Fingerprint Sensor Still Causing Production Issues for iPhone 8

July 19, 2017 •

iPhone 8

Apple continues feverishly working to finalize plans for the 10th anniversary iPhone, which is being considered unofficially the ‘iPhone 8.’ The device is expected to culminate approximately three years of dedicated research and efforts, given the iPhone 6, released September 19, 2014 is still the model being disguised as the iPhone 7, three years later. Consequently, the upcoming iPhone 8 needs to impress and mark a significant form factor change. Current rumors still fail to pin down one of the device’s main features, authentication, whether by finger print or facial recognition.

iPhone 8 User Authentication

User authentication sounds like a techy-problem the average user could simply overlook as an advanced feature. However, it is quite the opposite. How an average user chooses to protect iPhone access is of paramount importance. With the iPhone 5s, Apple introduced Touch ID, the ring around the Home button, which scans finger prints for identification. With Touch ID being deployed for four-years, it has easily become standard operating procedure, even for iPhone simpletons. The finger print allows biometric security coverage for everything in an iPhone, which now ranges from credit card details to footsteps and heartbeat information.

iPhone 8

Current iPhone 8 rumors are still searching to determine how users will authenticate access to the device, be it by fingerprints, or facial scanning. If Apple uses Touch ID, the current question is primarily about location. With the new edge-to-edge display (rumored), where does that leave the round Touch ID?

Some rumors speculate the Touch ID sensor will be embedded into the actual screen, Apple patent filing above. This would mean, a true unbroken edge-to-edge panel for the screen and a layer below the screen would be able to read fingerprints. Even this rumor still is unsure if there will be a very specific location on the screen, or if the entire screen will be able to read the print, wherever the user touches.

iPhone 8

Others speculate the authentication will be a facial scan, from a front facing camera. This would eliminate the need for a touch sensor, but leaves questions like, what about dark rooms? As recently as two weeks ago, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed, via StreetInsider, that Touch ID sensors will not be in the screen, siting that some form of 3D sensing facial recognition will be included in the device. He has a near perfect track record for accurately predicting iPhone features. According to Kuo:

We predict the OLED model won’t support fingerprint recognition, reasons being: (1) the full-screen design doesn’t work with existing capacitive fingerprint recognition, and (2) the scan-through ability of the under-display fingerprint solution still has technical challenges, including: (i) requirement for a more complex panel pixel design; (ii) disappointing scan-through of OLED panel despite it being thinner than LCD panel; and (iii) weakened scan-through performance due to over-layered panel module. As the new OLED iPhone won’t support under-display fingerprint recognition, we now do not expect production ramp-up will be delayed again (we previously projected the ramp-up would be postponed to late October or later).

Regardless of the final process, KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Andy Hargreaves, reports the Cupertino company has until month-end to make a final decision and either order Touch ID chipsets or go all-in on the facial scanning upgrade.

Therefore, supply chain leaks in the coming weeks may finally highlight the decision.