iPhone 5S to Feature Fingerprint Sensor within Raised Sapphire Home Button?

A new research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has cited the upcoming ‘iPhone 5S’ could possible include a new sapphire glassed covered home button with a fingerprint sensor–but the button itself will be convex, instead of concave as seen in current models (via MacRumors). The theory behind a raised convex home button would be to allow room for the fingerprint sensor:

Convex home button creates space for fingerprint sensor; yield to improve. We think that a fingerprint sensor will be placed under the home button of iPhone 5S. However, assembling it could be difficult as the space under home button is limited as it already has to accommodate the Lightning connector, speaker and microphone. Thus, we think the shape of the home button could be changed from concave to convex to create more space for a fingerprint sensor.

Sapphire prevents home button from being scratched. A convex home button could be more easily scratched, so a harder material is required. We believe Apple will switch from plastic to sapphire, whose hardness is second only to diamond. Sapphire would protect the home button from being scratched and the fingerprint sensor from being damaged.

Fig 02

Sapphire is second in hardness only to diamond, which would protect the fingerprint sensor in a convex-shaped home button, as opposed to regular plastic.

Kuo notes Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec last summer for its sensor technology will hold an advantage over competitors, as the latter’s TruePrint technology uses RF electric field sensors, which the company describes as “very small antennas,” and capacitive sensors to accurately measure the surface of the skin. This technique enables the sensor to read down to live skin cell layers which are unaffected by dry, oily or dirty skin, unlike typical optical or thermal recognition sensors.

Speculation of a new home button was earlier reported in May, as a rumour from TechNews based on Asian supply chain sources said Apple would implement a sapphire glass covered home button in its next model, with a built-in fingerprint sensor.

The use of sapphire glass is currently used to cover the outer lens of the iPhone 5 camera. If Apple were to include a convex home button in the next iPhone, which earlier was reported to be announced on September 10, it would be the first iOS device to feature a raised home button, breaking the trend of the original 2007 iPhone button design.


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  • ChrisSteves

    I really hope they don’t make the button convex to make room for something like a print scanner. If they do it better be marginally convex to flat.

    When you design a device so meticulously to make it thin, it would be a sin to add thickness for something like a print scanner. I doubt Apple has the cat-like agility to make fundamental design changes to the “5S” now; but if this a choice they made, it’s a bad one and they should do everything in their power to reverse it immediately. Luckily this is just a rumor and probably bogus. I trust Apple would never do something so foolish.

    As for sapphire, sounds fancy :). It’s not a traditional consumer electronics material, but as long as it’s used primarily for functional requirements (i.e. hardness) and not to “pimp-out” my iPhone, I’m happy. The last direction I want Apple to take is towards “Vertu”. That brand makes puppies cry tears of excessive elitism.

    On another note, the whole print scanner thing might do more harm then good after the whole NSA bust. I mean do people want their prints being saved to their phone? I personally think, “Of course, if it makes my life easier” but can see some tinfoiled hat friends strongly opposing (a la 1984).

  • WatDah

    Totally agree. A convex home button is quite a tasteless design. Besides, there’s really not much room to gain from it.

    Just wanna point out that sapphire is already being used on the iPhone 5 to protect the rear camera lens.

  • WatDah

    I’m no designer or engineer, but there’s so much unused space on both left and right side of the home button, where it’s flat and spacious. Just saying.

  • If the home button was protruding out, it would be make the phone look hideous. If anything, Apple would maybe try to implement the sensor to the left or right of the home button to ensure the design stays the same.

  • Yeah this would make sense. Cue the protruding home button meme already!

  • WatDah

    If I were a designer, all that space would be the first place I look at to try to implement something like a finger print scanner. It makes so much more sense! And if I were to spread rumors, it would be THAT much more believable. I mean… a convex home button? Really? Almost puked just thinking about it…

  • Al

    You gotta stop giving credence to some of these obviously stupid, made-up rumours and speculations. There is absolutely no way that Apple would allow a convex button on the surface of the iPhone. It just won’t happen… EVER.

