The last time we heard that Apple was working on iPhone models with in-display fingerprint sensors, the iPhone X wasn’t even out. Many rumors said in early 2017 that the iPhone 8, which was what we once called the all-screen iPhone that Apple would launch in September, would feature an in-display fingerprint sensor, a technology that Apple had been developing for years. It turned out Apple had no intention to use Touch ID after perfecting a more sophisticated, more secure authentication method: Face ID.
In-display sensors also weren’t ready for mass consumption at the time. But two years later, the rumor is back — only this time it comes with an unexpected twist. China is reportedly going to get a unique smartphone design: An all-screen iPhone that ditches Face ID in favor of in-display Touch ID.
Quoting a report from caijing.com.cn, The Global Times says that Apple is looking to cut iPhone manufacturing costs to launch a more affordable device for the Chinese market:
The new phone will reportedly remove Face ID, the facial recognition system for the iPhone, and instead employ an under-display fingerprint function, news site caijing.com.cn reported, citing sources on the upstream industry supply chain. An industry insider revealed that this is likely to “save on costs.”
Removing Face ID components could help Apple save money on the iPhone and reduce the price of the phone to compete better against Chinese Android handsets, the report says.
In-display fingerprint sensors have evolved in the past two years, with the Galaxy S10 featuring the most advanced version: Ultrasonic sensors. Still, it would be surprising for Apple to downgrade iPhones from Face ID to Touch ID, even if it cuts costs. It would be even stranger to launch such an iPhone only in China. Plenty of iPhone users in other markets would likely appreciate an iPhone featuring an all-screen display with a built-in fingerprint sensor, especially if it was more affordable than the Face ID model.
It’s unclear from the report whether this cheap iPhone with Touch ID would be part of the iPhone 11 series or launch at a later date. That’s assuming, of course, the rumor is based on actual inside information. And we haven’t seen any other reports that would verify these new claims, so we’re leaning toward skepticism.
Apple is widely expected to launch three iPhone 11 models this year, including the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Max, and whatever they end up calling the iPhone XR successor (iPhone 11R?). All of them are expected to feature all-screen displays with Face ID notches at the top and to launch in mid-September.