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The iPhone 8’s signature feature might also cause months of delays, analyst claims

Published Jun 21st, 2017 3:07PM EDT
iPhone 8 Release Date
Image: Moe Slah

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The controversy surrounding the iPhone 8’s fingerprint sensor simply refuses to die down. Just when we thought that Apple had figured out a way to embed its Touch ID sensor under the display itself, Cowen & Co analyst Timothy Arcuri writes that significant technical challenges remain and that Apple is actively trying to come up with a workable solution.

In a newly published research note obtained by Barron’s, Arcuri writes that Apple’s ongoing effort to work out the kinks associated with embedding the Touch ID sensor into the iPhone 8’s OLED display may result in significant delays. So while the good news is that we won’t have to worry about Apple placing the Touch ID sensor on the back of the device, the bad news is that the iPhone 8 release may be subject to significant delays.

Arcuri’s note is particularly interesting because he highlights three separate strategies Apple is considering as it pertains to the iPhone 8 Touch ID sensor. His research note reads in part:

This OLED model continues to target an edge-to-edge bezel-free design with no physical home button, which AAPL currently deciding between three potential implementations: 1) thinning the cover glass for the fingerprint area (cover glass cutout), 2) creating a pin hole through the glass for optical or ultrasonic fingerprint sensing, and 3) replacing the AuthenTec Touch ID with a “film” fingerprint sensor that is integrated with the display (this can be done through either capacitive sensors or infrared sensors based on technology from LuxVue which was acquired by AAPL in April 2016). While the exact implementation is not finalized, we can now say that the fingerprint sensor is unlikely to be on the back of the phone.

What remains unclear, at this point, is if the technical challenges Apple faces center on the efficacy of the Touch ID sensor itself or on production yields. Indeed, some early iPhone 8 rumors claimed that Apple was experiencing extremely poor yields on some early designs.

All that said, Arcuri anticipates that the iPhone 8 may be subject to delays that may stretch out over many months. So even though the iPhone 8 may be unveiled in September, and even though the iPhone 8 could theoretically launch sometime in September or October, it will reportedly take Apple quite some time to ramp up supply to meet what will certainly be staggering demand.

Notably, this isn’t the first report we’ve seen pointing to a staggered iPhone 8 release. Just last month, reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a research note indicating that Apple may not get a firm handle on iPhone 8 production until September, adding that “severe supply shortages may persist for a while after the new models are launched…”

All that said, analysts aren’t exactly worried about any potential iPhone 8 delays, with the consensus being that Apple, in a worst case scenario, will simply sell a boat load of iPhone 8 devices during the holiday quarter as opposed to the upcoming September quarter.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.