When Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s with Touch ID nine years ago, it caused quite a stir. The way people interacted with their Apple mobile devices was completely changed when Apple integrated a fingerprint sensor for the first time into an iPhone.
The hassle of entering a passcode to secure your iPhone was history, as was the option of going without one out of laziness. Touch ID quickly established itself as a standard feature of Apple’s iPhone lineup, iPads, MacBooks, and even an external iMac keyboard. Touch ID promised improved security through convenience.
It’s also obvious that Touch ID was just a preliminary step. Apple came up with a better solution, even though it was much more convenient than entering a passcode each time you wanted to use your iPhone. The iPhone X was unveiled in 2017 and featured a full-screen display, eliminating space for a Touch ID home button. Face ID was introduced due to a new front camera and sensor array that produced highly accurate 3D face recognition.
The iPhone 14 doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor.
Since introducing Face ID, every popular iPhone model, including the entire iPhone 14 lineup, has only used Face ID as a biometric authentication method. Any iPhone 14 model without a fingerprint sensor is devoid of one. Whether you purchase the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, or iPhone 14 Pro Max, there is no Touch ID fingerprint sensor; only Face ID is present.
Apple could have shifted the fingerprint sensor to the side button, as it did for the iPad Air and iPad Mini, but the company doesn’t believe multiple biometric authentication methods are necessary. The higher-end iPad Pro has a very similar design to the iPad Air, but since it has Face ID, there is no need for a Touch ID sensor. Face ID is only available on mid-tier iPad models, making Touch ID necessary.
Apple seems to prefer using Face ID for its more expensive smartphones and tablets, only switching to Touch ID fingerprint sensors for those items where cost-cutting is necessary to keep prices low. Apple wants to maintain the elegance of Face ID by incorporating a fingerprint sensor into the mix because Face ID is a premium feature that most iPhone owners find incredibly reliable.
In-display fingerprint sensors
While Apple concentrated all of its efforts on Face ID, competitors in the smartphone industry looked for ways to integrate the fingerprint sensor beneath the display in order to do away with the need for a physical button.
Numerous rumors from the past few years have claimed that Apple is also developing in-display fingerprint sensors. But none of these have ever materialized in a real product.
There have been various theories about how Apple might approach this. Some early reports claimed Apple would switch to in-display Touch ID in order to produce a more affordable iPhone model for developing markets because the components required to power Face ID are relatively expensive. Others predicted that Apple would substitute Touch ID for Face ID in order to give customers a choice of their preferred biometric system.
Early 2020 saw the start of rumors regarding a new iPad Air, which suggested a redesign based on the 2018 iPad Pro with an edge-to-edge screen but no Face ID camera system. Many people thought Apple would introduce its first in-display fingerprint sensor with the fourth-generation iPad Air. Instead, a Touch ID sensor was built into the side button of an iPad Air.
Early in 2021, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg reported that Apple was testing “an in-screen fingerprint reader” that would be added to the iPhone 13 in place of Face ID. For whatever reason, Apple chose not to pursue that. By the beginning of 2022, there were rumors that Apple had abandoned the concept of an in-display fingerprint sensor for the foreseeable future.
Without a doubt, Apple has invested time and effort into developing in-display fingerprint sensor technology. Apple experiments with many different ideas, many of which are never implemented. In-display Touch ID may never be implemented for various reasons, but the most likely one is that it couldn’t live up to Apple’s requirements for cost, performance, or dependability.
Face ID is the future.
The decision to replace the home button with Face ID on the redesigned iPhone X wasn’t just a compromise. Apple could have easily found a different location to place the Touch ID sensor.
Instead, Apple used Face ID to launch the new iPhone generation. The iPhone X changed the game in various ways, including the TrueDepth camera that powered Face ID and Animoji and a completely new gesture-based user interface.
Face ID was created to be highly secure by using an infrared scanner to create a three-dimensional depth map of the user’s Face, unlike inferior facial recognition systems on competing smartphones that a photograph can trick. Apple acknowledges that Face ID can occasionally mistake members of the same family with similar appearance, but it’s much more difficult to fool Face ID intentionally. In an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Face ID, the Wired team invested thousands of dollars and countless hours in creating professional prosthetic face masks.
Thanks to updates made earlier this year, people with any Face ID-equipped iPhone can now use their Apple Watch to help unlock their iPhone while it’s covered up. Those with an iPhone 12 or later don’t even need an Apple Watch. These features are still helpful for people in the healthcare industry and other occupations where masking up is a job requirement, even though masks are no longer required in many places.
The new iPhone 14 series’ four models lack a fingerprint reader in favor of only using Face ID for biometric authentication. The last flagship iPhone with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor was the iPhone 8 Plus, and with the iPhone X, Apple replaced it with Face ID. The future of the iPhone will remain Face ID authentication.