As impressive as Apple’s FaceID tech is, when it was first introduced on the iPhone X in 2017, many still maligned the loss of Touch ID, a feature that hasn’t been included on any new iPhones over the past two years. However, according to a new report from one of the world’s most well-respected Apple analysts, Touch ID could return to iPhones in 2021.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), Apple will release an iPhone in 2021 featuring both Face ID and TouchID on the same device. The main change for 2021 is that instead of building a fingerprint sensor into Apple’s now-defunct Home button, Kuo says Apple will use a fingerprint reader built directly into the iPhone’s display.
However, rather than relying on somewhat less-secure optical sensors like the ones used in the OnePlus 7 Pro, Kuo claims Apple’s future in-screen Touch ID sensor will probably be based on one of Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint readers, which are similar to what Samsung uses in the Galaxy S10.
Kuo says that previously, issues such as power consumption, the size of the sensing area, the thickness of the module, and low production yields of ultrasonic sensors are why Apple hasn’t incorporated the tech into current iPhone models—problems that should be fully addressed by 2021.
Previously, Apple has filed patents regarding in-screen fingerprint sensors, including a filing from earlier this year that proposed the idea of an in-screen fingerprint reader that could take a scan from practically anywhere on the display, as opposed to current phones with sensors limited to tiny boxes typically located at the bottom of a device’s display.
And while Kuo would not make any concrete predictions about Touch ID being added to other upcoming Apple devices, he also said the development of in-screen fingerprint sensor tech makes it “more likely” that Touch ID could make its way into the Apple Watch as opposed to a camera-based Face ID biometrics.
Either way, bringing back Touch ID via an in-screen fingerprint sensor would be a welcome addition. That’s because while Face ID has quickly become one of the iPhone’s most appreciated features, it’s not an ideal authentication method in a number of situations—like trying to unlock your phone while it’s lying flat on a table or when you’re wearing sunglasses.
And with the tech industry gradually moving towards eliminating traditional passwords, the ability to have both Touch ID and Face ID on the same device could prove useful as a secure form of local two-factor authentication. Finally, for those who simply don’t like or trust facial recognition tech, the return of Touch ID could serve as an alternative, but still secure, way to log into apps or make purchases online using an Apple account.
Still, 2021 is a long way from now, and as always, predictions like these aren’t set in stone. So if you’re thinking about upgrading anytime soon, it’s probably not worth it to try and hold off for another two years.