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iPhone 14 will be pointless without this one big upgrade

iPhone 13 Pro Max in grey, held in front of water
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 14 is rumored to be getting a wide range of upgrades, and some of them are more exciting than others. So far we've heard about a faster and more efficient new A16 Bionic chip, a sharper main 48MP camera (up from 12MP) and the possible removal of the notch in favor of a punch hole display, at least on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. 

Apple may also be retiring the iPhone mini to make room for a new 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Max. And we've seen rumors that the back of the iPhone 14 design could minimize or possibly even eliminate the camera bump. But all of the above will be pointless without one big upgrade: Touch ID. 

Back in September display analyst Ross Young predicted that the iPhone 14 could have under-display Face ID. That's nice, but unless Apple figures out a way to unlock the iPhone while wearing a mask with Face ID, which the company has allegedly been testing, it won't matter. 

Over the past couple of months I've been commuting back and forth between New Jersey and New York, and I need to wear a mask on the bus and while in the office. That's just the way it is right now, and I don't think this is going to change anytime soon as unfortunately we now have the Omicron variant to deal with. 

The number of times I need to unlock my phone in a given day add up quickly, whether I need to open my digital bus pass, turn on my iPhone's mobile hotspot or confirm my identity for Google's two-factor authentication in order to use Gmail. Each and every time I need to enter a passcode, which of course is a first-world problem but is still quite annoying.

This is why I really want the iPhone 14 to feature Touch ID, whether Apple adds an under-display Touch ID sensor or simply adds a fingerprint sensor to the power button.

Is Touch ID coming to iPhone 14?

We've heard rumors both for and against Touch ID coming to the iPhone 14, so at this point its seems very much in the air. 

In a new Q&A with iDropNews, tipster LeaksApplePro said that Touch ID could be coming to the iPhone 14 Pro models:

“I can tell you that this feature has been dropped from the regular 14 series. However, it’s still being tested to be included in the Pro lineup next year under the display, though it’s unclear if we will end up seeing it.”

However, an earlier tip by leaker @PandaIsBald on Chinese site Weibo (via MacRumors) said that Touch ID will not be coming under the display on the iPhone 14. That would mean Face ID would continue to be the only biometric authentication option.

As Samsung has proven with the Galaxy S21 and other models, an in-display fingerprint sensor can be executed well so that unlocking is both secure and fast. Google's Pixel 6 also have an in-display fingerprint reader, though it has proven slower than we'd like. Still, I'd rather have a slightly sluggish experience than no fingerprint sensor at all. 

Of course, I'd love for things on the Covid front to improve to the point where we don't need to wear masks in public. But right now it appears that Apple really needs to adapt for the iPhone 14.

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.