Apple's iPhone 8 was supposed to come with one feature that other high-end competitors couldn't match. But now that's reportedly been shelved.
The tech giant has scrapped plans to integrate a fingerprint sensor into the iPhone 8's display, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors in a note on Monday (July 3), which was earlier reported on by 9to5Mac. Apple will still use a virtual home button, but will apparently move the fingerprint sensor to another location on the device.
Apple's iPhone 8 has been rumored for months to be shipping with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor baked into the screen. It would have become the first major handset to offer the feature, and would have differentiated the iPhone 8 from Samsung's Galaxy S8, which has a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device right next to the camera.
Kuo didn't say in his note to investors why Apple has decided against the feature. However, Samsung, which had tried to bundle it in the Galaxy S8 and apparently in this year's Galaxy Note 8, told reporters earlier this year that screen-based fingerprint sensors still suffer from technical and security problems. It's possible Apple discovered the same in its own testing.
However, Kuo said that Apple is moving ahead with its iPhone 8 design plans. The company's handset will have a screen that nearly entirely covers the face and a small area at the top, which Kuo calls a "notch," that will house the smartphone's earpiece and front-facing camera. The iPhone 8's screen will measure 5.8 inches and will have the highest screen-to-face ratio of any smartphone on the market, according to Kuo.
Still, it's the handset's lack of a fingerprint sensor baked into the screen that could prove most vexing. Every iPhone leak and rendering shows a device that doesn't have a space for a physical fingerprint sensor. If Apple has decided against the virtual sensor, it's possible Apple will add an area for it on the back of the handset. There's also a possibility Apple could bake the feature into one of the smartphone's physical buttons if a recent patent filing is any indication.
Apple is reportedly moving ahead with a September launch event, where it will unveil both the iPhone 8 and the iterative updates to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, according to Kuo. However, he said that the iPhone 8 will likely launch after the other models and could suffer from supply problems into 2018.