Apple ditched its fingerprint sensor, Touch ID, for a more advanced facial authentication method, Face ID, on its current lineup of flagship smartphones. While Apple is expected to further improve its Face ID technology in upcoming iPhone models this year, the Cupertino-based tech giant may be looking to introduce a cheaper iPhone model this year, targeted at the Chinese market. If it's true, this will be the first time Apple will launch a new iPhone model built for a specific market.
Multiple reports from Chinese media, including one from The Global Times, suggest that Apple will launch a new iPhone model in China to compete with local players such as Oppo, Xiaomi, and others. The new iPhone model may ditch Face ID for an under-display fingerprint sensor.
These reports have cited sources within the industry supply chain. The reports suggest Apple's new iPhone model in China will be more affordable as it replaces the more expensive TrueDepth camera system with an under-display fingerprint sensor on an OLED panel.
Apple currently uses its TrueDepth camera setup, housed in a display notch, on the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone X to power Face ID. Several Chinese smartphone companies have been offering new phones with an in-display fingerprint sensor in their mid-range and premium devices.
While Apple hasn't made iPhone models specifically for any market yet, it has made some special changes for the Chinese market in the past. Apple's iPhone XS and iPhone XR models in China feature physical dual-SIM support while the rest of the countries use a physical SIM card and an eSIM combination.
However, completely removing Face ID for an under-display fingerprint sensor for just one specific market seems too far fetched, even for Apple. It's also unclear how much money Apple could really save by using an under-display fingerprint scanner instead of its TrueDepth cameras. We urge readers to take this rumour with a pinch of salt, despite the numerous sources uttering them.
This isn't the first time we're hearing rumours of Apple working on an under-display fingerprint sensor for the iPhone. However, Apple put them to rest when it adopted Face ID for all its flagship phones. Previous reports have suggested that 2019 iPhone models will feature iterative updates to the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max.