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Leaker says iPhone 13 will have the awesome new feature Apple fans have wanted for years

Published Oct 18th, 2020 3:04PM EDT
iPhone 13 Specs Leak
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • iPhone 12 sales have just started, and the phones are already selling out. But the first rumor about future iPhones is already here.
  • A reliable leaker says that Apple plans to bring back one of the iPhone’s most popular features: the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
  • The iPhone 13 might be the first iPhone to feature both Touch ID and Face ID if this leak turns out to be accurate.

The iPhone 12 just got here, but we already have an exciting rumor about future models to get us talking. After all, it’s widely known that development for the next-gen iPhone starts about a year before the latest phone launches, so Apple must already be working on iPhone 13 prototypes in its secret labs.

And we already have what might be one of the most exciting iPhone rumors in years, from a cryptic source that has provided plenty of hard-to-decipher clues about unreleased Apple devices. Many of those clues turned out to be true, and the person now indicates that Apple might be working on a feature iPhone fans would love.

In the months leading up to the iPhone X launch, plenty of leaks said the handset would feature an in-display fingerprint sensor that would allow Apple to use an all-screen design and ditch the home button. As we got closer to September 2017, it became clear that Touch ID would vanish, and Face ID would take its place. I’ve explained more than once why Face ID is so much better and more intuitive than Touch ID and that I wouldn’t want to go back to a Touch ID-only device.

Of course, then the pandemic arrived, and things changed rather drastically. The 3D face recognition doesn’t work with face masks on, and you need to use a regular PIN to unlock the phone and anything else that’s protected with a password. That has turned out to be an incredibly annoying chore.

Twitter account L0vetodream, who some fans might be familiar with, just posted the following tweet:

“MESA uts for iPhone” might look like a series of typos, until you remember that Mesa is the internal codename of Touch ID, and “uts” may stand for “under the screen.”

Many of those iPhone X rumors that said the phone would feature in-display Touch ID were believable because Apple had developed several methods to read fingerprints through the display. Some relied on ultrasound, and some were optical. Since then, we saw Android phones go the under-display route. Very few of them actually tried to replicate the more elegant but more expensive 3D face recognition system.

Last month Apple confirmed that it hasn’t given up on Touch ID by adding a never-before-seen fingerprint sensor to the new iPad Air. For the first time in an iOS device, the power button houses the Touch ID sensor. Just like it’s happening on the MacBook Air and Pro.

That’s the kind of solution that would work great during the pandemic, and the health crisis will last for at least one more year, if not longer. When Apple started work on the iPhone 12, there was no pandemic. By the time COVID-19 got series, Apple was probably well beyond the point of no return. The iPhone 12 design, specs, and supply chain were likely finalized.

But Apple has time to add Touch ID to the iPhone 13. The leaker made no indication what sort of iPhone would debut the feature. We’ve had reports in the past that said Apple would equip both Touch ID and Face ID on the same iPhone and that the move is planned for 2021. Those rumors predate the COVID-19 pandemic, so Apple must have been working on the technology for quite a while. As Apple fans know by now, Apple will not release any innovation until it feels the tech is reliable and ready for public use. AirPower is an exception that further reinforces that rule.

Separate reports have claimed that Apple is working on iPhones without notches. That’s a design decision that implies the selfie camera goes under the screen, hopefully alongside the Face ID components.

As always with Apple rumors, nothing is final until Apple unveils on stage, no matter how reliable the leaker is.

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.

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