iPhone 15 likely won’t have Touch ID, and that’s a shame

    iPhone 15 Pro Max mockup with thin bezels

iPhone 15 Pro Max mockup with thin bezels

There seems to be a sizable number of updates going to the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro series later this year. From USB-C and a universal Dynamic Island experience to titanium frames for professionals, it should be the right year for the new iPhone. Unfortunately there’s still one thing phones seem hell-bent on losing: Touch ID.

Apple’s fingerprint scanner has been missing from flagship iPhones since the launch of the iPhone X in 2017. The argument was that because Apple had developed Face ID, which was touted as significantly more secure, Touch ID was totally useless. It is also speculated to save space inside the phone, which can be used for other things.

But even as phone makers switched to more streamlined fingerprint scanners, hiding them under the display or in the power button, the iPhone stubbornly went without them. Apparently the iPhone 15 will be no exception, and this is a very disappointing turn of events.

Face ID is much more inconvenient than a fingerprint scanner

I’m not a regular iPhone user and I admit it pretty regularly, but I still have a lot of experience with Apple’s flagship phones. To put it bluntly, I don’t like Face ID and much prefer the convenience of a fingerprint scanner.

This may seem strange, considering that Face ID only requires you to look at your iPhone screen and swipe up. But I always find it awkward and slow, especially since Face ID is designed to only work when you’re actively looking at your phone. Close your eyes, look away from the screen, or show any level of inattention, and your phone won’t unlock.

I can see the appeal of this, especially since it prevents people from unlocking your phone while you sleep. But I found the in-display fingerprint scanner on my Pixel 6 Pro to be much more convenient. Indeed, a combination of familiarity and muscle memory means I can unlock the phone without even looking at it, which ensures that the screen is unlocked and ready to use as soon as I need it.

The lack of Touch ID isn’t one of the things keeping me from switching Android, as there are other issues I’d rather see Apple first. But the lack of what seems like such a basic feature would make me hesitate, especially since there’s no practical reason why it couldn’t be included.

Touch ID and Face ID can coexist

Touch ID on an iPad

Touch ID on an iPad

Face ID launched at a time when in-display fingerprint sensors were a good idea limited to concept phones, rather than the mass-produced devices you could buy. But that was almost six years ago and things have changed a lot since then. Not only are in-display fingerprint sensors available on virtually all premium smartphones, but there has been an increase in the number of physical sensors stored in other buttons, especially the power button.

The latter has even been adopted by Apple for various iPad models. Face ID is exclusive to the iPad Pro series, and the old-school Home button has slowly died out over the last few years. Then the cheaper iPad models came with Touch ID home buttons.

But there’s no reason iPhones can’t offer both options. Especially now that Apple has launched Dynamic Island and shown that the display notch can be used for something other than housing camera sensors.

In the past Apple was really a give you type of company, but in recent years that has been softened, especially where user personalization is involved. There’s no reason it can’t go a step further and let users decide whether they want to use Face ID, Touch ID, or disable biometric security altogether.

Die-hard Apple users, and indeed Apple itself, will likely produce stats about Face ID and how much more secure it is than Touch ID ever was. I can’t argue with that, although even the level of security Face ID offers depends on how strong your device’s passcode is. All the best biometric security in the world can’t change the fact that both Face ID and Touch ID could be overwritten by a brainless user using passcode 1234 or worse.

Bottom line

Apple has long been a company that does its own thing, provided it works, no matter what others are doing. This is no doubt why Lightning stuck around for so long during the rise of USB-C, and presumably why Touch ID has been absent from the iPhone for so long.

There’s clearly some demand for Touch ID to return, or we wouldn’t hear rumors about its return every damn year. But whether Apple cares is another matter, especially since Face ID has done a pretty reasonable job over the last few years. We can certainly hope that Apple caves in and decides that people should be able to decide what kind of security their phone has to offer, but I’m certainly not holding my breath for now.

But who knows, maybe Apple will surprise us at the Apple event in September, when the iPhone 15 series will finally be unveiled. It wouldn’t be the first time the company has taken a quick shot at it.

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