We don’t know exactly when the iPhone 12 is coming but it looks likely it will arrive in October, later than the normal September reveal window. And we really hope Apple found the time to make sure the iPhone 12 gets the iPad Air 4’s new Touch ID button.
Rather than use the circular home button, Apple has gone for a button-less front to the iPad 4’s design, and integrated a Touch ID fingerprint scanner into the tablet’s side-mounted power button. It’s a neat feature that would seemingly work well with the upcoming iPhone 12 range.
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Apple’s face-scanning biometric Face ID has been the main way to unlock its flagship phones since the iPhone X (opens in new tab). But Face ID doesn't work when you're wearing a mask, and you have to punch in your passcode instead.
A slide-mounted Touch ID scanner integrated into the iPhone 12’s power button would solve that problem without reducing the security of the phone or its ergonomics. We saw Samsung do that with 2019’s Galaxy S10e (opens in new tab), and it worked very well.
"The focus on the new integrated fingerprint reader likely presages that it will show up in the next iPhone as a hedge against Face ID," Ross Rubin, an analyst at Reticle Research, told CNET (opens in new tab). Whether the next iPhone in question is the iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 (opens in new tab) remains unclear.
However, the leaks so far haven’t suggested that such a fingerprint scanner will come in the iPhone 12, so we may have to wait for the iPhone 13. If Apple does indeed release the iPhone 12 range in October — it’s thought to come in 5.4, 6.1, and 6.7-inch sizes — the design of the handsets should already be finalized.
However, Apple could have used the extra time it seems to have gained as a result of coronavirus chaos to tweak the power button of the iPhone 12 phones to have a Touch ID sensor. Apple appears to have found a way to make the Touch ID sensor more compact, so it might not be beyond the realm of possibility for it to work the scanner into the iPhone 12 at the final hour.
This is all speculation, as we’ve heard no hints that Apple is looking at a new Touch ID sensor for the iPhone 12. But it would be a very nice extra feature to go alongside Face ID.
Speaking of features, the iPhone 12 is expected to come with the new A14 Bionic (opens in new tab) chip, 5G connectivity, dual rear-cameras on the standard models and a triple camera array and a LiDAR sensor (opens in new tab) on the Pro handsets.
There’s some debate as to whether the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max will have a 120Hz refresh-rate display (opens in new tab); we're hoping they do as otherwise the iPhone 12 will lag behind the best Android phones (opens in new tab).