According to Bloomberg, Apple is reportedly testing iPhone prototypes with a new version of its Touch ID fingerprint sensor that’s embedded in the display instead of inside a physical home button.
The new in-display Touch ID would let “a user scan their fingerprint on a large portion of the display, and it would work in tandem with the existing Face ID system.”
The report corroborates an investor note by TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said last month that Apple was planning to resurrect the fingerprint sensor for iPhones slated for 2021.
Bloomberg’s report, however, suggests Apple could be readying the new Touch ID for iPhones for 2020 — a year earlier if testing is successful.
Apple replaced Touch ID with Face ID on the iPhone X in 2017, and the latest iPhones — the iPhone XS and iPhone XR — don’t have a fingerprint sensor, either.
Face ID was touted as a more secure form of biometric security for iPhones compared to Touch ID. Apple’s SVP of marketing, Phil Schiller, said that with Touch ID, there’s a 1 in 50,000 chance of somebody else unlocking your iPhone versus 1 in a million chance with Face ID.
Despite the extra security, there are still many skeptics of Face ID. For example, as we’ve proven, if you have a twin, there’s a very high chance they could fool Face ID. Unlocking your iPhone with Face ID is also slower than Touch ID and doesn’t work unless you hold your device in the correct orientation.
The upcoming iOS 13 does make Face ID 30 percent faster, and the new iPhone 11 and 11 Pro are rumored to come with improved sensors to make the face recognition even more responsive, but some people just want a fingerprint reader.
How to make Touch ID inside the display work
As Bloomberg and Ming-Chi Kuo both note, any iPhone with an in-display Touch ID wouldn’t be a replacement for Face ID (it’s here to stay), but would be in addition to face unlock. Apple may let users choose to turn on just one of the biometrics, or both for added security.
The key difference with this new Touch ID sensor would be that it covers a “large portion of the display.” As we’ve seen on many Android phones like the Galaxy S10, Galaxy Note 10, and OnePlus 7 Pro, the in-display fingerprint sensors cover only a very small part of the screen, which makes it harder to get a scan of your fingerprint, especially at angles.
If Apple can implement a Touch ID sensor that covers, perhaps, the bottom half of the screen — something like the “Half-Screen In-Display Fingerprint Scanning Technology” sensor Vivo showed off with its Apex FullView concept phone — it would likely solve the many responsiveness issues that are, in my opinion, ruining otherwise great phones.
New iPhone SE successor?
In addition to a new iPhone with Touch ID, Bloomberg also claims Apple’s working on a new low-cost iPhone to potentially succeed the now discontinued iPhone SE. The affordable iPhone is said to have a 4.7-inch LCD screen and home button with Touch ID; it sounds like a stripped-down version of the iPhone 8, which was the last iPhone with a home button and fingerprint reader.
Although new iPhones will be announced on Sept. 10, the 2020 iPhone(s) already sound a whole lot more revolutionary. So far, we’ve got a potential redesign, in-display Touch ID, 5G, and the addition of a 3D-depth sensor on the rear for augmented reality.
If you don’t need to upgrade your iPhone, maybe wait it out another year.