If this new series of leaks is correct, Apple could be about to make a huge mistake. The biggest outstanding question about the iPhone 8’s design is whether it will have a Touch ID sensor on the rear, or build a fingerprint scanner into the screen itself.
Rear-mounted fingerprint sensors, conveniently placed in optimum smudging location next to the camera, are a slap in the face to common sense. Samsung went that route with the Galaxy S8 this year, but a recent series of leaks suggested that Apple had come up with a better solution. Now, we’re not so sure.
Images that appeared on Weibo, spotted by 9to5Mac, show the front and back of an iPhone 8 in different colors. Most of the design lines up perfectly with other leaks we’ve seen: dual camera lenses, mounted vertically, and a full-screen edge-to-edge display on the front.
But none of that really matters. What we’re focusing on here is the Touch ID sensor, prominently located on the back. It looks exactly like the Touch ID sensor you’re used to seeing on the iPhone, but located just below the Apple logo on the rear. That, by the way, lines up perfectly with a set of schematics that were shared last month.
Now, it’s perfectly possible that those schematics and these images are fake. It’s incredibly simple to Photoshop one button into an image, especially since we have plenty of references for what a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor would look like. But the fact is that we definitely can’t rule out a rear-mounted Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 8.
Playing devil’s advocate for a second, the execution of the Touch ID sensor in these images isn’t the worst. The major problem with how Samsung did the rear-mounted sensor on the Galaxy S8 is location: it sits right next to the camera, meaning you’re guaranteed to smudge the lens up all the time.
In this image, you can see that the fingerprint sensor is much lower than the camera, nearly in the middle of the phone. The camera module is also in the top-right of the phone, far enough away from the fingerprint sensor that you probably can’t even reach it when holding the phone with one hand.
Don’t get me wrong: moving from a front-mounted fingerprint sensor to one on the back is still a step back, and all of my fingers are crossed hoping that this leak is a fake. But if Apple is going to screw up the design, at least we can hope it’ll screw it up elegantly.