Digitimes is today reporting that Apple has developed a custom fingerprint sensor replacement for Touch ID, which will allow Apple to offer biometric fingerprint recognition in the iPhone 8 — a device that is rumoured to have no bezels at all. The report describes the component as a ‘built-in’ sensor which very much implies that it is integrated into the screen.
Rather than use Synaptic or Qualcomm technology, Apple will reportedly be building its own system using Authentec algorithms and Privaris glass tech. Strangely, the report also says that the iPhone 8 will not go into mass production until September …
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Usually, flagship iPhone models need months of leeway in production in order to accommodate the mass demand the devices bring; Apple usually sells 15 million new iPhones in the opening weekend of sales alone.
A September date for mass production would therefore imply that the iPhone 8 might not go on sale until October or later; Digitimes explains that the Apple-custom fingerprint system is more complicated to manufacture.
The ‘built-in’ component will apparently use biometric technologies such as ultrasound to work, rather than the capacitive sensor seen with Touch ID. It would likely be positioned in the ‘function area’ part of the screen, in roughly the same location as where a Touch ID button would go — if the space was not taken up by an OLED screen.
The September mass production date should be taken with some skepticism. The last time Apple launched an iPhone in October was the iPhone 4s, so it would mean Apple falling out of its historical pattern significantly.
Although the publication has a better hit rate with supply-chain related stories, Digitimes track record is nonetheless somewhat sketchy. There is a mitigating factor however.
Apple is pretty much confirmed to be launching three new iPhone devices this year. The one that is getting the prime attention is the OLED iPhone, which will be a major radical redesign of the device with a 5.8 inch display, almost no bezels, and be about the same physical size as an iPhone 7.
According to many reports, the other two devices are modest upgrades to the existing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, looking almost identical from the outside with several internal component upgrades, potentially including wireless charging functionality.
Digitimes says these devices will go into mass production in July, which is about when we would normally expect a new iPhone to ramp in the supply chain for a September launch. Therefore, the implication is the iPhone 8 may not be available alongside the ‘iPhone 7s’ at first.
Instead, Apple could announce all three at an event in September with availability for the OLED iPhone delayed slightly. The launch of the two iterative models would take up most of the sales slack in the meantime. With a rumoured $1000 price tag, Apple could also believe that initial demand for the iPhone 8 will be lower than normal — although this seems unlikely as so many people are interested in purchasing a new iPhone that ‘looks different’.
With a fingerprint sensor integrated into the screen, the OLED iPhone is certainly living up to the ‘radically new’ hype. Are you excited for the new device? Let us know in the comments.