Face ID is a snap for many. Look at your Apple iPhone and it unlocks. What could be easier? Well, if you're wearing a face mask because of the COVID-19 outbreak, you've probably discovered that a mask obscures much of your face and prevents Face ID from verifying your identity. But even before the coronavirus started dominated the headlines, some iPhone users longed for the days when the Touch ID fingerprint scanner unlocked their devices.
BOE will use its ultrasonic under-screen fingerprint scanning technology to become a source of OLED panels for Apple
iPhone X. That was also the first model to come with Face ID, the TrueDepth camera, the notch, and the iOS gesture navigation system. The recently released second-generation iPhone SE, which is based on the iPhone 8, brings back Touch ID. And the fingerprint scanner might also return in Apple's upcoming 2020 flagship models expected to be unveiled in September. But this version of Touch ID is going to be different and according to a report in the Economic Daily News (via AppleInsider) it could mean a shake up in Apple's supply chain.Apple eliminated the Touch ID home button on 2017's
This report claims that GIS-KY, a touchscreen facility owned by contract manufacturer Foxconn, Qualcomm, and OLED supplier Beijing Oriental Electronics (BOE) are developing an under-screen version of Touch ID. This would use ultrasound technology just like the under-screen fingerprint scanners used in the Samsung Galaxy S20 series. In fact, the GIS-Qualcomm module used by Sammy is reportedly the only under-screen ultrasound fingerprint scanner on the market today. So if Apple wants to bring Touch ID back to its flagship line this year, it doesn't really have a choice.
While GIS-KY and Qualcomm do business with Apple, BOE is looking to replace Samsung as a source of OLED panels to the tech giant. BOE does provide Apple with LCD panels and has laid out the cash to produce OLED displays in the quality and quantity that Apple needs. But to date, there is no word from either Apple or BOE that the latter will be a supplier for the iPhone 12. And without confirmation that BOE is producing OLED panels for the iPhone 12, this rumor dies, especially since BOE and Qualcomm were the team that developed the under-the-screen ultrasonic fingerprint scanner in the first place.
According to Chinese research firm CINNO, last year Qualcomm shipped 50 million under-the-display ultrasonic fingerprint chips. Those chips have a 25% share of the global market for chips used on under-display fingerprint scanners. Besides ultrasonic scanners, there are also cheaper optical scanners that take photos of fingerprints and compare them to stored images. Ultrasonic scanners use high-frequency sound to create a 3D map of the user's fingerprint which is matched to a stored map of the owner's fingerprint. Since this uses 3D mapping as opposed to 2D images, ultrasonic fingerprint scanners are more secure.
The report states that 2019 iPhone sales have struggled due to the lack of any new features. As a result, Apple reportedly is looking to add something new besides 5G support to the 2020 models. We expect to see four new iPhone 12 models this year including the 5.4-inch iPhone 12, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Plus, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. All four will be powered by the A14 Bionic, which could be the first 5nm chip ever found in a smartphone. The standard models are expected to be equipped with a 12MP Wide camera and a 12MP Ultra-wide camera. The "Pro" units will add a 12MP Telephoto camera and a LiDar Time of Flight depth sensor. All four models will be compatible with both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G networks.
If today's report is legit, it would appear that BOE will replace Samsung as an OLED panel supplier for the iPhone. That would reduce Apple's reliance on its number one rival in the smartphone market.