Many features of the iPhone 8 have been well documented at this point, with a general consensus on a 5.8-inch OLED screen on a chassis with almost no front bezel, along with wireless charging, 3D-sensing front camera and much more.
However, the ‘bezel-less frame’ has left one rather big open question. What happens to the Touch ID sensor? There have been murmurs of Apple integrating the fingerprint sensor below the display glass. This sounds cutting-edge and modern, but has not been well substantiated. A report coming out today suggests a far less exciting possibility for the Touch ID sensor …
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iDropNews is second-hand reporting a source from Foxconn, who has apparently seen a late stage iPhone 8 prototype. The source says that whilst the concepts going around are in the right ballpark, several details need correcting.
Firstly, rather than an integrated sensor system behind the display, the report claims that the Touch ID sensor will simply be moved to the rear of the iPhone.
Starting with iPhone 5s, Apple has used the Home Button as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, located on the front of the device. As the iPhone 8 dramatically reduces bezel on all four edges however, this will no longer be possible.
Moving it to the back mirrors a common trend in the wider smartphone market; all modern Android phones put their fingerprint sensors on the back too. In the provided mockup, assuming the report is accurate, Apple will put its Touch ID sensor just below the Apple logo, centered horizontally about a third of the way down vertically.
The Home Button is purportedly going to be a virtual element on the OLED screen. It would be cool for that virtual button to also be the place where users put their finger for Touch ID … but if the fingerprint-reader-integrated-into-screen technology is not ready for prime time, then putting the sensor on the back is the natural next best choice.
However, it does mean that users will have to pick up their phones off a desk to unlock with their finger. This inconvenience may be mitigated somewhat by the inclusion of face-recognition features as an alternate authentication and unlock system.
The iDropNews story goes on, suggesting that the ‘glass back’ rumors for iPhone 8 are also misguided and that Apple will instead be using a metal back material. This is ostensibly because the glass back prototypes were too prone to shattering when dropped, so Apple switched to metal.
It also goes on to suggest that the name of Apple’s 2017 flagship will be the ‘iPhone Edition’. Although it is the iPhone’s tenth anniversary, in recent weeks the rumor mill has been heading towards an ‘iPhone Pro’ designation to align with the iPad naming convention. It will also apparently include a new dual camera setup where the two cameras are stacked vertically; on the iPhone 7 Plus, the two cameras (used for the Portrait mode and 2x zoom) are aligned horizontally.
The source of this story is certainly circumspect, with no real track record of accuracy, but it’s interesting to discuss nonetheless especially as it diverges considerably from the consensus. Arguably, iDropNews’ take is a more realistic, if less exciting, proposal — in a sea of rumors about the iPhone 8 that sometimes seem too good to be true.
The site has also included some rendered mockups (above) which are supposed to be ‘very close’ to the real thing. The images show a device with no left or right bezels, and dramatically reduced equal-height bezels on the top and bottom. What do you think of this rumored design? Let us know in the comments.