Apple: the conflict between Edge to Edge display and Touch ID

A recent report claims that Apple is struggling to integrate the Touch ID fingerprint sensor into the display of its forthcoming iPhone 8. The iPhone 8’s signature design feature will be its edge to edge display that does not allow for a physical home button on the device. Will Apple do away with it then? If reports are to be believed, Apple is in no position to do it this year

There has been a rumor that a Touch ID sensor will be embedded beneath the display of the new iPhone. However, for the 5.8-inch OLED version, the biggest bottleneck is integrating a fingerprint sensor into the display under the glass.

Apple has very limited options and none seem to offer any promise, as of now.

  • Home button is much more than being a mere home button. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor in it is required for unlocking the phone, signing into apps and services, and using  Apple Pay. This is not something that Apple can easily ditch.
  • There are also rumors that facial recognition cameras will take over, but that seems unlikely specially after the Samsung fallout (users could unlock phones with only a photo of the correct owner). Also, facial recognition would not just be a little slower but also annoying.
  • Even a virtual home button and optical fingerprint sensing through the OLED panel will not be as effective. One, Apple does not have functionality of the optical fingerprint sensor ready. Additionally, it is believed that Apple evaluated Synaptic’s optical fingerprint solution, but it was not qualified. Synaptics also wanted to deliver the fingerprint solution for Samsung’s Galaxy S8 but failed to deliver it on time.
  • Another option is to have the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone, but that would make the touch ID sensor much less user-friendly.
  • Apple can also plan to delay the production or eliminate fingerprint sensing on the OLED iPhone.

The problem seems complicated and only second best solutions are available currently. We will have to wait to find out if Apple can resolve the issue quickly enough that it won’t make a difference to the production schedule.