iPhone of the future could have an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner

Apple's pursuit for thinner, lighter, bezel-free phones knows no limits, and its quest for the sleekest device possible looks set next to focus on the fingerprint scanner.

A new patent shows the company once again turning its attentions to the possibility of embedding an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner into the display of its future phones, whether that's the iPhone 8 or beyond.

It's the second time we've heard evidence of such a system being employed, adding weight to the potential inclusion of the feature further down the line.

Grimey, greasy grabbers 

So, what's the benefit of this method rather than a physical Touch ID button? As well as the space saving efficiencies, Apple considers the ultrasonic tech as "the most accurate but least common finger-scanning technology."

It states that:

"Contaminants such as grease, lotion, dirt, sweat, and food particles on a finger can degrade a captured fingerprint image, which can prevent a fingerprint sensing device from matching the captured fingerprint image to a known fingerprint image. 

"Alternatively, a finger contacting an input surface of the fingerprint sensing device with too much or too little pressure can reduce the quality of the captured fingerprint image and prevent the fingerprint sensing device from recognizing the user."

The patent also states that it could work in conjunction with Touch ID to improve the existing tech, for those fearful of separation anxiety with the thumb-lovin' nub.

As ever with a patent application, it's not a 100% guarantee of a product or feature in development. But with the evidence mounting, we'd say this is an inevitability rather than a possibility.

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Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.