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Apple Inc. Reportedly Still Working Out iPhone 8 Touch ID Tech

By Ashraf Eassa – Jun 22, 2017 at 7:30AM

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Apple isn't sticking the fingerprint sensor on the back of its upcoming iPhone, but it's still figuring out how to implement Touch ID on it.

According to a research note from analyst Timothy Arcuri with Cowen and Company (by way of Barron's), there's some good news for Apple's (AAPL 1.37%) upcoming iPhone 8 and not-so-great news.

The good news is that, contrary to some rumors and leaks, the iPhone 8 won't have a fingerprint sensor on the rear of the device. While some smartphones have rear-mounted fingerprint scanners, I think such a design choice would be viewed as a regression from the current front-mounted fingerprint scanner.

Apple's iPhone 7 Plus in Jet Black.

Image source: Apple.

The bad news, however, is that Apple reportedly has yet to decide on the technical path it wishes to pursue with respect to the fingerprint sensor on the device.

Apple, according to Arcuri, is choosing between "three potential implementations," which include the following:

  1. "Thinning the cover glass for the fingerprint area (cover glass cutout)," or
  2. "Creating a pinhole through the glass for optical or ultrasonic fingerprint sensing," or
  3. "Replacing the AuthenTec Touch ID with a "film" fingerprint sensor that is integrated with the display."

"While the exact implementation is not finalized, we can now say that the fingerprint sensor is unlikely to be on the back of the phone," Arcuri wrote.

The technical challenges associated with implementing Touch ID on the upcoming iPhone, however, is expected to lead to a delay in shipments of the device. Arcuri noted that his work tells us to expect a delay of one to two months "for the OLED model."

Delay isn't great, but this is the right choice

Obviously, it isn't great that Apple's new iPhone model will be delayed relative to when it would've launched without these technical issues. However, I think this slight delay is the right choice.

A one- to two-month delay could prove frustrating for some customers, and some potential customers might, rather than wait for the new iPhone to become available, opt to purchase either lower-priced and more readily available iPhone models or smartphones from Apple's competitors. But it's better to wait and get the phone right than to cut out important features and then implement them in the phones that ship a year from now. Doing the latter would allow competitors to potentially pre-empt Apple in terms of the availability of compelling new features.

Further, I continue to believe that if Apple takes orders for the new phone in September -- the typical launch month for new iPhone models -- the company should mitigate much of the potential reduction in flagship iPhone sales that the delay risks causing, even if shipments don't begin in earnest until October or even November.

Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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