Apple is widely expected to adopt a bezel-less display with its next iPhone, a redesign that all but guarantees the removal of the phone’s dedicated Home “button.” Much debate has ensued with regard to where the Home button’s displaced Touch ID fingerprint scanner will end up.
Thus far, we’ve heard two arguments. Some believe Apple will move the Touch ID sensor to the back of the device as we’ve seen on other smartphones while others think the technology will be integrated directly into the iPhone’s display, thus eliminating the need for a standalone sensor.
Qualcomm fueled the fire for the second option last month when it announced an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that works under glass, metal and water. This solution certainly sounds more appealing aesthetically although rumors of manufacturing issues have led some to doubt that it’ll happen with this year’s refresh.
Now, we’re hearing rumblings of a third scenario.
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, well-known for his iPhone predictions, said in a new report on Monday that the OLED iPhone will ship with a virtual Home button. Critically, however, this virtual button won’t support fingerprint recognition.
We predict the OLED model won’t support fingerprint recognition, reasons being: (1) the full-screen design doesn’t work with existing capacitive fingerprint recognition, and (2) the scan-through ability of the under-display fingerprint solution still has technical challenges, including: (i) requirement for a more complex panel pixel design; (ii) disappointing scan-through of OLED panel despite it being thinner than LCD panel; and (iii) weakened scan-through performance due to overlayered panel module.
One key takeaway here is that, by abandoning the under-display fingerprint sensor, Apple won’t have to further delay production ramp-up. Kuo previously projected that production would be postponed until at least late October.
Kuo didn't comment on whether or not he thinks the Touch ID sensor will be relocated to the rear of the device or abandoned totally. The latter option seems unlikely given how widely used Touch ID is.