There has been plenty of talk recently about the iPhone 7, and how it will supposedly lack any innovative features – most people agree that it will look and perform much like a souped up iPhone 6s. There has also been plenty of talk that Apple is in a “slump”, and is lacking the foresight for producing truly revolutionary hardware – something the company has been known for. However, although this September’s iPhone 7 may not introduce any ground-breaking functionality (aside from the rumored dual-camera on the iPhone 7 Plus), several reports around the web may give us a slight glimpse into the future of the iPhone, and it looks pretty impressive.
One long-running rumor about the iPhone surrounds the eventual switch from LCD display technology to OLED display technology. Several reports around the web, some dating back to last year, have discussed the transition. Many of pointed to a rumored deal with Samsung, who would produce the bulk of the displays, and many point to comments made by analysts Lee Choong-hoon and the highly-regarded Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple will fully transition to OLED technology by 2017 or 2018, depending on who you ask.
Kuo recently made another, more surprising prediction, as well, claiming that the 2017 iPhone release (which will either be known as the iPhone 7s, or Apple may make the jump straight to iPhone 8) will see a return to a reinforced all-glass enclosure akin to the iPhone 4. On top of all of this, a patent granted to Apple today describes a method of embedding its Touch ID fingerprint sensor into the display of an iPhone.
So what does this all mean? Put all of the rumors together – OLED displays wrapped in an all-glass enclosure with a Touch ID sensor embedded underneath the display – and you may have yourself a bezel-free phone. Apple has recently placed a lot of focus on making their phones, tablets, and laptops sleeker and noticeably slimmer. Many users, however, have wondered for years why Apple hasn’t placed more focus on maximizing screen real estate on the front of the phone. According to these users, the bezel on the iPhone is simply too large, in part due to the home button/Touch ID sensor. Embedding the Touch ID sensor underneath the display would allow for a screen that takes up almost the entire front of the phone, creating the nearly bezel-free device that many users have pined for.
The patent, titled “Man-machine interface for controlling access to electronic devices”, describes three different methods of integrating the Touch ID sensor underneath the display. “Optical”, “Capacitive”, and “Ultrasonic” methods are all described in detail, the latter of which being the most intriguing. As stated in the patent:
“The most accurate but least common finger-scanning technology is ultrasound imaging. In this type of sensor, two transducers are placed on the x- and y-axes of a plate of glass–one each for receiving and transmitting–for propagating ultrasound waves through a glass plate; when the finger is placed on top of the glass, the finger impedes the waves and the receiving transducer can measure the alteration in wave patterns. This type of scanner is very new and largely untested in a variety of conditions, but initial results show promise for the technology. It combines the large plate size and ease of use of the optical scanners with the ability to pervade dirt and residue on the scanner, an advantage of capacitive scanners.”
Like any other Apple patent, it’s unclear when such technology may be implemented. Holding all of the other rumors true, however, it’s beginning to look as if Apple will focus on minor upgrades for this September’s iPhone 7 release, with a radical new redesign coming in September of 2017 with the iPhone 8 (or 7s, whichever it may be called).
Would you like an iPhone without a physical Touch ID button? Let us know in the comments below.