New iPhone 5S part leaks show potential fingerprint sensor component

This morning we were passed along some interesting photos containing more components that could belong to the iPhone 5s. Most notably, a revised Home button cable that ditches the traditional contacts and adds a different kind of attachment as well as a dock that could be slightly revised from the current iPhone 5 dock. The interesting part is the amount of pins on the connector for the Home button assembly. There seem to be ten pins total shown in the photo and from what we know about past models, there's no need for an iPhone Home button to have that many pins unless it's performing some other type of function current iterations aren't capable of.

The flex cable contact looks similar to the iPhone 5 and would line up with the dock so it's possible it could be an unfinished version or a cable that got scrapped as a prototype. We can't be sure at this point.

While the dock connector doesn't seem to be revised too much, there are slight differences by the screw threads that make it different enough that it most likely isn't the same dock found in the iPhone 5. Considering the iPhone 5c chassis is more narrow, this dock wouldn't fit it which leaves the iPhone 5s as the most likely culprit.

The other components in the photo are a little less interesting but still worth taking a look at what they are. The second cable from the left appears to be a power button flex assembly which would control not only power but volume and mute switch functionality. No differences really than what we see in the current iPhone 5. To the far right, we have what looks like an antenna system that has solder points that would connect to the logic board. Nothing too exciting as this is about the same as what we see at the top of the board in the iPhone 5. The antenna is then screwed into the top of the frame. This most likely will be the same in the iPhone 5s if these components are indeed legitimate.

Considering the current generation iPhone 5 doesn't have a Home button cable that even comes close to resembling this one, it could indicate that this cable can handle more functionality than previous iterations. The iPad 4 cable is long like this one but the connection type is completely different and unlike anything we've seen in an any kind of iOS device as far as Home buttons are concerned. A fingerprint sensor could be a selling point for Apple over the cheaper iPhone 5c so it isn't unreasonable that a feature like this would make an appearance to differentiate their flagship line over the cheaper model.

As always, we won't know for sure until Apple makes an announcement on September 10th. Thanks to the guys over at mendmyi for helping us get ahold of these photos and analyze the parts!

