We’ve seen a lot of rumors regarding Apple’s iPhone 8 for the past several months, and more rumors continue to surface as we draw closer to its debut this September. One of the most rumored features on the device is a new Touch ID scanner which is said to be giving Apple a lot of trouble.
The latest round of speculation comes from KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Andy Hargreaves who told investors that supply chain sources believe Apple is having technical problems with integrating Touch ID in the iPhone 8.
The most recent report from Barron’s states Apple is having difficulty putting a fingerprint sensor under the display of iPhone 8 and the company only has “just a couple of weeks” to resolve the issue before its earning predictions are at risk. The report goes on to say that Apple has until August to place orders for chips to support a fingerprint sensor, or delay the release of the device, or ship the device without a fingerprint ID scanner.
We believe it would typically take 12 weeks from placement of fingerprint IC orders to full volume production of iPhones. Consequently, if Apple is able to solve its fingerprint problems and place orders for fingerprint ICs before August, it would likely be able to reach volume production in late October or early November. We believe this remains Apple’s preferred path, and expect it would be acceptable to both consumers and investors. It is entirely unclear if Apple will be able to fix the problem in this time frame.
Earlier this month, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors that Apple has plans to replace the Touch ID with a facial recognition security system. Hargreaves also thinks that Apple will replace Touch ID with facial recognition but will face many challenges.
We believe Apple’s facial recognition system solution should work from many angles and in low-light environments. However, it would not work without clear line of sight to the user’s face. Even if this encompassed just 5% of login scenarios, it would mean that several times a day the new iPhone would perform worse at an elemental feature than older iPhones, which would risk pushback from consumers. Further, we do not believe facial recognition would be initially qualified as an acceptable verification method for Apple Pay. While Apple could achieve this over time, the likelihood for an initial lack of Apple Pay could adversely affect demand.
Hargreaves believes that the device will be delayed until mid-November but won’t have any negative effects on investor expectations for the cycle. However, he notes anything past that could have negative repercussions.
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