We’ve previously noted KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo for his often accurate reports on upcoming Apple products in the past. Usually those reports revolve around features that have been somewhat expected. We’ve expected a fingerprint scanner for quite some time and even found code that seems to point to a biometric input for the new iPhone. We’ve also profiled possible fingerprint readers in the iPhone 5S just last week.

Today’s report is something a bit out of left field however. Kuo expects the iPhone 5S to have a sapphire fingerprint reader home button that will no longer be plastic and concave but actually protrude slightly from the iPhone in a convex manner. This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Sapphire home buttons but the first reputable source on the matter. Kuo

Convex home button creates space for fingerprint sensor; yield to improve. We think that a fingerprint sensor will be placed under the home button of iPhone 5S. However, assembling it could be difficult as the space under home button is limited as it already has to accommodate the Lightning connector, speaker and microphone. Thus, we think the shape of the home button could be changed from concave to convex to create more space for a fingerprint sensor.

Sapphire prevents home button from being scratched. A convex home button could be more easily scratched, so a harder material is required. We believe Apple will switch from plastic to sapphire, whose hardness is second only to diamond. Sapphire would protect the home button from being scratched and the fingerprint sensor from being damaged.

Previous reports had pointed to a fingerprint scanner below the screen of the iPhone.  Because the convex home button feature would leave the part prone to breaking and scratching, the home button will be made from sapphire, one of the most scratch resistant materials known to man, according to the report.

Current iPhone 5’s use sapphire as a lens covering for the backside camera. What would be the advantages to Sapphire on the front as opposed to below the screen or in the back? Kuo:

Design advantage of fingerprint reader on iPhone is ease of use. Unlike Android phones and Windows Phone, iPhone has only one home button on its cover glass. This design is intuitive for the behavior of using fingerprint sensor as users won’t be confused as
to where to put on their finger.

Advantages in both technology & design. We think iPhone will continue to lead Android phones and Windows Phone by a wide margin in fingerprint sensing technology and design. As such, Apple will likely be able to offer users a more secure and more intuitive way to conduct mobile payment transactions and access cloud computing services, thereby strengthening advantages of the ecosystem.

The new home button would be an important differentiator, according to the report, and would mark the first significant physical change in an S iPhone in Apple’s recent product lines.

Kuo thinks that iPhone 5S’s sapphire home button with fingerprint sensors will be adopted by other iOS devices in 2014 and “will generate fresh momentum for sapphire and fingerprint sensor suppliers”.

With last year’s Authentec acquisition and the recent rumors and evidence, it seems likely that a fingerprint sensor will be this year’s “Siri.”

Besides the fingerprint sensor, the next iPhone will likely sport the same design as the iPhone 5 (with the phone likely to be dubbed “iPhone 5S”), an improved camera system, and a faster, A7 processing chip. We heard just a few hours ago that the announcement would happen on September 10th and the rollout would likely take place in the following weeks. 

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19 Responses to “iPhone 5S to have convex sapphire home button that doubles as a fingerprint reader?”

  1. drtyrell969 says:

    Android it is!!!!


  2. iPhone 5S and now i get it, “S” stands for “Security”. I think that a convex home button would be strange at the begining but who knows.


  3. I’d much rather have a capacitive button or a full front panel be the button (a la Magic Trackpad)


  4. Really don’t want a protruding button, Siri would have a field day going off all the time


  5. Yep! Siri all over again!


  6. Aaah, I just bought an iPhone 5 last month, but it’s ok. I think there is no big differentation between 5 and 5S.


  7. mkimid says:

    I think, if they use convex design, It will not free from the scratch. Actually, Sapphire glass has been using in the watch over long time. And, I am curious, because of it is too small area to capture the fingerprint, it will not secure enough. Just my guess.


  8. lobsterfish says:

    I don’t think apple will go for the sapphire home button as it would increase the piece of the phone considering that the home button would be rock solid


  9. Ryan Pesso says:

    Whatever apple is doing with this finger print sensor, I’m sure they’ve perfected it. They need this as a big selling point for the iPhone 5s. They must of done numerous of tests to conclude which is the most useful as well as the most wanted way to portray the fingerprint sensor. A good example of this is when apple tested touch screens on their computers, and studied how people used it. They concluded that touch screens can be a nice feature, but it adds to cost and most people don’t use it hence, no need for it. I personally like the windows touch screen laptops i think they are very cool and it works well with windows 8.


  10. It can’t be convex.

    The front of the phone won’t be flush when set face down. People would constantly be setting off Siri. It is also too small an area to get a clean consistent reading. Finally, it’s too much hardware to fit in this location.


  11. intub8 says:

    I would not use the word “continue” when referring to Apple leading Andriod and Windows in fingerprint technology and design. Not sure Apple has released any consumer products with fingerprint readers.


  12. Jim Phong says:

    What convex nonsense are these talking about ?
    It was rumored months ago that Apple got the technology to integrate the sensor inside touch screen panel.


  13. EEEwwwww…. Convex? I HIGHLY doubt that – for many of the reasons other readers have pointed out. But I guess you never know.


  14. We’ve got this watertight case on an ipod touch that gives it a convex home button. Lucky it can’t make calls, because it’s constantly playing random tunes from the (Pre-siri) voice command feature, based on whatever snippet of conversation it happened to pick up when the home button was being held down in a pocket or bag.


  15. jd902 says:

    I don’t see how convex would be any good on a home button. Concave or it’s going somewhere else.