IPhone 8 could be delayed due to issues with fingerprint tech, says firm

Key Points
  • Cowen and Company says the iPhone 8 is facing a 4-6 week delay.
  • Apple is trying to cram a fingerprint reader under the glass of the iPhone.
  • If it can't fix yield issues, Apple may move fingerprint reader to the back of the phone.
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

If the iPhone 8 is delayed, blame production issues with the fingerprint reader, said one Wall Street firm.

In a note to investors Wednesday, Cowen and Company said fingerprint reader production issues are to blame for the iPhone 8's delay, which has been reported by Apple watchers.

Many observers had been expecting Apple to launch the iPhone 8 in September, along with updates to the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus.

KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo said in April that the iPhone 8 may not launch until October or November, while Drexel Hamilton's Brian White also pointed to delays.

Cowen said Apple and its partners are struggling to cram the fingerprint reader under the new glass panels expected on the iPhone 8.

"Fingerprint yield issues remain unresolved (integrating the fingerprint under glass creates a much higher yield hurdle because the entire display must be scrapped rather than just the fingerprint module)," Cowen said. "While still possible, Apple will have to put the fingerprint on the back [of the phone.] It appears likely that Apple will slightly delay contract manufacturing assembly timelines by 4-6 weeks to buy more time to fix the issues and make a final decision."

In other words, Apple may be able to avoid the issue altogether and skirt a delay by simply moving the Touch ID fingerprint reader to the back of the smartphone. This isn't unheard of; Android manufacturers often place the fingerprint reader on the back — the Google Pixel being one example.

Kuo and White also pointed to delays related to the iPhone 8's display. White also believes that expected 3-D sensing technology is causing a holdup.

Correction: This story was revised to correct that KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo said the iPhone 8 may not launch until October or November.