The iPhone 7 replaces Apple’s iconic physical home button with a stationary sensor and haptic feedback, but the iPhone 8 is expected to take it a step further. Rumor has it the 2017 model could ditch the old design entirely and embed the fingerprint sensor right into the display.
A new Apple patent may pave the way for the iPhone 8 redesign. In it, the company describes a system using an electrostatic lens that could scan your fingerprint through the phone’s capacitive display. The patent notes that this would free up “valuable surface space” that would otherwise be devoted to the sensor, potentially leaving room for a bigger screen.
Even more exciting, it looks like the new system would turn a large section of the display (or even the entire display) into a fingerprint reader. So instead of limiting the sensor to a specific spot on the device you could place your finger almost anywhere to unlock the device or authenticate your identity for specific apps.
Apple published a similar patent in the past, detailing how it could use ultrasound imaging to embed a fingerprint reader in the display. Qualcomm already offers this solution with its Snapdragon Sense ID, but the technology may still limit the sensor to a single fixed spot on the device.
Whichever approach Apple takes, all signs seem to suggest the company plans to bury its Touch ID sensor underneath the display at some point in the future.