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Bye, Bye Home Button: iPhone 8 Screen May Read Fingerprints

The most recognizable iPhone feature could be going the way of the headphone jack. Based on a new U.S. patent that was just awarded to Apple, it's very possible the iPhone 8 will ditch the iconic Home Button.

The new patent, as reported by Apple Insider, covers a fingerprint sensor that's capable of gathering accurate readings through the touch screen using an electrostatic lens.

That means the iPhone 8 may be all screen up front, as you wouldn't need a Home Button to unlock your phone. But what about returning to the Home screen, invoking Siri and switching apps?

MORE: iPhone 8 to Finally Get Samsung's Best Feature

There will likely be a virtual Home button on the iPhone 8 towards the bottom of the device, and you would be able to perform most actions with gestures. That's what the 3D Touch screen is for, which senses pressure.

By getting rid of the Home button, Apple would be able to make the iPhone 8's rumored OLED screen stretch across the majority of the front of the device. The iPhone 7's LCD is brighter than its predecessor, but there's still a fair amount of bezel around the display, which makes using the iPhone 7 Plus difficult with one hand.

The patent notes some challenges by going this route, such as the need for a "drive ring" to supply a AC or DC voltage to a user's finger. It's not clear whether Apple would be able to integrate this tech behind the cover glass in time of the next iPhone.

However, given that the iPhone 8 will mark the tenth anniversary of the phone that changed everything, it's a pretty safe bet that Apple will be pulling out all the stops.

Mark Spoonauer

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.