Apple is said to be planning to release an iPhone with an under-display fingerprint sensor for the budget-conscious Chinese market.
A report from English-language Chinese media outlet The Global Times claims Apple will release the lower-priced iPhone in an attempt to stem sliding sales in the Chinese market, which have been adversely affected by the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.
The new phone will reportedly remove Face ID, the facial recognition system for the iPhone, and instead employ an under-display fingerprint function, news site caijing.com.cn reported, citing sources on the upstream industry supply chain. An industry insider revealed that this is likely to “save on costs.”
A structured light laser emitter, the major component of Face ID, would cost several hundred yuan, said a Beijing-based representative who preferred to be anonymous. He told the Global Times on Monday that “only Apple can afford it but that would also affect its sales.”
Apple hasn’t used a fingerprint sensor in its flagship iPhone for over two years. The current top-of-the-line handsets – the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Mac – all use a front-facing True Depth camera in lieu of a Touch ID-based Home Button to unlock and authorize use of the iPhone.
Chinese smartphone brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo currently use in-display fingerprint sensing technology in their handsets. Apple is losing Chinese marketshare to companies that produce smartphones priced at the consumer-preferred pricing level of around 5,000 yuan ($731).