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This is how the iPhone 8’s biggest innovation will work

Published Dec 13th, 2016 4:40PM EST

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Apple will introduce a completely redesigned iPhone next year. According to multiple reports, the iPhone 8 that’s coming next September should feature a curved OLED display that will occupy most of the front and sides of the handset. Apple will also abandon its signature home button. That means all the features of the current home button will still be present even though the physical button is gone. Most importantly, the Touch ID fingerprint sensor present in the home button will stick around, finding a new home beneath the display itself.

Apple is not the only company pursuing smartphone design changes like this, as Samsung’s also rumored to be prepping a Galaxy S8 handset featuring an all-screen design with an embedded fingerprint sensor. It’s likely that other major players in the smartphone business will follow suit, and a component maker has just the technology these companies may require.

According to MacRumors, Synaptics announced a new fingerprint sensor that can be placed under the glass on a mobile device, shedding some light on how such technology will work.

The sensors have been specifically designed to be placed under the glass, near the bottom bezel of phones and tablets. Because it’s placed under the screen, the FS9100 sensor would be scratchproof and waterproof, and will scan fingerprints even on wet fingers.

Protecting the fingerprint sensor with a layer of glass should ensure its integrity. Furthermore, unlocking the phone might be even faster, given that the fingerprint sensor would recognize wet fingers.

The sensor will operate even if covered by 1mm of protective glass, and even through “thick 2.5D glass.”

That having ben said, there’s no indication that Apple is looking to utilize Synaptics FS9100 fingerprint sensors in its iPhone 8 at this time. The parts supplier did provide Apple with LCD drivers in 2015 following the acquisition of Renesas SP Drivers, however. But Apple is rumored to be working on its own technology to integrate fingerprint sensors into the display, and it will likely work the same way.

It’s unclear which devices will get the new Synaptics sensor, but sampling should start in the first quarter of 2017, with production set to begin in the second quarter.

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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