iPhone XI could have improved Face ID

Face ID on the iPhone XS is already one of the most advanced facial recognition systems you’ll find on a phone, but it could be even better on the iPhone XI.

According to famed analyst of all things Apple, Ming-Chi Kuo, and reported by MacRumors, all 2019 iPhone models will have a new flood illuminator, which will reduce the impact of invisible light from the surrounding environment when using Face ID.

Kuo doesn’t go into detail on what effect that will have, simply saying that it will “improve the Face ID user experience”, but it sounds like it would increase the reliability of the Face ID system.

A new kind of camera

Kuo’s latest note also talks about the possibility of a Time of Flight (ToF) camera being added to the iPad range in late 2019 or early 2020, likely meaning the next iPad Pro model would get it.

A ToF camera can judge the distance between objects by measuring the time-of-flight of a light or laser signal between the camera and the subject. So it’s good for judging depth, and Kuo believes the system could be used to capture 3D models, which users could then edit using the Apple Pencil.

He reckons there’s a “greater than 50% probability” that such a camera will be added to a new iPad by early 2020, but adds that the iPhone XI probably won’t get a ToF camera. However, he believes that the 2020 iPhone might, and that on the iPhone it would create new augmented reality experiences and improve photo quality.

As with all rumors we’d take these with a pinch of salt, especially as they’re talking about devices that are a long way from launch. But Kuo has a good track record, so he may well be right.


James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.