The latest rumour floated by analysts about the upcoming iPhone is that Apple could remove the Touch ID fingerprint sensor entirely.
That would be a big move for Apple. Touch ID has been an incredibly successful technology, and billions in revenues run through it. Apple Pay alone channels more than $10 billion through Touch ID, and that channel is growing fast. It would shift consumers to an entirely different way of unlocking their phones and making payments.
The rumour started back in February
The rumour that Apple could cut the Touch ID sensor in the new iPhone originated in a note sent to investors by the usually reliable Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities.
Kuo said the new iPhone will likely include a 5.8-inch OLED display, but no fingerprint sensor. Instead, Apple is reportedly planning an “edge-to-edge” screen that simply wouldn’t have room for a physical button.
It resurfaced later that month in a note published by JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall. Hall suggested that facial scanning would be a more secure way to unlock a phone, and would work better in wet conditions.
And now the rumour has resurfaced again in a note sent by Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves. Hargreaves said that scrapping the fingerprint sensor is a “likely option” for Apple. He said that Apple may be forced to get rid of the sensor if it doesn’t figure out how to integrate the sensor with its new display.
Apple cutting its fingerprint sensor would be a big deal
It might seem like a small change: Apple removes the button and we all get used to face-scanning instead. But scrapping Touch ID would get rid of a core component of the way iPhones work.
Touch ID isn’t just used for unlocking your iPhone. It’s also how you pay for items using Apple Pay, and how you sign into some apps, too. It was one of the key features launched for iPhone 5s — and it has been massively successful ever since.
Apple could remove its fingerprint sensor, but it’s more likely that it would prefer to launch face-scanning alongside a new version of Touch ID. In the future it could then shift to face-scanning as its primary unlock method, but it would be a big leap to make that change in one device.