Will Apple ever equip one of its iPhones with an under-screen fingerprint scanner? This is a question that has been asked a lot, and on which the sources have disagreed so far. But now there’s more evidence for that, as Apple just got a related patent – but don’t expect that on the iPhone 14.
The patent – spotted by Patently Apple – relates to under-display fiber optics, which could be used to accurately capture fingerprint data.
Apple’s method appears designed to reduce optical transmission loss compared to other solutions, which could mean that scanning its fingerprints would be faster and more accurate. But the patent details are less interesting than the fact that Apple patented the technology, as it suggests under-display Touch ID may actually be in the works.
There are, however, a few caveats. First of all, a lot of things are patented and a lot of them never see the light of day in products, so just because Apple is exploring an idea doesn’t mean we’ll see it happen.
Granted, we wouldn’t expect under-displayed Touch ID on the iPhone 14 lineup, as there aren’t many signs of it yet – although an early leak pointed in that direction. But it’s possible we could see it on the iPhone 15 or beyond.
The other caveat is that while the focus of this patent appears to be fingerprint scanning, the tech also mentions facial recognition apps, so in other words, it could enable sub-face ID. displayed, which is something there’s a lot more evidence that Apple is working on.
So we might see that instead (or also), but given that the leaked images show visible Face ID components on the iPhone 14 lineup, that too is likely over a year away.
Analysis: Touch ID would be nice, but probably won’t happen
While there’s been talk over the years that Apple is working on under-display Touch ID, the most recent leaks suggest that won’t happen. So while this patent offers some hope for a Touch ID future, the bulk of the evidence still opposes it.
That’s a bit of a shame, because there are situations where Face ID just isn’t as good, such as when you want to unlock your phone without tilting it in front of your face.
Still, those occasions are likely to be rare for most people, and now that Face ID works even with a mask, there are few major downsides to the system, so while the Touch ID option is appreciated, it is far from essential, and is therefore unlikely to be a goal for Apple.