Apple could be getting rid of its existing Touch ID home button, replacing it in the iPhone 8 with a new optical fingerprint sensor technology that spans the entire display.
That, at least, is according to a report from Chinese publication Economic Daily News, which cites sources from Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
According to the paper, as relayed by MacRumours, details about “an optical fingerprint sensor to enable authentication directly on the screen” came during TSMC’s annual Technology Symposium held in Taipei.
This was not the only thing reportedly discussed at the conference. The sources also claimed that augmented reality functions would be enabled in the new phone thanks to “invisible infrared image sensors”, which would also enhance camera functionality. They also claimed that the screen ratio would change from the iPhone 7’s 16:9 to 18.5:9.
Apple is thought to have been developing on-screen fingerprint identification for the last couple of years. The iPhone 7 was for a time thought to feature the technology, but in the end opted for a standard Touch ID home button. Seeing as Samsung ditched a front-facing fingerprint sensor in favour of its edge-to-edge ‘Infinity’ display, it could be that Apple is similarly looking to maximize display space for its new flagship.
Talking of Samsung, the iPhone 8 will have a huge fight on its hands when it arrives. Samsung has thrown so many new features at the Galaxy S8, but the edge-to-edge ‘Infinity’ screen, a buttonless design, and new AI assistant are the main things you need to know about it.
Therefore, Apple will have to make the iPhone 8 relatively revolutionary, and new report from iDrop suggests it’s starting with a new vertical camera. The rumour comes from a Foxconn source, and states that the new iPhone 8 Edition will have a vertical dual-camera, rather than a horizontal one. iDrop says the iPhone 8 will also feature a double camera set up above its screen too.
iDrop’s source also says the iPhone 8 won’t have an under-screen Touch ID sensor, but will use an OLED screen, with an edge-to-edge display just like the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Everything else we know (and guess) about the iPhone 8
1. There could be THREE new iPhone 8s
New rumours suggest those models will be joined by a third, higher-end model. According to a report from the Japanese website Mac Otakara, this new phone will be called the iPhone Edition, in the same way the higher end Apple Watch is called the Apple Watch Edition. Fast Company previously suggested the next iPhone would cost over $1,000, and it’s possible this is the handset its source was talking about.
What’s not yet clear, is how the iPhone Edition will be different from the other two handsets. A look at the Apple Watch line-up reveals the only difference between the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition models is the use of a high-end ceramic finish, and it’s possible Apple could be bringing the same ceramic finish to the iPhone 8. For the last few years Apple has concentrated in giving consumers more choice – when it comes to colours and finishes at least – so this rumour is certainly viable.
2. We pretty much know the iPhone 8 (7s) release date
Apple hasn’t announced anything about the iPhone 8 (7s) yet, but we already have a good idea of when it will be released. Apple tends to stick to a pretty rigid timeframe when it comes to iPhones, and a quick look at previous iPhone release dates will give a very good idea of when the next iPhone is due. Apple tends to release an iPhone every year in the last two weeks of September, so we should see the iPhone 7 around this time next year.
3. It should be easier to get an iPhone 8 (7s) when it is released
A new report by BlueFin Research Partners, and reported on by MacRumors, suggests that Apple will begin making the iPhone 8 earlier than usual – but states that it doesn’t necessarily report to an earlier release date. Instead of changing the release date, it looks like Apple will begin production earlier, this time round, so it has more handsets available when then expected September release date does roll around.
4. The iPhone 8 might not have Touch ID
According to renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 8 is going to feature a bezel-less display – just like the LG G6 and Samsung S8. That way, Apple will be able to give the new iPhone a larger screen, without making the handset itself larger. However, it looks like the Home button is going to be the first casualty in the new change, and according to Kuo, Apple is set to replace it with a new function area.
This new area of screen could work like like the MacBook Pro’s TouchBar, giving users relevant controls when needed, but disappearing altogether when watching something like a movie, for example.
5. The iPhone (8) 7s could feature wireless charging
This year the iPhone 7 debuted water-resistant capability, something already seen on Android phones for the past few years – and it’s possible Apple will follow the Android crowd with another feature, too. Phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 feature wireless charging, and it’s possible Apple will introduce that feature in the next iPhone. Apple tends to wait a while before introducing new technologies, and the introduction of wireless charging could provide a good incentive to get the updated iPhone.
6. The iPhone 8 (7s) should cost the same as the iPhone 7
Apple hasn’t changed the price of the new iPhone recently, and that looks set to continue for the iPhone 8 or iPhone 7s. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t end up shelling more for the iPhone 7s: Apple may have kept the prices the same, but it’s also dropped and added storage options over the iPhone range. That’s forced owners to buy a smaller-capacity iPhone – or upgrade to a larger-capacity, more expensive model than before.
7. The iPhone 8 (7s) could finally use an OLED screen
For the past few years we’ve expected Apple to put an OLED screen in the iPhone, and now the Sharp CEO, Jeng-wu Tai, has pretty much confirmed the iPhone 8 (7s) will have one.
Late last year, Tai said: “The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS to OLED panel. We don’t know whether Apple’s OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn’t walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity.” Tai is an executive at Foxconn, the parent company of Sharp, and also the people that make the iPhone – so it’s very likely he’s privy to some serious insider knowledge.
Main image credit: iDrop news
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