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • re: "A fingerprint sensor could be a selling point for Apple over the cheaper iPhone 5C..." Exactly. And it could be a selling point for iPhone "5S" over all other smartphones.
    It would demote all iPhone competitors to the level of the "5C." Second-tier.
  • I wouldn't go that far, but if it works very well and is reliable over time I see it being a huge selling point. On the iPad front, if this fingerprint sensor is successful in the 5S I see them holding off until iPad 6, which is sad because I'm in the market for iPad 5. Btw, before someone says Apple isn't the first to put a fingerprint sensor in their phone, you'd be correct, but that specific feature had nothing but problems: it wore out when used regularly and was quickly killed. The manufacturer hastily added the feature, but never considered the engineering difficulties that needed overcoming. And now that Apple owns the company who implemented that failed sensor, the rumour is they've helped develop a capacitive method for sensing your finger that Authentech was shopping around 2 years ago, but couldn't get any companies to take them up on the offer since their original optical sensors wore out so quickly. If the 5S contains a fingerprint sensor it's safe to say Apple will have tested it to death and feels confident it won't wear with use. We'll see how this pans out. It'd be great really if this takes off and gets applied to all Apple products - every last one of them!
  • I hope for a fingerprint sensor. This is the only thing that will differentiate Apple from other Android craps. Htc one aside.
  • The optical fingerprint sensor in that Motorola ATRIX 4G wore away when used regularly thanks to a fundamental design flaw in how those small sensors work. The sensor rumoured to be included in the 5S is a new type of capacitive sensor that apparently doesn't wear away, from the same company (Authentech) who created the failed sensor in the ATRIX. They licenced the old sensor to Motorola 2 years ago, which was quickly dropped from the product for its inherinetly flawed design and brushed under the carpet, but have since being shopping around this new type of sensor they had in development. Apple bought the whole company upon hearing about this new sensor. The rest is history? We'll see on the 10th.
  • Big deal. Motorola did the fingerprint sensor thing back in 2011 with the Android-based Atrix 4G. It was a gimmick back then and it would be a gimmick today.
  • And why do you think that will be a gimmick today?
  • From Wikipedia: "In marketing language, a gimmick is a unique or quirky special feature that makes something "stand out" from its contemporaries. However, the special feature is typically thought to be of little relevance or use. Thus, a gimmick is a special feature for the sake of having a special feature." It's something that is not needed in day to day use, much like Samsung's air wave gestures. What happens if you accidentally cut your scanning finger and it ends up being wrapped in a band-aid? Oops, looks like that fingerprint scanner is now useless.
  • I don't believe Apple would be putting this in without figuring out more than one application of the technology. Btw here's a tip: don't cut your finger.
  • And why would you think Apple could not implement a simple scan database of all your ten fingers? Then you could cut away your fingers all you want...! Even the Atrix you mentioned used both index fingers for authentication. And you had a security pin if something went wrong with the fingerprint scanner and/or you had a terrible accident and lost all your fingers (what are the odds of that?).
    Apple doesn't have a track record of implementing "gimmicks", by the contrary, they are known to only release a feature when they think it's ready for primetime use. There's still no NFC in iPhones and iPads remember?
    The samsung air waves gestures are a bit gimmicky because they are a kind of redundant to the product. You're just doing the same gesture in the air, instead of on the screen. (Even though some people actually demonstrated it can be useful, for ex. using your phone if your hands are dirty/wet)
    The implementation of a fingerprint scanner that can be used to authenticate you in banking services, shopping, etc., more than just unlocking your screen. It's useful and it can substitute other methods of authentication. And again, just because YOU can't imagine the relevance of the feature, doesn't mean other people can't find scenarios for it being relevant. The technology evolved, the integration of the technology evolved too. If there is some sort of API for it, you'll see it being used in many more situations you can imagine.
  • It was a gimmick because it wore out when used. Read: flawed design, was quickly dropped from product. This new rumoured sensor apparently is of a different design that isn't flawed.
  • I thought the iPhone 5 had a lightning connector not a dock connector.
  • It's still a dock connector. Lol old iPhones = 30 pin dock while new = lightning dock. Same thing.
  • Unless it offers some biometric features, it might just end up being a novelty.
    They do need a slightly bigger if not too bigger screen and maybe a few other refined features.
    Hopefully they've fixed the hardware flaws in the vibratory motor and home button. Sent from the iMore App
  • Good selling point especially if it's elegantly integrated into the Home button, rather than a separate strip like current fingerprint readers.
  • Integrated into the only button on the device will be a genius move if done right. It won't be easy to get it right, but if they do it'll become as important as the clickwheel.
  • Fingerprint scanner strikes me as a total gimmick; a novelty that isn't actually gonna add material value. It doesn't lend much to the experience. It strikes me as the sort of thing you do when you don't have a new Siri, Garageband, Maps even. To me it's like the wave your hand over the phone feature recently introduced on Android if not less useful. Regardless i'm very interested to see if they will actually announce a brand new product. Not a new version of an iphone or whatever but a new product. I'm interested cause i don't really know whats left in the consumer electronic space to tackle or make. I've heard the iWatch. Ok, not my thing but it's would be something after a few years of nothing new. And they need a new product.
  • I respectfully disagree. If this sensor is easy to use and reliable over time (ATRIX was neither, especially the latter) it will be a Godsend for unlocking your phone. Particularly given the nature of the iPhone means that you'll be pressing the home button once anyway before unlocking.
  • It's simply not high on my list of desires in a phone. Actually it's not even on my list. You say it's a Godsend for unlocking my phone. I just slide and it's open. When i use a passcode i type the code. Both are easy. As for pressing the home button once as opposed to twice, that's not something i've ever even thought of let alone had it bother me or be something i needed to change. It reminds me of "touch to share" on the palm pre and stacking open windows. Neither added value to me. I didn't want them. I was never gonna use them. And when they talked about it I thought, "you spent all that time and that's what you came up with? I can share between my tablet and phone? I don't have a tablet. I can group open windows? Why would i want to do that?" but hey that's me. But to me its a non-factor, like a motorized seatbelts or a heated steering wheel in a car.
  • Fingerprint reader instead of the annoying enter my password every time I want to look at my locked phone? With the new key chain syncing this would make for many passowrds and locks to potentially go away as well? If it can be as smooth as a push the button and read my print and not a slide reader like most laptops have them in place, then I'm actually quite intrigued.
  • It's an old gimmick that other smartphone makers have tried but I applaud Apple for trying new ideas to make the iPhone more secure. That said, Apple needs to handle secrecy better than this. These leaks are almost embarrassing.
  • Who gives a shit about the leaks! Fingerprint sensors were a gimmick because they were/are unreliable. The optical sensors wear away over time; they are inherently flawed and force you to do something you don't usually do when unlocking your device. If Apple can solve all 3 of these fundamental issues then it will be an amazing addition to the iPhone. If they cannot they'll remain a flawed gimmick.
  • Sorry Allison but all of these part has already been leaked months ago. The home button flex is the only one that is really different in comparaison to the last seen one. BTW, the serial number of these two home buttons is almost the same except that the previously leaked one end by 01 (821-1687-01) and yours by 02 (821-1687-02) So I think these home button flex are probably two versions of the same component.
  • Can you please provide a link to where you have seen this cable?
  • Yes. Home button flex
    Antenna component
    Lightning connector flex
    Power and volume Buttons flex
  • Fingerprint scanner is just a pain in the ass IMO. It was already used a few years ago in a Android phone and it wasn't very accurate. If it fails twice out of ten tries it would be a complete failure. Rather see the space used for a larger battery. Maybe it's that crazy projector keyboard that was being shown in the commercial?
  • The existing sensors like the one used in the ATRIX you mentioned were optical. The optical part is the bit that wore out when used. This is why there was only ever 1 smart phone with a fingerprint sensor, and now there are no phones with them. That company who made all of those sensors has now been owned by Apple for 18 months, and the rumoured reason they acquired them was because they were working on a new capacitive/non-optical sensor that didn't ware away. The rumour was they shopped the idea around Silicon Valley and Apple quickly bought up the whole company for $350M. One must assume there is something to this, because Apple basically never spends that kind of money.