Apple has unveiled its new iPhone devices for 2021, and none of them have brought back Touch ID, nor have any delivered in-display Face ID.
For many, this will be somewhat disappointing news. Over the past several months there has been a good deal of speculation about plans on Apple’s part to bring back its iconic fingerprint scanning authentication system in a setup that would put the fingerprint sensor under the iPhone’s display. It’s an approach that has become increasingly popular among Apple’s rivals, and given that Apple had brought back Touch ID on last year’s iPhone SE after focusing exclusively on face-based authentication since 2018, it seemed like a real possibility.
There was also some speculation that Face ID might dive under a new iPhone’s display. Under-display camera technology is setting up to be a major new frontier in mobile tech, with Apple rivals on the premium end of the spectrum having recently announced their own offerings. Apple, generally considered a leader in technological innovation, was expected by some to up the ante with an under-display camera that could support its beloved Face ID authentication system.
But Mark Gurman was right. The Bloomberg analyst issued a report in August in which he asserted that Apple had abandoned plans to bring back Touch ID on this year’s iPhones, and that it wouldn’t be introducing under-display camera tech either.
Apple’s focus in the new devices is instead on refinements in traditional mobile camera technology. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max both feature triple-camera imaging systems with new sensors and lenses that are optimized to work with Apple’s A15 Bionic chip. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini, meanwhile, have what Apple is calling “the most advanced dual-camera system ever on iPhone”.
Other points of emphasis include improved battery life and support for 5G across all of the new iPhones.
While Bloomberg’s Gurman has been proven right in saying there wouldn’t be any biometric innovations in this year’s iPhones, that lends credibility to his assessment that Apple has indeed been exploring in-display technology, with the company having long-term plans to bring Face ID into the display, and having already tested an in-display version of Touch ID, according to Gurman’s report.
Meanwhile, an important upcoming feature of iOS 15, the new iPhones’ updated operating system, went completely unmentioned in Apple’s announcements: mobile ID. The company has already confirmed that it is working with state governments and the TSA on a feature that will let iPhone users load officially recognized virtual versions of their driver’s licenses and state IDs on their iPhones, but hasn’t yet given a firm deadline for when the feature will go live.