system.

It has taken more time to assemble the Romeo modules than the Juliet modules, they said, creating an imbalance in supply. That has served as a bottleneck for the iPhone X’s mass production, according to one person, which could possibly crimp supplies beyond typical initial shortfalls when the phone is released Nov. 3.


The Romeo and Juliet modules at the center of the latest delay are two critical parts of Apple’s facial-recognition system, which is based on 3-D sensor technology. The Romeo module features a dot projector that uses a laser to beam 30,000 infrared dots across the user’s face, essentially mapping its unique characteristics. The Juliet module includes the infrared camera that reads that pattern.

The problem is that there weren’t enough “Romeos” to go with the number of “Juliets” on hand. The Romeo module is assembled by LG Innotek and Sharp.

The production problems are the latest glitch as Apple and its suppliers rush to load the flashy new features into the flagship model that carries high stakes for Apple. The first problems emerged earlier this summer and involved the iPhone X's screens, which are using organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, technology. Then there was a hiccup during Apple’s launch event Sept. 12, when the iPhone X failed to fully unlock the first time the company’s top software executive used it before the audience. Apple later said the Face ID technology had been inadvertently disabled beforehand.

Besides the facial-recognition system, difficulties involving the OLED screen have also made the iPhone X road to production bumpy. Apple initially hoped to equip the iPhone X with the Touch ID function, which allows users to open the phone by scanning their fingerprint. But incorporating the scanner into the new OLED display proved problematic, and Apple eventually scrapped the scanner on the new phones. The episode contributed to iPhone X sales being pushed back til November, people familiar with the matter said.

While the Journal reports that Apple’s plan to launch the iPhone in more than 55 countries Nov. 3 suggests it is confident it can meet demand. But as Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said in a recent note, “if iPhone X availability issues persist beyond November 15 and into the holiday season, we could see some frustrated iPhone users consider switching to other offerings,” possibly weakening sales estimates, Sacconaghi said.

Meanwhile, with the iPhone X still more than a month away from reaching consumers, initial appetite for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus appears to be weak according to Nikkei. Some recent reports suggest that the delayed shipment may have dampened demand as well. "One of the sources said that demand for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus appears to be weaker than that of their predecessors, but did not provide figures."


Cognitive Dissonance Looney Wed, 09/27/2017 - 08:33 Permalink

"The Romeo module features a dot projector that uses a laser to beam
30,000 infrared dots across the user’s face, essentially mapping its
unique characteristics. The Juliet module includes the infrared camera
that reads that pattern."
Call me cynical, but is there nothing wrong with shinning 30,000 laser dots onto my face? I am sure they will tell me my baby blues will not be harmed in the process.

In reply to by Looney

TheSilentMajority Wed, 09/27/2017 - 08:22 Permalink

Not to worry about demand outstripping supply for ipX....

Very few sheep are excited or interested in paying almost double for an iphone that only offers unreliable facial recognition & no fingerprint sensor.

The ipX and ip8 cycle is shaping up to be an epic fail.

Iconoclast421 Wed, 09/27/2017 - 08:25 Permalink

It seems apple may have underestimated demand for this, and it is going to cost them big moneys. There is a LOT of central bank funny fiat just sitting there ready to be handed to apple, but it seems they dont want it.

Endgame Napoleon Jack Offelday Wed, 09/27/2017 - 08:44 Permalink

How lazy are we humans going to get? All you have to do is type in a number to unlock your phone. There is an issue of too many passwords. Between work and personal usage, people have to keep up with a ton of them. Maybe, they think the inconvenience overrides the other issues.

The idea of a bath of infrared sensors every tine you unlock your phone may not appeal to everyone. The feeling [underline] of privacy loss is another factor. Of course, it is just a robot, analyzing your face with 100% disinterest. But a lot of women will [feel] like they need to brush their hair or whatever before unlocking their phones. Not good.

In reply to by Jack Offelday

DEMIZEN Wed, 09/27/2017 - 08:37 Permalink

this phone is too bricky. i  need something smaller maybe with foldable screen that doesnt make the jacket or suit slinging like a concealed carry in front pocket.  i already have a giant heavy phone that holds 3 day charge have no need to be identified  with fat retarded bitches wearing it in jeans back pocket to make their ass look normal. too expensive for a tool that is dropped and/or stolen frequently. sad fad fading out.

Singelguy Wed, 09/27/2017 - 08:45 Permalink

Tim Cook better have some revolutionary new product(s) in the oven otherwise Apple wiil follow the path of IBM. The iphone and ipad products have peaked.

Grumbleduke Wed, 09/27/2017 - 09:35 Permalink

someday the idiots will wake up and realize, that potatoes, bread and wheat are more important than the newest tracking device.Throw in some cale, for scurvy's sake!Still using a Nokia and a Samsung dual gsm band phone from the late 90s, early 00s. It's not that important to have a mobile, but convenient for sure. Does the young generation ever ask itself, how civilization could've been achieved WITHOUT an iPhone?Do they even know that a landline didn't need power, back in the day? Or a keyboard?

Yes We Can. Bu… Wed, 09/27/2017 - 10:25 Permalink

A key to Apple's success in phones is that the high cost is buried/obscured in contract with cell carrier.  Doesn't quite feel like you are spend a grand on a little piece of electronics.Problem for Apple is, it is increasingly easy to go with no contract carrier such as Cricket (AT&T), Metro PCS (T-mobile), Straight Talk, etc., and pay cash for a phone.  For example, I'm with Cricket.  They hit my credit card for $35/month.  Plenty of data, unlimited calling and text etc.  I paid $153 cash for a like new refurb Huawei phone, the Honor 6x.  It is one hell of a phone for that money.  It is GSM, unlocked.  Just took it in to Cricket, and they transferred all the junk over from my old iPhone.  Yeah, I'm being spied on/tracked - but we all are.  Yeah, Clapper, I hate your effing guts.Apple's honeymoon is over.  And the wife has begun putting on weight.

Blue Dog Wed, 09/27/2017 - 10:48 Permalink

Phones are getting to where PC's are now. Twenty years ago I got a new computer every 6 months. Each computer was noticably better than the previous one. More ram, faster processor, bigger harddrive, sometimes a faster modem. Now I have a five year old computer with an i5 processor running Windows 7. It's fine for what I use it for. I have an iPhone 6. It was a lot better than the iPhone 4. It's almost two years old now but I don't see significant improvements to make me buy the new one.

quesnay Wed, 09/27/2017 - 11:12 Permalink

People can type in their pin faster than the face recognition can recognize and unlock. So what's the point? The pin also works every time, unlike face recognition. This is a lot a technology (and expense) to solve a non-problem.

Chauncey Gardener quesnay Wed, 09/27/2017 - 14:12 Permalink

Apple is CLEARLY riding on the coat tails of their former glory. Most of their new product releases have been epic failures in my book. And, I was the GM of an indepentlh owned Apple store in the SF Bay Area. Big shiny new HQ that looks like a spaceshop mired in poor product planning and execution, top managemen blindly arrogant and mired in self-admiration.

In reply to by quesnay