    I fact (this is Apple remember), if they did add a finger print scanner (which would be an “optional” method to using the button/swipe-right move), it would likely be on the upper right portion of the phone. This is because that is where your thumb can comfortably lay flat. You grab your phone, touch there, and it opens. All one handed operation. No contortions needed to bend your thumb correctly, or use your other hand as you do now. It would be simpler, faster, better… that’s what Apple does.

    Ya gotta think outside the box people.

  • WatDah

    Dude, it makes no sense to place it on the top. If anything it would be on the bottom left or right of the home button. That’s the spot where its most natural and comfortable. Your thumb doesn’t have to reach/stretch, and the phone will remain secured in your hand.

  • Al

    Nope. Try it. You’d have to shift the phone up in your hand for the thumb to comfortably reach down there. It’s not fluid. Plus, it’s an easy way to drop your phone if you’re not paying attention. With the way I suggested, your phone doesn’t have to shift. It’s natural and fluid.

  • WatDah

    What?? I don’t know what phone you’re using cause you make no sense.

  • ChrisSteves

    I gotta agree with Al (Simpson?) here. The ideal location for a print scatter= top right corner (adjacent to the lock button- along the shiny antenna). A quick tiny swipe of the thumb and *bam!* unlock, no 4 digit code for this guy. It might interfere with the antenna (and camera and all the other goodies there) though, so bottom section of phone is still in the running. Ergonomically, it’s a good spot though.

    Anyways, I’m glad we’ve all established that this rumor is terrible and “analyst” Kuo is 100% wrong. KGI Securities you can no longer talk about Apple rumors. I forbid it.

  • Anon

    This BS is never going to happen, so there is no sense in arguing guys.

  • Anon

    It would be like have a huge zit on your phone.

  • Al

    Sorry, I didn’t mean the edge. I meant the empty space to the right of the phone speaker. Your thumb can be placed there while holding the phone naturally.

  • websnap

    I’m gonna throw this out there. Here is why the convex shape makes sense. It will provide a “fish-eye” lens-type view of more of the thumbs surface to get a better read. The convex shape will enlarge and magnify, but I guarantee the the rise of the convex shape will be absolutely minimal –probably as minimal as the current is concave (which is to say hardly at all).

    It makes sense to keep it in the home button for a lot of reason – firstly that it minimizes the design changes between the 5 and the 5S. For another it’s this first place you finger goes and would make unlocking your phone as simple as one press (as you place the thumb on the button, it knows it’s you and you are authorized – when pressing, it bypasses the lock mechanism and takes you to you home screen. no swiping, no passcode).

    This being said, the one issue I can perceive is when in an app and it asks for fingerprint verification (say buying tickets) and users instinctively press the button – taking you out of the app you are trying to use. At that point it is almost better if it was not a physical button, as then software can ignore the “press” when the current, focused app is asking for authentication.

  • ChrisSteves

    Let’s just say if Apple goes convex home button, they will suffer a horrible mob of upset iPhone fans along with many “told you so” Samsung fans. It doesn’t seem like a sticking point, but I have a hunch it would be.

    I mean I understand from the technical perspective “fish eye” blah blah. Got it. It’s an easy way to eliminate a bunch of engineering troubles (while as you mentioned introducing new ones). But, from a design perspective, it’s a hideous lumpy pimple that ruins the phone’s aesthetics. This is all consumers care about. Not that, EE “Mr. Doe” was able to get his job done and take his vacation time. That’s the way it should be at Apple, that’s what Apple stand for. Great design>cutting corners, no matter what. So, notta gonna happen. If it does, shame on Apple, nail in the coolness coffin.

  • websnap

    that’s ridiculous… you are claiming the sky is falling for something you haven’t even seen. look at it first before you judge it a nail in the coffin… in case you haven’t noticed, Apple’s real good at kicking that coffin door WIDE open every time someone tries to tell them that “thing” they are doing is going to alienate people (antenna design comes to mind), a year later others then copy that design idea (HTC one) and claim it’s just where the industry is going. Thanks for the “blah, blah” by the way – shows you care more about trolling than actual design principles or engineering advancements. If this actually DOES go convex, it will be barely raised – like as far out as the current one is concave – it will probably still be lower than the rise of the lock button. A lumpy pimple… you guys are ridiculous…