According to a machine translation of EDN‘s Chinese-language report, touch panel maker GIS, OLED display maker BOE and Qualcomm are collaborating on the ultrasonic technology, which could feature in at least one of the high-end models in Apple’s 5G iPhone lineup.
EDN was a source of rumors last year that one of Apple’s 2020 iPhones could have an under-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. Those reports claimed that Apple would use Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor technology in at least one iPhone model set to be released in 2020, although the timeframe could be pushed back to 2021.
Those rumors also lined up with reports last year from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Barclays analysts, Bloomberg, and others who said they expect Apple to release an iPhone with both Face ID and under-display fingerprint authentication in 2020 or 2021.
However, rumors and leaks this year have not indicated that the technology will feature in 2020, and well-connected Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman recently said he does not expect under-screen fingerprint technology in an iPhone this year, suggesting Apple may have decided to push back the technology to 2021. The only other recent mention of fingerprint technology was by an anonymous Twitter account with a fairly accurate track record that said Apple is developing a new iPad Air with under-the-screen Touch ID.
There are currently two types of under-display fingerprint sensors, including optical and ultrasonic. Optical variants rely on light from a smartphone’s display to create a 2D image of a fingerprint, while ultrasonic variants make use of high-frequency sound to generate a 3D image of a fingerprint.
Qualcomm already supplies ultrasonic fingerprint sensors for some Samsung smartphones, but future iPhones could potentially use an even more advanced version of the technology that works across the entire display.
Apple is expected to offer four iPhones in three different sizes this year: A 5.4-inch iPhone, a 6.7-inch iPhone, and two 6.1-inch iPhones. One 6.1-inch model and the 6.7-inch model will be higher-end iPhones, while the other 6.1-inch iPhone and the 5.4-inch iPhone will be lower-end models and successors to the iPhone 11. Apple is expected to launch the new models in the fall.