Bloomberg: Apple testing in-screen Touch ID for 2021 iPhone, AirTags coming this year

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A new report from Bloomberg today sheds more light on what to expect this year’s update to the iPhone. The report says that Apple “isn’t planning major changes” for the 2021 iPhone, but one key upgrade is in testing: an in-screen fingerprint reader.

Internally, Bloomberg says that Apple engineers are referring to the 2021 iPhone as an “S” year upgrade, which implies minor upgrades compared to the iPhone 12.

Apple isn’t planning major changes for this year’s iPhone line given the enhancements made to the smartphone in 2020, including 5G and new designs, according to people familiar with the situation. Inside Apple, engineers consider the next iPhones another “S” version of the device, the nomenclature typically given to new iPhones with minor upgrades. 

The big change, however, is that Apple is testing support for an in-screen fingerprint reader for this year’s iPhone. It’s ultimately unclear whether this feature will make the cut for the iPhone 12S, but it is something in testing:

Though overall changes will be minor, Apple is still testing a key upgrade for 2021: an in-screen fingerprint reader. This would add a new method for users to unlock their iPhone, going beyond a passcode and Face ID facial recognition. Apple started to move away from fingerprint sensors in 2017 with the launch of the iPhone X, but Touch ID has remained as a feature on Mac laptops and cheaper iPhones since then. Qualcomm Inc., which provides Apple with 5G modems, earlier this month announced a faster in-screen fingerprint sensor. 

The report also mentions that AirTags are still on track to be released sometime this year, with Apple having originally planned to launch them alongside the iPhone 12.

Finally, Bloomberg writes that Apple has “discussed removing the charging port for some iPhone models in favor of wireless charging.” Again, it’s unclear if this change will make its way to the iPhone 12S, or if Apple will save it for a future model.

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