Apple is ready to put an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 12, but there are still many doubts about who will produce it
To compete with Samsung Galaxy S20 the next iPhone 12 will have to be 5G compatible and have an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the screen. But it's still unclear who will build this sensor. It's not news but it's rumors, albeit persistent ones, that have been floating around for weeks in China. Where, however, everyone is wondering how much the coronavirus will impact the production of this sensor.
The ultrasonic fingerprint reading technology has debuted on the Samsung Galaxy S10 range of phones. Compared to the classic optical sensor, this sensor is able to take a 3D image of the fingerprints, which are recognized more accurately and faster. The Galaxy S10, S10+, S10 5G, Note 10, and Note 10+ all integrate an ultrasonic sensor produced by Qualcomm in collaboration with General Interface Solution (GIS, a Foxconn group company). This technology would be ready to be integrated into Apple's next top-of-the-line smartphones, but it's far from certain that the iPhone 12s will contain it. But then who will produce the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor of the next 2020 iPhone?
iPhone 12: who will make the sensor under the screen
Rumors coming from China are not always reliable, it must be said. Many in the Far East take it for granted that it will be GIS together with Beijing Oriental Electronic (BOE) to build the sensor for the iPhone 12, simply because both companies are already on Apple's supplier list and because in mid-March the influential newspaper Digitimes published the news that BOE AND GIS would be collaborating on just such a sensor. Apple, therefore, would have two options to integrate the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the screens of its iPhone 12: to turn to Qualcomm-GIS or BOE-GIS.
iPhone 12: the doubt coronavirus
The question is not only industrial and economic, but also of product: choosing the Qualcomm-GIS solution would mean to equip the iPhone 12 with a touch screen substantially identical to that used by Samsung on its devices with an under-screen sensor. This is because each sensor is sewn on the screen under which it must be mounted. The issue, however, is further complicated because BOE and GIS, in addition to being both suppliers to Apple, are also screen manufacturers.
In late February, in fact, news came out that BOE had begun work on a new production line to build 45 million OLED screens for Apple in 2020-21. The real discriminator at this point could be the coronavirus: which of these manufacturers will be able to restart production sooner rather than later and keep it high over the next few months in order to sell Apple OLED displays with the under-screen sensor?