The iPhone 13 might be Apple’s first flagship device to feature an in-display Touch ID sensor if the company turns its newly-obtained patents into a palpable product by the device’s launch.
The big news comes from AppleInsider. The patent for “Through-Display Optical Transmission, Reception, or Sensing Through Micro-Optic Elements” depicts how the company would integrate an in-screen fingerprint sensor into one of its smartphones.
Apple stopped using Touch ID since the introduction of Face ID back in 2017, but we saw them bring back the technology on the budget iPhone SE this year.
However, that is a unique case, since it isn’t a flagship device. Therefore it’s not representative of its future.
There are a few challenges in designing an in-screen fingerprint sensor, but the main problem is having to transfer enough light through the display and other components to the user’s fingers.
The patent revealed how the company plans to overcome that issue. They could use translucent parts to specific wavelengths or apertures that help the light go around the opaque components and then onto the sensor.
The Other Patent
AppleInsider discovered another patent called “Optical-fingerprint detection system,” which looks more like a solution than a component design solution.
Phones with OLED displays and built-in display fingerprint sensors sometimes have a tough time reading fingerprints in low temperatures because of the way pixels from the display react to cold.
The patent appears to be suggesting various software solutions, thus showing that Apple’s plans with sub-display Touch ID are serious.
However, there are rumors that the company might opt for a side-mounted fingerprint scanner for a future iPhone SE Plus model.
We don’t know yet if the iPhone 12 will pack the new sensor instead of inheriting FaceID.