According to the latest note to customers of Ming-Chi Kuo from TF Securities, the most trusted by Apple analysts out there, iPhones released in 2021 will include both Face ID authentication method and a new under-screen touch ID sensor .
An expert from Kuo's note to customers, obtained on Monday by MacRumors:
Technically, we predict that four critical technical issues with fingerprint on screen technology will improve over the course of 12-18 months, including module thickness, sensing range, power consumption and lamination yield. That's why we believe Apple will launch the new iPhone equipped with both Face ID and on-screen fingerprints to improve security and convenience thanks to the multi-biometrics.
He thinks Apple will source GIS ultrasound technology from the large area of GIS while Qualcomm will provide ultrasound module and lamination. In addition, the venerable analyst speculated that Apple Watch could support the feature in the future.
Now, Kuo has earned his fame by having good sources in Apple's supply chain in Asia that provides information that he puts together to form a bigger picture. However, this particular prediction is based on Apple's patents and the Android smartphone market.
Fingerprint sensation on the screen has matured enough to now be used more or less reliably as an authentication method on some Android handsets, such as the OnePlus 7 Pro. But the experience of using fingerprint readers under the screen of several Android phones I've tried so far leaves much to be desired, especially on the Galaxy S10. The technology is simply not reliable enough to be used as a viable Touch ID replacement, in my humble opinion.
On top of that, various comments from Apple executives acknowledged that Apple had not at any time tested on-screen fingerprint readers prior to the introduction of the iPhone X, as The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg suggested. Simply put, Apple didn't spend years developing a Touch ID replacement just for allegedly deciding to maybe drop it for another form of fingerprint sensation that doesn't work as well as the original Touch ID.
That is also the case of security. Two-step verification that comes from two different biometric methods is more secure than having a single biometric solution, but it also makes the user experience less intuitive. But more importantly, fingerprint sensation is significantly less secure than Face ID's infrared-based face recognition, with a millionth chance that someone can unlock your phone with their face against it for 50,000 odds of someone else's fingerprint falsely unlocking it.
That said, as someone who has been using Face ID-equipped iPhones for almost two years now, I can definitely see how having both authentication methods can actually improve the user experience (instead of security): Face ID would remain as primary authentication method for Apple Pay, App Store purchases and the like, while Touch ID could be used to quickly unlock the device without having to stare at the TrueDepth camera.
Does it make any sense to you? For completeness, let's point out that the investment bank Barclays recently predicted that iPhones released in 2020 would use acoustic fingerprint sensors behind the screen area, allowing for a full-screen touch ID.
Thoughts on Kuo's reports?
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
Image: an iPhone with a Touch ID integrated on display via Martin Hajek for Computer Image