Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) current flagship smartphone -- the iPhone X -- doesn't include the company's fingerprint scanning technology, known as Touch ID. Touch ID was supplanted by a technology that Apple markets as Face ID, which uses a depth-sensing camera in the front of the smartphone (marketed as Apple's TrueDepth camera) to verify that the face of the individual using the phone is the face of the individual who owns the phone.
During Apple's iPhone X launch event, the company made a point to demonstrate that Face ID was a more convenient and more secure method of biometric authentication than fingerprint recognition.
With that context in mind, a strange rumor about Apple's 2019 iPhone lineup -- that is, the models that are expected to debut in the second half of 2019 -- just emerged.
A return of Touch ID?
Analyst Jean Baptiste Su with Atherton Research, writing for Forbes, claims that Apple's 2019 iPhone X lineup will include "under-the-screen virtual fingerprint reader[s]." This information, the analyst claims, comes from Atherton Research's "analysis and conversations with people familiar of (sic) the technology advanced in the mobile industry."
Su continues on, saying that "after months of testing, we came to the conclusion that in everyday usage Face ID is just not as versatile and reliable than (sic) Touch ID."
I don't buy it
This comes off as speculation based on the fact that Atherton Research's team of analysts think that fingerprint recognition is superior to facial recognition, coupled with the fact that under-the-display fingerprint scanners are being announced by other component makers. Su doesn't cite sources who are "familiar with Apple's product plans" or some variation of that wording.
I'm simply not buying it, especially considering that Apple executives have gone on the record to say that the company never had any plans of integrating fingerprint scanning in the display, despite many (seemingly credible) rumors to the contrary.
To be clear: Other smartphone makers planning to embed fingerprint scanners underneath the displays of their upcoming smartphones doesn't necessarily mean that Apple will do so. In fact, the rumors that Apple is planning to introduce more sophisticated versions of its Face ID technology in its 2019 iPhone lineup (complete with a smaller cutout in the display to accommodate the 3D sensing components) seem far more credible.
When Apple picks a technology direction, it's usually (though, not always) a well-thought-out one. It makes much more sense that Apple would continue to iterate on the 3D sensing technology that it introduced with the iPhone X rather than try to backtrack and include a costly, complex under-the-glass fingerprint scanning solution in additionto updated versions of its Face ID technology in future iPhone models.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.