Ever since Apple dumped the Home button on the iPhone and implemented Face ID with the iPhone X, there have been rumors that the tech will come back in some way to the iPhones. Now it looks like that might not happen.
The fingerprint-scanning biometric tech, which first appeared in an iPhone in 2013 but was replaced by Face ID facial recognition in the premium models in 2017, is of course still available on the iPhone SE. But that has always seemed like a throwback: a reflection of the fact that the SE still has a Home button rather than the more modern all-screen design of Apple’s flagship phones.
However, according to the respected leaker-analyst Mark Gurman, writing in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Apple has been testing other implementations of Touch ID that would suit phones without a Home button. The company has explored the option of putting the scanner in the phone’s power button, an approach Apple has already used in the iPad Air, as well as the costlier and technologically more challenging method of embedding it under the screen that many Android phones use.
Sadly for fans of Touch ID, Gurman’s sources indicate that these tests are unlikely to result in anything concrete: “At this point,” he writes, “I believe Face ID is here to stay and Touch ID won’t be returning to flagship iPhones—at least any time in the foreseeable future.”
We would only add that while Apple may think along these lines–Touch ID versus Face ID, one or the other–we suspect that many of its customers would like both. Fingerprint scanning and facial recognition each have their advantages; the latter, for example, revealed some of its limitations when phone users started wearing masks in public during the pandemic. It would be useful to be able to unlock your iPhone through either method, and such versatility has been available on Android phones for years.
Then again, Apple’s usual approach is to keep things simple, pick what it feels is the best way of using its products, and strongly encourage customers to do that. And it’s worth noting that Face ID hasn’t stood still; Apple recently gave it the ability to recognise masked faces, for example, and it can now work in both portrait and landscape orientation.