Apple has announced the launch of the iPhone SE and with it signalled the official return of Touch ID to the tech giant’s wildly popular line of smartphones.
The biometric fingerprint authentication system was featured in Apple’s phones from its debut in the iPhone 5S in 2013 all the way to 2017’s iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, until being replaced by facial recognition in all subsequent iPhones after the iPhone X, which marked Face ID’s debut.
The dual-sim iPhone SE also signals a return to a previous design language, looking almost identical to the iPhone 8 with its thicker bezel and the presence of the home button housing the fingerprint scanner, though internally it comes with the same A13 Bionic chip as the iPhone 11 and 11 Plus.
With a much lower introductory price point than other recent offerings from Apple — the 64GB model starts at $399 — the SE has Apple’s Retina HD LCD screen measuring at 4.7″, rather than the Liquid Retina display found in the iPhone 11 and XR. The re-introduction of Touch ID and the omission of Face ID could also be one reason Apple is able to offer the SE at such a low price point.
Though Face ID has been by and large a popular feature that has led to similar facial recognition systems being introduced in competitors’ phones like Samsung’s Galaxy and Note devices, and Google’s Pixel series, the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus that necessitates the wearing of protective masks for a large number of people has led to renewed interest in fingerprint recognition.
This has been a problem for some time in many Asian countries — where the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of germs is far more common — and has led to frustration with many facial recognition systems, though it has also spurred the development of some systems capable of recognizing individuals even when part of their face is concealed.
The iPhone SE will be available for pre-order as of 5:00am on April 17th, and shipments are scheduled to begin on April 24th.