Will the new iPhone borrow an Android feature to save money?

Rumors suggest that Apple is preparing to drop Face ID and go back to a fingerprint reader. Why?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

One feature that keeps coming up in the rumors and supply chain chatter for the upcoming 2019 iPhone 11 is that Apple could drop Face ID and go back to using a fingerprint reader embedded in the display.

The question is, why?

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Apple seemed pretty confident when it introduced Face ID back in 2017, and in 2018 it replaced the Touch ID fingerprint reader on all iPhones and the third-generation iPad Pro.

So why are rumors pointing to Apple introducing an iPhone in-display fingerprint reader?

There are a couple of possibilities.

The first is that Face ID isn't as good as Apple wants it to be and has decided that a fingerprint is a better way to go. While it's true that Face ID has generated some privacy and security concerns, and some claim that Touch ID was better, faster, and more reliable, it seems to have been successful.

So, reliability or security doesn't seem to be behind any potential switch. What else?


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The camera array needed for Face ID is expensive, comprising of a laser dot projector and infrared camera.

While an in-display fingerprint reader is not going to be cheap, it is likely to be cheaper than the components needed to make Face ID work. After all, in-display fingerprint readers are already available in a range of Android smartphones, on devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Huawei P30 and P30 Pro, and OnePlus 7 Pro.

So Apple would, once again, be copying Android.

But my take on this is that Apple isn't going to drop Face ID across the board, just on the cheaper handset. And possibly only for an iPhone designed specifically for the Chinese market that would retail around the 5,000 yuan ($730) price point. This is an important point because the average price of smartphones sold in China in 2018 was 2,523 yuan, and handsets priced more than 4,000 yuan accounted for only 13% of the total sales.

With the Chinese market being critical for Apple, it can't afford to make mistakes here, and trying to sell overpriced iPhones could very well be a mistake.

So, yes, Apple could be looking at using in-display fingerprint readers in the iPhone, but I'd expect this to be either the budget version, or, more likely, a budget version aimed at the Chinese market.

Will you miss Face ID, or did you prefer the old Touch ID system?

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