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At least one new iPhone next year might ditch Face ID and bring back Touch ID

Published Jul 11th, 2019 11:07AM EDT
iPhone 12 Design
Image: Hasan Kaymak

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A sketchy rumor said a few days ago that Apple is making a cheaper iPhone for the Chinese market that will ditch the Face ID sensors in favor of an in-display fingerprint reader. Separately, a different report said Apple has four iPhones in the works for 2020, including a cheaper iPhone 8 replacement, without saying anything about the potential return of Touch ID. Since then, two more reports came out detailing Apple’s iPhone plans for the coming years that suggest Apple is slowly killing the iPhone’s notch, going as far as to claim that Face ID might go away as well.

Well-known analyst Ming Chi-Kuo said in a new research note shared with MyDrivers that at least one of the iPhones Apple will launch next year will feature a smaller notch than the current models. The iPhone 11 phones coming in mid-September are all expected to feature the same display design as the iPhone XS and XR phones, notch included.

The TrueDepth camera that powers Face ID requires several front-facing sensors that occupy plenty of space, hence the need for a notch. Keeping the notch in place for one more generation indicates that Face ID isn’t going away. But Apple may have found ways to reduce the size of that notch without affecting 3D face recognition functionality.

Kuo also said that the main cameras on the 2020 iPhones will feature 7P lenses instead of 6P, as is the case right now.

Image source: Apple Inc.

A second report from Credit Suisse (via China Times) says that Apple’s suppliers are developing full-screen displays without notches, suggesting that Face ID might go away for good by 2021.

The report notes that at least one 2020 iPhone model will not have Face ID sensors, and will instead feature a full-screen Touch ID fingerprint scanner. By removing all the Face ID sensors and placing the camera and fingerprint sensor under the display, Apple would be able to deliver perfect all-screen iPhones a year later. The report says that no 2021 phones will have notches, with Face ID supposedly being replaced by in-screen Touch ID tech.

If this info is legitimate, this would be a massive change for Apple considering all the effort that went into replacing Touch ID with Face ID on iPhone X and iPad Pro models. That’s one feature that Android makers had a tough time copying, with only Huawei, Xiaomi, and LG delivering phones with 3D face recognition so far. Google’s Pixel 4 is also expected to feature 3D face recognition and lack a fingerprint sensor. But Google’s phone will not have an all-screen display.

Other Apple competitors already showed off smartphones without notches or slide-out camera systems, but it’s unclear when these designs will be available to consumers. Oppo even showcased in-display selfie cam technology a few weeks ago at MWC 2019 Shanghai, and Xiaomi teased the same screen innovation on social media.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.