One of Apple’s upcoming 2017 iPhones will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen in an iPhone. The iPhone 8 will have a brand new design featuring a large, nearly bezel-less OLED screen. This particular design choice will force Apple to rethink various elements that you’re used to finding on the front side of the iPhone, including the home button and its embedded Touch ID fingerprint sensor, the front-facing camera, the speaker, and the other sensors.
A new report indicates that the Touch ID sensor might be going away, as Apple is looking to replace fingerprint-sensing technology with a 3D laser-based facial recognition method for unlocking the phone. This claim might be crazy, but let’s take a look at it.
JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall wrote in a note to investors seen by MacRumors that Apple is working on a 5.8-inch iPhone with edge-to-edge OLED display and a front-facing 3D laser scanner that will be used for facial recognition. That’s pretty much what we already heard from previous reports, and the odds are very good that the analyst is just riffing on what Ming-Chi Kuo told investors earlier this week.
All iPhone 8 rumors agree that the home button is going away, but the majority of reports have indicated that the fingerprint sensor will be embedded in the display. Various Apple patents prove that Apple is exploring ways of turning a screen into a fingerprint-sensing device, and other companies have already announced the availability of fingerprint sensor technology that works in this way.
Hall says that the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus launching alongside the iPhone 8 might also have 3D laser scanners, given the volume of laser scanner orders in Apple’s supply chain. The component would cost $10 to $15, the note explains. The 3D laser scanner, OLED screen, the new glass casing, and other increased production costs would make the iPhone 8 more expensive than any of its predecessors.
The analyst believes that the laser scanner could be more secure than Touch ID and that it could increase Apple Pay adoption among banks and merchants. Hall also said that the scanner could be used in the future for other applications, including virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Even developers would eventually have access to it, he said, and they’ll be able to include it in their future apps.
A few days ago, well-known Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo also said that the iPhone 8 will have “other biometric technologies that replace the current fingerprint recognition technology.” This seems highly unlikely, but it’s something we have to take seriously considering the source.