iPhone 8 might drop Touch ID for 3-D face scanner

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3-D sensors could let face-recognition replace Touch ID on the iPhone 8.
3-D sensors could let face-recognition replace Touch ID on the iPhone 8.
Photo: Carlos R/Pexels CC

The iPhone 8 might ditch Touch ID for 3-D facial scanning that could prove faster, easier and more secure than the fingerprint reader currently used for logins and payments.

The new security system, if perfected in time for the upcoming iPhone 8, also could help Apple get around a possible bottleneck in the production process.

Apple is currently testing the 3-D face-scanning technology in iPhone prototypes that utilize a new 3-D sensor, according to Bloomberg. The new security system could be augmented by eye-scanning technology with the intent of replacing Touch ID, the report adds, citing anonymous “people familiar with the product.”

Two 2017 iPhone lines?

The rumor mill strongly indicates Apple will release two different models of iPhone this fall.

One, predicted to be called the iPhone 8, would bring a radical new design that optimizes screen size by minimizing bezels and eliminating a physical Home button. This high-end model reportedly would pack Apple’s first OLED screen — and could potentially rely on the 3-D scanning tech described by Bloomberg’s sources. The device’s glass front and back would reportedly be surrounded by a thin metal frame.

The second iPhone line, supposedly called the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, would bring the usual processor upgrades but generally would look like current models.

One major production problem Apple faces with the OLED screen iPhone 8 is getting an under-screen fingerprint sensor to work. The technology just isn’t viable yet, according to various rumors, including a recent note from reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities.

“We predict the OLED model [iPhone 8] won’t support fingerprint recognition,” Kuo wrote in a note to investors. Kuo also predicts the iPhone 8 will support 3-D sensing for facial recognition (and better selfies!).

The iPhone 8 will come in only one screen size, he said. It will be either 5.2 inches or 5.8 inches, “depending on the definition of screen size in use.” No matter what, the iPhone 8 would boast the highest screen-to-body ratio of any smartphone currently available, Kuo wrote.

3-D facial scanning in iPhone 8

The reported 3-D facial scanning tech in the iPhone 8 would analyze more data points than the current fingerprint sensor that powers Touch ID, according to Bloomberg, which offered more details on the tech being tested by Apple:

The sensor’s speed and accuracy are focal points of the feature. It can scan a user’s face and unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds, the person said. It is designed to work even if the device is laying flat on a table, rather than just close up to the face. The feature is still being tested and may not appear with the new device. However, the intent is for it to replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, according to the person. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

If Apple pulls off the 3-D scanning feature, it would offer relief from what’s been called the “biggest bottleneck” the company faces for iPhone 8 manufacturing — getting Touch ID to work under glass, without a physical Home button.

  • Steve Harvey
    • IamJAd

      Agreed. It would be a huge step backwards in security to implement this in lieu of touchID.

      • SM

        Why though? I’m curious.

      • IamJAd

        It’s about intent. Apple has protected the user’s privacy, even going so far, as we know, to defy the government when pressured to unlock phones. A face scan method that works with any degree of user ease, will also work as well if a police officer held the users phone close to the user’s face.

        Currently. I can refuse to touch my phone and unlock it. It will be much more difficult to prevent this in an arrest situation.

        This also applies to snooping family and friends.