Apple Has No Plans to Bring Under-Display Touch ID to Future iPhones

Vivo Android Phone Fod Fingerprint Display Reader Credit: CNET
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Despite its next-generation nature and burgeoning popularity among high-end Android makers like Samsung and Vivo, Apple has no imminent plans of adopting under-display fingerprint sensing technology on iPhone, according to a new research note penned by TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Kuo, a historically reliable source for future Apple product plans, specifically indicated in his latest note — a copy of which was obtained and shared on Monday morning by MacRumors — that Apple’s 2019 iPhone lineup will not feature any form of fingerprint sensing technology. It will instead rely exclusively on Apple’s TrueDepth camera system and Face ID for authentication and biometric security.

Android and FOD Technology

FOD (fingerprint on display) technology is an up-and-coming biometric security feature which allows the fingerprint-sensing module on mobile devices to be embedded directly underneath their front-facing display glass — thus foregoing the need for a hardware sensor like Apple’s Touch ID-embedded Home button, or in Android’s case, similar alternatives.

Asian Android OEM, Vivo, was first to introduce the Qualcomm-built FOD technology earlier this year on its X21 UD flagship, and ever since other high-end Android-makers have come out announcing plans to adopt the technology on their future devices, too.

Kuo went on to note that Android makers like Samsung, LG, Vivo and others see FOD technology as a key feature to help distinguish their offerings from Apple’s wildly popular and increasingly advanced iPhone models.

“All main Android brands currently treat FOD as the important function to differentiate themselves from iPhone,” Kuo writes. “We expect 2H19 iPhone models will not support FOD.”

In his reasoning, Kuo cites that “the user feedback on the iPhone is lower than expected,” while “user feedback on the first FOD smartphone, Vivo’s X21 FOD version, is higher than expected,” ultimately conceding that “FOD is the best fingerprint recognition solution for the full-screen design which is necessary for a high-end smartphone.”

Face ID Future for iPhone

In a previous research note, Kuo lauded Apple’s Face ID technology — which relies on a complex system of lasers and multi-dot projectors to create 3D mesh-mapped images of a user’s face — for being at least two and a half years ahead of Android’s current slate of facial recognition tech.

He noted specifically that companies like Samsung have incorporated similar but inherently watered-down alternatives, such as Iris scanning and basic facial recognition tech which lacks true 3D capability like Apple’s. 

Moving forward, Kuo expects an increasing number of Android OEMs to adopt FOD functionality as the tech advances, leading not only to an increase in manufacturing output, but also decreased FOD component pricing and increased availability. 

To that end, Kuo predicts, by the first half of 2019 the Far East supply chain is expected to see a surge in FOD component manufacturers, with “marked improvements for user experience” coming on the heels of even newer FOD technology — including the production of ultrasonic FOD components.

Samsung has already announced plans to incorporate ultrasonic FOD tech on its upcoming Galaxy S10 flagship, promising faster, more safe and secure authentication. 

Most interesting of all, is that Kuo’s predictions are coming just days ahead of Apple’s anticipated fall 2018 special event, where the company is expected to launch a trio of brand-new iPhone (and two new iPad Pro) models featuring TrueDepth cameras, edge-to-edge displays and no hardware Home buttons.

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