During last year’s iPhone unveiling event, Apple spent a lot of time explaining how the new Face ID technology was far superior to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. According to supply chain leaks and Wall Street analysts, all the three iPhones coming next month will have a bezel-less design and Face ID technology. It means none of the 2018 iPhones would feature the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Maybe the Face ID is more secure. But Apple doesn’t want to give up Touch ID for iPhones anytime soon. The tech giant could bring back its much-loved fingerprint sensing technology to iPhones in the future, albeit in a new avatar. Apple introduced Touch ID with the iPhone 5S.
Apple patents in-display Touch ID fingerprint sensor
Folks at Patently Apple have discovered a patent filed by Apple with the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in January. It was put in the public domain a few days ago. The patent – application number 20180225498 – lists Dale Setlak as the inventor. Setlak joined Apple in 2012 when it acquired Authentec, the company behind the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
According to the patent filing, Apple could place multiple cameras under the display to create a 3D image of the user’s fingerprint for authentication. It would allow users to touch anywhere on the screen to unlock the device. It is similar to the in-display fingerprint sensors used in the Vivo X21 and Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S10. However, the method described in Apple’s patent is based on a proven technology that has been loved by hundreds of millions of customers for years.
Will Apple combine Touch ID with Face ID in the future?
Apple is unlikely to offer the in-display Touch ID sensor on this year’s iPhones, which are only a few weeks away. But it could be added in the 2019 or later versions. In many situations, unlocking the phone with a fingerprint is much more convenient than picking up the phone to unlock it with Face ID.
It’s possible that the future iPhones could feature both the Face ID and Touch ID technologies for authentication and security. Apple could combine data from both features into a single unlocking system. According to other patents, Apple wants iPhones to replace important documents such as passports. Enhancing security will be a key part of that gameplan. It makes sense to combine data from Face ID and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to make its already secure iPhones even more secure.
What you need to know about the 2018 iPhones
Media reports suggest Apple could hold an event on September 12 to unveil the new iPhones, Apple Watch, and other products. There will be a 5.8-inch iPhone X successor, a 6.5-inch OLED iPhone, and an affordable 6.1-inch model with the LCD screen. It is unclear how much the new iPhones would cost, but the LCD variant will likely be in the same price range as the current iPhone 8. The 6.5-inch model could cost upward of $1,000.
Sources familiar with the matter have told French site Les Numeriques that the 5.8-inch iPhone X successor would be called iPhone XS. The 6.5-inch model would be named iPhone XS Plus while the 6.1-inch LCD version could be called iPhone 9. There are also many other naming schemes making rounds on the Internet, but this one makes the most sense. TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple could discontinue the iPhone X following the launch of new models.
There would be more than one difference between the LCD iPhone 9 and its OLED siblings. To keep its prices low, Apple would launch it without the 3D Touch and dual cameras, both of which will be available on the OLED models. The iPhone 9 would also feature only 3GB RAM compared to 4GB on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Plus. Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple could also launch a dual-SIM variant of the LCD iPhone, but it would be available only in select markets such as China.
The 2018 iPhones are expected to trigger a massive upgrade cycle. GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives estimates that the new iPhones “will help capture the underlying demand for upgrades among customers” who decided to bypass the iPhone X cycle. The price points and features of 2018 iPhones will also “catalyze fence-sitting iPhone customers onto their next smartphone.”
Ives predicts Apple could sell up to 350 million iPhones in 12-18 months following the launch of 2018 iPhones. China is a ‘big opportunity’ for Apple, and about 60-70 million customers in the country are due for an upgrade over the next 18 months, according to Daniel Ives.