Apple May Drop Touch ID in the Next iPhone

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Apple was the first smartphone maker to integrate high-quality fingerprint sensors into its phones, but it may also be the first to stop using fingerprint sensors. According to a new report from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple could drop its Touch ID system completely in the next iPhone. Instead, it would rely upon Face ID, which is set to debut in the iPhone X.

Apple was faced with a conundrum as the iPhone X launch approached. With the larger display, there’s no room for the traditional home button and its Touch ID sensor. Apple could have relocated the sensor to the back of the phone or done the necessary engineering to integrate it in the display panel. Apple opted to simply remove Touch ID from the iPhone X, but the rationale isn’t clear. Some sources claim Apple could have managed an in-display fingerprint reader, but it made the decision to just use Face ID. A more likely scenario is that Apple ran out of time and had to commit to a design before in-display fingerprint reading tech was ready.

The key to Apple’s Face ID is the TrueDepth camera system, which is housed in the notch at the top of the iPhone X. It’s actually a collection of sensors that project infrared dots to map facial structure and movements. Android devices have had face unlock for years, but it’s safe to say this is probably a better version of the feature. Is it good enough to give up on fingerprint sensors altogether, though? Apple might push that angle next year.

iphone x

Kuo claims that Apple is looking at Face ID as a differentiating feature for all future iPhone devices. So, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus might be the last devices from the company with a traditional Touch ID sensor. However, this all depends on how well Face ID works on the iPhone X. That device is expected to ship in the coming weeks, and early hands-on impressions of Face ID were mixed.

If Apple does convince people that Face ID is a superior biometric unlock option, you can expect Android device makers to follow in its footsteps. However, Samsung and Huawei are rumored to be close to perfecting in-display fingerprint sensors. Kuo says this technology will probably begin shipping in early 2018, but the supply will be limited at first. We may see a mix of biometric features in the coming years, but Apple could go all-in with Face ID.

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