Why the new iPhone doesn't have an in-display fingerprint sensor



Credit: Christopher Hebert/IDG

If you're wondering why the new Apple iPhone 11 is passing on one of 2019's biggest smartphone trends, here's the reason why.

Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and others have embraced the idea of moving the fingerprint sensor from the back of the device to underneath the screen in the last twelve months. It's convenient, it's reliable and it feels futuristic. 

Regardless, Apple's newly announced iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone Pro Max have all opted to exclude the feature in favor of Face ID. Now, this isn't a terrible decision. Face ID is still pretty much the gold standard for face unlock tech in smartphones. 

However, just because Apple has chosen to let you unlock your phone using your face rather than your finger this time around doesn't mean Touch ID can't be brought back down the line. Wondering how in-display fingerprint sensors work? Check out our guide here.

Some analysts have speculated that this year's iPhones are intended to be a refresh of the device's internals (specifically the processor and camera) before a more substantial redesign debuts in 2020. If that's the case, Apple could well resurrect Touch ID using an in-display fingerprint sensor. 

According to Bloomberg, this new version of Touch ID wouldn't be as limited or restrictive as current in-display authentication tech. They say "the upcoming fingerprint reader would be embedded in the screen, letting a user scan their fingerprint on a large portion of the display, and it would work in tandem with the existing Face ID system."

Apple would be a little bit behind the curve compared to Samsung and other Android brands when it comes to introducing an in-display fingerprint sensor. Then again, it'd hardly be the first time.

Whether we're talking about wireless charging, OLED displays, AR camera experiences or in-display fingerprint sensors, Apple have always introduced new features and technology at their own pace. 

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Fergus Halliday
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