Apple patent again hints at under-display Touch ID, rumored for iPhone 13

iPhone with Touch ID
iPhone with Touch ID (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple is rumored to be bringing Touch ID back with the iPhone 13.
  • Another patent has revealed that Apple is working on an under-display fingerprint scanner.
  • The latest uses "off-axis angular light" technology.

Another Apple patent has hinted that the company is hard at work on an under-display Touch ID sensor, rumored to be a feature of the iPhone 13.

Whilst the iPhone 12 was the best iPhone in recent years, the lack of a fingerprint scanner has irked some users, but all of that could change later this year. A new patent published today reveals that Apple continues to work on an under-display fingerprint sensor, this one, in particular, is powered by "off-axis angular light".

The patent states:

Fingerprint sensing and matching is widely used as a reliable technique for personal identification or verification. In particular, a common approach to fingerprint identification involves scanning a sample fingerprint of a person to form an image and storing the image as a unique characteristic of the person. The characteristics of the sample fingerprint may be compared to information associated with reference fingerprints already stored in a database to determine proper identification of the person, such as for verification purposes. An optical fingerprint-sensing device may be particularly advantageous for verification and/or authentication in an electronic device and, more particularly, a portable device, for example, a portable communication device. The optical fingerprint-sensing device may be carried by the housing of a portable communication device, for example, and maybe sized to sense a fingerprint from a single finger. Where an optical fingerprint-sensing device is integrated into an electronic device or host device, as noted above, the authentication can be performed quickly, for example, by a processor of the host device.

The pixels of the device screen in the patent emit light, illuminating the finger when it is placed on the display, light reflected from the finger travels back through those pixels and is picked up by a sensor underneath the display, using off-axis angular light to overcome the problems of low contrast and signal-to-noise ratio.

Multiple reports indicate the iPhone 13, likely to be more of a '12S' upgrade will bring improved 5G, a new processor, and the aforementioned return of Touch ID. Given how recent the patent is, this technology in particular might not make it to the next iPhone, but Apple has been working on under-display fingerprint scanners since 2013, and the feature in some form seems like a lock-in for the 2021 iPhone.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9