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We can thank Apple for its recent (self-inflicted) iPhone leaks and there is genuinely a lot worth getting excited about. Particularly their price tags. But the world’s most accurate Apple insider has rather more negative news from his contacts…
‘Great Secret Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.
In a new report obtained by MacRumors, acclaimed analyst Ming Chi-Kuo reveals that despite clear evidence Apple is working on fingerprint on display (FOD) technology, it will not be coming to the company’s new iPhones in 2018 nor in 2019. And this will have a significant impact.
Kuo states the reasoning behind Apple’s decision is twofold. Firstly, Face ID has been well received and it certainly is the best facial recognition system currently available. Secondly, FOD has technological limitations as it works better on premium OLED displays and Apple plans to continue using LCD panels in its new ‘budget iPhone X’ (details) for several years yet.
And here’s where the problem lies.
By contrast, Kuo says FOD adoption on Android is set to skyrocket. This shouldn’t be a surprise given the technology is already commercially available and surprisingly durable and reliable. Moreover, Kuo backs widespread reports that Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will include FOD while the company is also believed to have developed a true Face ID rival for the phone as well.
All of which puts a lot of pressure on the so-called ‘iPhone XS’ and Apple’s somewhat disingenuous claims it is more secure than Touch ID. Especially, since the future of smartphone security is ‘multi-modal’ aka combining multiple biometric measurements (face, iris, fingerprint) simultaneously. This has the potential to cause Apple problems, given the company has long marketed iPhones as being more secure than Android rivals.
Users also like choice and since unlocking isn’t always convenient via facial recognition (such as in meetings) or fingerprint (when wearing gloves), having both will appeal to consumers. That said, you should expect Apple to U-turn.
As mentioned, evidence Apple is currently working on FOD has been confirmed by the company filing several patients around the technology in recent months. Apple is no patent troll, so the research will be with the intention to try and bring a FOD-capable iPhone to market.
Of course, either way, Apple has a hard time. If it brings FOD to market then the company is criticised for being several years behind rivals. If it doesn’t then Apple faces far bigger problems as phones become multi-modal – especially given its aspirations of iPhones replacing ID documents like passports.
None of which I expect to impact sales of the iPhone XS (both sizes) and belated iPhone 9 this year. These are genuinely interesting upgrades with very appealing prices. But if Samsung can deliver a Galaxy S10 which looks as good as the leaks promise, then Apple may want to rethink its plans for 2019…