The new high-end iPhone might not have a fingerprint sensor

  • The high-end iPhone is again said to face delays
  • Apple may ultimately ditch the fingerprint reader
  • Volume may not be affected if solution found soon

Tim Cook
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Tim Cook

A new industry update report from Pacific Crest Securities' analyst Andy Hargreaves suggests the new high-end Apple iPhone, often referred to as the iPhone 8, may not feature a fingerprint sensor.

The report points to troubles building a fingerprint reader into the display as part of the problem. Typically, Apple has a standalone area for the fingerprint reader below the screen, but moving it into the display would allow Apple to create a much larger surface for the screen, allowing it to take up much of the front face of the phone.

"Checks with suppliers suggest Apple is struggling with optical fingerprint functionality, which could lead to delays in supply of the coming OLED iPhone or elimination of fingerprint sensing in the OLED iPhone in favor of a biometric login that relies exclusively on 3D sensing," Hargreaves said in his note to investors. "While this creates some risk of production delays, at this point we do not believe it materially threatens volume through the coming iPhone cycle."

Several reports have suggested that Apple's high-end iPhone may face delays, but this is the first that suggests it may actually eliminate a fingerprint sensor altogether. The 3D sensor mentioned in the report could refer to new iris or face scanning biometrics, which have been rumored for Apple's iPhone 8.

"We believe Apple continues to work on solving its optical fingerprint issues," Hargreaves continued. "If it is able to solve the problems in the next month or so, it would likely place volume orders at that point. This would likely lead to a delay of the OLED iPhone launch, but we would not expect it to meaningfully affect volume for the cycle."

A separate report from Bloomberg this morning said Apple is planning to release three new iPhones this fall but that the high-end model may not launch until one or two months after the others. It's also supposed to feature a new OLED panel from Samsung and a steel frame.