Apple is considering adding an in-display fingerprint reader in its next flagship iPhone expected to be launched later this year.
This is according to a recent report from Bloomberg, who cited a person familiar with the company’s plans.
According to the source’s information, Apple will mainly introduce minor internal upgrades over the iPhone 12 for this year’s model.
This is because the 2020 flagship added several substantial enhancements – including a revamped design, 5G connectivity, and Apple’s MagSafe magnetic charging and accessory technology.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered product development at the company’s Silicon Valley offices, with hardware engineers currently only on-premise for a few days a week and in lower numbers.
This has lead to early speculation that this year’s range will be called the iPhone 12S, rather than the iPhone 13.
Apple has previously added an S to model names which were only slight upgrades from their predecessors.
However, one significant change which would be a first for Apple is the addition of an in-display fingerprint reader.
The company stopped using its discrete Touch ID fingerprint scanner in premium iPhones in 2017 when it launched the iPhone X with Face ID.
The newer technology allowed iPhone users to unlock their smartphones with their face by employing advanced hardware that includes a dot projector with 30,000 infrared beams that are directed towards the user’s face.
This hardware is one of the important components contained in the prominent notch at the top of iPhone models.
It is not clear why Apple is looking at fingerprint technology again, although providing iPhone users with an additional biometric method for unlocking their phones can be particularly helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Face ID is generally considered a convenient and secure way of quickly unlocking your phone, it does not work effectively with the user wearing their mask.
In addition, Apple may be motivated by the fact that chip manufacturer Qualcomm – which also makes the 5G modem used in the iPhone 12 – recently announced an improved ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor.
The 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 boasts a larger surface area for reading the user’s finger, as well as faster processing for quicker recognition and unlocking of the phone.
In-display fingerprint readers are popular in Android smartphones, particularly models from Samsung.
They are not limited to flagships, however, with mid-range options like the Galaxy A51 and A71 also featuring the biometric scanner.
Other fingerprint readers are typically located on the rear of the smartphone or side-mounted – often on the power/unlock button itself.