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Major tech breakthrough iPhone users have been waiting for is finally here

Published May 2nd, 2016 12:58PM EDT
iPhone 8 Rumors

Why is the iPhone 6s Plus so gigantic and unwieldy when Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge is wonderfully compact and manageable? Both smartphones have screens that measure 5.5 inches diagonally, so they should be reasonably comparable in size. But alas, the Galaxy S7 edge is a pleasure to use with one hand while the iPhone 6s Plus is far too huge for most users to comfortably manage.

The reason is partially because of Apple’s need to keep that great big home button situated beneath the screen for Touch ID fingerprint authentication. Soon, however, Apple might be able to ditch the home button without having to move its fingerprint scanner to a less convenient position on the back of the phone.

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Apple has been working for a long time to figure out how it can embed its Touch ID fingerprint scanner under the iPhone’s display so that it can give its iPhone lineup a smaller overall footprint without having to shrink screen size. Touch ID isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, of course, but Apple has been hard at work trying to revamp it now that it sells larger iPhones.

Well, Apple fans, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that a next-generation fingerprint scanner cable of being positioned beneath a smartphone’s display has officially been unveiled. The bad news, however, is that Apple isn’t the company that unveiled it.

LG Innotek on Monday showed off the first under glass fingerprint sensor module from a major manufacturer. Using this technology, a smartphone or tablet can employ fingerprint authentication without the need for a separate sensor mounted beneath the display, or on the back or side of the phone.

How did LG pull it off?

“LG Innotek cut a shallow furrow of 0.01inches (0.3mm) thick on the lower backside of the cover glass and installed the fingerprint sensor inside of it with using their supreme precision and combination technology,” the company said in its announcement. “With this module, the sensor is not exposed to the outside of the device, so manufacturer can produce a sleek designed smartphone. Fingerprint recognition area also can be indicated by various patterns up to design of complete product.”

The release continued, “High-strength cover glass protects the sensor and prevents it from coming in direct contact with water or damage from scratches. At the same time, the new module secured the fingerprint recognition accuracy compared to the button type. The new module has a false acceptance rate (FAR) of 0.002%.”

If you’re an Android fan, this is big news. LG and other phone vendors that use LG components could use this new fingerprint scanner tech in phones in the near future. And if you’re an iPhone user, it’s still good news. While Apple certainly has no plans to dump Touch ID and switch to an LG scanner, LG Innotek’s breakthrough obviously means that it’s technically possible to embed the scanner beneath a display. It probably won’t happen with this year’s iPhone 7 despite recent rumors, but an iPhone without a home button might not be too far off now.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.