Apple could have big changes afoot for the way you unlock the iPhone 8. And it could very well involve lasers.
Apple's next flagship iPhone, believed to be known as the iPhone 8 or iPhone X for the 10th anniversary, will come with a 3D laser scanner on the front that will be used for facial-recognition technology, JP Morgan analyst Rod Hall said in a recent note to investors. That's according to MacRumors, which obtained a copy of the note.
Hall believes that the feature will replace the Touch ID Apple uses now for biometrics.
Several iPhone 8 rumors say that Apple plans to offer a screen entirely covers the face in the iPhone 8, leaving no room for a Home Button sensor. Those reports have pointed to earlier Apple patent filings, suggesting the company will bake the fingerprint-recognition technology into the screen, allowing users to tap around the display to maneuver through iOS and authenticate payments via Apple Pay.
The most recent rumor from KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested Apple might even offer a touchscreen-based function area that you would use to bounce around the software and unlock the device by holding your finger on the area. It could also be used with Apple Pay.
Hall, however, argues that Apple might nix the possibility of a fingerprint sensor altogether and instead go with the laser scanner. He believes that the facial-recognition feature could address user concerns with Touch ID not working when it's wet or when wearing gloves. He also argues that Apple could benefit from the facial recognition being more secure than the fingerprint sensor.
However, there would be a cost impact if Apple goes this direction.
According to Hall, the laser-recognition could cost Apple between $10 and $15 per unit, pushing Apple's already-soaring iPhone 8 bill of materials cost even higher. He believes the iPhone 8, with its OLED display and wireless charging, could cost significantly more than earlier iPhones and would therefore push its price to $1,000 or more.
Hall and other analysts have also acknowledged that iPhone 8 components are a moving target right now, which means the facial-recognition feature might not make its way to the iPhone 8, even if it's planned right now.