updated 05:00 pm EDT, Sat September 7, 2013
New pics hint at fingerprint sensor
Recent images purportedly showing the next generation of iPhone portray the device with a silver ring around the home button, and some observers claim that the ring may be more than cosmetic. AppleInsider noted on Friday that the ring appears well in keeping with designs for a functional component necessary to the operation of a fingerprint sensor. Such an addition to the iPhone line would likely give Apple a significant advantage over its competition in terms of device security, and it could lead to a much wider range of uses for the iPhone.
A fingerprint or other biometric sensing component has been predicted as an addition to the iPhone since Apple bought Authentec last year. The shiny home button ring was first noted last month by Fox News' Clayton Morris, who presumed that it was an aesthetic choice. Looking at a number of Apple's previous patent filings, though, it would appear that the design is essential to the functioning of a biometric sensor in the home button.
Authentec's technology relies on radio frequency field sensing, or AC capacitance, to read fingerprints. Electrodes in the technology need to be in contact with a user's finger in order to properly read the ridges and valleys of the fingerprint. Should Apple actually integrate fingerprint scanning technology into the next iPhone, the shiny ring may be a necessity for the the RF field sensors to function.
Along with reports of a shiny ring around the home button, tech leaker Sonny Dickson unearthed images of a component said to be a part of the home button and fingerprint scanner. A number of previous leaks have shown off supposed fingerprint scanner components, but Dickson's are the clearest to date and conform well to the most recent descriptions of the device's functionality.
The next generation of iPhone will likely be shown off at a September 10 media event. Apple is expected to unveil not only the successor to the iPhone 5, but also a lower-end model that will help it address more cost-conscious consumers, as well as emerging markets.